GOD’S DEAL WITH YOU

by

DAVID REX HOLT

Unless otherwise indicated Scripture taken from

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®

Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the

United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society.

Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

 

Now all has been heard;

Here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep His Commandments,

For this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgement,

Including every hidden thing,

Whether it is good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14

 

A

BELOVED KING

BOOKGod’s Deal With YOU

CONTENTS

Foreword iii

Chapter 1 A Deal Worth Making 1 Chapter 2 God's Rule Book 9 Chapter 3 The Curse Of The Law 20 Chapter 4 "The Devil Made Me Do It" 32

Chapter 5 Be Malleable 37

Chapter 6 What is Your Conclusion? 45

Chapter 7 The Message 64

Chapter 8 Spiritual Warfare 80

Chapter 9 Let's Ask The Bible 98

Chapter 10 Living Proof 109

Chapter 11 Wisdom 120

Chapter 12 The Canon of Scripture 127

Chapter 13 Trust The Translation? 134

Chapter 14 Interpretation (and "Convenience") 151

Chapter 15 In the Beginning.... 163

Chapter 16 Are The Dead Really Dead? 173

Chapter 17 No Excuses 187

Chapter 18 Accept Your Gifts 202

Chapter 19 Give God His Share 220

Chapter 20 Where Will You Go? 226

Chapter 21 The Mark Of The Beast 231

Chapter 22 Some Of Jesus' Titles 250

Chapter 23 Know Your Enemy 257

Chapter 24 God's Feast Days 270

Chapter 25 Seven Steps To Salvation 282

Chapter 26 Faith 285

Chapter 27 Baptism And Graven Images 292

Chapter 28 How To Identify God's True Church 300

Chapter 29 Similarities, Differences And Persecution 305

Chapter 30 Your Spiritual Act Of Worship 320

Chapter 31 Praise God 331

Chapter 32 Unity 338

Chapter 33 Why Worry? 351

Chapter 34 So Where Is He? 361

Chapter 35 The "Sealed Book" Opened 370

Chapter 36 God Will Forgive You 381

The Price He Paid 389

Appendix 1 Self-Check Questionnaire 391

Appendix 2 Glossary 397

FOREWORD

A

nyone who loves God and His Son Jesus looks forward expectantly to the day when the cares of this mortal life are over and they will walk with them on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem—when, at last, they will meet their Creators face-to-face.

In chapter 13 of the book of Revelation a very clear warning is given where we are told, All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beastall whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. Sadly, millions of people all over the world have been successfully duped into believing that ‘the beast’ referred to here is some instantly recognisable terrifying monster, but this is not so. The beast is actually a counterfeit ‘christianity’ that has been meticulously engineered by Satan (earlier referred to in the same chapter as ‘the dragon’) using wonderfully sincere people who have no idea how subtly they have been exploited. If you are a professed Christian did you know that there is actually a 98% chance that you are actually worshipping the beast without even knowing it?

If you don’t believe me, ask most people professing to be Christians why they attend the particular church that they do and you will be quite surprised at the answers you will receive. They range from, "It’s the church that my family has always attended." to "I got a flyer in my mailbox inviting me to go, and they seemed nice people." and even, "Its the nearest one to my home." Then ask those same people to tell you what their church’s principal doctrines are and you will find that they either have no idea or, when they do give you an answer, and you ask them where those doctrines have a Scriptural foundation, they cannot tell you. In the vast majority of cases, were you to take the time to do lengthy research, you would find that, in actual fact, they have little or NO Scriptural foundation at all!

Jesus Himself said, "Many will come in my name, claiming that I am the Christ, and they will deceive many." (Matthew 24:5) "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Mark 7:6) and, "Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3)

God and mankind's great adversary, Satan the devil, was described three times by Jesus as ‘the prince of this world’ (John 12:31, 14:30 16:11) and, when the ‘religious deception’ that he has so successfully spread throughout Christendom is seen, the accuracy of that title, written almost two thousand years ago, is very apparent. He has pulled off the greatest confidence trick in the history of the world! The thought of anyone who wants to be a sincere Christian missing out on their inheritance because of this religious deception is, to say the least, distressing and so, because Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as He loved us, I made a lengthy study of Scripture of which this book is the result. If you are more interested in pleasing your family and friends by following religious traditions than the Word of God then it is probably not for you. However, if knowing the truth and thus serving the real God is more important than anything else, read on—but be prepared for some shocking eye-openers and, possibly, facing some momentous decisions.

I have always enjoyed Jesus Christ’s use of allegory to illustrate His messages—the Bible calls them parables—and so I will take His example and use what I refer to as "The Fork in the Road Method" of determining where a person is going. As we each move down the roadway of our lives we are constantly faced with decisions—these are the forks in our road. They concern all aspects of daily living but it is their significance to our belief systems that I want to highlight here. Each fork represents a question that every individual must answer to determine which way he or she will go.

As little children we trust our parents to guide us and faithfully follow where they lead us but, as we mature and begin to think and reason for ourselves we come to the first fork in our road. This is a simple two-way fork (some of the later ones are much more complex junctions). The very first question is, "Do you believe that the universe and everything in it happened by pure coincidental spontaneous chance or do you believe that it had a designer and creator who carefully planned it all?" If your answer is the first one then you are an atheist. That is your personal choice and, as such, you have accepted responsibility for it and, as far as spirituality goes, you may not come to another fork in your life (although, more than likely, you will return to this one many times). However, if you have chosen the second way, just a few steps along the road and you come to another fork. This one is more complexin fact, it’s more of a roundabout than a fork.

The question at this roundabout is, "Who WAS that creator?" and the signposts here point in numerous different directions. You can choose the road marked "Allah" and will thus have identified yourself as a Muslim or you may decide to take the Hindu road signposted "Brahma" or any one of a plethora of other choices. One of the roads open to you here is the one marked "Jehovah" and if you take this way, you will immediately come to yet another two-way fork one way of which is signposted "Old Testament Only" and that is the road of Judaism. The other fork is marked "Christianity Road" and it is this one that we will be following in this book.

Up to this point, to make proper value judgements, you would have needed to consult the various guidebooks in order to know what to expect and to do along your chosen way as well as determine which forks to take as you progress. That’s only common sense isn’t it? Otherwise you would be simply wandering aimlessly and groping in spiritual darkness or, as so many do, trusting other people to guide you without ever checking the Guide Book to see if what they told you was true. The ONLY guidebook that is available to those choosing Christianity Road is called "The Holy Bible" and it comes in two parts called the Old and the New Testaments. There is NO OTHER "official" Guide Book for this road. (There are, of course thousands of commentaries based on the official Guide Book and this is but one.)

So, having made a considered decision to take Christianity Road you set off filled with enthusiasm. However, you don’t get very far before you come to yet another roundabout and this one is very complex. It’s called "Denomination Junction" and, as its name implies, this is where you have to decide which denomination (belief system) or ‘church’ you will be aligned with.

Fortunately, at this junction there is a conveniently located reading room where there are plenty of pamphlets telling you what each denomination believes and practices and where you can check them out against your Guide Book before deciding which road to take—although what your Guide Book will really do for you here is show you which roads NOT to take! (It is also very fortunate that there are numerous "slip roads" that allow you to "cut across" to a different road even after you have set out on a chosen route and later discover that it is not leading you where you want to go.)

As you will very soon see, the vast majority of the choices at Denomination Junction are the wrong way and don’t lead to your ultimate destination which is, of course, having chosen Christianity Road, The Kingdom of God. If you take a wrong turn here you won’t need to go very far to find that there are some things along the way that don’t seem to quite line up with what the Guide Book says (BUT that all depends, of course, whether you actually stop to read it!). And so, whether you are now at Denomination Junction or already on one of the several hundred roadways that lead on from there, this book is written for you. Do you want to follow the Guide Book (The Bible) or do you want to follow some other way without checking? Each of the roads here has a gateway that you must pass through and some of them are very grand and impressive. As Jesus so succinctly warned, "Enter through the narrow gate. Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13, 14) By the way, did you notice the large, imposing, unmarked building at Denomination Junction? That is the head office of "Satan Incorporated" because this is where he conducts most of his business. It is here that his servants stand on every corner like fairground barkers trying to entice the unwary travellers down one of his many wide roads to destruction. Beloved, Denomination Junction can be a pretty scary place!

But there can be no fence-sitting. Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me." (Luke 11:23) and, "Sanctify them by your TRUTH. Your Word is truth." (John 17:17) I have no doubt that it would be true to say that, whilst everyone who wants to serve God would like to understand that truth better, many have difficulty understanding it fully.

In the book of Acts there is the short story of an Ethiopian who was travelling home from Jerusalem where he had gone to worship God. In obedience to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, "Go to that chariot and stay near it" (Acts 8:29), Jesus’ disciple Philip went there and heard the Ethiopian reading chapter 53 in the book of Isaiah. "Do you understand what you are reading? Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The Eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else? Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:30, 31, 34, 35). As a result of this, the Ethiopian was baptised and went on his way rejoicing. Now that man was devout enough to have travelled all the way from his home to worship in Jerusalem yet, by his own admission, he had no idea what he was really doing.

The questions therefore follow, "Does my church follow Biblical doctrines or does it follow unscriptural ones veiled in pagan traditions?" and "Who actually are those whose names have been written in the book of the lamb?" The only real way to find out the answers is to read and understand what the Bible actually says.

In scriptural prophecy, the church is represented by a woman—the true church by a pure woman and the false church by a prostitute. Revelation 12:17 tells us how the true church—the pure woman—can be identified where we are told, "The dragon was enraged at the [pure] woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspringthose who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

Your intention to worship the true God MUST be backed up by His Word because, no matter how good it is, if it is not scripturally based, you will stand before the One who died for you saying "Lord, Lord, did I not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" and find yourself hearing those devastating words "I never knew you. Away from me you evildoer!" (Matthew 7:23)

God told the prophet Isaiah, "Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10) Beloved friend, Jesus knew what He was talking about because the favourite tactic of Satan and his Denomination Junction barkers is the closing of sincere people’s minds so that they reject truth in favour of those false doctrines of men. They hear and read the truths of the Bible but, just as God predicted, they don’t perceive or understand them, preferring to follow their Satan-corrupted beliefs. I pray to my Creator God that, whatever conclusions this book brings you to, they will be made without the interference of those doctrines.

The catalyst that set me on this course was a message which I believe God’s Holy Spirit gave to me. Initially I was very cautious as to the true source of this message because I am well aware that Satan works very hard to beguile people, so I decided that the only authority which I would acknowledge in the verification of it would be the God-inspired Words of His Holy Bible. My search for that verification soon brought a realisation that the doctrines being taught by most of today's churches are so far from God's truth that, in Revelation 13:1, the Bible describes them as blasphemous. The end result is actually a frightening exposition of just how successful the devil has been throughout Christendom with his campaign of deception. This was prophesied quite clearly in the Bible. "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)

When I researched the varied and widely differing practices of many of the churches professing to be Christian one question soon became very prominent. Is simply loving God and Jesus enough to guarantee that eternal life with Them? The Scriptures relevant to this question which I quote in this book clearly show that there is a lot more to achieving salvation than just saying "I love God and Jesus." Unless that statement is proved by a person’s actions it is only ‘lip-service’—and God quite definitely has little time for that on its own! As Scripture itself says in James 2:26, "Faith without deeds is dead."

As you will read, the message was short and directly to the point. But it couldn’t be ignored. The inspiration and guidance I have received throughout the writing of this book has been just too amazing and more than enough evidence that it was, indeed from our Divine Creator. In particular, right at the most appropriate time, I came across some notes which were made by my mother, Doris Dunne, when she was a young woman in 1938 and fixed into her Bible. Whilst these notes don’t directly relate to the message their significance in validating it was remarkable. Although she has been sleeping in wait for the Lord’s return since 1971, and I have had her battered old Bible ever since, I couldn't help feeling that the finding of these notes at this precise time was much more than coincidence.

When reading Christian literature which only gives biblical references, it has always frustrated me to have to break the flow of reading to look them up, so I have quoted all but a few story references in full, mostly from the New International Version of the Bible. For the purposes of illustrating particular points I have added emphasis by way of bold and enlarged type, but the actual wording is unaltered. However, I strongly urge readers to study their own Bibles much more fully at their convenience to place everything in its proper context and add further light. Follow the example of the Bereans who, we are told in Acts 17:11, received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Don’t take my word for anything! Check it out against the not-negotiable immutable Word of God Himself. (I strongly recommend that you use a Bible with marginal cross-references—it will save you a lot of time!)

Because the language of the Scriptures is rich and colourful and because modern education is so pathetically inadequate in most parts of today’s world, much of the Bible’s true significance is, I believe, lost in this present age. Also, the contextual meaning of some words in Scripture is very different to the same word’s meaning in modern usage. I therefore suggest that, unless you have a comprehensive knowledge of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, as well as biblical syntax, you acquire a Strongs Lexicon and/or a copy of a good Bible Dictionary so that a clearer understanding of the words as they are used in Scripture can be achieved.

Although I do so in the main body of this book, before you read it I want to stress that I do not believe that the message I received in any way diminishes the divinity of our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, The Son of God, and no such inference is intended.

For your own sake, but more importantly, for God’s sake, don’t dismiss these messages I have been given to pass on. Don’t turn a ‘Satan-blinded eye’ to the truth for the sake of your religious traditions. God loves you and wants you to enjoy everything that He has in store for you and for which He willingly gave His own Son to redeem for you from the pawnbroker Satan with His blood and His life.

Because the Bible is such a huge mine of knowledge it is my belief that the study of it will never truly be exhausted in one person’s lifetime. Since my study is daily, it therefore follows that this book may never be ‘finished’ before I die or Jesus returns, and so, whilst the copy you are now reading has already been committed to print, it is constantly being expanded as more revelations from God’s word are ‘discovered.’ For this reason new editions will, no doubt, appear from time to time. The story isn’t—and, I believe, never will be ended until the glorious day of our beloved Saviour’s return when a new and wonderful story will begin! I intend to be part of it and I want you to!

The truths that intensive study of God's Word, as opposed to following religious tradition, has taught me I could have learned as a teenager forty years ago but, like God’s chosen people, the Israelites, I ‘wandered in the wilderness’ of false and corrupted church doctrines for those forty years. I was born into what is usually referred to as ‘mainstream’ Christianity. I could have complacently stayed there and rotted away groping about in darkness but, in a search for something more meaningful than repetitive liturgical monotony, moved from denomination to denomination, without finding my ‘Promised Land.’ Eventually I arrived at what can only be described as ‘feel good’ Pentecostal religion. After overcoming the initial shock of what the members of the church defined as ‘liberation,’ I sincerely believed that I had, at last, ‘found God.’ The services were noisy, more ‘party-like’ than the boring meetings I had become so used to. There was lots of ‘love’ with everyone hugging everyone and an air of excitement. For quite some time I rejoiced in my new ‘enlightenment.’

But then I started to actually read my Bible—as opposed to just listening to the bits that the preacher chose to read out. Before too long questions started arising in my mind which, at first, confused me. The church’s teaching simply didn't line up with what the Scriptures said! When I asked about this the answers I received were far from satisfactory. It became increasingly clear that, rather than preaching and disseminating biblical truth, this church was serving Satanic deception of the subtlest kind. The subject of such religious deception is dealt with more fully in the body of this book and so I will suffice to say here that it became increasingly obvious that I still hadn’t found the truth. And then, Praise God, I discovered that it had been right there, on my bookshelf, all the time in an inspired volume called "The Holy Bible." I pray that this book will help anyone reading it to avoid becoming a ‘Religious Nomad’ and find those truths a lot sooner than I did!

I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the stimulus, help and encouragement of my friend in Jesus Christ, Patricia Denning, without which this book would certainly be less thorough. She cost me many hours extra work researching her very valid questions and it was worth every second!

Whether you are young or old, stand on the bridge of life and look upstream. The water downstream has passed you and can never be brought back again but, like a tidal rip, it will suck you down if you let it. The water upstream in the river of your life is clear and fresh until and unless you soil it when it reaches you. What will you do, wallow in the muddy water of religious deception or earnestly seek crystal clear and pure truth and the river of life flowing from the very throne of God?

We begin this journey into what many may see as a castigation of the multitude of religious myths and false doctrines that have permeated and pervaded Christendom over the centuries with Paul’s words to the Philippian church telling them that God will meet all the needs of true believers. Preachers of every denomination have quoted that verse many times in reference to all the material and spiritual benefits I list immediately following it but surely, as we become more aware of those myths and doctrines, it becomes very apparent that the greatest of those needs is truth! Isn’t that reason enough to castigate Satan’s insidious deception of God’s creation in His own image? That is why I have written this book.

If, when you have read it, you feel that your eyes have been opened, I have just one request. Please, PLEASE, don’t go and tell your friends and loved ones—with whom you will very naturally want to share the truths you have learned—that "David Holt said ..." All I have done is point out what the Bible really says as opposed to what religious tradition says, so, when you share those truths, tell your friends, "The Bible says ..." or, as Jesus, Himself said, "It is written…" When you have read this book and accepted Scriptural truth in place of lies, then my job is done. I am, as I say; only a messenger and my name is of no importance.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! You can’t change your past, so don’t waste time and effort trying—but, if you think you need to and, perhaps more importantly, if you want to be aligned with God’s will rather than Satan’s, you surely can change your future!

May our Wonderful Creator richly bless you as you start out on that journey and learn His truths and in the words of the great apostle Paul, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Ephesians 1:17) This I pray in the name of His beloved Son, our Saviour, Christ Jesus.

D.R.H.

1

A DEAL WORTH MAKING

 

I

F YOU’VE MADE A COMMITMENT TO GOD* and you’re truly sincere, YOU’VE MADE A DEAL WITH HIM. It’s a two-way deal and this is what the apostle Paul says in the Bible about GOD’S COMMITMENT TO YOU.

"My God will meet ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) and, not only that but, "immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20)

This means that you’ve accepted all the wonderful gifts that Jesus bought for you with His precious blood and His mortal life. Those gifts include: -

JOY

SECURITY

PROSPERITY

PERFECT HEALTH

FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS

SATISFACTION IN ALL THAT YOU DO

and, best of all,

AN ETERNAL LIFE OF FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

You are now equal with

the richest man on Earth!

Now Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

So does this mean that, having made your commitment, you can now sail contentedly through life without having to do anything else?

NO IT DOESN’T!

* If you haven’t then why not take the time to read this book anyway. When you have, you may want to.

Contrary to what a lot of ‘religious’ people might tell you, these gifts do have a price. In fact, they have a continuing price! The point is that the price true believers now pay is not an admission charge, it’s an expression of deep gratitude. The key in Jesus’ words lies in the word "believes." Please take careful note: He didn’t say, "believes IN" —He said "believes." This means that something had to be said to be believed.

As we progress through this book we will look at many of God’s statements concerning what He expects of His TRUE followers and I’m sure you’ll agree, Jesus’ proclamation was a lot deeper than many people claiming to be Christians would have you believe. As I said, it’s a two-way deal.

Believe me, though; you’ve got an absolute bargain!

When you made your personal commitment you paid the "deposit" — but it didn’t end there.

Most people—even unbelievers—are familiar with the famous ‘Ten Commandments’ which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai nearly three-and-a-half thousand years ago. They were a set of basic rules for living and are referred to in the New Testament of the Bible as ‘The Old Covenant.’ However, as you’ve no doubt heard, through the sacrificial crucifixion of His Son Jesus, God replaced that old covenant with ‘The New Covenant.’

He actually told the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah that He was going to do this some six hundred years before Jesus’ was born.

"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was husband to them,’ declares the Lord.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, I WILL PUT MY LAW IN THEIR MINDS AND WRITE IT ON THEIR HEARTS. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."(Jeremiah 31:31-33)

This is quoted in the New Testament book of Hebrews where The Bible also says;

For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.

By calling this covenant "new," He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:7, 13)

Jesus Himself explained that new covenant this way;

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS." (Matthew 22:37-40)

Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, extols the virtues of God’s laws and instructions mentioning them no less than 172 times in it’s 176 verses. Due to its length I will not quote the entire Psalm here (read it at your leisure later) but verses 151-152 are especially significant.

... ALL your commands are true .... you established them to last FOREVER.

Now, in flagrant disregard of these Scriptures, there are churches today which teach that Jesus ‘abolished’ the old covenant basing that teaching on God’s closing words in that passage I quoted saying, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."—and "He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." They claim that, since Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are totally ‘above the Law.’

In other words, since, as the Bible tells us, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23), there is no-one without sin every day of their life, and since it has already been acknowledged by God that no-one could live by the old covenant rules all that a person needs to do to receive those gifts that I listed on page 1 is accept Jesus as their saviour and love God and their neighbour.

But, as I have written, THAT’S ONLY THE DEPOSIT! If you don’t follow it up with action it would be like buying a rail ticket and not getting on the train—you would go nowhere!

In His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ Jesus told the assembled multitude —

"DO NOT THINK THAT I HAVE COME TO ABOLISH THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS; I HAVE NOT COME TO ABOLISH THEM BUT TO FULFIL THEM. I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR, NOT THE SMALLEST LETTER, NOT THE LEAST STROKE OF A PEN, WILL BY ANY MEANS DISAPPEAR FROM THE LAW UNTIL EVERYTHING IS ACCOMPLISHED." (Matthew 5:17-18)

Beloved, have heaven and earth disappeared? These are the words of your divine Saviour—is there anything hard to understand in them? Those churches that teach that the laws of the old covenant are no longer applicable have fallen into the same trap that Eve was lured into by Satan in the Garden of Eden:

Now the serpent [who was, of course, Satan in disguise] was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’"

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)

As the Scripture so rightly says, Satan is craftier than any of the animals. He lied right at the dawn of human civilisation and he’s still doing it. By his words to Eve, Satan inferred that God had lied to her. AND SHE BELIEVED HIM! He hasn’t changed! He’s still lying and so are his followers.

Writing about his beloved Master, John put it in no uncertain terms:

ANYONE WHO SAYS,

‘‘I KNOW HIM,"

BUT DOES NOT DO

WHAT HE COMMANDS

IS A LIAR,

AND THE TRUTH IS NOT IN HIM.

(1 John 2:4)

Remember what Jesus said about The Law—the Old Covenant—"ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS."

On another occasion He also said,

"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John [the Baptist]. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

IT IS EASIER FOR HEAVEN AND EARTH TO DISAPPEAR THAN FOR THE LEAST STROKE OF A PEN TO DROP OUT OF THE LAW." (Luke 16:16-17)

The churches that teach that the law is obsolete say it was abolished when Jesus rose from the dead because, in doing so, He defeated Satan and sin and therefore, at that moment, ‘everything was accomplished’ according to His prophesy. It would seem that those people either haven’t read or don’t believe the other prophesies in the Bible about Jesus’ return on the Day of Resurrection, because that is when everything will be accomplished—THAT is when the old covenant will disappear—because, in God’s kingdom, where, as Revelation 21:4 says, the old order of things will have passed away, there won’t be any need for it because there won’t be any sin. By His resurrection Jesus certainly did defeat sin once and forever, but the story isn’t over yet!

Now this word "sin" keeps popping up. Christians quote it all the time and I sometimes wonder how many of them really know exactly what it means. In his first letter to the infant Gentile churches John spelled it out very succinctly when he wrote,

"Everyone who sins breaks the law: in fact,

SIN IS LAWLESSNESS."

(1 John 3:4)

This is the only explicit overall definition of sin in the whole Bible and it’s quite straightforward really—God gave us, His greatest creation, laws by which to conduct ourselves and that word ‘sin’ simply means the breaking of them.

"Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

"Why do you ask me what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE,

OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS."

(Matthew 19:16-17)

It is unfortunate that many "legalist" Christians have taken these verses as indicating that obeying the commandments is a requirement for salvation. The requirement is that we love God and His Son. Obeying the commandments is how we show that love. In other words, obeying God’s laws as a means to salvation won’t achieve anything if it is done begrudgingly as a tedious duty.

"This is love for God: to OBEY HIS COMMANDS. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:3-4)

Jesus said; "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)—in other words, "Why do you say you love me yet purposely defy me by not doing as I have asked?"

He also said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

So what is His yoke?

Basically it means that, because you have made the decision to serve Him, that, as He says in Matthew 4:10 is exactly what you must do for the rest of your life —SERVE HIM!

"How do I do this?" you ask.

Well, if you’re still in any doubt, you’ve already had a clue in Jesus’ words where he said that, by loving God and your neighbour (which, by the way, means everyone else on Earth—including your enemies—not just the folk next door!) ALL the old covenant rules—the laws and the prophets—hang on those two commandments.

Please note: ALL OF THEM—NOT SOME OF THEM! In other words, Your service is one of LOVE,

not of duty.

If you GENUINELY love God,

then you won’t WANT to offend Him

by WILFULLY disobeying His rules.

In his letter to the Romans Paul summed it up this way; —

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no harm to it’s neighbour. Therefore…

LOVE IS THE FULFILMENT OF THE LAW.

(Romans 13:8-10)

The reason that love is the fulfilment of the law is as John wrote,

"We love because He first loved us."

(1 John 4:19)

and the way we show that love is by doing as Jesus has asked us to do.

"IF YOU LOVE ME,

YOU WILL OBEY WHAT

I COMMAND."

(John 14:15)

Take particular notice of the sequence here. Jesus did NOT say, "If you obey the commandments, I will love you." He loves us whatever we do. He died for sinners! He is simply telling us one sure way of showing Him that WE love HIM.

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them,

HE is the one who loves me."

(John 14:21)

And since He has clearly told us that ALL the law is encompassed by his command to love God and our neighbour, it is hard to understand how anyone who claims to love Him can think that they are absolved from any responsibility to keep His commands—let alone teach it!

In his letter to the Corinthian church this is how Paul described love: —

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with THE TRUTH. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE NEVER FAILS.

And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13)

Right after He said that it would be easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the minutest detail of the law to change, Jesus gave a very clear warning.

"ANYONE WHO BREAKS ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHES OTHERS TO DO THE SAME WILL BE CALLED LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN." (Matthew 5:19)

When you read these words of your Saviour, the Son of the living God, what do you think about those churches that teach that the old covenant has disappeared? The Bible leaves no doubt as to what God thinks about them!

"They will pay for their sins because they have rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees." (Leviticus 26:43)

Yet, even though they will pay, God goes on to say, "Yet in spite of all this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God." (Leviticus 26:44)

That is why Jesus said they will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. He didn’t say they wouldn’t be there! As God told Jeremiah, their sins will be forgotten by Him but, because "they will pay" by forever occupying a lowly position, they may not be so easily forgotten by them!

Imagine being in a position where you missed out on a desirable job promotion to a colleague because he did a more diligent job than you? Maybe it was nothing more than keeping your desk tidy. Maybe you made your job easier by "cutting a few corners" on company rules! The boss didn’t fire you, but every time you see your friend arrive at work in his new company car and hear about all the good things his exalted position brings him, don’t you feel annoyed with yourself for not doing your very best when everyone was being assessed? The boss still greets you both with the same friendly smile and good wishes—he respects and (as your neighbour) loves you equally without favour. But it was the other fellow who got the promotion because there was only one vacancy and he was the one who deserved it! Thus it is that, even though the boss has long since forgotten it, every day, you have the visual reminders of your past foolishness.

Now there was a third person who was also eligible for the elevation who, even though he had no respect for the boss, kept all the company rules solely to get the better job. Everyone (including the boss, who was no fool) knew he hated doing this and so, when promotion time came, it was his totally mercenary attitude that disqualified him, not disobedience. That is why the Bible tells us that keeping the commandments is a sign of our love, not our greed!

Returning to the man who asked about getting eternal life, when Jesus told him to obey the commandments, the man inquired, "Which ones?"

Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as yourself."

"All these I have kept," the young man said, "What do I still lack?"

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matthew 19:18-21)

Now you can see just how much loving your neighbour really entails. Would you sell your belongings to help those in need who you don’t even know? This may be the greatest test of your love you ever face!

2

GOD’S RULE BOOK

 

S

ince, as I hope you now agree—and as the Scriptures clearly show, Jesus has NOT abolished them, let’s take a detailed look at God’s basic ‘rules’ and see how they relate to today.

Before doing so however, there is a very interesting anomaly that seems to have been accepted by just about every Jewish and Christian religious denomination and for which I am at a loss to find justification. That is the acceptance of the common reference to the divine laws written by God on tablets of stone as "The Ten Commandments." As the Scriptures quoted throughout this book will show, whenever Jesus or His disciples and the other apostles made reference to God’s laws, they never stated a number. In fact, NOWHERE in the New Testament are they referred to as "The Ten Commandments" and there are only three instances of it in the Old Testament and, in each of those (Exodus 27:12, Deuteronomy 4:13 and 10:4) the Hebrew word translated as "ten" is eser rc,[, —which actually translates as any number comprised of two digits with the first being 1 —i.e.: anything from ten to nineteen. The variation of the same word asarrc'[ —is specifically either ten or twelve. The reason I mention this is because, if the laws as they are presented by Moses in the Bible in Exodus 20:2-17 are studied, it will be found that there are actually twelve of them! The two that have been universally accepted as part of their immediate predecessors are found in verses 5 and 9. However, since the acceptance of ten is so universal and, more particularly, since the designated number is much less important than the content, I will conform with custom and deal with the compound rules as such and only separate the relevant verses to illustrate this point.

Also, it should be borne in mind that, although the commandments were presented to Moses in written form at Mount Sinai, they were definitely not new. God’s law existed long before that. In fact it has existed as long as mankind. The fourth commandment was certainly in place on the very next day following Adam and Eve’s creation as evidenced by Genesis 2:2-3 which tells us: By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. This was further emphasised when the Israelites were given food in the desert whilst journeying towards Mount Sinai and the story is included in chapter 6 of this book.

Then, 2000 years after the creation, God told Isaac: "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." (Genesis 26:4-5) This was around 500 years before Moses climbed Mount Sinai, so it is quite apparent that, contrary to what a lot of ‘religious’ people might tell you, the commandments weren’t created only for Jews—they were created for all of mankind and were in place long before they were written on stone.

Rule 1.

"You shall have no other gods before me." (v. 3)

This is much the same as Jesus’ first great ‘new’ commandment, so it is as valid today as when God wrote it on stone and gave it to Moses. Jesus also said;

"Worship the Lord your God, and SERVE HIM ONLY." (Matthew 4:10)

Rule 2.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." (v. 4)

"You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (vs. 5-6)

This is the first of those ‘compound’ rules that I mentioned and, if you read it very carefully, you will see it is actually two commandments in one and makes it quite clear that, firstly, God forbids anyone both MAKING ANYTHING as an object of reverence (an idol) and, secondly, BOWING to ANYTHING which has been made by the hand of man or, even if it has not been actually made by him, elevated to ‘god status’ by him (such as the sun, for example).

Yet there are thousands of churches all over the world where both clergy and congregation pray and bow down to statues of various dead people who, like you and I, were saints, as well as pictures and effigies of someone’s impression of what Jesus and His mother Mary looked like. They even bow down to crosses and this is discussed in greater depth later in this book.

Jesus even foresaw the reverence that would be afforded to His mother, Mary. He had just answered the hostile accusations of some of the Jews and, as Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you."

He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." (Luke 11:27-28) And that includes obeying His second rule!

According to the Bible, a saint is anyone who is a true believer—not just someone from history selected by some judgemental church committee. For example, when Paul wrote to the various churches he often addressed them like this:

"To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:1)

"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons." (Philippians 1:1)

Paul also wrote about the fate of people who make idols and worship them.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:21-25)

The reverence extended to man-made icons such as statues and crosses stems from religious traditions which, in most instances, go back centuries to the tyrannical church of Rome and before and, although the founders of the Protestant churches ostensibly turned their back on that tyranny, they somehow took many of it’s erroneous pagan traditions with them.

The Bible warns us about those traditions: -

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

And Jesus Himself said,

"Why do you break the command of God

for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3)

Should these things be happening?

NOT ACCORDING TO GOD’S WORD!

Are you guilty of doing such things?

If you obey Jesus first great commandment and love God, then surely you wouldn’t want to offend Him by making or bowing to effigies—and particularly an effigy of the very instrument which was used to murder His Son. In the English language ‘Anything’ means ANY THING!

Rule 3.

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (v. 7)

Jesus touched on this subject when He said, "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:33-37)

And later, speaking about the Pharisees, He said, "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries [boxes containing Scriptures tied to their arms and heads] wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘Teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:5-12)

Yet, in spite of this very clear instruction from our Saviour, there are literally hundreds of millions of people all over the world who address their religious leaders as either ‘Rabbi,’ ‘Father’ or ‘Teacher.’ Of course, it is the Jews who use the title ‘Rabbi’ and, since they are not Christian, they do not consider Jesus instruction valid—but what about all those who profess to be Christians who address their priests as ‘Father?’ As Jesus said, they will be humbled because they have broken the third commandment.

How often do you hear someone say, "I swear in the name of God..." when they want to emphasise that they are telling the truth or "Oh, my God!" when they are faced with a surprising or stressful situation? Do you ever say such things? BE VERY CAREFUL!

Rule 4.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (v. 8)

"Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (vs. 9-11)

This is the second of the ‘compound’ rules. Not only is the command to remember the Sabbath day given but we are also commanded to labour ‘six days.’ So does this mean that we aren’t allowed any holidays other than the Sabbath? Many people in the affluent western world have a two-day weekend and only work five days and, of course, take annual vacations. The key lies in the second part of the sentence where it says, "do all your work." In modern language this could easiest be explained by adding the word "Within" to the beginning of the sentence. However, since God has expressly forbidden the adding of anything to His word, it becomes a matter of common sense and, when the syntax of the command is understood, the implication of the word "within" is obvious.

It is particularly interesting in that most churches today celebrate the FIRST day—not the seventh—as their day of dedication to God. It is, therefore, probably the most universally disregarded of all of God’s rules and, since every rule is of equal importance to God’s deal with us (see James 2:10 at the end of this rule list), I have dedicated the whole of chapter 6 of this book to a closer examination of it.

Rule 5.

"Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (v. 12)

This has caused some Christian people whose parents are atheists to ask, "How can I honour my parents when they tell me I’m wasting my time worshiping God?"

The meaning of this commandment is to show respect and love to parents but not necessarily to obey bad instructions that are contrary to God’s. Such situations can be very difficult to handle and require prayerful diplomacy. The most honouring act you could possibly do is to pray earnestly to your heavenly Father for your parents’ eyes to be opened and for them to accept Jesus as their Saviour and God as their divine Creator.

Similarly, if you have been brought up in a church bound up in apostate religious traditions and, when you’ve read the truths this book outlines and recognise the lies you have been subjected to, you decide, for the sake of honouring your Divine Creator (and thus securing your own salvation), as the Bible says, to "Come out of Babylon," then you may find that your parents will not only despise you for it, but even wave rule 5 at you as a weapon to make you feel guilty. In such cases, honouring your heavenly Father has to take priority over honouring your earthly parents when they preach false teaching. We’ll examine Jesus’ own messages on this subject more closely in chapter 29.

Rule 6.

"You shall not murder." (v. 13)

This is still against the law of just about every country in the world—but the penalties for it are getting milder and milder! However, I doubt that there are many Christians who could justify breaking this commandment.

It is interesting that the selection of the word ‘murder’ by the compilers of the NIV Bible tends to limit the full imputation of the sixth commandment. The Hebrew word written by God is ratsachjx'r —which has a number of translations, of which murder is just one. Others are ‘kill’ and ‘slay’ and are qualified in Strongs Hebrew Lexicon as both premeditated and accidental. The King James Bible uses the words "Thou shalt not kill" and, in modern English usage the two words have quite different emphases. ‘Murder’ implies deliberate, premeditated killing of another human being whilst the definition of ‘kill’ is the termination of any other form of life.

Thus, the way God originally intended His sixth rule, it is clear that killing of any kind is forbidden. How you rationalise this in your own life is, of course, up to you. What if you find yourself in a situation of ‘kill or be killed’ as in war or burglary? What about stamping on a cockroach? And what about sanctioning killing by another person by eating the flesh of an animal which he has killed? How far this is taken is up to the individual. Does this commandment extend to the taking of plant life? When the whole plant is dug up for food it is killed, but when the fruit is picked the plant is left alive to produce more fruit. Sadly, mankind has only realised, as the twentieth century draws to its close and it’s almost too late, the terrible impact that centuries of indiscriminate deforestation of the planet by greedy megalomaniacs is having on our total environment including the very air we breathe. You decide.

When Adam and Eve were first created they ate only the fruits of the garden that God entrusted to their care. He had told Adam, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) and it was only later that they were told to eat the plants of the field (Genesis 3:18) and, even later, the meat of certain animals. God also instructed mankind to slaughter animals as sacrifices to Him—but all of this was after they had disobeyed God and allowed sin into their perfect world. In a world without sin—as God originally created and intended it—there would be no killing of any kind because, as the Bible says, "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" (1 Samuel 15:22)

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement." (Matthew 5:21-22)

And later His beloved disciple John wrote, "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:15)

Rule 7.

"You shall not commit adultery." (v. 14)

By comparison, although God views all His ‘rules’ the same way, adultery isn’t even against the law in many countries these days, and in some it is even glorified as being ‘fashionable!’ How many people who claim to be Christians do you know who are living in adultery and attending church? As I will illustrate, the Bible is quite specific about how adulterers will be dealt with by God.

Rule 8.

"You shall not steal." (v. 15)

Again, this is still illegal throughout the world—but how many Christians make private calls on their employer’s ‘phone? Maybe you don’t—but later, in chapter 19, we’ll have a look at what God said to the prophet Malachi on this subject. See how you line up then!

Rule 9.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour." (v. 16)

False testimony in courts of law is a criminal offence, it’s called perjury, but telling lies—gossiping—about others is a trap that many Christians can easily fall into. Have you ever?

Also, only telling part of the truth is just as bad as telling a lie sometimes because it can change the context of the truth.

Lying about your neighbour is definitely not in accordance with Jesus’ second great commandment to love him or her as yourself is it?

Rule 10.

"You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." (v. 17)

From the way it is worded one might be forgiven for claiming that this is also a compound rule in that it has two quite separate commands each beginning "You shall not." In fact there are those churches which, in order to save face and maintain the supposedly significant number of ten whilst completely dispensing with the second commandment, in turn to justify the fact that their places of worship contain a plethora of ‘graven images’ claim that verse 17 actually comprises the last two of "The Ten Commandments!" However, the fact that the fourth word is also the same clearly indicates that the second sentence is only an embellishment of the first one.

This rule—significantly the last—is really an extension of those previous to it. It differs from them in that it concerns our thoughts rather than our deeds. Jesus summed it up when He said, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)

The point He was making was exactly what God’s tenth rule is about. Covet is not a word generally used these days and its meaning is not always fully understood. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t admire your neighbours’ possessions or achievements, his prosperity and happiness or even his good health—especially if they are an inspiration to you to legally emulate him. What you must avoid is resenting that he has things which seem unattainable to you. But then, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, nothing is unattainable. Remember the quotation, which said God will provide the ways and means for ALL your needs to be fulfilled! So don’t envy others—it isn’t necessary!

"Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and ALL these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

There were lots more rules concerning all aspects of daily Hebrew life but whilst the basic ten were written by God on stone, the others were written by Moses in a book. Those are referred to in Scripture as "The Law of Moses." They were numerous and, in many cases, described the ceremonial and sacrificial rituals required of the Israelites as payment for breaking God’s laws. It is, of course, those which Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice, rendered obsolete. If you’re interested, you can read Moses’ laws and the penalties associated with them for yourself in the biblical books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

God says, "If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable." (Proverbs 28:9) and

"Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out." (Deuteronomy 27:28)

Many people take this to mean that God is a vindictive tyrant who will curse anyone who doesn’t toe His line, but this is not so. If you read the Scripture again you will notice that it doesn’t say "I will curse the man...." —it says that he is cursed — not by God, but by himself because he has made a conscious choice not to ‘play by God’s rules’ and has thus, formed an alliance with Satan. If you can’t see the difference let me explain it in modern terms.

A man is walking along and comes to a high-tension power pylon. High on the pylon is a cat—seemingly trapped. On the pylon is a sign, which reads, "High voltage—KEEP OFF—failure to comply will result in death." But, from a compassionate desire to rescue the stranded animal, the man ignores the sign and climbs the pylon. As he very carefully reaches out to the cat a gust of wind blows his arm onto the cable. He is instantly killed by the electric shock which throws his body to the ground breaking his neck. Even though his motives in disobeying the "commandment" were well intentioned, the fact remains that he broke it and, having done so, he paid the penalty. When the death is brought before the coroner will he find that the power company was a vindictive tyrant, gleefully killing someone who disobeyed their clearly displayed instruction or will he find that the man brought his death upon himself?

There are only two teams—Jesus told His disciples, "Whoever is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:50) The ultimate fruit of alliance with the wrong team is the most terrifying curse imaginable—permanent death—the forfeiture of salvation!

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

But Satan says, "You will not surely die!"

If anyone tries to tell you that some rules are more important than others, take particular note of Jesus’ brother James’ warning.

"Whoever keeps THE WHOLE LAW and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking ALL of it." (James 2:10)

This was written about 20 years after Jesus’ crucifixion—so don’t let anyone tell you that the commandments were done away with when the Saviour died.

When you think about it,

How does the law of your land stack up

against THAT verse of Scripture?

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF GOD’S RULES IS OF EQUAL IMPORTANCE.

As we’ve seen, these days, man’s laws don’t seem to take much account of God’s and so someone who, for example, is breaking rule 7 and is content in the knowledge that they haven’t broken the law of their country, should think again. As far as God is concerned, they are no better than a thief or a murderer!

Which day of the week, if any, do you go to church and worship? What do you do on the seventh day—Saturday? Do you observe rule 4 and keep the seventh day of each week—the Sabbath—holy and do no work? That includes mowing the lawns; it includes doing the shopping, not just going to the office or the factory and working for wages. If you do any of these things you are breaking the fourth commandment and, if you believe your Bible, in God’s eyes, you are no different to a murderer! Sobering thought isn’t it? And if it sounds very judgemental of me to say so, it wasn’t me who said it first.

On the subject of feeling guilty, the purpose of this book is certainly not to make anyone who has broken one or more of God’s laws feel bad about themselves. When you think about it,

If you are feeling bad about something you’ve done,

then you’re already half way to receiving God’s total forgiveness

because feeling bad is the manifestation of remorse isn’t it?

And, hopefully, remorse leads to repentance!

And, as the word says, repentance leads to forgiveness!

Now wilfully breaking God’s rules is quite different to making little ‘mistakes’ occasionally.

We all do that, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

This verse is frequently quoted from pulpits in all sorts of denominational churches in an attempt to justify their breaking of one or other of God’s rules, but how often do you hear the two verses immediately before it? Let’s look at it again in context and you will notice that it isn’t even a complete sentence on its own.

"But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:21-23)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) (Read rule 9 again!). However, when we do slip up, if we love the Lord, we are honestly sorry and, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) So immediately we realise what we have done, we sincerely say we’re sorry and ask His forgiveness.

And, as God Himself said to Jeremiah,

HE WILL FORGIVE US

and, having done so,

WILL REMEMBER OUR SIN NO MORE

i.e.: FORGET IT — delete it from the records!

So does this mean that, just because a person is a professed Christian, they can rampage through life doing whatever pleases them—whether it offends God or their neighbour or not and then simply excuse it all by saying "Sorry?"

NO WAY!

I will shortly quote some passages that clearly show that God will not tolerate that sort of behaviour.

However, before going any further, there is one point that I want to make VERY clear. I’ll expand on this as we progress through this book but before you take one more step, I want you to be absolutely clear on it because, as you read on, you will, I have no doubt—especially if you already have some Scriptural knowledge—be well aware that we are already saved by grace.

Therefore, as a Christian, I don’t keep the commandments (or at least make an effort to) in order to be saved. That is what is called "legalism." I keep the commandments because I am saved. In other words, keeping the commandments is NOT a "Please," it’s a "Thank You." Look at it this way:

A small child is told by his parents that they are going to take him to Disneyland. As a seven-year-old, that’s his idea of heaven. I hope that yours is somewhat higher than that. Now take particular note here—this child has already been told he’s going. There are no conditions on it and, because he trusts his parents implicitly, he believes it. Therefore, when they ask him to do certain things like tidy his room or not play football indoors, he obeys them because he is so happy and grateful for the promised trip. However, if he didn’t believe them, he wouldn’t have anything to say thank you (by his behaviour) for.

Well, that’s how it is with God’s commandments. If you believe that Jesus died in payment of the penalty for YOUR sins, then surely you would want to show your gratitude by doing as He asks you. Thus, if you choose to ignore any of His commandments, you are basically either thumbing your nose at Him and saying that, since He’s already bought your ticket to Heaven, you don’t have to do anything to please Him or you simply don’t really believe it at all and see nothing to be thankful for! Now, if you were the parent of that little boy and, after you had paid for the tickets to Disneyland for him, he totally disobeyed the rules you laid down for him to protect him from dangers (like not playing on the road), how would you feel? Think about that and then think how God might feel when you disobey Him. After what He has done for you, do you really want to make Him feel like that?

What needs to be clarified first though is that there are two distinct ‘sides’ to what the Bible calls ‘the Law.’ There is ‘The Law’ itself—and there was ‘The Curse of The Law’—the penalties for breaking it.

3

THE CURSE OF THE LAW

 

L

et me tell you a story.

A businessman owns a successful company and employs several people to help him to run it. He is a generous boss who pays them well above the award rates for the work they do. When a new employee joins the firm he is given a written contract of employment and a clearly defined job description. Unlike most bosses, this one doesn’t hire his people on a probationary basis where they have to ‘prove’ themselves within a certain period before being appointed to the permanent staff. Not only this, he provides all the training a new employee needs whilst paying full wages. If the job involves travelling to visit customers a company vehicle, which may be used for private transport, is supplied. Company housing at a nominal rental is provided for all staff members who require it and two weeks free accommodation is available at a company owned facility in a popular holiday resort each summer. If a member of his staff or his wife or children are sick, the employer not only gives him time off and goes to visit him with thoughtful gifts but the comprehensive non-contributory company insurance ensures that all medical bills are fully met. When employees reach retirement age the company pension will ensure that they are well provided for.

Would you like to work for this man? I’ll bet you would! Well, let’s read the documents. The job description gives complete and distinct details of the work required in return for the remuneration paid. It is not onerous and the productivity specified is comfortably achievable. Similarly, the contract of employment clearly states the hours that you are required to work and how much you will be paid along with details of the ‘fringe benefits’ that you are entitled to receive. It also itemises company health and safety rules and the consequences of breaking them. Because the employer is a fair man and understands human frailty (after all, he is, himself human!) the contract provides opportunity for the employee to justify any actions which appeared to contravene the rules. If a genuine mistake was made and the employee is sincerely sorry that he allowed it to happen, the boss accepts the apology and assumes that the worker has learned a valuable lesson. If, however, the breach of the rules was committed repeatedly and intentionally—let’s say cutting corners on safety precautions in order to increase productivity and, thus, wages—and if, after several warnings, the employee still doesn’t fall into line, as the contract very clearly points out, he is dismissed.

Gone is the generous income. Gone is the company car. Gone is the company house. Gone are the insurance, pension and holiday. And, perhaps only realised after the event, gone is possibly the best boss he ever had or will have! He knows that he has only himself to blame. He is not so much of a fool that he blames the boss—after all, he gave him every opportunity to correct his error.

But there’s more. Let’s now assume that you are that employee. Although you were good at your job you are now out of work because the work you did was highly specialised and the nearest place where your skills can be used is hundreds of miles away. All your family and friends are here and you don’t want to move to a strange town. Because you lost your home you and your wife and three children are living in a cramped welfare home. Your child is very ill and you haven’t got the money to pay for immediate hospitalisation. Suddenly you realise what a fool you have been and so, taking your pride in your hand, you go to your ex-boss and ask him to give you yet another chance. And, guess what, HE GIVES IT TO YOU!

I guess, by now, you have figured out why I have told this story. Are you now thinking that the businessman in my allegory is a mean and vindictive tyrant? I doubt it! Isn’t God just like him—or, rather, isn’t he just like God? Let’s go just one step further, let’s say that you were warned that your flaunting of the safety rule was putting you in danger but you refused to heed that warning but, this time, before the boss could fire you, the machine killed you. Was that the boss’ fault? Of course it wasn’t. Like the man who climbed the power pylon, if you had followed the rule you would still be alive. There are very good reasons for rules. It pays to follow them!

Those churches that preach that we are freed from The Law simply don’t know the truth! And, as the Bible warns, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6)

You see, as one of Jesus’ most quoted statements clearly tells us, "I am the way, the truth and the life..." (John 14:6)—Yes, HE is the whole embodiment of the truth! — "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32) And what, in a nutshell, was Jesus’ teaching?

"OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS." (Matthew 19:17)

The problem with most "New Age" religions is that they have totally misunderstood Jesus by taking the last six words of John 8:32 all on their own and thinking that He said that the truth will set them free from keeping the law whereas, of course, He meant that it would set them free of the condemnation—the curse—of the law (the old penalties for breaking it) because He paid those penalties for every sinner who ever was, is or will be with His mortal life!

If you have taken the trouble to read all those old penalties in Moses’ books than you will know by now that what sinners—those who break the law—have been freed from is being taken outside the city walls and stoned to death or, at the very least, sacrificing the very best products of their labours as a penalty (i.e.: paying a fine).

Those old penalties associated with the breaking of God’s commandments were too numerous and detailed to warrant reproduction in this book—especially when it is considered that they’re now obsolete and, as I have mentioned, they can be studied at your leisure in your Bible.

Paul often wrote about this subject in his letters.

We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Jesus Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16)

All who RELY on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:10-13)

Beloved brothers and sisters, read those words again and NEVER, EVER forget them:

"CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW."

Is there any part of them that you don’t understand? They are SO important and so ignored by sincere, beautiful people, that I am compelled to look at most of them in detail.

cursed: damnable, doomed to destruction.

everyone: All people - not just some - who fit any qualification included in the statement.

who does not: fails, either ignorantly or purposely.

continue: maintain, to repeatedly carry on without giving up.

everything: leaving NO exceptions, total content.

Can you argue with the Word of God? Can you justify breaking even the least of the commandments—"The Book of the Law?" If you can, please write to me and tell me how because MY Bible doesn’t say so!

Paul also wrote: He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with it’s regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:13-17)

What Paul was saying to the Galatian and Colossian churches is that the Old Covenant—The Law—‘the written code... that was against us’—with its animal sacrifices as ‘payment’ for sin, had no power to redeem offenders but could only condemn them as guilty. Thus, because Jesus bore the punishment—‘the curse’ —for every sinner that has ever lived on this earth who confesses Him as the Son of God, the condemnation, which was the only outcome of the law, is now nullified. He also wrote, Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified [declared "not guilty"] by faith apart from observing the law. (Romans 3:27-28)

The question must, therefore, follow, how can anyone be declared "not guilty" if there is no law under which he can be originally charged? Follow the natural progression of thought and you will see just how blind those who claim that they are no longer subject to God’s laws really are.

No law — no sin.

No sin — no guilt.

No guilt — no need of a Saviour!

No need of a Saviour — No Jesus!!!!

And how ridiculous does that sound? The "not guilty" verdict is what God’s grace, through His own Son, Jesus, provides for all who believe in (have faith in) the gospel message. Does anyone live in peace and harmony in a free country because they keep its laws? Or do they keep its laws because they want to keep it free? The freedom they enjoy is the result of having good laws by which it is guaranteed. That is why God provided laws for mankind to live by. And that is why Paul wrote that those who RELY on keeping the law to save them are under a curse. However, by trusting in God and wanting to please Him, we should still live according to the ‘rules’ or, as the Scripture clearly says, BE cursed.

The important point is that the ‘new curse’ is dramatically different to the old one.

So when someone blithely quotes the last eight words of Romans 6:14 to you— "you are not under law, but under grace"—tell them to read the whole verse and not just the bit that suits their lawless lifestyle. "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" Then suggest that they read the rest of the chapter (which is quoted shortly)—especially the very next sentence. What they are failing to realise is that the law doesn’t help anyone to overcome sin—the grace of the Deity, through Jesus Christ, does that. What the law does do though, is show us what sin is—show us the difference between right and wrong. Grace is unmerited favour, it is not a ‘carte blanche’ to break God’s laws, it is the power to keep them! Because Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and all their descendants have inherited that knowledge, we need the law given by God so that we can be in no doubt as to what is good and what is evil. Thus, for those who love God and obey His laws, there is no condemnation and they are, therefore, not ‘under’ the law—they are on top of it. However, those who blatantly disobey God’s instructions are most definitely UNDER it!

All who sin apart from the law [that is, those who have never heard it] will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:12, 13)

If you explain this to the poor misguided, but, no doubt, very sincere Christian who quotes the last bit of Romans 6:14 to you and they refuse to accept it, pray for them to receive divine understanding. They have read God’s Word in just the way that Satan has wanted them to. Way back in the Garden of Eden, because there weren’t any other people to use, he used a serpent to dupe Eve, but today he doesn’t have to do that because there are plenty of people who are more than willing to speak his words for him. So, if the poor unsuspecting person he is using as his agent flatly refuses to accept their error and persists in trying to convince you that it is you who is wrong, use Jesus’ own words, "Get thee behind me Satan," follow your Saviour’s advice, "If any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as testimony against them." (Mark 6:11) and, no matter how special that person is to you, disassociate yourself from them because you can’t afford to put yourself at the dreadful risk they are trying to lay at your door. (We’ll look at this situation in greater depth in chapter 29.)

Where Paul wrote that you should not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day, he was referring to the dietary laws and religious festivals which He gave to His people before they entered the Promised Land. (These are examined in detail in chapter 24) The message that he is conveying here is not, as most modern churches have chosen to believe, that there is no longer any necessity to observe those dietary laws or festivals but that those who do observe them should not be put off continuing to do so by those who don’t or, as he so accurately words it, "don’t let them judge you." Paul’s rebuke is, therefore, not for over-zealousness in following God’s instructions but for those who criticise it. Where do you fit here?

It is particularly sad that so many Christians suffer from the misconception that Paul was saying that food which God declared to Moses as ‘unclean’ (this is all detailed in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14) has somehow suddenly become ‘clean’ and, perhaps worst of all, that God’s fourth commandment regarding keeping the Sabbath day holy no longer applies. When one considers James’ warning that anyone who breaks just one commandment is guilty of breaking them all it is glaringly obvious to all but the most obtuse that this misconception could, ultimately, be fatal! "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 2:29)

What Paul was also referring to wasn’t whether or not a believer observes God’s laws but how he does so. In addition to handing down His laws, festivals and good advice on diet, interpersonal relations and government, God also instructed Moses to establish a judicial system among the Israelites whereby payment for sins was accurately prescribed. The penalties for breaking the laws were clearly defined. This payment was to be made as soon as the offender was found guilty. There was no special day set aside for it. Many times a person who had broken the law realised it and pleaded guilty so that no ‘trial’ was necessary. In such cases the offender (sinner, as the Bible calls him) ‘paid his fine’ and voluntarily brought a ‘sin offering’ to the tabernacle. It is this system that Paul referred to as a shadow of the things which were to come when that code, written in a book by Moses, was metaphorically nailed to the cross with Jesus, the ultimate high priest.

"Such a high priest meets our needone who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of His people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it is necessary for this one also to have something to offer. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and a shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." But the ministry Jesus has received is superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is mediator is superior to the old one, and is founded on better promises." (Hebrews 7:26 - 8:6)

What this high priest, Jesus, offers in the heavenly sanctuary in payment for our sins is Himself.

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?

(1 Samuel 15:22)

Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.

KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS IS WHAT COUNTS.

(1 Corinthians 7:19)

Paul gave clear warnings to Christians of the risks they took by deliberately continuing to disobey the voice of the Lord and live sinful lives—and when you read them, you may think there isn’t any difference to the old covenant penalties. For example, continuing on from Romans 6:14, we read,

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?

By no means!

[The King James Bible has the beautifully graphic and much-quoted words "God forbid!" here]

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to SIN, WHICH LEADS TO DEATH, or to OBEDIENCE, WHICH LEADS TO RIGHTEOUSNESS?" But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in DEATH! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:15-23) Beloved, is this last statement the least bit ambiguous?

(But Satan says, "You will not surely die!")

Paul’s warning is followed by his own experience with sin which we will examine more closely in chapter 4. Then, after dealing with his own situation, he went on to say,

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, IN ORDER THAT THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE CANNOT PLEASE GOD.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers, WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For IF YOU LIVE ACCORDING TO THE SINFUL NATURE, YOU WILL DIE; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD ARE SONS OF GOD." (Romans 8:1-14)

There are lots of other such warnings and, as I’ve suggested, the penalty sounds much the same at the bottom line as the old penalty in most cases—DEATH!

(But then Satan says, "You will not surely die!")

What Paul is referring to though is not the death that we will all experience on the day we take our final breath in this life (unless, of course, Jesus returns first!). He was writing about THE SECOND DEATH which the Bible tells us about in the book of Revelation.

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. THE LAKE OF FIRE IS THE SECOND DEATH. If anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)

So we see that what Paul referred to as death was quite a different matter to the old penalty of death. For example: -

"If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbour—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." (Leviticus 20:10)

That ‘old curse’ refers to the execution of the guilty parties by the people stoning them to death in order that ‘The Law’ should be satisfied. But when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary HE PAID for the law to be satisfied for everyone and so the ‘putting to death’ referred to before He came has no bearing whatsoever on what Paul wrote will happen to sinners since He came and died and was resurrected.

But, Beloved, PLEASE take particular note that the passage I have just quoted from Revelation clearly tells us that each person will be judged according to what he has done. When you consider this does it sound as though you are ‘above the law’?

Jesus’ brother James wrote, "The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:25) Written some twenty years after the crucifixion, this single sentence of God’s inspired word contains several very significant points.

1. The commandments are described as "the perfect law" which clearly indicates that they cannot be improved upon—ever.

2. They are also described as "the law that gives freedom." (The King James Bible uses the words "perfect law of liberty") Unfortunately Satan has tricked millions of sincere people into believing that the freedom referred to is freedom from keeping the law. But the rest of James’ words make it quite obvious that this is not so.

3. It is necessary to look intently into the law—not just glance at it cursorily. That is why I have devoted a whole chapter of this book to it.

4. It is also necessary to continue to do this and not allow oneself to be overwhelmed by the daily pressures of life or by religious ‘hype’ and forget the details.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

5. Most significantly—although it only requires three small words to say it—it is necessary to DO IT! When one sees how many professed Christians say they’re above the law, it would seem that those three little words are too insignificant to be noticed!

6. Finally we read that the person who does this will be blessed where the liberty that keeping the law provides is freedom from poverty, sickness and oppression. (Note the last sentence of Psalm 1:3) Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy about this when He addressed the congregation in the Nazareth synagogue.

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour." (Luke 4:18-19) then He told them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:21)

Are you poor in spirit, a prisoner of religious tradition, blind to the truths of God’s word or oppressed by sinful addictions to false doctrines or substances? Well there’s no need to be! That is the freedom Jesus has bought for you—not freedom to do as you like even if it breaks God’s laws.

This is examined further in chapter 18 "Accept Your Gifts."

So when someone quotes "you are not under law, but under grace" as a justification for ignoring those of God’s commandments that don’t suit them, they are, in effect, showing that they have no idea what grace really is! The Law (NOT the curse) and grace are inextricably linked. Understanding this is essential if the good news of Jesus’ salvation is to be fully comprehended. Without the Law there is no need for grace because the very purpose of grace is the establishment of the Law. One without the other is of no value. Without grace, the Law is something which brings either condemnation or self-justification, depending where you stand and how you keep it (or don’t!) If a person’s life is riddled with sin then, without grace, the Law can only condemn him and so, when he realises that his only hope of salvation is through the grace—the totally unmerited favour—of Jesus’ sacrifice and accepts Him as his Saviour, it is the Law which made that grace necessary. In other words; no condemnation—no need for grace! Once this is realised, it is impossible to say that Jesus abolished the law—and, of course, He Himself clearly stated that He didn’t come to do that!

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have NOT come to abolish them but to fulfil them." (Matthew 5:17)

If you are what I have called an Aspiring Christian—that is, someone who wants to learn about the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ and, having so learned, make a rational and carefully calculated decision to follow Him then, once you have made that decision, you will live by God’s precepts. Personally, I applaud you! There are millions of people in this world who enthusiastically proclaim themselves to be Christians but, once one gets to know their beliefs, it becomes very apparent that they are not! In most cases they were brought up into some religious denominational belief system hiding under the umbrella of the title "Christianity" and their followers have never looked past what their preacher disseminates each week from his pulpit. Well, Beloved, God summed their plight up when He told Hosea,

"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6)

But the Bible also says that He wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of THE TRUTH. (1 Timothy 2:4)

That is why I applaud you. It would be very easy for you, in a desire to provide yourself with the security of a superior guardian power over your life to simply latch on to the first one that some talented speaker "sells" you. Aspiring Christians are not, as those adherents of apostate "Christianity" will say, doubters. They are seeking truth and conscientiously establishing it as such in their own minds before accepting it. That is called responsibility—not doubt! If they are sincerely seeking the truth, then God will provide it. But, like the Berean people Paul spoke the Gospel to, they will check out everything they read or hear very thoroughly before accepting it as truth. Now the Bereans.... received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures EVERY DAY to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

There is, therefore, one requirement which, if your aspirations are sincere, you will have to fulfil without question. That is an unswerving belief in the infallibility of the Bible as the Inspired Word of the Supreme Creator.

On the other hand, there are those who claim to be past the "aspiring" stage and enthusiastically assert their "Christianity." If it is true Christianity then they have every cause to be enthusiastic because there is no substitute. Therefore, if you are such a Christian then I must assume that you accept everything that the Bible says and not just the bits that suit your lifestyle. But then, if you are such a person, this book won’t tell you anything you don’t already know! However, if you are not—if you are still an Aspiring Christian, perhaps one of the greatest pieces of knowledge (which will save you from destruction) is the understanding of the inalienable relationship between the Law and grace.

Since, as we have already seen, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and sin is clearly defined in 1 John 3:4 as lawlessness or, as the King James Bible puts it, "transgression of the law," it necessarily follows that, in order for us to be condemned as sinners, there MUST be a law to transgress. Thus it becomes very obvious that, if Jesus did away with the Law, there could no longer be any sinners! And yet Paul finished his statement by writing, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

From this you can, I hope, see that to say that Jesus did away with the Law and, at the same time, to accept that one is a sinner, is, in effect, to lie—or, to put it in a nicer way, to be double-minded. It just doesn’t make any sense! The first part of the statement says that the Law has no significance whilst the second openly acknowledges that it does! So, firstly, those people who claim that Jesus did away with the Law, if they are determined to stick with that belief, are going to have to accept that they are not sinners. And, if they do that then, not only does the Bible say, "If we claim we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives." (1 John 1:10) but they are also going to have to accept that they don’t need the grace of Jesus’ salvation! I don’t really think I need to comment on that!

As the biblical instruction is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, there must be some standard by which righteousness can be assessed. That standard is God’s Law. There is no other. If you accept this then it must become obvious that Jesus did not do away with it because He is righteous (holy) and another biblical instruction is "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16) When you stop and think about it, if God could just do away with the Law because it didn’t work, there would have been no need for Him to send His Son to the cross. The Law still stands as firm as the day God conceived it. The penalties for breaking it still stand. But the wonderful point is that Jesus has paid them in full for everyone who believes in Him. If you break a law of your land and someone else pays your fine, does that mean that they have also done away with the law that prescribed it? Of course not!

Let’s take this a little bit further. Let’s say that a man goes on a visit to a foreign country and, perhaps out of ignorance rather than malicious intent, he breaks one of that country’s laws. Knowing his ignorance, the citizen of that country that he went to visit, pays the fine prescribed by the law for him. But, because he doesn’t happen to agree with the law that he broke, (and because he has no respect for the friend who paid his fine and because he’s stupid) he keeps on breaking it. However, between the first and subsequent offences, the friend who paid the fine dies. Now there is no one to bail him out so the immigration authorities of the country do the only thing left to them. They extradite him—in biblical terms, he is expelled from the kingdom!

From all of this it should be evident that no one will be saved because they obey the rules. It’s the other way around. We should keep the rules because we are grateful for the enormous sacrifice God made for us and because we want to show that gratitude. Paul explained this as it applied to his own life in Romans chapter 7 but, unfortunately, many Christians have misunderstood his message to say that God’s law no longer applies. So let’s take a closer look at Romans 7 and see what he really said.

4

“THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT”

 

S

ince you have already read chapter 2 of this book, I can safely say much the same words to you as Paul says in the first verse. I am speaking to people who know the law.

Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:1-6)

The point that Paul is making here is that, because Christians have died to what once bound them, they are no longer subject to the condemnation of the law. Because the Christian has been released from that condemnation he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)—he is no longer ‘controlled by the sinful nature, and therefore he has ‘been released from the law’ with its old penalties. In other words, he is no longer a prisoner of the law, keeping it because he wants to avoid those penalties—he is a friend of the law, keeping it because he knows that doing so pleases God—he ‘serves in the new way of the Spirit. Remember, John wrote that God’s commands are not burdensome and Jesus said the same. They were given for our protection not our persecution. Paul continues,

What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from the law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. (vs. 7-12)

If there were no laws how would we know what was right and what was wrong? If the local government body didn’t make a law requiring swimming pools to be fenced, how would little children be saved from drowning? God gave His laws for mankind’s protection in just the same way that parents give instruction to their children. If parents don’t tell their toddler that playing in the middle of the road is dangerous, how does the child know until he is flattened by a vehicle and its too late? In just the same way Paul explains that, without the law there is no sin. That is, no sin known to man. Sin still exists but, without having it defined by the law, how can mankind know what it is?

It’s a bit like a person who smokes. The relaxing narcotic effects of the nicotine make him feel good. But then, one day, he sees a TV advertisement showing graphic pictures of the insides of people who have died of lung cancer. Suddenly everything (including the smoker’s face) takes on a different complexion. But what has actually changed? The danger was there all the time—so that hasn’t changed. A miracle cure for cancer hasn’t been discovered—so that hasn’t changed either. The smoker hasn’t actually been diagnosed with cancer—he doesn’t even feel ill! The only thing that has actually changed is his knowledge. Now he knows about the danger. Until someone told him, he didn’t. Now he will remember those TV images every time he lights up a cigarette. Now he is faced with making a decision whether to give up smoking or, very possibly die a painful, unpleasant, drawn-out death. Smoking isn’t against man’s law for adults, so why would the smoker give up? Because he doesn’t want to die a painful, unpleasant, drawn-out death. That’s why! Doesn’t this illustrate what God meant when He said, "My people are destroyed through lack of knowledge."?

Isn’t it just like that with sin? The immediate effects of sin often make people feel good. Satan sees to that! He says, "You will not surely die." If they don’t know something is wrong there’s no reason not to do it if there is no immediately obvious adverse effect. But once they do know, then they have to make a decision. Do they carry on regardless, or do they stop doing it? And if those people claim to be Christians and that sin offends the God that they profess to love, what decision will they make?

What decision will YOU make?

Having so said, it should be becoming clear that what was "God’s Rule Book," could, since Jesus bore the penalty for breaking those rules, now be considered as "God’s Instruction Book." What are usually referred to as "The Commandments" could, perhaps, now be described as "The Definitions Of Sin."

No-one can be condemned for breaking a law that they didn’t know about—and couldn’t know about, because it had never been published—so that’s why God engraved His basic laws-for-living on stone, so that no-one could say they didn’t know. But those laws don’t offer any assistance to sinners—people who break them—they only point out that they are sinners! And, since Satan’s principle objective is to seduce God’s creation away from Him, the written laws offer him a wonderful opportunity. This is the ‘opportunity afforded by the commandment’ that Paul was referring to. By making sin look attractive Satan deceives people who are not on their constant guard into breaking the law, which is why Paul wrote that, through the commandment, he was put to death.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. (v. 13)

Without the law, how would sin be recognised as sin? And don’t fool yourself by saying that instinct would tell you the difference between right and wrong.

Since the 1952 abrogation of the laws prohibiting the overt practice of occultism in Britain, there has been a dramatic increase in witchcraft and, perhaps, most distressing, a marked growth in the number children claiming to have ‘contact’ with the spirits of dead relatives. In addition to this religious instruction has now been completely removed from the curricula of state schools throughout most of the Christian world. It isn’t even available any more so that, if young people don’t learn about the Creative Deity at home, they are in severe danger, as God said to Hosea, of being destroyed through lack of knowledge. And now, as we embark on a new millennium, we are into the second generation of scriptural ignorance so that, even if a youngster asks about God, no-one can tell them at home or at school—which only leaves the churches and, as we shall see, the vast majority of those are, to a greater or lesser extent, apostate servants of Satan, described by Jesus and Paul as "the god of this world." With no law to protect young ‘innocents’ the devil has been given free rein to set the scene for the dramatic end of the age. (More about that later.)

Human instinct is basically carnally selfish. It ‘produces death’ in you. If someone finds himself in a life-threatening situation, with few exceptions, his first instinct is to save himself. This is called the law of self-preservation. Kill or be killed. How many people whose family are starving turn to God in prayer and how many would steal to feed their children? I know that there are those who would die rather than steal but, let’s face it, they are few and far-between—and blessed are they!

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (vs. 14-15)

Take particular note of this statement and bear in mind that these are the words of the great apostle Paul, not some atheist. Was Paul a slave to sin? The essence of what he is saying here is that, like the young people I have just written about, left to his own devices, yes he was. Giving your life to God’s service, as I wrote right at the beginning of this book, is only the deposit. Making that decision takes only a few seconds, but carrying it out takes the rest of your life. In this respect Paul was no different to you and me. Never underestimate Satan’s power. He will work ten times as hard, twenty-four hours a day to subvert the work of God’s Holy Spirit in a believer, and Paul was obviously not immune to this. After Jesus, he was probably one of the worst threats Satan has faced. Without tenaciously clinging to God’s promises through His Word, we don’t stand a chance and so ‘what we hate, we do.’

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I that do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (vs. 16-20)

Way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve ‘sold out’ to the master of sin. Therefore, as Paul says, ‘nothing good lives in us.’ This is why the law only serves to instruct. If we try to live up to God’s requirements on our own, WE WILL FAIL! Without a total reliance on the power Jesus’ resurrection, we are no match for Satan and we will always end up making the excuse, "The devil made me do it." Well, that excuse is nothing more or less than just that—an excuse! This is what Jesus’ brother James says about it.

each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:14) Did you get that? BY HIS OWN EVIL DESIRE. Sure, Satan is the tempter but, just as God WILL never force us to do anything, Satan CANNOT ever force us to do anything. Quite simply, he doesn’t have that power! So, as James points out, what he does is ‘drag us away (from the protection of the law) and entice us.’ But it is WE OURSELVES who make the decisions whether or not to follow him.

So, next time you slip up—and we all do! For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), don’t try to lay all the blame on Satan by saying "The devil made me do it," because he only gives you the opportunity to make your own decision to do it. But it is human nature to lay the blame on someone else.

That’s what happened way back in the Garden of Eden. When God said to Adam, "Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Genesis 3:11), the first thing that Adam did was lay the blame on Eve. "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" (vs 12-13) But Eve wasn’t about to ‘carry the can’ either and she quickly replied, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Now, you may say that Eve was saying, "The devil made me do it!" But was she? Well, in actual fact, if you actually read what she said, that wasn’t what she was saying at all. What she did say was that the serpent (the devil) deceived her but it was her who chose to eat the fruit—as James put it, ‘by her own evil desire.’

And be warned, Satan won’t go away—in fact, once you’ve made that decision to follow Jesus, Satan will hang around you like a bad smell. He hates to lose so you can expect temptations to increase dramatically. But with Christ’s help we can overcome the devil.

When Jesus died and was raised from the dead by His Father He certainly defeated sin—but He didn’t eliminate it, as many misguided Christians seem to think. As Paul obviously knew only too well, sin is still there ‘living in you’ in your subconscious eagerly trying to come out. Thus we will always, in this life, have an ongoing battle with sin. When it rears its ugly head our only defence is in the blood of Jesus. By ourselves we don’t stand a chance.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (vs. 21-24)

It is only because Paul knew God’s commandments that he realised that he was a wretched man and, more to the point, that he needed to do something about it. The ‘law of his mind’ was what let him know when the ‘law of sin’ was at work in his life. Without God’s law he would have contentedly sailed through his life without a care in the world because he wouldn’t have even known when he did what he shouldn’t do. It’s just the same for us today. Paul’s answer to his own question at the end of the last passage is as valid now as it was when he wrote it.

Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v. 25)

Paul sums the situation up by saying, "So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

Thus, if you know God’s instructions and, because you love Him and want to please Him, you follow them, then yes, you are ‘above the law’—i.e.: on top of it—but if you don’t then you are quite definitely ‘under the law.’

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20)

Only through absolute faith in the redemption bought for you by Jesus can you hope to overcome your natural slavery to sin and follow your maker’s instructions—and, in so doing, PLEASE HIM.

5

BE MALLEABLE

T

his is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: "Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message." So he went down to the potter’s house, and saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. (Jeremiah 18:1-10)

Whilst God was, at that time, speaking to Jeremiah about the Israelite nation, since Christians are, as I will scripturally illustrate later in this book, ‘honorary,’ ‘adopted’ or Spiritual Israelites,’ doesn’t the same message apply to us as individuals today? He even said so in the passage just quoted when He referred to ‘a nation or kingdom’ at ‘another time.’ We are that nation and now is another time. It occurs to me that whilst we are alive we are like the soft clay on the potter’s wheel. If we allow Him to, God can re-shape us but if we choose to reject the truths found in His infallible, immutable Word He can do nothing other than bring into our lives true followers of his laws who will show us His truths. He cannot make decisions for us because, as I have written, those choices are ours.

It therefore follows that, if you are a committed Christian who follows God’s rule book and you try to share His truths with loved ones who are still ‘in darkness’ (that is: knowing nothing about God) or in ‘Babylon’ (being beguiled by false doctrines), you will be like the blessed people Jesus referred to in His parable about the king discussed at the end of chapter 20. The king told those people, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat." (Matthew 25:35) Notice that he didn’t say, "I was hungry and you fed Me." as many people like to quote it. In just the same way, if your family and friends tell you that they are hungry, you can put food in front of them but, unless they are incapacitated, you won’t actually feed them! They have to pick it up and eat it. If they do they will live—if they don’t they will die of starvation. You cannot ‘force-feed’ the living gospel—the Bread of Life—to anyone, you can lay it before him or her but they have to pick it up and accept it. As the saying goes, "You can take the horse to the water—but you can’t make it drink!"

Some Christians suggest that we are like metal on God’s anvil but what those people fail to understand is that, whilst He will mould us like soft, readily pliable clay, God will never beat us into shape. He will sometimes apply a bit of heat to soften and melt us like silver or gold.

"In the whole land," declares the Lord, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’" (Zechariah 13:8-9)

Some things, like potter’s clay, fire hardens, others, like precious metals, it softens. God knows each one of us intimately. "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matthew 10:30) Some, by nature, are already softened to respond to their Creator’s gentle moulding whilst others need their hardened hearts to be melted and refined. The dross of religious tradition has to be skimmed off before the precious metal can be fit for God’s kingdom where there will be nothing impure. But, in any event, we must be malleable. When we experience the first death the grave is like the potter’s kiln or the die-caster’s matrix. The ‘shape’ we chose—the traditions we chose to follow—are permanently moulded into our record. We are no longer malleable.

Very few people know when they will die. A heart attack could end your life before you finish reading this page. (Of course, I pray that it wont! —I want you to finish this book!) But, if that did happen, where would you stand with God? You can never again claim ignorance of the Scriptural truths that I have already presented because you have read this far.

There are those who may accuse me of being "legalistic" which they will say is what Paul was referring to when he wrote, He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with it’s regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Yes He did! The written code which was metaphorically ‘nailed to the cross’ and cancelled was the old covenant penalty that Paul quite clearly defines as "regulations." That word comes from the verb "to regulate" meaning "to control by rule." Thus it can be seen that what he referred to as against us and stood opposed to us was the application of the penalties for breaking those rules, the control (regulation) of those rules, NOT the rules themselves! The part of God’s whole law which required payment for sins is what was nailed to the cross. By being the ultimate sacrificial offering for sin,

JESUS HAS MADE THAT PAYMENT

for ALL the sins of the world. He didn’t DO AWAY with sin—He TOOK THE RECORD OF IT AWAY from those willing to let Him! And therein lies the fundamental difference. As John the Baptist so succinctly put it:

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 KJV)

He didn’t say, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the law of the world." Can you, for example, find anything in the Bible which proves beyond doubt that it’s OK to commit murder, or adultery, or steal, or bow to crosses or change God’s Sabbath? For the sake of your traditions you may search diligently for such proofs but in Isaiah 55 verse 11 God says,

"My word that goes out from my mouth will not return to me empty." and in Psalm 111, verses 7 and 8, we are told,

ALL his commandments are sure. THEY STAND FAST FOR EVER AND EVER, and are done in truth and uprightness. (KJV)

So how do you ever expect to find anything anywhere in the Bible to prove otherwise? And if you are still thinking I’ve been too legalistic and, because you profess to be a Christian who loves his or her neighbour, you are moved to pray for me, let Scripture—not me—tell you, if you are knowingly breaking (‘turning a deaf ear to’) even one of God’s commandments, don’t waste your time because,

"If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,

EVEN HIS PRAYERS ARE DETESTABLE."

(Proverbs 28:9)

I have no doubt whatsoever that your intentions are good but I have to tell you that good intentions—without scriptural knowledge—could destroy you. But, if you read your Bible, you don’t need me to tell you this. As God, Himself said, "My people are DESTROYED from lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6)

When you think about it, there are no "half-measures" when it comes to destruction. Its permanent! Again you will notice that He refers to those who are destroyed as "My people" not as Satan’s people.

These are the people who, much later, when He took on human flesh and was named Jesus, He was referring to when He said, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY THOSE WHO DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Do you think Jesus will enjoy having to speak those awful words? Do you want to break the heart of the One who gave His very life for you?

So, just in case anyone has misunderstood my intention in writing this book, let me make a VERY IMPORTANT FACT extremely clear. I don’t want to hear Jesus say "Away from me, you evildoer!" to anyone! I’m pleased to be called legalistic because, as Romans 3:20 clearly tells us, whilst no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather,

through the law we become conscious of sin.

If a person isn’t conscious of sin, how can he avoid committing it and, by so doing, offending God?

YES, WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE,

but we can still be

CONDEMNED BY DIS-GRACE!

So, as Paul wrote, whilst

OBEYING GOD’S COMMANDMENTS

WON’T GET ANYONE

INTO HIS KINGDOM,

WILFUL FAILURE TO OBEY THEM

WILL CERTAINLY KEEP YOU OUT!

Obedience is the RESULT of faith in God’s saving grace and, whilst not meritorious in itself, it is a VITAL witness of a true Christian’s profession of belief. I therefore hope that, having read this far; there are no readers still in doubt as to exactly what ‘dis-grace’ is! Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, there are an awful lot who confuse grace with lawlessness!

Getting what we deserve is JUSTICE.

NOT getting what we deserve is MERCY.

But GRACE is getting what we DON'T deserve.

Thus, the availability of grace is totally unconditional but the acceptance of it is very definitely conditional.

I guess that there may be those "Law-abiding" Christians who might say that these statements were all I needed to write but, for those less scripturally knowledgeable, I believe that some explanation is necessary. Hence this book.

Herein lies the difference. There’s "legalistic" and there’s "Law-abiding." The Pharisees were very legalistic, using the law as a weapon to assert their own power. Jesus was law-abiding, keeping the law because He was obedient. And make no mistake beloved,

Obedience is a prime requirement for citizenship of the kingdom of heaven.

Remember, HE said so!

"IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE,

OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS."

(Matthew 19:16-17)

Beloved, they are NOT requests, they are COMMANDMENTS!

The legalist obeys them only as a means to an endsalvation and, as Jesus has clearly pointed out, THAT won’t work! The law-abiding keep them because that end is already assured by grace. To the law-abiding, whilst commandments they will always be, they are treated as requests and complied with in love.

You see, as Philip Yancey so succinctly wrote,

"There is nothing we can do to make God love us more,

And there is nothing we can do to make God love us less."

It is not a question of how much God loves us. The real question is, "How much do we love God?" If your earthly father asked you to do something, would you comply because you love him or because you’re scared of him? In the same way, surely, disobeying God’s commands is making an open statement that you don’t love Him enough to want to please Him.

As the parent of young children I made it a policy to always, (unless, of course, there was an immediate danger to life and limb) make my initial instruction in the form of a request. In human terms this can simply be achieved by adding the word "please" to the commandin other words "asking nicely." "Would you please help Mum with the dishes, Son." If the request went unanswered, the second time the request became an order. "Son, dry the dishes!" (Although it would be true to say that, more often than not, the second request would simply be an exact repeat of the first with only the tone and volume changed!) If it was still ignored a threat was added. "If you don’t help your Mum, you wont be allowed to go to Barry’s party tomorrow." And, if the order was still ignored, the threat was carried out. However, before they had got too old, my sons soon learned that such threats were not idle and that they would be implemented and, being children and possessing that innate need to exert their independence, they might hang out until the very last minuteuntil, for instance, I might grunt, "OK" and rise to go and do the job in their place. At that point the youngster would leap up and rush to do the chore. Because I was not a tyrannical parent, the threat was forgotten and the child was justified. God is not a tyrannical parent either!

Doesn’t He treat His children the same way? "Return to me and I will return to you." (Malachi 3:7)

You will notice that, throughout the Old Testament the word "please" does not occur used as part of a request. This is not because no one was polite in those days. It is simply that the linguistic culture of the time didn’t include it. "Please" is actually an abbreviation of "If it pleases you" and, as such, if taken literally, would infer that, if the request of which it forms part doesn’t please the recipient, then they don’t have to comply. When you think about it, the modern world has almost forgotten the meaning of "please." For example, whilst pedestrian traffic signals often display the words, "Please wait," if you don’t you can be charged with jay-walking (or run over!). In this context the traffic signal is a commandment, even though it is presented as a request. When it is remembered that our Creator is the God of Love, and that the rules He compiled for our protection are the expression of that love could it not be said that they are, in reality, loving requests presented as commandments. He said, "You shall not steal" because He knew that if He had said, "Please do not steal." even less people would take any notice of Him! Do you obey that command solely to ensure your salvation or because, in your heart, you know it is a good command? It is most certainly good for the potential victim and, because you would displease God by committing theft, it is good for you!

John made a very significant comment in his first letter when he wrote, If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. (1 John 5:16-17)

There are a number of differing opinions on exactly what the ‘sin that leads to death’ referred to by John in this passage is. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." (Mark 3:28-29) meaning that anyone who denies the existence of the Holy Spirit has, in effect, denied the existence of the Divine Creator whose Spirit He is and has, therefore, removed himself from all communion with God. When John wrote that ‘there is a sin that does not lead to death’ I believe he was referring to sin of ignorance.

In other words, if a person was brought up to go to church on Sunday and bow down to a cross when he entered the building (thus committing the sins of breaking the fourth and second commandments)—or even if he was brought up not to go to church at allor as a Buddhist or Muslimand he knows no different, God will not hold this against him. However, once that person has been shown the truth, then the sin takes on a whole different complexion. As Hebrews 10:26, 27 puts it,

If we DELIBERATELY keep on sinning AFTER we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Thus, the only remaining outcome must be the second death because there’s no such place as purgatory (more on that later)!

Amazingly, our Father loves ALL His children no matter how much they sin. He hates their sin but he still loves THEM and nothing will hurt Him more than seeing even one of them, no matter how wicked, thrown into that lake of fire.

"As surely as I live," declares the Sovereign Lord, "I TAKE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED, but rather that they turn from their ways and live." (Ezekiel 33:11)

Because He loves them all, it is essential that, before the new earth is established, SIN MUST BE TOTALLY ELIMINATED. If it isn’t, Jesus’ whole life and death and resurrection would have been in vain and God would have let down those who have been obedient to His commandments. If a parent promises a small reward treat to those of his children who comply with a request and then gives the reward to all of them including those who did nothing, what would the ones who did do what was asked think?

Firstly there would be loud protests that the ones who hadn’t helped didn’t deserve the treat and, much worse, it wouldn’t be long before none of them complied since they know they’ll get the reward anyway! The daughter who is always ready to help Mum whilst her lazy brother watches TV would soon protest if he got all the favours she had earned. Can’t you just hear her wails of "It’s not fair!"?

Well God is a fair parent to His children and He has promised salvation to those who love Him and obey Him into a world where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, where the old order of things has passed away, (Revelation 21:4) where the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be FULL of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, NOT WANTING ANYONE TO PERISH, but EVERYONE to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

He cannot break that promise

and so He gave each one of US the right and the power to choose. He knows what He wants our choice to be but, BEFORE [not AT] the end, that choice is ours and ours alone and, one way or another, IT MUST BE MADE. If you decide to do nothing, hoping it will sort itself out, YOU’VE MADE YOUR CHOICE!

Have you been a fool and substituted God’s commandments with man’s rules? Read the words of the wisest totally human man of all time.

"The way of a fool seems right to him,

but a wise man listens to advice."

(Proverbs 12:15)

The best advice I can think of for anyone who wants the wonderful immortal life that their Creator has planned for them is, if you haven’t already done so,

MAKE THE CHOICE

FOR GOD AND JESUS

RIGHT NOW—BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

 

NEVER forget Jesus’ words, they aren’t difficult to understand:

 

"IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE,

OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS."6

WHAT IS YOUR CONCLUSION?

N

ow, if you claim to be a "born-again Christian" who attends church every Sunday and do your best to please God, I want you to take a look at one of God’s rules—the fourth—a bit closer. Not because its any more important than any other rule but because, as I mentioned earlier, its the one most broken by people who profess to be Christians and the one which, on the day of judgement, will most clearly separate those who are obedient and those who are not. To save you turning back, here it is again.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)

The reason that this is so universally broken is actually due to another of those religious traditions based on ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy’ that Paul referred to. It should be more correctly regarded as a totally Scripturally unauthorised Catholic/pagan ‘replacement’ of God’s Sabbath referred to as "The Lord’s Day" in allusion to the day after the Sabbath on which Jesus rose from the dead. As the Catholic "Universe Bulletin" of 14/8/1942 stated:

"The church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant claiming the Bible to be the only true guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday." (emphasis added)

Where that ‘divine, infallible authority’ is scripturally documented I have no idea but MY Bible says,

"We must obey God rather than men!"

(Acts 5:29)

—And those words were spoken by none other than Peter, the man that the Catholic Church recognises as its first vicar! As I will discuss in chapter 10, it is particularly sad that, after the horrendous persecution their pioneering founders suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church (described in Revelation 17:5 as Babylon), almost the entire Protestant community today (Babylon’s prostitute daughters) has taken the papist change of the Sabbath day with them. Did those early martyrs of the reformation burn at the inquisition stake for nought?

Has it ever occurred to you that there is absolutely no reason in nature for the particular division of time called the week? A day is one revolution of the earth on its axis. A month is based on the Greek word men, — mhvn2 meaning ‘time of the new moon’ and was, as close as possible, to one orbit of the moon around the earth—actually 29.53059 days—although the calendar month has been somewhat altered from this in modern times. A year is one orbit of the earth around the sun—again, actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.5 seconds—hence the ‘leap’ day every four years to accommodate the extra part day. But the week is only based on the description of creation in the Bible! Yet this one thing exclusively ordained by our Divine Creator has been accepted by the entire world—the seven-day week! Sadly, like his corruption of just about everything he touches, man has almost forgotten the significance of the last day of that week.

Actually the seventh day Sabbath was gradually changed as a sincere attempt by the early European Christians to ingratiate the Gospel to the pagan Gentile sun-worshipers by way of allowing them to incorporate God-worship into their existing ceremonies held on the day of the sun. Unfortunately, this resulted in the sacrifice of God’s rest day to the sun god to the point where millions of Christians today don’t question it or even think about it. But Scripture leaves us in no doubt as to what God and His Son think about it!

Speaking to the Israelites about the inhabitants of the promised land just before they entered it, God said: "But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.’ You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates." (Deuteronomy 12:29-31)

Paul reiterated this in his letter to the Ephesians where he wrote,

"For you were once in darkness, but now you are in the light of the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." (Ephesians 5:8-12)

And Jesus said: "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

"‘These people honour me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

They worship me in vain;

their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

You have let go of the commands of God

and are holding on to the traditions of men."

And then He said to them:

"YOU HAVE A FINE WAY OF SETTING ASIDE THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD IN ORDER TO OBSERVE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS!"

(Mark 7:6-9)

If he said that thenbefore He had died and been resurrected in defeat of Satan—what do you think He would say to today’s Sunday-keeping law-breakers?

Even back in Isaiah’s time God’s people didn’t want to obey their Creator because they found it too difficult so the Spirit of God told him:

"Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, "Give no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" (Isaiah 30:8-11)

In other words, as Paul wrote to Timothy, they gathered around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears wanted to hear (2 Timothy 4:3) rather than God’s plan and will for them!

You will occasionally meet someone who, in a feeble effort to justify their wilful breaking of God’s fourth law, will argue that there is no Scriptural endorsement that the modern Saturday is, in fact the seventh day and yet those same people readily pronounce that Jesus’ resurrection occurred on the day we now call Sunday. As I will show at the end of chapter 14, all four gospels name that day as the FIRST day of the week!

As the Catholic Church’s own publication openly states, NOWHERE in The Bible are we told that the seventh-day Sabbath was to be replaced by the first day of the week. In fact the first day is only mentioned eight times in the whole New Testament (compared with the Sabbath, which occurs 56 times!). Five are in the four Gospels and refer to the same event—the visit early in the morning of the women to Jesus’ empty tomb. (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, 9, Luke 24:1 and John 20:1) As these references are studied in greater depth in chapter 13 and all are very similar we will just review the first one here.

‘AFTER THE SABBATH, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.’—and take particular note of the first three words. Mark’s account starts in the same way. Another mention of the first day is an instruction from Paul to the Corinthian church concerning financial church business (1 Corinthians 16:2)—definitely not to be conducted on the Sabbath! —and the other two are purely references to the day of the week on which a particular meeting happened to be taking place. (John 20:19, Acts 20:7)

The last example is probably the one most used by many Sunday-keeping Christians to ‘prove’ that, even as early as Paul’s visit to Troas—only about 25 years after the crucifixion—the churches were celebrating the Sabbath on the first day of the week. However, let us carefully study the Scripture and see what it actually says, "on the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."

This clearly tells us that the gathering took place in the evening—Paul talked until midnight. Now any Bible or secular history student knows that, in biblical times, when Luke wrote this account, days began and ended at sunset and not as they do today, at midnight. Therefore the people at Troas actually met to break bread on what, in today’s terms, would be Saturday evening immediately following the Sabbath day of rest and worship—as would be right and proper, since the breaking of bread—the preparation of food—on the Sabbath would be considered as work by devout Jews! So, in actual fact, the meeting was neither held on the biblical Sabbath or the Sunday substitute and thus IN NO WAY supports the latter!

Actually the very same book of the Bible cites not just one, but a number of instances where Paul definitely kept the Sabbath, and we will take a closer look at these shortly. If you think about it (and 99 percent of people probably never have!), why did God wait until the first day of the week to raise Jesus from the dead?

Quite simple really! God obeys His own laws—He practices what He preaches! On the seventh day He rested according to His own fourth commandment and so did His beloved Son! Don’t you find that inspirational? Why would God break His own rule in order to resurrect His Son a day sooner when they have eternity to be together? On the Sabbath day, they both rested! Hallelujah! How many of us have that sort of patience? What better example could anyone want?

He did the same thing centuries earlier when He fed the Israelites fleeing from Egypt across the desert. Even before they reached Sinai, where the commandments were written down, each morning the Israelites received heavenly food called ‘manna’ which fell like dew each night in the desert—except that they didn’t get any on the seventh day of each week. We’ll pick up the story where this is explained.

Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as muchtwo omers for each personand the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, "This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’"

So they saved it until morning as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."

Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day He gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:19-30)

In spite of God’s explicit instructions some of the people went to gather the manna and this is what God was referring to when He said to Ezekiel about 900 years later:

"I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so that they would know that I the Lord made them holy. Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, most beautiful of all lands —because they rejected my laws and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts were devoted to their idols. Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the desert. I said to their children in the desert, ‘Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’" (Ezekiel 20:11-20)

And who says God isn’t merciful? For His own name’s sake He didn’t do what, really, He should have done and destroyed the rebellious and disobedient Israelites right there in the desertbut He didn’t! (Not all of them anyway! See chapter 29.)

Then there are those people who say that the Sabbath is only for the Jews—another feeble attempt to justify their refusal to keep it. However, as any schoolchild who has been brought up with any biblical knowledge will tell you, the seventh day Sabbath was actually designated way back in the Garden of Eden almost two thousand years before there was any such thing as a Jew!

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. (Genesis 2:3) "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) It was made for everyone on Earth!

Now it’s quite true that Jesus healed people on the Sabbath and He was taken to task for it by the religious Pharisees. His answer to them was;

"Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save or to kill?" (Mark 3:4) "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:11-12)

And when His disciples picked wheat to eat on the Sabbath, Jesus responded to his accusers saying;

"Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? .... he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful for only priests to eat. And he gave some to his companions." (Mark 2:26)

Occasionally you will encounter someone who says that every day is a Sabbath to them. Such people obviously have no idea what the Sabbath means. In His infinite wisdom God knew that, after six days of creative work, He needed a day off! Since we were made in His image why would we be any different? The very word means, "rest." That’s why He said, "Six days you shall labour and do all your work." (Exodus 20:9) So if someone tells you that every day is a Sabbath, they are clearly not following this part of the commandment are they? What’s more, I’d love to know how they earn a living or, even if they have unlimited means and don’t have to, when they clean their houses or tend their gardens. And if they say that they have staff to do such things then they are still breaking the commandment which, you will remember, says, "The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates." (Exodus 20:10) So, when it comes down to it, the "every day is a Sabbath" line is just another pathetic excuse for flaunting God’s command. As I have written, those who use it might fool themselves, but they won’t fool God!

Right at the beginning of this book I outlined the two sides of the deal that we have with God and pointed out that our part is to SERVE Him. Remember, God’s own Son, Jesus Himself said, "Worship the Lord your God and SERVE HIM ONLY."

Imagine that you’re in a restaurant and order a filet steak but the waiter brings fish so you point out to him that he has brought the wrong meal? He responds by telling you that it was more convenient for him to bring fish and that it is just as nourishing and filling as steak so what’s your problem? Would you accept that? Would you expect the man whose job it is to serve you to do so in the way that he wants? I’ll bet you wouldn’t! So why should God? Don’t try serving Him at your convenience because that isn’t serving Him at all!

Now I should mention people like doctors and nurses, firemen and police—people who do jobs which are essential to their neighbour’s health and safety. Remember what Jesus said about healing and doing good on the Sabbath. If you do some job of work which simply cannot be done any other time you should not feel guilty. But, if you want to stay right in God’s sight, let discernment be your guide, and remember, Jesus didn’t get paid! I have spoken with Sabbath-keeping Christians the nature of whose professional calling requires them to work on Saturday who give every cent they earn on that day to charity.

Back when I first received the message that prompted me to write this book, I was already a committed Christian and, in accordance with the command, I was religiously keeping "the Sabbath" holy. I would not work and I was devoting the whole day to praising and worshiping God and to studying Scripture. I would get up early in the morning and tune in to evangelistic TV programmes until it was time to leave home for church. Then I would participate in a morning worship service followed by a fellowship lunch and then attend another church service in the afternoon. When that was over, I returned to the first church where a number of the congregation shared tea together before joining together for the evening service after which I hurried home to watch more Christian TV until bedtime. My whole day was devoted to the Lord from about 6-00 am through to 11-00 pm. Except that I was doing it all on Sunday—Satan’s counterfeit sabbath!

Then, as I started writing this book, I began to research the Scriptures far more thoroughly than I had ever done before and, before too long, something started really bothering me. Why was I diligently attempting to keep God’s fourth commandment on a Sunday? Using my computer Bible programme, I searched and examined every version I could hunting for even the slightest hint that, somewhere along the line, the Sabbath Day had been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week. Search as I might, I could find absolutely no justification for it anywhere in my Bible. So I took the question up with the pastor of my church and, to my amazement, he told me that, if I persisted with my claims, I would no longer be welcome at ‘his’ church and, unless I gave up my new conviction, I would be bodily thrown out! Needless to say, I went home that evening with a very heavy heart, praying to God all the way to direct my immediate future.

When I arrived home, as usual, I turned on my television to watch the evangelist programmes and, right in the middle of one of them, there was an advertisement for an upcoming "New World Order Seminar" to be held at a hall not far from my home. As I was, by now, hungry for further enlightenment, I decided to attend. Among numerous other interesting topics discussed by the speaker was God’s true Sabbath. I was completely amazed! Within just a few days God showed me that I was not alone in my new Sabbath conviction!

Because there is so much controversy over this subject I have chosen to allow Scripture itself to answer what I believe are the questions that are most often asked concerning the fourth commandment. If you claim to be a Christian, you CANNOT argue with God’s word. Quite simply, if you do, then you are NOT a Christian. If you are an ‘Aspiring Christian’ then I pray that the answers given will help you to make the right decision to please the right God—that is, the God who created the heavens and the earth and not "the god of this world." Many of the verses quoted appear elsewhere in this book in other contexts but I ask you to read them again and hope the answers that the Bible gives—and, more particularly, the answer YOU give at the end—will, where necessary, change your thinking—and your calendar.

Q1. Is Scripture true and can it be trusted?

2 Timothy 3: 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [KJV]

2 Peter 1: 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

 

Q2. Does God have a special day and, if He does, what does He say about it?

Exodus 20: 8 "Remember THE SABBATH DAY by keeping it holy."

 

Q3. Which day is this Sabbath and what restrictions, if any, does God place on it?

Exodus 20: 9 "Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the SEVENTH DAY IS THE SABBATH of the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates."

Isaiah 58: 13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."

 

Q4. Why is the seventh day the Sabbath?

Genesis 2: 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. 3 And God blessed the SEVENTH day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.

Exodus 20: 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the SEVENTH day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

 

Q5. That’s one of the Ten Commandments. Weren’t they only for pre-Christian times?

Psalm 111: 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; ALL his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are steadfast FOR EVER AND EVER, done in faithfulness and uprightness.

Psalm 119: 151 Yet you are near, O Lord, and ALL your commands are true. 152 Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last FOREVER.

 

Q6. But wasn’t God’s covenant—the Ten Commandments—only for the Jews?

Isaiah 56: 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, ALL who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Matthew 28: 19 "Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I have commanded you."

 

Q7. Can’t God change His mind if He wants to?

Malachi 3: 6 "I, the LORD, DO NOT CHANGE."

Isaiah 55: 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

 

Q8. So what day did Jesus keep for worship?

Luke 4: 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM. And he stood up to read.

 

Q9. But isn’t Sunday ‘the Lord’s Day?’

Mark 2: 27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

 

Q10. But then didn’t Jesus change the Sabbath law by rising from the dead on the first day?

Matthew 5: 17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have NOT come to abolish them but to fulfil them.

18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Hebrews 13: 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

 

Q11. And when will all be accomplished?

Matthew 24: 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." 44 "The Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him"

 

Q12. Then did the apostles change the Sabbath?

Matthew 4: 10 "Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."

Acts 5: 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!"

(see also Hebrews 4:1-11)

 

Q13. Okay, did Paul change it then?

Acts 17: 2 AS HIS CUSTOM WAS, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

Acts 18: 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 13: 42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.

 

Q14. Well someone must have changed the Sabbath - so who did?

Daniel 7: 23 The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 25 HE WILL speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and TRY TO CHANGE THE SET TIMES AND THE LAWS.

 

Q15. How do God and Jesus view the way people treat the law?

Proverbs 28: 9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, EVEN HIS PRAYERS ARE DETESTABLE.

Matthew 5: 19 "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

John 15: 14 "You are my friends IF you do what I command."

 

Q16. And, in particular, what about the Sabbath law of the fourth commandment?

Isaiah 56: 1 This is what the Lord says:

"Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

 

Q17. Doesn’t faith replace the law since Jesus died?

Romans 3: 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? NOT AT ALL! Rather, WE UPHOLD THE LAW.

Q18. So how easily can the law be changed?

Luke 16: 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

 

Q19. But isn’t loving God and our neighbour more important than keeping the law?

Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied: "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 ALL the Law AND the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Romans 13: 10 Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore LOVE IS THE FULFILMENT OF THE LAW.

1 John 5: 3 This is love for God: to OBEY HIS COMMANDS. And his commands are not burdensome.

 

Q20. Do we have to keep the commandments to receive our gift of salvation? Isn’t being good sufficient?

Matthew 19: 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

 

Q21. Weren’t some laws more important than others?

James 2: 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking ALL of it.

 

Q22. Why, then, do so many churches break the law and meet on the first day of the week?

2 Timothy 4: 3 The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

 

Q23. Are there any warnings given about this?

Matthew 24: 24 "False christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the electif that were possible."

2 Corinthians 11: 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as angels of righteousness.

Colossians 2: 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2: 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendour of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

 

Q24. What lie is this referring to?

Genesis 3: 4 "You will not surely die." the serpent said to the woman.

 

Q25. Who is this serpent?

Revelation 12: 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

 

Q26. What happens if transgress (break) the law—and what if we keep it?

Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10: 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

 

Q27. What then, is ‘sin?’

1 John 3: 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, SIN IS LAWLESSNESS.

 

Q28, What did Jesus say about keeping the law?

John 14: 15 "If you love me YOU WILL OBEY WHAT I COMMAND."

 

Q29. And what did He say to law-breakers?

Matthew 15: 3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"

Matthew 15: 8 "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; 8 their teachings are but rules taught by men."

Matthew 7: 21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY THOSE WHO DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"

 

Q30. Since most churches worship on Sunday, how many are there who actually do keep the law and can expect to enter life as Jesus’ answer to question 20 clearly says?

Isaiah 24: 5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and VERY FEW are left.

Matthew 7: 14 "Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and ONLY A FEW find it."

Matthew 22: 14 "Many are invited, but FEW are chosen."

Luke 12: 32 "Do not be afraid, LITTLE FLOCK, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."

Revelation 12: 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with THE REMNANT of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. [KJV]

 

Q31. OK then, if all this is so, will the Sabbath be observed after Jesus’ return?

Isaiah 66: 22 As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the Lord.

 

Q32. So what is the biblical conclusion to all this?

Ecclesiastes 12: 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, for THIS IS THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN.

And what is YOUR conclusion?

I have elected to allow the Bible to answer all these questions without any additional comment (other that emphasis) from me so that no one can say I twisted the truth. Beloved, understand right here and now that this is not a matter of this day or that—its a matter of belief, obedience and, most of all, loyalty. If you believe the Biblical statements in answer to question 1, then it must follow that you believe the answers to the other 32 and, if that’s the case, you can have no reason or excuse for not keeping God’s seventh-day Sabbath. If you accept the God-breathed statement of James 2:10 in answer to question 21, then you must also accept that, if you break the fourth commandment, you are as guilty as if you had broken the sixth and murdered someone. And if you’re thinking that it doesn’t matter because Jesus has paid your penalty for you, how do you feel in light of the Bible’s answers to questions 15 and 26?

You will also have noticed from the answer to question 31 that the seventh-day Sabbath as ordained by God will be observed in the New Earth after Jesus returns. So, if you’re not keeping it now, then you obviously don’t believe that it needs to be kept and, if that’s the case, you simply won’t fit in God’s Kingdom, where it will, without doubt, be kept so why would He let you in?

It’s like coming to a red traffic light and, seeing that there are no vehicles approaching, deciding to go anyway. If there is a red-light camera or a police officer looking, you’ll get fined! The fact that nobody was injured or even inconvenienced won’t make one scrap of difference! You broke the law and you’ll pay the price! Our Creator specified the seventh day and the seventh day it is! End of story! Do you want to argue the semantics of it with Him? If you do, I’ve got bad news for you—YOU’LL LOSE!

A well-known description for good eyesight is "20-20 vision" and it is interesting that, in Ezekiel’s narrative quoted earlier in this chapter, the final statement happens to have been numbered chapter 20, verse 20. "Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ " (Ezekiel 20:20) It would seem that not many people claiming to be Christian have 20-20 vision these days. An appropriate quotation for them, whilst it is not Biblical, is "There are none so blind as those who will not see!"

At the beginning of this book I quoted ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ where he wrote, Any one who says, ‘‘I KNOW HIM," BUT DOES NOT DO WHAT HE COMMANDS IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4) and the most popular way that people say "I know Him" is using the word "Christian" to describe themselves. So, if you’re someone who claims to be a Christian and attends church on Sunday rather than God’s true Sabbath the Bible says you’re a liar! And let me ask you this: If you got to heaven and found that God had let liars in, what would you think? I suggest to you that you would feel very cheated!

If, on the other hand, you are already keeping God’s seventh day Sabbath, and your friends are asking you why, then maybe, if they profess to be Bible-believing Christians, this chapter will help you to explain it to them. Please feel free to photocopy it—or, better still, give them a copy of this book. But if you do, I must warn you, there is a strong possibility that, because they can’t handle truths that expose their own lawless guilt, rather than admit they have been wrong, they will lash out at you (and me). Jesus gave the same warning and we’ll look at that in chapter 29.

A dear person who ardently worships God on Sunday once told me that a personal relationship with God and Jesus is far more important than which day of the week is "kept holy" and that it didn’t matter what day it was just as long as they did keep one day and I would be the first to agree with that statement as it is. The point here is that it isn’t a matter of importance—it’s a matter of obedience. Whilst this is the popular cry of all who, for some reason that totally eludes me, choose to worship their Creator the way THEY want to rather than the way HE wants them to, I find myself wondering how God views their rebellion.

Another David Holt parable: Imagine, if you will, a husband who loves his wife dearly. To show his profound love for her, he decides to buy her a very expensive designer dress. Cost is not an issue. Only the best will do for his loved one. But, even though he knows (and she knows that he knows) that his wife is size 16, he buys a size 12 (because he secretly wishes she was slimmer!). I ask you to consider, how do you think she will feel when she opens that gift?

Or what about a wife who spends half the day preparing a delicious cordon bleu meal for her husband to celebrate their wedding anniversary? Because she absolutely loves mushrooms, she includes a copious quantity of them in her gourmet creation—totally ignoring the fact that her husband hates mushrooms! Beloved, you’re probably thinking that this woman is foolish (or worse) but I ask you to just stop for a moment and relate this story to Yahweh’s fourth commandment. In the end the real question is, "Do you want to please God or yourself?"

"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." (Revelation 14:8)

Finally, there are those Christians who do keep the true Sabbath who will tell you that it was "made" on the seventh day. This is not true. It was actually made on the first day when God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness He called "night." (Genesis 1:4-5) To say that God "made" the Sabbath on the seventh day is in direct contradiction of the Scripture which says "By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work."

The Sabbath day did not have to be "made" as such but rather, it was used as such. The Sabbath is an ordinance of God—not a separate "creation." It is one of seven identical days that He has set aside for eternity in commemoration of His whole creation which, as I say, included all the days.

Thus, when Jesus returns to resurrect the faithful, what will be the most easily identifiable sign of those who are loyal to Him and those who are not? Many will be saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then Jesus will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Based on Matthew 7:21-23). Do YOU want to be one of them?

What IS your conclusion?

7

THE MESSAGE

 

O

f course, everything I have written assumes that Jesus is who He claimed to be. But dependant on who you asked, you would be quite surprised at the different answers that you’d get if you asked people the simple question, "Who is Jesus?" And I’m not talking about asking unbelievers here. I’m talking about people who claim to be Christians!

If you’re what I call an ‘Aspiring Christian’—that is, someone who is searching for ‘the truth’ and believes there is more to life than what we see with our eyes, your own answer to that question will undoubtedly be ‘coloured’ by any religious background and indoctrination that you may have had up to this point in your life-span. However, before addressing the question of Jesus’ identity it is necessary to first establish who God is.

The vast majority of the world—both Christian and non-Christian—would sum that up by saying that God is the supernatural being who conceived and created the universe—and, therefore, us. They would give Him different names dependant on their religion—but most cultures accept that there is a creative entity superior to humans. In the context of this book, most western cultures would say that God is the Father of the man known as Jesus Christ. That is pretty logical since Jesus said so many times.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives four definitions of the word ‘god’ which read as follows: -

god. 1. Superhuman being worshiped as having power over nature and human fortunes, deity. 2. Image, animal, or other object, worshiped as symbolising, being the visible incarnation of, or itself possessing, divine power; an idol. 3. Adored, admired or influential person. 4. (God), Supreme Being, Creator and Ruler of universe; God the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Persons of Trinity.

You will notice that, in the last definition, God is printed with a capital G, whereas the other three are not.

This could largely be the result of an ancient Jewish ‘religious’ custom in which the Creator’s name was considered to be too sacred to be spoken aloud or written and so it was substituted by the word adonai, which means master or lord. This possibly owes its origin to the third of the Ten Commandments which, you will remember, says, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God." (Exodus 20:7) To avoid misusing it, the ancient Israelites played safe and didn’t use it at all!

I suspect that this has caused millions of people all over the world to believe that the name of the Creator of the entire universe and everything in it is "God." But this is NOT so. Like the word ‘king,’ god is a description, not a name.

In fact, the closest thing to a name that our divine Creator asked us to know Him by is actually Yahweh. This is generally thought to be derived from the first person singular—I AM (Õehyeh—Yahweh)—of the Hebrew word hawah (haµwaÆ), which is the verb ‘to be.’ This was revealed to Moses when an angel appeared to him in the form of a burning bush and told him that he was to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was concerned that the people would take no notice of him.

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. [Hebrew—Õehyeh Õasûer Õehyeh] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM [Õehyeh — Yahweh] has sent me to you.’"

God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:13-15)

You will notice that, even before this was written down by Moses, the word ‘LORD’ (printed all in capitals) was substituted for Yahweh such that His name doesn’t occur once in any version of the Bible. Thus, throughout the Old Testament, wherever ‘The Lord’ appears, you could actually read YAHWEH.

This brings us to what is, perhaps, the most fundamental question of all in the full understanding of the creative Christian Deity—Who was it who actually spoke to Moses? Who is this Creator, Yahweh? Most people who have ever glanced at a Bible would probably say that it was the divine being whom Jesus often referred to as ‘Father’ or ‘God’ but I want to show you that this is not correct.

To find the correct answers these questions we must first heed these words of Jesus: "NO ONE has seen the Father except the one who is FROM God; only He has seen the Father." (John 6:46) "You have NEVER heard His voice nor seen His form." (John 5:37)

From these statements, I’m sure you will agree that it becomes very clear that Moses could not have spoken with the One who Jesus, when He walked on this earth as a man, referred to as "Father."

Now it is necessary for us to realise that, whilst many Old Testament writers were well aware, through prophetic enlightenment, that God would send a specially anointed person (a Messiah) at some future time to redeem the Israelites from their sinful ways, they were not aware that the Messiah He would send would be His own Son. Therefore, when they wrote about their communications with the being they referred to as "God" or "Lord," they naturally believed that they were referring to a single entity.

However, when we, with the benefit of the hindsight of New Testament knowledge, see, for example, what the apostle Paul wrote, it is obvious that there is more than one member of the God Family and that "I AM"—Yahweh—denotes, not the Father, but the Son who, when He took on earthly flesh and was born to a totally human virgin, was given the name Jesus.

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but ONE God, THE FATHER, FROM whom all things came and FOR whom we live; AND there is but ONE Lord, JESUS CHRIST, THROUGH whom all things came and THROUGH whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)

This single sentence is one of the most profound in the whole Bible to the understanding of the Deity and, bearing in mind that Paul wrote those words to the church at Corinth after Yahweh had revealed Himself in the flesh as Jesus, very careful analysis of them is most enlightening. So let’s examine them in minute detail. When doing so it is helpful to remember that, when Paul wrote this, the Christian church in pagan Greece was still in its infancy and knowledge was very limited. It is also worth remembering that, even though Christianity is now almost two thousand years old, true knowledge is still very limited. Satan has seen to that!

The first part of Paul’s statement is simply an acknowledgment that humanity around the world has devised many objects of worship that they have called God or Lord (the many Greek and Roman "gods" or the Hindu "lord" Krishna, for examples). Since these are, of course, NOT true creators, Paul refers to them as "so-called gods." As he is writing to the Corinthian Christians (not Greek pagans), Paul then writes "yet for us" and goes on to explain exactly the composition of what he elsewhere describes, in Colossians 2:9, as "the Deity." or, as the King James version of the Bible names it, "the Godhead."

Firstly, he tells us that there is "One GOD," who he clearly identifies by description as "the Father" and then mentions two very important aspects of Him.

1. "All things" came from Him—that is, He ordained and sent EVERYTHING that exists.

Take particular notice here that,

a. Paul did not write that the Father made all things. Only that He sent all things and,

b. "All things" means just that and therefore includes not only material tangible things but also all communications, blessings and inspiration.

2. It is the Father that we live for. Yet how many Christians today would say that they live for Jesus?

Secondly, Paul writes that there is "one Lord," who he identifies by name as Jesus and, since Jesus was quite a common name in Palestine and false prophets were at work even then, also by description as Christ, thus leaving no doubt as to which Jesus he is writing about. Again, he lists two aspects.

1. "All things" came through Him—that is, He made everything that the Father directed Him to make.

2. It is Jesus that we live through. He summed this up when He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6)

Thus, when Paul wrote that it is Jesus "through whom we live," he was not only referring to earthly life but also to eternal life in God’s kingdom.

Now you will notice a particularly interesting point in all of this. Remember how the ancient Hebrews substituted the word adonai, meaning ‘Lord,’ for Yahweh, their Creator? Paul used that very same word (albeit translated from Greek) to describe Jesus, not His Father. So this single sentence from the writings of Paul, the apostle Jesus appointed to take the gospel of His Father’s kingdom to the Gentiles, makes it very clear indeed that the One referred to by the ancient Hebrew writers as "God" was actually the preincarnate Son of God, Jesus or, putting it as simply as possible;

As Yahweh, Jesus was the God of the Old Testament.

Jesus verified this Himself when the Jews rebuked Him for saying that He had seen Abraham. He said, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58) and then, when He laid aside His glory and took on human flesh he revealed that he actually has a Father who is superior to Himself. THE FATHER IS GREATER THAN I." (John 14:28)

Until He said that, humanity did not know that the Deity was multiple. The only God that the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets knew was the One who communicated with them and THAT was Yahweh. With this in mind, flick back to page 6 and consider the quotations in bold type now. Now what do you say about keeping the Commandments?

Now some readers may be thinking here that Daniel (and others) wrote about two entities long before Yahweh appeared as a human being and they would be right. However, Daniel did not actually see Yahweh’s Father in person but only in vision—and he didn’t fully know who he actually saw.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. (Daniel 7:13-14)

As I have explained, Daniel naturally assumed that the One he referred to as "The Ancient of Days" was the One often referred to in the Old Testament as "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (remember what He said to Moses at the burning bush) but, with the benefit of hindsight since Yahweh came in the flesh and fully explained it, we now know that The Ancient of Days was actually Yahweh’s Father and the "one like a son of man" was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the One who, as Paul explained, every material thing that man knows about and sees came through and BY whom everything was made FOR His Father—the One we now know as God.

Let us now return for a moment to the time of the exodus from Egypt when the Israelites were in the desert at a place that Moses called Meribah—which means ‘quarrelling’ because of the Israelites’ complaints.

The people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."

The Lord answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:3-6)

Let’s now look at what Paul wrote about this in the same letter that he made the statement we examined earlier. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:3-4)

The great problem that Satan has successfully perpetrated is confusion in Christendom by having Bible translators use the same word—God—to denote two different entities—one in the Old Testament and one in the New. In the New Testament ‘God’ refers either to the Deity as a whole (and I’ll cover this in greater detail in chapter 9) or, more usually, and especially when spoken by Jesus, to the Father. But where the Old Testament writers used the word ‘God’ to refer to their Creator, they were actually referring to the God they knew, who, as we have seen, was Yahweh (later to become Jesus), because, whilst the whole concept of creation was the Father’s, as Paul clearly shows, the actual work of creation was His Son’s. Now since Jesus has plainly stated that no-one has ever heard His Father’s voice, it must be obvious that all communications from the Deity were spoken by Jesus Himself and, when this is borne in mind, it becomes understandable why, frequently when referring to the words of their Creator, the Old Testament writers included in the text words like, "The Lord says..." or "... declares the Lord." Such expressions occur almost 4000 times. (See, for example, the passage from Malachi at the beginning of chapter 19.)

The original Hebrew manuscripts of the Scriptures did not include punctuation such as quotation marks and so the translators assumed that these words were added to God’s messages by the writers to indicate that they were quoting what they had heard. However, when we realise that, whilst the messages were from the Father, they were actually delivered by ("through") the Son, it seems much more likely that these words were included in what the prophets actually heard. What the ancient Israelites didn’t realise was that they were dealing with the Father of creation’s appointed representative rather than with Him personally.

Nevertheless, they obviously knew that the singular Deity they frequently described as "the one GOD" comprised more than one member. This is evidenced by their recurrent use of another word that you may hear erroneously applied today as a ‘name’ to God. That is the Semitic word elohim (ÕeloµhéÆm—pronounced ay-low-heem), which is the plural form of the common noun el (Õeµl1), meaning ‘god,’ and conveys the notion of all that belongs to the concept of deity, in contrast with man and other created beings. Perhaps one of the greatest causes of controversy in modern Christianity is the fact that Bible translators have, for some reason known only to themselves, where the word elohim occurs in the Hebrew texts, no less than 2347 times, rendered it as a singular and elevated it’s significance by the application of a capital G, and in 244 others, kept it as a plural common noun. Thus a great heresy begins in the very first verse of the Bible where almost every available copy reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." where the correct translation should, of course be, "In the beginning Gods created the heaven and the earth." The Father ordained it and His Son, Yahweh did it. (You will notice that, in due deference to those beings referred to, I have retained the capital G.)

This was, of course, evidenced in Moses’ account of day 6 where he wrote, Then God said, "Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness…" (Genesis 1:26) Of course, Moses didn’t actually hear those words spoken but wrote down the account of creation given to him by divine inspiration. This is one example in the Old Testament where the word God actually does refer to Jesus’ Father.

In actual fact, when related to numerous other Scriptures, the latter translation of Genesis 1:1, above, is far more accurate. As it is, this subtle change has spawned an incorrect and almost universally accepted concept of triune monotheism which is quite incompatible with what Scripture truly says about the Deity and, in so doing, has implied that elohim can be written with a capital E. But elohim is no more The Divine Creator’s name than yours is ‘man’ or ‘woman.’

Another Hebrew word rendered ‘Lord’ throughout the Old Testament is Yehovah (hwIhyÒ Y^ehovah) translated as such 6510 times, once as God and, in the King James Bible, as Jehovah on four occasions—although this latter rendition was unknown before the twelfth century AD. Again, this name is generally thought by most modern people, both Christians and non-Christians, as the name of Jesus’ Father, but when it is understood that the word translated as ‘God’ is the plural elohim it becomes obvious that Yehovah actually refers, not to the individual entity of the Father, but to the whole Deity comprising the Father and the Son or, as we shall shortly see, ‘the Family.’

However, since Yahweh (the preincarnate Jesus) knew that it was not His Father’s desire to make His Son known as such at that time, when asked who He was, He simply said, "I AM WHO I AM." and went on to say from whence He came. In the modern idiom, this would be like saying, "That’s for me to know and for you to find out when the One who sent me is ready."—which, of course, mankind did when Yahweh came to the world in the flesh as Jesus, the Son of God—except that most of them didn’t believe Him!

When Yahweh described who had sent Him as "the God of Abraham..." whilst Moses used the plural elohim, Yahweh was actually referring to El Shaddai Õeµl1 yD'v' —which means God Almighty, the covenant name of His Family which first appears in the Bible in Genesis chapter 17 when He made His great contract with Abram—albeit that it was, of course, Yahweh who had actually delivered the message to Abram on His Family’s behalf.

There are actually twelve Hebrew or Aramaic words translated as ‘God’ in the Old Testament and one that occurs 54 times is eloahh (H'wl¿aÕelowahh). Fifty-two instances of this word refer to the Deity Yehovah and two to false gods thus indicating that, like the plural elohim, it is a common noun. The Aramaic version of the same word is el-aw (Hl;aÕelahh) and is translated ‘God’ 79 times and ‘god’ (denoting an object of pagan worship) 16 times. The close similarity to the name Allah, the creative deity of the Islamic faith, can be seen here and it is worth noting that Muslims also use the word God (with a capital G) when referring to Allah. This is briefly discussed with regard to its relationship to Christianity later in this book.

Thus, where the words ‘God Almighty’ occur in Scripture it denotes the singular Father and, where the words God or Lord occur, —when translated from elohim, eloahh, el-aw and Yehovah and capitalised—it is the multiple Deity comprising the Father and His Son that is actually referred to—although, of course, the writers did not realise that at the time. This is explained in greater detail in chapters 9, 13 and 16.

Of course, because most translations are inconsistent (and I’ll elaborate on that later too), it is very difficult, without the aid of a Strong’s Hebrew Concordance or similar publication, for the average reader of Scripture—as opposed to a professional theologian or Bible student—to know which of the numerous original words the thousands of instances of the word God are translated from in the Bible.

Having said all of this, it would probably be true to say that the vast majority of professing Christians today, when using the word ‘God,’ mean Jesus’ Father and not Jesus Himself so that, in answer to the question, "Who are the Holy Family in heaven?" they would say, "God and Jesus." Therefore, because we do not actually know what the Father’s name is, throughout this book, where Old Testament references are made to ‘God’ or ‘Lord,’ they actually refer to the Deity as a whole represented to the writers by Yahweh—the preincarnate Jesus—but, where New Testament references are made to ‘God,’ it refers, sometimes to the compound Deity, but mostly to the Father alone and where ‘Lord’ appears, it refers to Jesus, both incarnate and resurrected.

So, returning for a moment to those dictionary definitions of the word god, it could be said, from the first one, that god (with a small g) is a ‘type’ of being whilst God (with a capital G) of the fourth refers to the supreme members of that type.

However, as a result of a ‘message’ which I received from the Holy Spirit, it became very clear that those members, whilst always in harmony, are both quite distinct and separate and, as Jesus very clearly stated, they are not equal.

Before I realised and understood that Saturday is the true Sabbath I was kneeling in prayer in a church one Sunday morning as the pastor, having opened his devotions with the words "Heavenly Father," gave impassioned thanks to God that He had allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross by mankind in atonement for their sins.

As I knelt there the Father’s Holy Spirit spoke very quietly but firmly to me and, whilst I didn’t hear audible voices or see visions, He spoke to my mind, saying: -

"I don’t like that!

You shall have NO GOD before me,

and that includes my Son,

whom I love very much,

but DO NOT elevate Him

above His rightful place

at my right hand!"

At first this hit me like a thunderbolt and stopped me in my tracks in bewilderment, but then I thought, "That’s true! Whatever name you know Him by, NO-ONE will ever be equal to our heavenly Father." The very first of the Ten Commandments says so, which, as we have seen, was indelibly written on stone by ("came through") Yahweh (Jesus), but came from His Father.

"You shall have no other gods BEFORE me." (Exodus 20:3)

You may be amazed to learn that the word translated as ‘gods’ (plural—small g) in this verse is exactly the same word—ELOHIMas that translated in the very first verse of the Bible as ‘God’ (singular—capital G)! And if the wording of this commandment is carefully studied it can be clearly seen that God acknowledges both the existence of ‘other gods’ and, by implication, their right to exist. But He makes it quite clear that HE is superior to them.

This, I realised, INCLUDES HIS SON.

He even went on to admit; "I, the Lord your God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:5), and, as Jesus Himself testified:

"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 [KJV])

Is that statement hard to understand? It is preached frequently enough in just about every denominational church.

For some reason there are countless sincere Christians who have been indoctrinated with a monotheistic doctrine based on the first commandment which, as I have already pointed out does NOT say that God is the only god. In that, and in the passage above, He clearly acknowledges the existence of ‘other gods.’ One of those ‘other gods’ is His own Son, Jesus and He is obviously, as the only Son we know about, the most ‘senior’ of those ‘other gods’ and the only one to whom we should give acknowledgment of any glory.

You may wonder why I have written that Jesus is ‘the only Son we know about’ rather than ending the statement with the word Son. I have purposely quoted John 3:16 from the King James Version of the Bible because, unlike some other translations which read "only Son," Jesus is quoted as referring to Himself as God’s "only begotten Son." The word ‘begotten’ comes from the verb ‘to beget’ which means ‘to give birth to’ and thus, ‘begotten’ means ‘to have been born.’ This is why Jesus described Himself as ‘God’s only born Son,’ because He is the only Son of God who has ever walked on this earth in the form of a flesh-and-blood-and-bones human being. However, He did not say that He was God’s only Son.

Not too long after the creation the Bible tells us, "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose." (Genesis 6:1-2) Here we have a clear statement that God has sons (plural). There are religious traditionalists who, because their church has brainwashed them into the belief that Jesus is God’s only Son, will try to tell you that this refers to angels but, if they took the time to read what Jesus Himself said they would know that that is a very wrong conclusion. "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels." (Matthew 22:30) Angels don’t marry!

And, if we look at God’s words to Job when He spoke to him out of a whirlwind, we find, in the King James translation of Job 38:7, referring to the creation of the universe, He says, "and all the sons of God shouted for joy." and Paul, in Romans 8:19 wrote, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." Did he know something most modern Christians deny?

ALL the sons of God? Does this mean that Jesus has divine brothers? Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. The point is that it doesn’t matter. (Although, since God didn’t inspire anything useless to be included in His ‘Handbook,’ it must be accepted that He must have wanted us to know about all His Sons!) Nonetheless;

The important fact is that Jesus is the Son that God chose to place in charge of the creation of THIS world and, because of that, the One He chose to anoint as its Saviour—

and that’s all we need to know.

That Jesus was put in charge of creation—as opposed to ordaining it—is borne out in many Scriptures, most of which have been misinterpreted by millions who have succumbed to Satan’s most insidious deception to state that Jesus is God. Many of these Scriptures are examined throughout this book and when taken in isolation, they would be very convincing. However, the Word of God must be ‘rightly divided’ and, when they are all viewed with the following words in mind, written by Paul, the whole truth becomes much clearer.

"He [Jesus] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For He "has put everything under His feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under Him, it is clear that THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE GOD HIMSELF, who put everything under Christ. When He has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under Him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:25-28)

It pleases God the Father for His people to give praise and honour to His Son Jesus—just as long as we don’t promote Him to a position ABOVE His Father. The Scriptures are crystal clear on this.

Jesus actually said, "The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him." (John 8:29)

Do those sound like the words of God The Father or One who considers Himself subordinate to Him?

Paul also wrote the following and I echo his prayer for everyone who is reading this book.

We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:9-20)

How often have you heard a person say, when asked about someone’s father who they’ve never met, "Oh, if you’ve seen his son, then you’ve seen him—they’re the image of each other!"? And, in the passage I’ve just quoted, the Bible says the same thing.

Where Scripture says that God is ‘the one God,’ the evidence I will present in this book makes it obvious that what is meant by this statement is that the Deity led by the Father is the only deity we should ever accept or express any allegiance to.

In the messages Jesus gave to John the Revelator for the seven churches He said, to the Ephesians,

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To HIM WHO OVERCOMES, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7) and to the church in Smyrna;

"HE WHO OVERCOMES will not be hurt at all by the second death." (Revelation 2:11) and to that in Pergamum;

"To HIM WHO OVERCOMES, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." (Revelation 2:17) and to the Thyatiran church;

"To HIM WHO OVERCOMES and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—‘He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star." (Revelation 2:26-28) and then to the church at Sardis;

"HE WHO OVERCOMES will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels." (Revelation 3:5) and at Philadelphia;

"HIM WHO OVERCOMES I will make a pillar in the temple of MY GOD. He will never leave it. I will write on him the name of MY GOD and the name of His city, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from MY GOD; and I will also write on him my new name." (Revelation 3:12) and, lastly to Laodicea;

"To HIM WHO OVERCOMES I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I OVERCAME and sat down WITH MY FATHER on His throne. HE WHO HAS AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES." (Revelation 3:21)

And then, describing his vision of the home of the righteous after Jesus’ return, New Jerusalem—God’s kingdom right here on the new earth—John quotes Him as saying,

"HE WHO OVERCOMES will inherit all this." (Revelation 21:7)

So, having read all these words about those who overcome, it is not unreasonable for anyone who cares about their future to ask who they refer to. Well, in 1 John 5:5 God anticipated the question and provided the answer.

"Who is it that OVERCOMES the world?

ONLY HE WHO BELIEVES THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD."

Describing Jesus’ deliverance of demon-possessed people Luke wrote, Demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are THE SON OF GOD!" (Luke 4:41) Even they knew, so if you are in any doubt, this very clearly tells you that, if you believe Jesus is anyone else but THE SON OF GOD, you won’t overcome the world (sinful mortality) and receive your inheritance!

But Satan said, "You will not surely die!" Huh!

So who do YOU say Jesus is?

Who do YOU say was nailed to the cross?

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

BE VERY CAREFUL HOW YOU ANSWER because, as John also wrote,

And we have seen and testify that

THE FATHER HAS SENT HIS SON

to be the Saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that

JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD,

God lives in him and he in God.

(1 John 4:14-15)

Which, by extension, tells us that if anyone believes that Jesus is anything other than THE SON OF GOD then God does NOT live in him or her!

But, if you do believe that Jesus is the Son of God, as Paul wrote,

.. you are of Christ, and Christ is OF God. (1 Corinthians 3:23)

Surely, Beloved, these Scriptures bear clear witness to the fact that The Father is not The Son and The Son is not The Father and that the two must not be confused.

Because of the way in which the Bible is written the word God is rather like the word ‘king’ in the secular world of the British monarchy where the maxim "The king never dies." is used to indicate that, whilst the wearer of the royal crown may die, the monarchy doesn’t. Thus, at the very instant of his father’s death, the heir apparent becomes king and the proclamation is made, "The king is dead, long live the king!" Just as the two instances of the word king (or queen) in this sentence refer to two different people, the word God, when referring to Yahweh’s ‘family,’ which we will take a closer look at in the next chapter, sometimes, as in the following passages, refers to both the Father and/or the Son Jesus in the Bible.

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known. (John 1:18)

Here is another God-breathed instance where we are told, using the word God when referring to the Father, that no one has ever seen Him and then, only two words later, the very same word—God—is used to describe the Son, Jesus. Now comes the difficult-to-understand bit. It is obvious that this Scripture speaking about two people and using the same word to define both, yet it then appears to say, in the very next ‘breath’ that the second person, Jesus, is the one and only God. Now, if this style of writing were to be used in the example that I gave of "The king is dead, long live the king!" it would be perfectly acceptable because, since the first ‘king’ is dead, then the second king is the only one. But this cannot be so in the case of the Bible verse because both the Gods referred to are still very much alive and, in fact, the verse continues by telling us that ‘God number 2’ (Jesus) is at the side of ‘God number 1,’ who it then goes on to identify as "the Father." I personally believe that this New International Version Bible translation is both very confusing and somewhat inaccurate. The King James Version of this same verse reads: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son; which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. This is both much easier to understand and, I believe, a more accurate translation. However, you will notice that the NIV translators have Capitalised the words ‘God the One and Only,’ thus elevating them from a description of Jesus to a title for Him and they have also given the alternative rendition the Only Begotten in the margin.

In the first chapter of the book of Hebrews the writer is explaining the superiority of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, to the Old Testament prophets and the angels.

For which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be His Father, and He will be my son"?

And again, when God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, "Let all God’s angels worship Him."

In speaking of the angels He says, "He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire."

But about the Son He says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (Hebrews 1:5-9)

Because Jesus is addressed by His Father, God, as God in this passage it is, understandably, confusing to many readers but when the rest of the words are studied, it is obvious that God the Father spoke them as a term of endearment to His beloved Son because, in the next breath, He goes on to say "God," and then qualifies which God by adding, "your God has set you above your companions."

Thus the total syntax of the wording makes it quite clear that, when the Father referred to his Son as God, he was expressing Jesus’ superior status as a member of His immediate family in relationship to His companions the angels as their God and, having done so, using the same word to refer to Himself, qualified it by telling Jesus that it was His God to whom He referred. This, again, indicates Jesus’ subordination to His Father. This graphically illustrates why very careful understanding of the Scriptures is needed so that the Word can be "rightly divided." (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

So I thought, "Who am I to argue with God’s Word? And more to the point, who are the ‘religious’ leaders of this world, to whom I have (thus far) entrusted my Christian education, to do so either?" Remember that, as a result of their teaching, I wasn’t at that time, even keeping God’s fourth commandment! The Bible warns us about some of them;

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for SATAN HIMSELF MASQUERADES AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) and also tells us;

"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; BECAUSE YOU HAVE IGNORED THE LAW OF YOUR GOD, I ALSO WILL IGNORE YOUR CHILDREN." (Hosea 4:6)

A man who has been an inspiration to Christians for almost 20 centuries, Jesus’ disciple Peter, wrote some words about these ‘false prophets’ which can be pretty scary to anyone who cares about their salvation and who has put their trust in their religious leaders.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR SHAMEFUL WAYS and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, revelling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity — for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (2 Peter 2)

8

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

 

T

he corruption and distortion of God’s word through the ages by people who should be expressing their gratitude is nothing short of distressing. In the foreword of this book I quoted Yahweh’s warning that this would happen:

"Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10)

It is distressing not only because of what it has done and is doing even now before our very eyes, but because it has happened through the subtle deception of sincere, honest Christians by Satan, who was once much loved by God and whose name used to be Lucifer, the ‘angel of light’—some believe, second only to Jesus Christ—until he attempted a coup to usurp God Himself from the throne of grace.

The fact that He has done it is history and that he is still active is prophesied in Scripture, for the time will come [and it has] when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around a great number of teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Beloved, we are in the height of spiritual warfare. Do not assume that, as a Christian, you are invulnerable. In fact, because you’re a Christian, you’re at the top of Satan’s ‘hit list.’ The decision you’ve made to serve God and Jesus makes him see red. He’ll do anything he can to lead you down the wrong path and away from God. He knows the Bible better than you do and will use it to his advantage in any crafty way he can devise. He hopes that you won’t notice passages like the one below.

Under God’s inspiration, the apostle Paul was not slow to warn Christians about counterfeits nearly 2000 years ago and, believe me, nothing’s changed—in fact, the spiritual warfare is hotting up as Satan realises that his time is running out. If Paul hadn’t written the following, I would have!

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophesy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. [i.e.: the antichrist] He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. [Beloved, who does that, even now?]

Don’t you remember when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding Him back, so that He may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendour of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love THE TRUTH and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

Because these words leave no doubt that false prophets will receive no mercy and I am as aware as any Christian that we are in constant danger of Satan’s attempts to beguile us, I followed the advice, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6), and ardently asked God to show me a Scriptural assurance that the message I received was, indeed, from Him and not Satan ‘masquerading as an angel of light.’ Sure enough—because He always answers prayer—He led me to this: -

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is FROM God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is NOT from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. [And this was written over 1900 years ago!]

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1 John 4:1-6)

This plainly tells us how to know what to believe, doesn’t it?

And the message I received

clearly acknowledged Jesus as

GOD’S BELOVED SON

who came in the flesh.

"Above all, you must understand that no prophesy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy NEVER had it’s origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:20-21)

And this is not restricted only to prophesy.

"ALL Scripture is God-breathed

and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16)

In other words it is the inspired Word of God as recorded by chosen people through the ages for the purposes listed. There are a lot of God-breathed quotations in this book because God’s Word is much more important than mine. My sole purpose in putting together this collection of Scriptures is the correction of errors peddled in the name of ‘religion’—not rebuking (but, if it seems that way, maybe that will be your own conscience trying to tell you something—and, if it is, will you be listening?). If you’re one of those people who find the above quotation difficult to believe since it is, after all, part of the very book it speaks about, the most convincing proof of its truth is the accuracy of the prophecies it contains. Jesus told His disciples this when He appeared to them after His resurrection. "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44) Chapters 10 and 18 of this book provide fine examples from the writings of Isaiah and Daniel.

The Bible commissions Christians to spread the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus’ final words on earth before He ascended into heaven were, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

These words were spoken to the disciples but, as we know, those eleven men weren’t able, almost 2000 years ago, to physically go to ‘the ends of the earth,’ (although they did pretty well!) so that places the responsibility on every Christian who has followed them to continue that great commission. Thus we see members of various churches going from door to door presenting their particular doctrine to whoever will listen and occasionally, winning converts. We receive brochures presenting dire warnings, television ministries promote differing views and, perhaps most distressing, close friends tell us that we are on the wrong track and, because they are our friends, do everything they can to ‘save’ us. This is perfectly understandable because they sincerely believe that they are on the right trackbut are they?

This may sound quite familiar and, as you may have already experienced, the stories told by the many evangelists we encounter can be very different. So how do you know whom to believe? The answer should be, of course, in God’s Word, your Bible. But, as I will show, most of us tend to trust those who wrote the particular translation we choose which was probably given to us by a member of the church which we were either brought up into as a child or which happened to be the first one whose evangelistic activities attracted us to it.

Sooner or later some new evangelist comes onto our scene and tells us that the church we are attending is not following God’s divine instructions correctly and offers to ‘deliver’ us from their ‘demonic influence.’ The reaction to this amongst Christians is very varied, ranging from hostile indignation and total rejection of the evangelist’s message without even checking it, to a terrible realisation (warranted or otherwise) that they have been saved from a ‘fate worse than death.’

SO WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?

If you have been confronted by a viewpoint that contradicts your church’s teaching immediately commit it to God in Jesus’ name and then, having placed your implicit trust in His loving guidance,

CHECK IT OUT IN YOUR BIBLE.

But READ WHAT IT SAYS—NOT what some latter-day commentator wrote in the margin. Or, at least, if you do read the notes, don’t, whatever you do, assume that they are correct. This is important because it is in your own interest to determine whether what you have been told is true or false—especially if it questions the teaching you have been exposed to. Ignorance is not sin and you won’t lose your inheritance because you knew no better, but if what you are told shows you that you have been under a delusion, thank God that the veil of deception has been lifted from your eyes and embark on your new path filled with joy and gratitude.

One trustworthy guide to the truth is what is often referred to these days as ‘gut feelings.’ If something that the church you attend ‘bothers’ you and, in particular, if it doesn’t line up with Scripture, God’s Holy Spirit may just be trying to tell you something! Are you listening or are you locked up in your own little world of religious traditions, listening only to what your itching ears want to hear? If the church or convention that you attend contravenes Scriptural instructions or precepts, this should give you good cause to question it’s validity. A very simple first course of action is to determine whether it practices strict adherence to all of God’s commandments or not. If not, then that’s reason enough to be suspicious.

For example, discussing the gifts of the Spirit, Paul wrote,

"I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. ... Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet NONE OF THEM IS WITHOUT MEANING... Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he interpret what he says... If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. (1 Corinthians 14:5, 9, 12-13, 28)

Now there are two very conflicting schools of thought on the subject of tongues. One says that Paul was speaking about unlearned languages of the world, whilst the other believes that he meant some ecstatic celestial language. The former take particular note of the words of the Scripture—NONE OF THEM IS WITHOUT MEANING—and say that there would be no value to a celestial language whilst the latter will quote Scriptures like,

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14) and 1 Corinthians 13:1 which says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels...." as testifying to the existence of an angelic language. However, it should be noted that, throughout the Bible, whenever angels spoke to people, they spoke in their native language, NOT unintelligible ‘gibberish!’

So is this is just another Satanic trick to beguile people who sincerely love God and Jesus into unscriptural demonic practices? Paul goes on to say,

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophesy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14:22) So, if tongues are a sign for unbelievers, what exactly are they?

The Greek word that Paul used which is translated in many versions of the Bible as ‘tongues’ is glossa, which has two meanings. The first is literally ‘the tongue’—the physical member of the body, an organ of speech, where it is preceded by the definite article and the second, according to the Enhanced Strongs Lexicon and preceded by the indefinite article, is:

"A tongue. The language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations."

It is particularly interesting to note that there is no mention whatsoever of an ecstatic celestial language in that definition. So Paul was quite clearly not referring to a strange language unknown to any human when he used the word glossa. He was referring to the words ‘used by a particular people’ that distinguished them from others.

Way back when the earth was being re-populated after the great flood the Bible tells us, Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, "Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

Now why was God not happy with what might, at first sight, seem an industrious activity of His people? The answer lies in their statements that the tower was to reach the heavens and that they would make a name for themselves. In other words, they wanted the glory that belonged exclusively to God. So, to nip this plot in the bud, God and His Son (note that the Scripture says "let us go down") devised a simple plan to disrupt the harmony of the people. By confusing their communication they could no longer work together and so the project was abandoned. The place was called Babel, which means ‘confusion’ and was an earlier form of Babylon. From this comes our modern English word ‘babble.’ This was a punishment or curse that God imposed on the people for their self-aggrandisement. It was no more a blessing then than the babble heard in many churches is today. Claimed by many dear and sincere Christians as ‘the baptism of the Holy Spirit,’ the ‘gift of tongues’ is certainly the baptism of a spirit, but NOT the Holy Spirit! Remember what Jesus said,

"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect if that were possible." (Matthew 24:24)

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life. (Revelation 13:8) Take particular note here Beloved, that Satan WILL (and now IS) deceiving sincere people into worshiping him. Where does public worship take place? In churches, that’s where!

Back when I was an ‘Aspiring Christian’ I went along to a Pentecostal church where unintelligible ‘tongue speaking’ was freely exercised and I have no doubt that the members of that church were absolutely sincere, but, when one studies Paul’s words to the Corinthians it will be noted that three times he says that anyone speaking in an unknown language must be interpreted. In the churches I attended this was not done and, as an ‘unbeliever’ amongst them, I was totally bewildered by what I heard. I wanted to get away from the place because, to my unfamiliar mind, the cacophony of babble was scary and definitely not at all uplifting! Definitely not for this ‘unbeliever!’

My friends who had invited me told me that what I had witnessed was ‘the outpouring of the Holy Spirit’ akin to that described in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost (hence the name "Pentecostal") and that I should pray to receive my share. When I didn’t, I began to think that God didn’t want me! This doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of reaction our loving heavenly Father would want from His children! As it was, at the encouragement of my friends, I persisted in the hopes that it would only be a matter of time until I received the wonderful gift that they said was mine—until I read my Bible some more! I started by looking at the story of Pentecost and immediately became very suspicious of what my friends had described as "speaking in tongues."

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Acts 2:5-11)

You will notice that fifteen different languages are mentioned in these verses, but not one of them is babble! Surely this single passage is an excellent description of how tongue speaking really is a wonderful sign for unbelievers. As a result of it about three thousand people who heard the gospel in their own language from the mouths of simple Galileans were baptised that day.

Now about the spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as HE determines. (1 Corinthians 12:1, 11)

In spite of this Scripture, another church I visited taught that, if a person didn’t speak in (unintelligible) tongues then they weren’t a true Christian! No ifs or buts—they weren’t, as they like to erroneously put it, "born-again!" Obviously that church isn’t aware of the above verses because they clearly tell anyone who can read that, whatever the gift of tongues is, not everyone, but only those whom the Holy Spirit determines should have it, will receive it. (Needless to say, I didn’t go there again!)

If the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say you are out of your mind? (1 Corinthians 14:23)

In spite of this God-breathed warning of Paul’s how many churches have you encountered which, at some predetermined point in their service, break into an unintelligible cacophony of totally disunited ‘tongue-speaking’ babble? This is usually built up to by carefully orchestrated music rising to a crescendo. The first time I encountered this my reaction was exactly as Paul predicted. I was convinced that what I was witnessing was a form of mass hysteria or hypnotism.

In direct contrast to this, a young Christian missionary woman visiting India found herself before a large crowd of people whose only language was Hindi and, without ever having learned it, preached the Gospel to them ‘as the Spirit gave her utterance’ (Acts 2:4 KJV) in their own tongue! She thought in English but the words that came out of her mouth were Hindi! Now that is a true Pentecostal reprise and obviously the gift of tongues effectively working as a sign for unbelievers to preach the Gospel and spread God’s Kingdom—but what about speaking in "unknown tongues" which, as Paul wrote, educates no-one?

Whatever conclusion you may come to on the question of what Paul meant when he wrote about ‘tongues’ there are two thoughts that I will leave you with on the subject.

Firstly, as we have seen, the Bible tells us that ‘tongues’ is one of the gifts of the Spirit. That is, a gift given by God’s Holy Spirit to some of His children. If unintelligible tongue-speaking is, as those who practise it will tell you, "only for God" then it follows that it is not for us! The Bible says,

If they do not speak according to THIS word, they have no light of dawn. (Isaiah 8:20)

And, secondly, you will recall the Scripture I quoted earlier which said, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, and I am led to ask, "If I can’t understand what the spirit is saying, how can I test it?" And I can tell you, there’s NO WAY I’m going to accept something that I can’t test scripturally and that I have no idea what it is or where it came from!

I once asked a woman who claimed to have the gift of ecstatic tongue-speaking this question and she claimed that she ‘knew’ it was from God because she "felt good" when she did it. What she failed to realise was that, even if her ‘gift’ was from Satan, it would still feel good because, if he didn’t make it feel good, no one would accept it! That’s exactly how that crafty devil works. He’s the king of "feel good!" So it’s very safe to say that a spirit can’t be tested by feelings.

As it is, I don’t believe that anyone really knows the answer to this vexed question. Many think they do but, ultimately, you will have to make up your own mind. But don’t do it without first asking God for His guidance. If you do that in total humility and submission, you WILL be heard. (As I will show, HE PROMISED!)

A few paragraphs back I referred to the use of the term ‘born-again’ to describe conversion to Christianity as erroneous because, if you really think about it, no one will be fully born again until the day that Jesus returns to raise up the faithful when, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, they will be raised imperishable, and will be changed. So in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn. (1 Corinthians 15:52, 22) It is true that Peter used the term ‘born again’ when referring to Christians, but you will notice that it is not hyphenated. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-23) What Peter meant here was that, as believers, Christians have embarked on the pathway to inheritance of God’s Kingdom and so his use of the term ‘born again’ was futuristic insofar as it foresaw what will happen for them and the fact that he wrote in the past tense simply indicated that the decision to serve God and Jesus, and thus guarantee that future, had already been made. The only other time that the term appears in the Bible is when Jesus told Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3) which, if you think about it, is exactly what will happen when we are raised with new imperishable bodies. Thus Jesus’ words were not advice, but a simple statement of fact. The advice which underlies that statement is that, in order to be born again when Jesus returns, a man must live this life according to Yahweh’s precepts and believing in his appearance as Jesus.

By making the decision—paying the deposit—a person is ‘conceived again’ but they haven’t been fully reborn yet. They are still ‘growing in the faith’ as a foetus grows in its mother’s womb to be born at the appointed time. Thus, people who run around claiming to be ‘born-again Christians’ don’t really have any idea what they are talking about! Here again, they are bewitched by "feel good" religion which has very little to do with the gospel of God’s Kingdom that Jesus taught.

You’ve probably also seen TV broadcasts showing hundreds of people lining up at ‘Christian healing conventions’ and, when a preacher lays his hands on them, they fall over in a dead faint. This is referred to as being ‘slain in the spirit.’ If they don’t immediately fall, the preacher will start yelling for Satan to release the poor soul until, in desperation, they do fall just to humour him. I know, I’ve been in that position. You may have even been at such an event yourself. It’s a bit like comparing going to the Olympic Games and watching them on TV. The atmosphere isn’t the same in your living room as it is with thousands of enthusiastic fans all around you. The ‘mass hysteria’ is contagious. But it doesn’t take a lot of study or knowledge of the Gospels to know that, when Jesus and the apostles healed the sick and infirm, they told them to get up — not fall down!

It is also very interesting to observe the emphasis which some ‘big time’ international evangelists place on giving and how much time they spend preaching the Scriptures which I quote later in this book about ‘seed sowing.’ To mention such topics is perfectly acceptable and desirable so that attendees are educated but to repeat them over and over again makes it very obvious that the principal objective of such gatherings is making money. Jesus gave fair warning about this when He said, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them." (Matthew 7:15-16) As the Scripture says, ‘their end will be what their actions deserve!’

Yet another so-called manifestation of the Holy Spirit is what has been called ‘the Toronto blessing’ (because that’s where it originated) in which whole auditoriums of sincere believers become what is usually referred to as ‘drunk in the Spirit’ where they fall about and laugh or make animal noises uncontrollably and then, when invited to testify for the Lord, are struck totally dumb whilst the audience find great amusement in their predicament. The preacher will tell those present who are still able to hear him that this is an awesome ‘latter-day move’ of the Holy Spirit and that they should surrender themselves totally to it.

It is not for me to say whether this is true or not, but there is no Scriptural precedent for it and that concerns me. The terms ‘slain in the Spirit’ and ‘drunk in the Spirit’ will not be found in any Bible. The promoters of such meetings say that the events are a reprise of the day of Pentecost where those anointed by God’s Holy Spirit were accused of being drunk. However, the only reason for that accusation was, as we have seen, the ability that the disciples were given by God to speak in the languages of the many foreigners who were present (NOT gibberish) so that no one missed out on the message of the Gospel. At no point were the disciples deprived of their faculties, they were only enhanced.

Most of the churches which practice these activities are of relatively recent birth and like to refer to themselves as ‘charismatic,’ a word meaning ‘favoured’ or, more fully, ‘possessors of a divinely conferred power.’ When related to the Scriptures I have quoted, this must be viewed with great suspicion. They practice things which are quite definitely unscriptural and, with the words of 2 Thessalonians 2 echoing, The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, the ‘warning bells of the mind’ really start ringing. I thank God that He gave His supreme creation the most amazing of all His works—the human brain. This is the gift that sets us apart from all the other animals and enables us to read His Word and (if we will) discern truth from falsehood. It is the gift which lets us reason things which other people present to us and, with the help of that Word and earnest prayer, secure our salvation by doing our best to present ourselves to God as ones approved, workmen who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth. (based on 2 Timothy 2:15)

Don’t let sincere but misguided people fool you into a belief that ‘blind faith’ is what you need to accept Jesus as your Saviour. God has also given you the gift of sight and one of the best ways you can use it is by reading His word. Jesus warned His followers,

"Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?" (Luke 6:39)

Open your eyes and read what the Scriptures say—as opposed to what those bound by religious traditions try to tell you they say. When you think about it, if you truly believe that all Scripture is God-breathed, it must need no embellishment or amplification for, if that were necessary, God would have included it! God’s word is not a quiz game!

Another thing you’ll very likely encounter are churches that teach that things like celibacy and abstinence from certain foods are a requirement for sanctity. But the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and NOTHING IS REJECTED IF IT IS RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. [The reason I have included this Scripture is given in the very next verse!]

If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (1 Timothy 4:1-7)

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. (Romans 14:1-3)

Eat ANYTHING sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it." If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat WHATEVER is put before you without raising questions of conscience. (1 Corinthians 10:25-27)

And when Jesus sent 72 of His followers out to prepare the way for Him, He told them,

"When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages." (Luke 10:5-7)

In spite of these Scriptures there are still those who say that any animal product (not just meat) is bad for you and shouldn’t be touched, whilst others believe that they can eat anything they like. However, the above passage does go on to say, But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sakethe other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? (1 Corinthians 10:28-30)

These verses firstly tell us that we should not go looking for problems when buying or being invited to share meat but, if we are told, without asking, that food has been offered as a sacrifice to some idol, we should not eat it.

The Jewish food laws which are listed in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus listed the meat of certain animals as ‘unclean’ and, therefore, not to be eaten. Probably the best known of these is the pig, although the list, which comprises mainly scavenging carrion-eaters, is quite comprehensive. Today there are people who erroneously believe that those guidelines (they are not laws) no longer apply, basing that belief on Jesus’ words when, speaking to the people after the Pharisees had criticised Hid disciples for not washing their hands before eating, He said,

"Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’"

Then the disciples came to Him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. "Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean.’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ " (Matthew 15:10-20)

Now you will notice that, throughout this discourse, Jesus was speaking about what makes men ‘unclean,’ not what makes certain foods ‘unclean.’ Nowhere does He say that ‘unclean’ foods are suddenly ‘clean’—only that eating them wont make the eater ‘unclean.’

A vision that Simon Peter was given whilst journeying to Caesarea, the home town of a Roman centurion named Cornelius is also often cited as biblical evidence that God changed His mind about ‘unclean’ foods. The Bible tells us that Cornelius, a God-fearing man who gave to the needy and prayed regularly, received a message from God one day telling him to send for Peter.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them." (Acts 10:9-20)

So Peter went with the men to the home of Cornelius, who met him at the entrance. Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean." (Acts 10:27-28) and that was the meaning of Peter’s vision—not, as some might try to tell you, to prove that, after His crucifixion, Jesus changed His mind and made unclean animals clean. He said, "I, the Lord, DO NOT change." (Malachi 3:6)

Some 400 years before the birth of Jesus the Athenian philosopher, Socrates was tried and found guilty of heresy against the Greek gods and, as the law required, carried out his own death sentence by drinking hemlock, a deadly poisonous extract of the conium maculatum plant. Hemlock is just as lethal today, 2000 years after Jesus’ birth as it was before. Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind’s sin did not alter the laws of God’s created nature. So why should that which Yahweh declared unclean long before He was crucified be any different either?

There are those who will respond to that question by quoting Mark 16:18 where Jesus is quoted as saying that "when they [believers] drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all." Try getting them to ‘prove’ their faith and drink strychnine! Suddenly that faith might wane dramatically! Don’t such people remind you of Satan, when he challenged Jesus in the wilderness, telling Him to prove that He was the Son of God by throwing Himself from the highest point of the temple and reciting Psalm 91:11-12? "He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Jesus answered him, "It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" (Matthew 4:7)

Notwithstanding all of this though, later in Romans 14 Paul clarified the predicament of ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ foods by writing, "As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men." (Romans 14:14-18)

This is the inspired word of God, Beloved, and the point so succinctly put by Paul here is that, if you have a friend who you know is a vegetarian, then to serve ham sandwiches for lunch when he visits would, as he wrote, not be acting in love towards your brother would it? However, if you are happy to accept that everything Yahweh created is good, then eat them without compunction when your vegetarian brother isn’t visiting. That way he wont criticise you and you won’t criticise him. End of problem!

At the other end of the ecclesiastical scale from the ‘charismatic’ are the ‘established’ or ‘mainstream’ churches, where conversation with God, rather than coming from the heart, is recited from a prayer book. If, every time you spoke to your earthly father, you took out a book and read it to him, how do you suppose he would feel? Well, Beloved, God is your heavenly Father. Do you seriously think He wants to listen to the same old repetitive ritual over and over and over again? He wants a personal relationship with His children! In modern understanding, He wants to be your Daddy, not your boss! There is an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt, but does this have to be so? Surely it is contemptuous familiarity which does that, and there is no contempt in love. Not only is God your Father, He is your friend. With that in mind shouldn’t we treat Him as such?

Many of these churches are full of ‘graven images’—which, as I have already shown, is clearly in contravention of God’s second commandment. If you believe what Jesus said about it being easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law then this must also concern you—because heaven and earth haven’t disappeared!

Somewhere in between are those churches which most of the others term ‘cults.’ I do not intend to name names, but one feature which seems to be common to them all is the fact that their founders received some ‘revelation’ which supplemented the Bible. In some cases this resulted in a whole new ‘version’ being published and, in others, additional volumes that are given almost equal status with the Bible (and sometimes quoted more often.)

THE HOLY BIBLE NEEDS NO AUGMENTATION!

However, when Scripture is studied in detail and deceptions such as the translation ‘errors’ that I will shortly illustrate are discovered, one has to wonder if some of those church founders actually had their eyes opened to truths which, because of their love for their fellow men, they felt compelled to share.

One of the earliest of such people was Martin Luther, who, through intensive study of a copy of God’s Word—which, in his day, was a book forbidden to the masses, realised that the Catholic church—the only religious authority in his medieval European world—was committing horrendous sins in the total subjugation of almost the whole of Christendom. With the founding of the Protestant reformation, Luther started a movement of Christian liberation that has never waned. But it is particularly sad that many of the Protestant churches that came into existence as a result of his stand are now practicing many of the very things which Luther showed were contrary to the Scriptures.

To read Luther’s life story and his own words of the anguish which he experienced as a result of standing against so much that he had, in an age of much less enlightenment than today, been brought up to believe in would be almost distressing if the outcome were not known. In his day he was branded by ‘established religion’ as the vilest of heretics and persecuted unmercifully by a church that was supposed to be practising Jesus’ command to love their neighbour. Because of his lifelong indoctrination it was, understandably, very hard for Luther to realise that the ‘excommunication’ that he was threatened with by a church which was obviously oblivious to Jesus’ warning, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1), might well be the greatest blessing of liberation that he could receive. But history has shown who was right and who was wrong hasn’t it? The Bible says it will do so again!

So, if you are experiencing bewilderment at all the choices of ‘Christian’ doctrine available to you, unfortunately, only YOU can decide for yourself. Of course, lots of friends will do their utmost to decide for you—I don’t intend to. However, if I draw some truths you weren’t previously aware of to your attention which prompt you to find the church that follows them I will have served my God.

So who do you believe? Study your bible diligently and pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). And, through it all, never forget,

This is the confidence we have in approaching God:

THAT IF WE ASK ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL,

HE HEARS US.

(1 John 5:14)

The Bible is a very big book and there is no easy way of learning its messages. As I will show, even little punctuation marks are important. Words like ‘and’ or ‘but’ can make a huge difference to what is written. Another of Satan’s clever tricks is duping people into reading ‘between the lines’ things that aren’t even there! Beware of doing this yourself and beware of preachers and teachers who do it.

I don’t write this to discourage anyone, but it is my belief that, if you studied God’s Word every day from now until the day your earthly life draws to it’s close, you’d still be learning on that last day. But Scripture tells us in Matthew 6:8 that God knows the desires of your heart even before you do and, I believe, that is what counts.

If your studies show you, for example, that the church you attend is not following God’s correct path, or your pastor is not preaching the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and if you’ve been part of that fellowship for some time, it may be very tempting to ‘turn a blind eye’ to the errors rather than cause disharmony—especially when the Bible itself warns against dissension.

When you think about it though, there’s nothing new about the way religion has corrupted God’s inspired Word. For example, as we have seen in chapter 6, even though the fourth commandment’s words leave no doubt, almost all so-called Christian churches meet for worship on the first day of the week—the day of the sun god—not Yahweh’s Sabbath. As the Old Testament prophet Zechariah wrote about the religious leaders two-and-a-half thousand years ago;

"They made their hearts as hard as flint and WOULD NOT LISTEN TO THE LAW or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets." (Zechariah 7:12)

Religious leaders were doing it when that was written and they’ve been doing it ever since!

So I decided that the ONLY way to substantiate the message that I had received was to extensively research the only REAL authority on the subject, ‘the Human Being Manufacturers Handbook’

—THE BIBLE—

THE WORD OF GOD.

I came up with some very interesting findings such as Jesus own words, referring to the time after His resurrection,

"In that day

YOU WILL NO LONGER ASK ME ANYTHING.

I tell you the truth,

my Father will give you whatever you

ASK IN MY NAME."

(John 16:23)

Doesn’t that verse alone tell you that what the Holy Spirit told me was absolutely right?

JESUS IS NOT THE GOD TO WHOM WE SHOULD NOW BE PRAYING—

HE IS HIS SON

IN WHOSE NAME WE SHOULD BE PRAYING!

Let me emphasise that I do not want you to take my word for anything here but, for your own sake, please take Yahweh’s Word—and this book quotes plenty of it!

You will notice that I have told you to do this for YOUR sake. A popular expression that I’m sure you’ve heard both in and out of churches is "for Jesus’ sake." Outside, it is more often than not nothing more than blatant disregard for the third commandment, "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God." But in churches this is often tacked onto the end of prayers—ostensibly as some sort of believed ‘sanctification’ of the requests made. However, when Jesus’ own words are heeded, it is not hard to see that the third commandment is being just as much broken inside the churches as it is outside. He told His followers to ask "IN HIS NAME" NOT "for His sake." And when one learns that the word ‘sake’ actually comes from an old English word meaning ‘contention,’ ‘fault’ or ‘accusation’ the error becomes very clear.

Isn’t this just another example of empty expressions used in church services all over the world by preachers who never stop to question what they are saying? Let me stress here and now that I don’t believe they do so intentionally to serve the master of deception. In most cases they do so in all innocence. But it does make me wonder whether religious denominations shouldn’t make a degree in the native language a prerequisite for a theological degree, since it is apparent that many preachers do not possess an adequate knowledge of their own tongue! They diligently study the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures to find the meanings of the original words and then, having found them, make it obvious that they don’t really know the meaning of many of the words they use!

I repeat, "My people are destroyed through lack of knowledge!" The point is, perhaps, which knowledge is beneficial and which is not?

"Why DO you break the commands of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3)

If you do have a ‘religious’ background, it might pay to forget all those doctrinal teachings of religious tradition that you were brought up with and pray earnestly to your Heavenly Father asking HIM to reveal THE TRUTH to you. Search the Scriptures and read what is there (as opposed to what religious liars try to tell you is there)!

If, on the other hand, you aren’t a regular churchgoer but what I refer to as an ‘Aspiring Christian’ I imagine, having read this chapter, you’re probably saying, "I knew all that! What’s the big deal?"

Well praise God and count your blessings, because you haven’t been indoctrinated with ‘religious traditions’ based on hollow and deceptive philosophy!

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Then you will know the truth, and

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE."

(John 8:31-32)

THERE’S NO ‘RELIGIOUS’ SUBSTITUTE FOR THE TRUTH

AND YOUR SALVATION

DEPENDS ON IT!9

LET’S ASK THE BIBLE

 

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o doubt many religious leaders, should they ever read this book, will get all ‘worked up’ and probably even declare me a heretic. Well, not to worry, Paul obviously had the same problem because he felt it necessary to write the following: -

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)

Far better men than me have been declared heretics in the past—and some of them were subsequently ‘sainted!’ But I have to say that what my critics think about me matters to me about as much as what the thoughts of the torch-bearers who lit the fires under such martyrs as Latimer and Ridley meant to them! I’ll just keep on loving and praying for them as my neighbours!

What DOES matter to me is what my heavenly Father God and His Son Jesus think!

However, I care very much what the critics think about THE TRUTH and, more especially, what they teach to poor unsuspecting ‘Aspiring Christians’ and I pray earnestly TO MY HEAVENLY FATHER IN THE NAME OF MY SAVIOUR JESUS, that HE will reveal that truth to them so that Satan’s insidious manipulation of them can be terminated before any more damage is done.

In so saying, I want to make it very clear that I believe that the vast majority of those preachers and teachers are totally unaware of their errors and sincerely want to serve God and His Son Jesus, our Saviour. They are just the unwitting victims of what I believe is one of the most evil curses of the world—RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS—as manipulated religiously by Satan.

The saddest thing in the world today is the fact that the huge majority of sincere lovers of God and Jesus never question what their religious leaders teach and preach. They accept in absolute faith, whatever those to whom they have entrusted—would you believe—their own eternity care to tell them! My heart cries out for them. I cannot remain silent!

The real teacher is, of course, God Himself. He provides everything anyone needs to know to live in righteousness in His Word—The Bible. But for some reason—probably human insecurity—people seem to need the endorsement of their beliefs by other humans, and this is where Satan grabs his opportunity. Religion is his most powerful tool and he uses it with zeal!

So if you’re an ‘Aspiring Christian’ (as opposed to a ‘Bible scholar’) who has attended certain churches and listened to their ritualistic services, you will, I imagine, be quite surprised to learn that NOWHERE in The Bible is Jesus referred to as "God the Son." He is frequently referred to as "The Son of God," but never as "God the Son!" NOWHERE is the Holy Spirit referred to as "God the Holy Ghost (or Spirit)," and, perhaps most significantly, NOWHERE in any translation of the Scriptures does the word "Trinity" occur either! Yet those words are used in churches all over the world and no one ever questions them.

Well, I DO!

If you think that’s a bold statement then think about this:

When Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist and became The Christ (more on that later), a voice from Heaven said, "THIS IS MY SON whom I love; in Him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) Much the same words were heard when He was transfigured. (see Matthew 17:5)

The voice was, of course, God’s own testimony—and He didn’t say, "This is me!" he said "THIS IS MY SON." Now since it was after His baptism that Jesus said that no one had ever heard the Father’s voice, we need to understand that these words must have been spoken by one of the Father’s representatives, an angel. Similarly, it was under God’s inspiration that Jesus’ disciple John wrote,

We accept man’s testimony, but GOD’S TESTIMONY IS GREATER because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about HIS SON. Anyone who believes in THE SON OF GOD has this testimony in his heart. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE GOD HAS MADE HIM OUT TO BE A LIAR, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about HIS SON. And THIS IS THE TESTIMONY; God has given us eternal life, and this life is in HIS SON. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the SON OF GOD does NOT have life. (1 John 5:9-12)

Will YOU make God out to be a liar and believe men who say that Jesus is God?

Just before he died, Jesus cried out,

"FATHER, forgive them for they know not what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

and "My God, my God, why have YOU forsaken ME?" (Matthew 27:46)

Note the two pronouns here, YOU and ME. TWO PEOPLE.

He wasn’t talking to Himself any more than He was when He prayed!

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16)

"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying TO GOD." (Luke 6:12)—NOT to Himself!

There is ONLY ONE Father of all creation. Jesus is not Him and He is not Jesus. Speaking TO His Father, Jesus Himself said;

"Father, glorify me IN YOUR PRESENCE with the glory I had WITH YOU before the world began." (John 17:5) and

"I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as YOU are in ME and I am in YOU." (John 17:20-21) [Please note also the words ‘all of them may be one’—more on that shortly.]

Note again that TWO quite distinctly different pronouns are used in these statements—YOU and ME—clearly indicating, not one, but TWO people. That Jesus was WITH His Father ‘before the world began’ is evidenced right in the very first chapter of the Bible where God is quoted as saying,

"Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness...." (Genesis 1:26)

This clearly shows that there was more than one involved in man’s creation. Jesus has been with His Father always and will be into eternity.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is our heavenly Father’s Son and thus His heir. However, since His Father gave Him as a sacrifice for all humanity, all who accept Him are his brothers and sisters, if you like, by adoption.

Jesus’ birthright is the very throne of heaven—"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and HE will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15) — and our birthright is salvation.

In his letter to the Ephesian Christians Paul told them that he prayed for them and said,

"I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives it’s name." (Ephesians 3:14-15)

From these passages it is obvious that Jesus, as a Son, is a member of the ‘God family’—or, putting it another way, He is a God—just as you are a ................................................................................................. (insert your own surname)

Look at it this way: In medieval times someone with the popular name John who made bread would have been addressed as ‘John the baker’ to differentiate him from ‘John the butcher’ and then, as time passed these were shortened to John Baker and John Butcher with the common noun professional titles being elevated to the status of hereditary family names or surnames by the capitalisation of the first letters and the dropping of the definite article ‘the.’

Thus, if we consider the common noun ‘god’ written with a capital G, as being the heavenly equivalent—derived from the Father—of a human surname or family name, then the head of that family would be, since we do not know His name, ‘Father’ God and His Son and Helper’s name would be Yahweh God. However, when it is remembered that ‘God’ is substituted for the name Yehovah, those names would even more correctly be ‘Father Yehovah’ and ‘Yahweh Yehovah.’ So, as the above Scripture says, they are of the same ‘family’ with, obviously, the same characteristics, status and privileges. Now, since most biblical names have a meaning, when a person’s status changed, God sometimes changed his name to suit the new role. Well-known examples are Abram to Abraham (meaning ‘father of many’) and Jacob to Israel. So, when the Father sent His Son to earth as a human to redeem His creation made in the image of His family, He changed His name from Yahweh to Yeshua (in English, Jesus), meaning ‘Saviour’ or, more fully, ‘The Lord saves.’

Another way of looking at it in secular terms which will make the point very clear to anyone who has ever had any business experience is to view the Deity like a limited company called ‘God and Son Ltd’ or, if you prefer, "Jehovah Ltd" which, in conversation, would be referred to simply as "God" or "Jehovah," so that, whenever anyone makes a statement on behalf of the company it begins, "God says..." or "Jehovah says..." A limited company is, of course, a legal entity with all the rights and responsibilities of an individual person, except that it cannot exist without shareholders—owners. In ‘God and Son Ltd’ there are ordinary shareholders—members of the God Family and the angels, nominee shareholders—human Christians whose names are in The Book of Life, and two directors. The Chairman of the Board is Father God, the Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director is Yahweh God (now Jesus) and there’s also an Administration Manager referred to as The Holy Spirit.

You will remember we saw earlier that, speaking to the Jews about His Father, Jesus said, "You have never heard His voice nor seen His form." (John 5:37) and how this left no doubt that it was He who, as Yahweh, had all communication with mankind on the Deity’s behalf. With this in mind let’s look at another encounter between Moses and God ("the Firm").

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting." Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. (Exodus 33:7-11)

So, if a believer who doesn’t understand or appreciate the individuality of the members of the Deity reads this, a question he might ask could be, "Which Lord is this verse talking about?" To answer that we need to look at the rest of Exodus 33. After relating a conversation between the Lord and Moses where Yahweh tells him that he has found great favour with God, Moses then asks, "Now show me your glory." And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen." (vs. 18-23)

From all of this it becomes clear that, since Moses talked with ‘the Lord’ at the tent of meeting "face to face," it must have been the Deity’s ("The Firm’s") Chief Executive Officer, Yahweh that he met. But we have also seen in John 17:5 where Jesus stated that He shared glory with His Father since before the world began so, since no-one can look at His face in the full brilliance of that glory and live, He must have either reduced it or veiled it when speaking face-to-face with Moses (and others). Even when Yahweh’s glory was muted it still radiated enough to make Moses face shine when he came down from Mount Sinai so that he had to wear a veil.

Thus, when he asked to see the Lord’s glory, Moses was actually speaking to the only God he knew—Yahweh, the preincarnate Jesus. Therefore, for Yahweh to demonstrate His unveiled glory to Moses, it was necessary for Him to cover Moses’ with his hand until He had passed by. However, the Scripture clearly tells us that Moses did see Yahweh’s form from behind, thus proving that the person referred to by the Old Testament writers as ‘God’ was the firm’s CEO and not the Chairman of the Board, because, whilst Yahweh told Moses he could not look at His face, later, as Jesus, he said no-one had seen His Father’s form. This also makes it obvious that when Yahweh took on human form and became Jesus He totally laid aside His glory, which is why, the night before he was crucified, He asked His Father to glorify Him once again.

Consequently, all direct dealings with humanity since the creation of Adam have been conducted by the Chief Executive Officer, Yahweh, or members of His angel staff. Therefore it must have been He who delivered "The Firm’s" commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai and He who spoke to all the Old Testament prophets. But never let it be forgotten that, whatever He did, He did it in obedience to His Father’s directions. When He became fully human He even said, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me." (John 7:16) It is thus fair to say that, where God (or The Lord) is referred to in the Old Testament as communicating directly with human beings, the communicant was really Jesus or, in some instances, an angel or angels, and it is this which I believe has caused the ‘confusion’ which prompted the Holy Spirit to speak to me that day in church.

So, whilst it was Jesus who said those words, "‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’" He was simply speaking on behalf of "The Firm" headed by His Father. In fact, if we look at the beginning of Exodus chapter 3, we find that, when Moses was tending sheep near Mount Horeb [Sinai], in verse 2, it says, There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. However, from there on in the story everything said to Moses is attributed as being spoken by God. We are, therefore, left to decide for ourselves whether the angel who we have already been told was in the bush relayed God’s words or whether Jesus Himself, as God’s spokesman, Yahweh, did so. One thing which is certain from Jesus’ statement in John 5:37 is that God (The Father) did not speak them personally—although, of course, Moses didn’t know that at the time. (Take particular note that the angel in the burning bush was not Jesus as some may try to tell you, because we are told in Hebrews 1:4, He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs.)

As we saw in the previous chapter, Scripture tells us we are no longer to deal personally with Jesus and, as He promised, when He went to sit at His Father’s right, God sent His Spirit to be their representative amongst us (John 14:25), ALL our dealings with "The Firm" are now either through Him directly in prayer or via His ‘field officers,’ our pastors. Everything that the Administration Manager does is, and must be, sanctioned by the board of directors in such a way that He can only speak or act for, and as directed by God (and Son Ltd). When He acts on our behalf it is only ever in the better interest of "The Firm." (1 John 5:14)—and don’t forget, as nominee shareholders, that will, one day, include us!

By the way, if you’re thinking it is audacious to say that God and Son are limited just remember, they cannot lie and they cannot tempt or be tempted.

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. (James 1:13)

So they are limited—to all that is honest and good! The ‘Chairman of the Board’ even obeyed ‘company rules’ (which He made in the first place) by waiting until the Sabbath had passed before raising Jesus! Hallelujah!

But there’s competition in the market place called ‘Satan and Company’ and their chief executive is a marketing expert! Don’t get sucked in by his advertising. Even though he said, "You will not surely die." they don’t give guarantees!

Now since His Father is absolute perfection and, as the Bible tells us, Jesus is "a lamb without blemish or defect. ... CHOSEN before the creation of the world, but ... revealed in these last times for your sake." (1 Peter 1:19-20) it obviously follows that Jesus is also absolute perfection. Therefore they must be identical in both character and appearance.

This is why, in answer to His disciple, Philip’s request "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus said,

"Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am IN the Father, and that the Father is IN me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living IN me, who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." (John 14:8-11)—which means that Jesus POSSESSES all of His Father’s characteristics, holiness and righteousness.

But it doesn’t mean that the Messiah IS God!

He is God’s Son, Jesus.

The Bible also tells us many times that, when He ascended into Heaven Jesus took His place AT THE RIGHT HAND OF HIS FATHER. Here are some;

"But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." They all asked, "ARE YOU THEN THE SON OF GOD?" He replied, "YOU ARE RIGHT IN SAYING THAT I AM." (Luke 22:69-70—Note here Jesus’ own admission of who He is.)

"In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One" (Matthew 26:64)—again, Jesus’ own words—and if He is God, then could someone please tell me, who is the Mighty One?

"After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19)

"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’" (Acts 7:55-56) Since no one can see the Father and live, perhaps Stephen was allowed to do so in order to expedite his death by stoning and thus reduce his suffering.

"Who is it that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)

To intercede means to be a ‘go-between,’ and in this case, it is clear that Jesus is seated between us and His Father at His right hand.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1)

"The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Hebrews 1:3) [More on this passage later.]

"But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 10:12)

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

David even predicted this at the beginning of Psalm 110: -

"The Lord [Yehovah] says to my Lord [adonai]: ‘Sit at my right hand’"

Note particularly the use of capital letters in this quotation and see the glossary at the end of this book.

Many of the words which Jesus Himself spoke clearly indicate that, whilst He is Lord, He is NOT God. For example, three times on the night He was betrayed He fell on His face and worshiped His Father (how often do you do that?) and prayed TO Him;

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL." (Matthew 26:39)

When Jesus spoke to His followers He often referred TO His Father as the One who SENT Him:

"I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of HIM WHO SENT ME." (John 6:38)

"Just as the living Father SENT me and I live because of the Father..." (John 6:57)

"MY TEACHING IS NOT MY OWN. It comes from Him who SENT me. IF ANYONE CHOOSES TO DO GOD’S WILL, HE WILL FIND OUT WHETHER MY TEACHING COMES FROM GOD OR WHETHER I SPEAK ON MY OWN. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honour for himself, but he who works for the honour of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." (John 7:16-18)

"Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I am FROM Him and He SENT me." (John 7:28-29)

"I am with you for only a short time, and then I GO TO THE ONE WHO SENT ME." (John 7:33)

"And I will ASK the Father, and He will give you another counsellor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth." (John 14:16)

"You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is WITH ME." (John 16:32)

"As the Father has SENT me, I am sending you." (John 20:21)

and His final words before He died on the cross at Calvary;

"Father, into YOUR hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

"...the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:18)

That last bit was, of course, the Pharisees’ opinion—Jesus didn’t make that claim —quite the opposite in fact (see below)—although Paul, who was, of course, himself a Pharisee, did write of Him, "Who, being in very nature in the form of God, DID NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO BE GRASPED." (Philippians 2:6)

When Jesus spoke to the people and told them He was the light of the world He was charged by the Pharisees for witnessing on His own behalf which, as they pointed out, was invalid under Jewish law. He responded to them thus:

"Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony IS valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I came from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgement on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand WITH the Father, who SENT me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of TWO men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; MY OTHER WITNESS IS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME." (John 8:14-18)

TWO WITNESSES, Beloved! Those are our anointed Saviour’s words, not mine. Will you argue with HIM?

Jesus, the Son, is subordinate to His Father.

This is NOT a derogatory statement. The reverence with which He always spoke about His Father clearly shows that He knew and happily accepted that fact. He even said so to His disciples!

"You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for THE FATHER IS GREATER THAN I." (John 14:28)

Do you believe Jesus words? I have met Christians who say, "Oh, but, when He said that, Jesus was only referring to the time that He had laid aside His glory and become wholly human." Where does it say so in the Bible? Answer: NOWHERE! When people say such things they are making assumptions—and, as the old saying goes, "to assume is to make an ass out of u and me!"

Jesus also asked a man who addressed Him as "Good teacher,"

"Why do you call ME good? No one is good except God alone" (Mark 10:18)

The great evangelist Paul began his letter to the Roman Christians:

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding HIS SON, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be THE SON OF GOD by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 1:1-4) and then later wrote: -

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:5-6)

Similarly, almost sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion, His disciple John greeted the lady and her children to whom he sent his second letter: -

"Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, THE FATHER’S SON, will be with us in truth and love." (2 John 3) and then told her,

"I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we WALK IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMANDS." (2 John 5-6)

Before closing the short letter John then wrote,

"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God;

whoever continues in the teaching has

BOTH the Father AND the Son.

If anyone comes to you and does not have this teaching,

do not take him into your house or welcome him.

Anyone who welcomes him shares his wicked work."

(2 John 7-11)

Because they are so important, I have purposely quoted all these Scriptures word for word from the Bible, but any Christian readers who doubt my accuracy yet care enough about the truth to check them out can get their own Bibles out (and, dare I say it, probably dust them off) and read them for themselves. Surely these words are NOT NEGOTIABLE my brothers and sisters! Do you want to negotiate them?

If BOTH God the Father and Jesus are one and the same single being, how could all these Scriptural—‘God-breathed’—statements possibly be correct?

The simple answer is that they couldn’t!

If you believe that everything in the Bible is true, (and if you’re a Christian, you should!) don’t be ‘double-minded.’ If you believe that Jesus is His own Father incarnate that’s your choice—but then He can’t be His own Son can He? You can’t have it both ways so you will have to make up your own mind as to whether Jesus is God or whether He is the Son of God. Re-read 1 John 5:5 and then the last two sentences of the above quotation and make up your mind. No one else can do it for you—

THE DECISION IS YOURS.

But you don’t have to make it all on your own!

10

LIVING PROOF

W

ho Jesus is (and was when He walked on the Earth) will be debated by both open-minded Christians and non-Christians until He returns and, whilst the words of God’s Holy Spirit to me as I prayed will be with me for the rest of my earthly life, I do not consider myself an authority. I’m just the messenger. God is the authority—and that authority is clearly spelled out in His inspired word, The Bible.

Most importantly though, whoever you believe that Jesus is, never stop loving Him and thanking Him, for what He did and is doing for you—and just remember His own words on who He is—

"I am the way,

the truth and the life.

NO ONE comes to the Father

BUT THROUGH ME."

(John 14:6)

Of course, everything I have written so far assumes that the man named Jesus WAS, in fact, who He claimed to be—the promised Messiah—the anointed Son of God—and who true Christians today believe that He is. This assumption is a safe one because the Bible tells of how His coming was accurately prophesied in the Old Testament.

About 530 years before the birth of Jesus the prophet Daniel was given a vision of the future that is a wonderful testimony to the authenticity of the inspired nature of Scripture.

In this vision Daniel saw an angel who told him, "Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophesy and to anoint the most holy." (Daniel 9:24)

The seventy ‘sevens’ refer to years and so what this is saying is that 490 years were given to Daniel’s people to ‘get their act together.’ Daniel was, of course, a Jew (a citizen of Judah, the southern kingdom) but this prophecy was obviously directed to the entire Israelite nation, some of who—the Jews—were, at that time, held in captivity in Babylon.

As Christians we know, with the benefit of hindsight, that only Jesus Christ could ‘put an end to sin’ and ‘bring in everlasting righteousness’ and, as the Son of God, be anointed as ‘the most holy.’

However, back in Daniel’s time, that was all yet to be revealed—but it is clear that the Jews were given 490 years in which to achieve these requirements. The next verse in Daniel tells when the 490 years would start.

"Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’" (Daniel 9:25)

This tells us that, from the issuing of a decree directing the Hebrew people to return from exile and rebuild Jerusalem, it would be 7 x 7 (= 49) years and then a further 62 x 7 (= 434) years (and thus a total of 483) until the arrival of ‘the Anointed One.’ (In the King James version of the Bible the Hebrew word mashiyach meaning ‘Anointed One’ is not thus translated, but left as Messiah. Interestingly, whilst this is one of the best-known descriptions of Jesus, in the whole Bible it only occurs twice in Daniel 9.)

To learn about the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem we must refer to Ezra 7:13 where it is recorded that Artaxerxes, the king of Persia wrote to Ezra:

Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go."

And, in verse 8 we are told that ‘Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king, which, as history shows, was the year 457 BC.

At that time the Israelite nation was divided into two, the northern kingdom of Israel, and Judah, the southern kingdom, and both were being held captive. But only Judah was in Babylon whilst Israel was in Assyria. So, you may ask, how was it that King Artaxerxes referred to the Israelites? The answer lies in the fact that the Babylonians had previously conquered Assyria and taken possession of everything they had—including their enslaved captives. Thus it was that the northern and southern kingdoms were reunited when they returned to ‘the promised land.’ This was prophesied by Yahweh to Ezekiel.

The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.

"When your countrymen ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offences, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God." (Ezekiel 37:15-23)

So, if we calculate 483 years from 457 BC, we arrive at the year 26 AD. Jesus was born not, as many people think, at the end of December in 1 BC but, as close as it is possible to determine, late in about the year 5 BC. We know this because history shows that Herod the Great, the king who ordered the murder of all Jewish babies after hearing from the Magi about the birth of Jesus, died in the year 4 BC. Remember there was no ‘year dot’ or zero: 1 BC being immediately followed by 1 AD. Thus, by the fifth month of the year 26 AD, Jesus would have been between His thirtieth and thirty-first birthdays—which is exactly the age that the Bible tells us that He was when He was baptised by John the Baptist and was anointed by His Father’s Holy Spirit and became The Christ. "Now Jesus was about thirty years old when He began His ministry." (Luke 3:23)

Have you ever thought how significant it is that the Bible, neither in prophesy or in history gives any evidence or even hint as to Jesus’ birthday? Isn’t this a clear indication that God doesn’t consider that nearly as important as the day that He became The Christ? (The apostasy of Christmas celebration is discussed chapter 24)

You will recall that the angel told Daniel that there were 490 years (seventy ‘sevens’) for the people to fulfil the prophecy and, so far, only 483 have passed. Reading on in Daniel 9 we are told,

"After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ [which, remember, came after the seven ‘sevens’ — the time it took to rebuild Jerusalem around the temple previously rebuilt by King Zerubbabel] the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ He will put an end to sacrifice and offering." (Daniel 9:26-27)

When He began His ministry ‘after the sixty-two ‘sevens,’’ Jesus was ‘cut off’—ostracised by the Jewish religious leaders and had no material possessions. As He said to one man who wanted to follow Him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head." (Luke 9:58)

"The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary." refers to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD by the pagan Roman legions who were, of course, the predecessors of those who have chosen to follow the ‘man of lawlessness’—the ruler who, at that time, was still to come—the antichrist servant of Satan as will be explained in chapter 20. ‘In the middle of the ‘seven’’ indicates 3½ years from Jesus’ anointing when He was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice and thus ‘put an end to sacrifice and offering!’ The exact timing of Jesus’ life and crucifixion in accord with Daniel’s vision is a very clear testimony to the fact that Jesus was indeed, the foretold Messiah and to the fact that Scripture is, truly, ‘God-breathed.’

This only leaves the part of the prophesy which said that ‘He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’’ But Jesus was murdered with three-and-a-half years to go so what happened? To answer this we must look at Jesus’ own words when He told His disciples,

"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel." (Matthew 10:5-6)

This instruction was because Jesus knew very well that the prophecy given to Daniel [the covenant with many] had clearly allowed the Jews exclusively 490 years in which to stop their sinful transgressions and accept Him as their promised Messiah—although He did show compassion to a Gentile woman who appealed to Him, but note what He said to her.

A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

He replied, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs."

"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table."

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:22-28)

After His crucifixion and resurrection, according to His instruction, Jesus’ disciples and other followers continued to restrict their evangelical activities to the Jewish people for anther 3½ years until after the martyrdom of Stephen when a man named Philip (not Jesus’ disciple) ‘went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there.’ (Acts 8:5) and then, when Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch,

"On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

"‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’"

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:44-48)

Thus, by their murder of Stephen and other Christians and their refusal to accept Jesus as their Messiah even after he rose from the dead, the Jews were, just as Daniel had prophesied, disinherited as God’s chosen people (pardon the pun) dead on time!

Jesus foretold this on more than one occasion. When He healed a Gentile Roman centurion’s servant and said, "the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." and when He was interrogated by the Jewish priests and elders, He told them,

"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

"The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

"Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"

"He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures:"

‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?

"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Matthew 21:33-43)

And it was! Some 25 years later Peter wrote in his letter to the Gentile believers (and the exiled Jewish Christians).

"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10)

And Paul wrote to the Ephesian and Roman churches:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:10-13)

Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised by that same faith. (Romans 3:29-30)

So Gentile readers need have no fears that Jesus, labelled on His cross by Pilate as "King of the Jews," was only sent to save what the Old Testament has taught us to regard as God’s chosen people—or, as Paul writes in the following passage, ‘His people, whom He foreknew.’ You and everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God are now, for want of a better description, ‘Honorary Jews’—the children of God. (The full importance and significance of this will be shown in chapter 24.)

Paul—himself a Roman citizen—wrote to the Romans,

"I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject His people, whom He foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what is God’s answer to him? I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:1-6, 11-24)

This shows that God will always rescue anyone who accepts Jesus as their Saviour, especially His beloved Jewish people who, like the branches of a tree, have been broken off and replaced by wild branches—the Gentiles—grafted in their place. Here Paul is warning Gentile believers not to become arrogant because God rejected faithless Jews in their favour. It matters not where your origins lie—what matters to God, and therefore, your salvation, is where your faith lies.

Even before Daniel received his visions Micah warned God’s people of the coming judgement and His offer of pardon to all who turn to Him. Micah’s short book is full of messianic prophecies and one tells us "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour gives birth and the rest of His brothers return to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will live securely, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And He will be their peace. (Micah 5:2-5)

Accept as your divine Saviour Jesus, the Son of your God and your Creator. As these Scriptures prove beyond any doubt, He is the promised Messiah. I have no doubt that, if the exact dates were available, we would find that Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan on the same day in the Jewish month of Ab (July/August) that Artaxerxes signed his decree to Ezra 483 years earlier!

Elsewhere in this book I refer to Jesus being raised from the dead between 60 and 72 hours after His crucifixion and there are, no doubt, some readers thinking, "That doesn’t compute. If Jesus died on Friday afternoon and rose before dawn on Sunday morning, that, at most, could only be around 36 hours." Yes, Beloved, it could. So how does the discrepancy occur? To answer that, let us first look at what Jesus said on the subject.

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days AND THREE NIGHTS in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

Now, no matter how anyone tries, it is impossible to make THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS into anything less than 60 hours at the very least even by allowing for parts of days or nights to be considered as the whole thereof (known as ‘inclusive reckoning,’ as was Jewish custom). And since it was Jesus Himself who said it, it is safe to say that none but the most audacious would argue with it, so let’s look a little further. We know that Jesus and His disciples shared the Passover meal (The Last Supper) in the upper room on the evening before His crucifixion immediately before going to the Garden of Gethsemane where He was arrested. All four gospels say so. The day of the Passover is immediately prior to the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is one of seven special annual Sabbath days on the Jewish calendar (discussed further in chapter 24). This always occurs on the 15th day of the first Jewish month of Abib (today known as Nisan), regardless of what day of the week this happens to be. The Jewish new year began on the first day that the new moon was visible after (but not before) sunset following the spring equinox (which is, of course, on March 21st on our calendar). Being the day before the special Sabbath the Passover day is also known as ‘Preparation Day’ in allusion to the fact that all the work of preparing for the holy day (holi-day) was done on Passover day.

Since the first part of the biblical day is the dark part, the Passover started at sunset and continued until the following sunset so that the first act of Jesus and His disciples was to celebrate the Passover meal early in the evening on Abib 14th and then, following His subsequent arrest, He was shunted back and forth between the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod for most of that night and then, at about nine o’clock the next morning—still Abib 14th—He was crucified. It is true that Jesus and His disciples had already eaten their Passover meal earlier on Abib 14th than was usual because, as Jesus told them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." (Luke 22:15) This was, of course, because Jesus knew that His crucifixion was to coincide exactly with the majority of the ceremonial sacrifices of Passover lambs at the temple thus emphasising Jesus being the ultimate "Passover sacrifice" for the whole world.

The Bible tells us: Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a SPECIAL Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. (John 19:31-33)

After this Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen and took it to a new, unused tomb. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:42) where it laid, as Jesus predicted, for three days and three nights.

Now there is no doubt, as we have earlier seen, that it was at around sunrise on the first day of the week (that is: the day we now call Sunday) that the women went to anoint Jesus’ body and found the tomb empty—so, if we count back three days and nights from then, we arrive at first thing on Thursday morning. "How can this be?" you may well be asking. Well, if we look at the astronomical and Jewish calendars for the year 30 AD—which, being three-and-a-half years after Jesus’ baptism in 26 AD, is generally thought to be the year of His crucifixion—we find that Abib 1st fell on what, in Jerusalem, would begin at the 5:55 PM sunset on Thursday, March 23rd, thus making the 14th starting at sunset on what would now be Wednesday April 5th in that year. This would have meant that the special Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was on Friday. Thus we find that, in that particular week there were two Sabbaths on two consecutive days—the special one on the sixth day immediately followed by the regular weekly seventh-day Sabbath.

Additional support for a fifth-day crucifixion will be found if the gospel reports of the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion are examined. In John 12:1-2 we learn that six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Then, in verses 12 and 13, we are told, The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!" Because it nicely fits in with a Friday crucifixion, this usually referred to as "Palm Sunday" in most churches. However, Scripture doesn’t say that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the first day of the week.

Since no actual day of the week is given for these events, we are left with two possible scenarios. One depends on the system of inclusive reckoning which, as I have pointed out, was common practice in Israel at that time. Using this system of counting, the meal at Lazarus’ home would have been on the weekly Sabbath and the entry into Jerusalem, as most people celebrate it, on the first day of the week, Sunday. Thus, by inclusive reckoning, Saturday would have been day 1 and "Palm Sunday" day 2, making day 6 Thursday. As I will show, this option fits better with the gospel accounts of the subsequent days.

The other alternative suggests the dinner given in Jesus’ honour at Lazarus, and his sisters Martha and Mary’s home would not have taken place on the Sabbath since a non-religious ‘party’ on that day would have been contrary to Jewish law. So, if the dinner given was six days before the Passover, and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was on the next day, it must follow that He went to worship at the temple on the Sabbath (Saturday) which was five days before the Passover. And Saturday is five days before Thursday, isn’t it?

In the following, you will notice that Mark tells us that, on arrival at Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple—which further supports the suggestion that it was the Sabbath. Taking up the story in Mark’s gospel, immediately following where he repeats the shouts of the crowd as Jesus entered the city, he writes, "Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany..." (Mark 11:11-12) and goes on to relate the day’s events, including Jesus clearing the temple of money-changers. This lends even more support for the previous day being the Sabbath since, on His first visit, Jesus would have seen the commercialisation of God’s dwelling and, rather than disrupt the Sabbath, determined to return when it was over to sort the problem out. Moving on to verse 19, we read, "When evening came, they went out of the city." This, in our system, was Sunday evening and, in the Jewish system the end of Sunday and start of Monday, the second day of the week. To avoid confusion, I will use modern chronology for the rest of this study.

In the very next verse, Mark starts, "In the morning..." This is Monday morning. Mark then goes on to tell the events of that day. It was a full day and included Jesus’ divine authority being challenged by the chief priests, some parables and Jesus’ graphic description that He gave on the Mount of Olives of the last days before His return, Matthew’s account of which is given elsewhere in this book. The whole story takes up the next two-and-a-half chapters of Mark’s gospel and closes, at the beginning of chapter 14, "Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill Him. "But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot." (vs.1-2) This is followed by an account of a woman anointing Jesus’ head with expensive perfume as He was at the home of a man named Simon at Bethany on Monday evening.

We now need to review the two alternatives because, in verse 12, Mark proceeds to relate the preparation for the Passover meal in the upper room. If the inclusive reckoning method of counting the days was used, then Mark’s statement that the Passover was ‘only two days away’ would have meant that the it was the next day. (That is, the day he was referring to was day 1 and the next day was day 2.) If, on the other hand, inclusive reckoning was not used, then we are left with a whole day totally unaccounted for in any of the gospels, which I, personally, find very hard to imagine, which is why I favour the inclusive reckoning method. Besides, as I have already pointed out, that was the method of the day.

Finally, starting at verse 17, by which time it was evening and, in Jewish time, the start of the Passover, Mark tells the story of the Last Supper. So, whichever system of counting was used, this must have been immediately following sunset on Wednesday evening, the beginning of the Jewish fifth day. And as everyone who knows the story of Jesus’ final hours is very well aware, within twenty-four hours He was crucified, dead and entombed.

NOWHERE does the Bible say that Jesus was crucified on the SIXTH day of the week.

NOWHERE does it say that Jesus rode a donkey’s colt into Jerusalem on the FIRST day of the week.

It DOES SAY that He was crucified on Preparation day and, as it DOES STATE, the next day was a SPECIAL Sabbath.

But, MOST IMPORTANTLY, JESUS HIMSELF PROPHESIED that He would be in the tomb FOR THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.

So I submit to you that there is absolutely nothing sacrilegious or heretical in proposing that Jesus was actually crucified on the day we now call THURSDAY. Even though it is accepted without question as fact by practically every church professing to be Christian, I suggest that "Good Friday" is nothing but a tradition! If you have a problem with this suggestion, my only request is that you ask yourself why. Do you prefer to believe a church tradition or Jesus’ own words?

Therefore, yes, we should be keeping "Good Friday" as a holy day—not as a commemoration of Jesus’ crucifixion—but because Yahweh decreed it as the Feast of Unleavened Bread!

Before leaving this subject, because someone is bound to ask, we need to make reference to Luke’s version of the Last Supper because he wrote, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover was approaching...." (Luke 22:1) and "Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed." (v. 7) Here again, we have what would seem to be a contradiction because all other references to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (in particular, Yahweh’s own instructions in Leviticus 23—see chapter 24) place it one day after the Passover whilst Luke implies that they are the same day. The only suggestion I can make for this discrepancy is that Luke, unlike the other three gospel writers, was a Gentile and thus, possibly, not as familiar with Jewish customs. This also supports my suggestion in chapter 12 that Paul’s statement that "all Scripture is God-breathed" does not refer to the New Testament.

In passing, it should be mentioned that the word "Easter" is derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility deity (sometimes a god and sometimes a goddess), hence the association of eggs and rabbits with what many churches promote as a Christian festival. More about this is covered in chapter 23, "Know Your Enemy."

11

WISDOM

I

t seems that the difficulty many Christians experience which causes them to negotiate God’s Word is a lack of wisdom and, without detracting in any way from Jesus’ own exhortation to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," the acquisition of wisdom must be seen as the initial step in that quest.

I have often suggested this to Christian brothers and sisters who argue that, if we actively seek God’s kingdom and righteousness FIRST, (as He instructed) then He will give us the wisdom that we need and I have no doubt whatsoever that He will. However, let me put it this way:

A man who lives on a lonely homestead goes out onto his land one day and his vehicle breaks down miles from home. After several days walking in the desert he staggers, faint and hungry, into his home at midnight. He knows that, if he doesn’t eat before sunrise, he will die of starvation. But, since he can’t see a thing, the FIRST thing he seeks is the light switch. Now he can’t eat the light switch can he? Do you get the point here? Isn’t wisdom the light switch in this dark world of godlessness?

And, much as it grieves me to write this, millions of starving people, instead of asking God by ardently seeking His answers to the questions He knew they would ask long before they did, in His immutable word in their Bible, take the easy path and grope their way, in their spiritual darkness, into some apostate church and clutch at whatever lies, disguised as ‘tradition’ or ‘new enlightenment’ that happens to be on offer. Of course, the real master of those religions, Satan the devil, ‘sugar-coats’ them with all sorts of ‘feel-good’ sweeteners so that the poor unsuspecting seeker grabs them eagerly with both hands. And, so sadly, they don’t have the wisdom to know that they have been the victims of the greatest confidence trick in the history of the world—for if someone comes to them and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, they put up with it easily enough! (adapted from 2 Corinthians 11:4)

They don’t have the wisdom to know that, hungry (for the truth) as they are, when they are offered the choice between a fish and fishing lessons and a rod, the fishing rod (in this case, studying the Bible) will, if used diligently, feed them for ever, whilst the fish will only feed them until it’s gone—then they’ll starve! Have you noticed how lots of ‘new age’ churches use the symbol of a fish? Most of the fish they hand out are puffer fish—they look like tasty fish, but they’re deadly poison!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, HE SHOULD ASK GOD, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:5-8)

However, even before you pray to God for wisdom, go back over chapter 2 and check just how you stand with His commandments because;

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law,

even his prayer shall be an abomination.

(Proverbs 28:9 [KJV])

So, if you know that you are breaking even one of the commandments—turning away your ear from hearing the law—then your first step had better be to straighten your act up—fix up your end of the deal—because, if you don’t, even your prayer for wisdom will be an abomination to God.

In the secular world of sin, that’s a bit like sleeping with your neighbour’s wife and then going and asking him to lend you his lawnmower! Don’t be surprised if he declines or even refuses to listen!

Just in case anybody has the wrong idea about wisdom let me assure you that ‘wise’ and ‘clever’ are not synonyms. Satan is very clever—he is, as the passage I quoted from Genesis told us, the craftiest of all the animals—but he certainly isn’t wise! Wisdom is, by definition, the practical application of knowledge and experience with prudence, sagacity and common sense. Whilst correct knowledge is essential, on its own it’s of no use whatsoever unless it is used wisely. So it must follow that, if a person lacks any of those attributes, the compliance with Jesus’ advice to seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness will be considerably tougher—and leading others to it even harder than that, because:

People don’t care how much you know

until they know how much you care!

So, in order to most effectively commence the search for God’s righteousness, the initial action would be to take Jesus’ brother, James’ advice which I have just quoted. He went on, a little later in his letter, to define both worldly and Godly wisdom.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:13-17)

Jesus spoke words of wisdom. In His Sermon on the Mount He said that wise people are blessed—

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

(Matthew 5:5-9)

King Solomon wrote a lot about wisdom—perhaps because he had first-hand knowledge of its value. As a young boy Solomon served God faithfully and when he had just become king, he was told by God in a dream, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." (1 Kings 3:5)

Now doesn’t that sound like an Arabian Nights fairy story where some turbaned genie pops out of a lamp and tells you he’ll grant you any wish you like? What would you have wished for? I know a lot of people today who would ask for wealth, health or some material thing like a beautiful house or car or a beautiful girl or boy friend — but read what Solomon asked for.

Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

"Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked forboth riches and honourso that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life. (1 Kings 3:6-14)

As the One who had that conversation with Solomon said when He became Jesus, "Ask and it will be given to you." (Matthew 7:7)—and that’s how Solomon came to be not only the wisest man of all time, but also, because of the unselfish nature of his request, the wealthiest. The first nine chapters of his book of Proverbs extol the value of wisdom and the next twenty offer hundreds of examples. I strongly recommend the reading and study of the whole book but, because they are of particular significance to this book, and no words of mine could possibly improve on those of Solomon, I here quote chapters eight and nine in full.

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud:

"To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness.

All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

"I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.

"The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works, before His deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before He made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when He gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when He marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was the craftsman at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.

"Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city.

"Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.

"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer."

The woman Folly is loud; she is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way.

"Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!"

But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.

You will notice that Solomon also stresses that an essential component of wisdom is knowledge. Remember what God said to Hosea—"My people are destroyed through lack of knowledge."—and, as Solomon wrote at the beginning of Proverbs, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7) and "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." (Proverbs 12:15)

Have you ever noticed that one of the main problems in Christendom is the sad fact that most ‘indoctrinated tradition addicts’ are so arrogant that they only ever view those last two quotes in the context of themselves being the adviser and the "fools" being those who, perhaps because they have read more of God’s word on the subject, flatly refuse to accept their false doctrines and "despise their ‘wisdom and discipline.’" It never crosses their mind that the real wisdom and discipline might be the other person’s Bible-based truth. That is why I have endeavoured to back up my statements in this book only with non-negotiable Scripture so that, if you don’t like what you read because it goes against your particular church’s teaching, you can check it all out in your own Bible. The main point is that I don’t want you to believe me any more than your church traditions—or vice-versa—until you have thoroughly verified one or the other using nothing more than God’s inspired word.

The ‘fear of the Lord’ which is referred to is not being afraid of God but, because you love Him, being afraid of hurting Him—and one sure way of hurting Him is disobedience. As Solomon explained, To fear the Lord is to hate evil. From this it can be seen that the modern use of the word ‘fear’ is quite different to its meaning in the Bible. Unfortunately, vast numbers of people today don’t realise this and so, when they see one of the hundreds of verses which say "fear the Lord," they immediately picture God as some sort of terrible ogre who will smite them down if they so much as think a bad thought. In Scripture the word translated as fear, in modern thinking, would be much more appropriately translated ‘revere,’ meaning the sort of respect which a contented servant has for his superior.

This is a bit like a child who loves his parents and loves being loved by his parents. When they give him an instruction and, to emphasise its importance, tell him that breaking their command will result in punishment, does that child comply with his parents’ wishes out of a desire to please them or out of fear of the threatened punishment? God is our loving parent and, when you look around you at everything He created to make our lives here on His earth as happy and beautiful as they should be—if mankind himself hadn’t brought misery and strife upon himself—don’t you want to do everything you can to please Him? Understanding the use of the word ‘fear’ is an important facet of the sort of wisdom that Solomon exhorted his readers to acquire.

Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she calls out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:

"How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no-one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you all ignored my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes youwhen calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and will be at ease, without fear of harm." (Proverbs 1:20-33)

Does this sound like a threat or a deal?

Strive for wisdom, Beloved. It will provide you with the ability to correctly handle the Word of Truth which, in turn, will enable you to effectively seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. It will enable you to discern the activities of Satan’s servants masquerading as angels of light. It will protect you as you walk the path that God has prepared for you. He says,

"I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8)

Notice also that God’s plan is for you to prosper. We’ll look at that a bit more in chapter 18.

 

12

THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE

 

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efore moving on to an examination of the different interpretations placed on the Scriptures there is one other question that I believe needs to be considered. That is what is referred to as "the Canon of Scripture." In other words, WHO decided which of the ancient manuscripts should be included in the book we now know as The Bible, and which should not. The word ‘canon’ is derived from the Greek word kanon meaning ‘rule’ and, in respect to the Bible, now denotes what was, in effect, Catholic ‘law’ as given by papal edict which, as we shall see, is reason enough to be concerned.

The principal criterion for the inclusion of any document has always been its inspired nature—that is, whether the writer recorded his or her own views or whether the messages conveyed came directly from the Deity. It is this criterion that has, at various times throughout history, opened the inclusion of some books in the Bible to question. Here again though, whilst Yahweh provided His inspired word for mankind’s guidance and, whilst that word is immutable in its original form, humanity has, over the centuries, been subjected without respite to Satan’s insidious subversion in such a way that one is left wondering just how much of God’s inspired word is absent and how much of that which is included isn’t God’s word.

One thing which must be acknowledged is that, following the deaths of the original apostles and the passing of the apostolic era, the only authority to attain any consequence for the first 1500 years of the Christian age was the Papacy and its immediate precursor and it was during the early formative centuries of the Roman church that mere humans (dare I say, with "axes to grind") decided which manuscripts were divinely inspired and which were not! Perhaps the significant question here must be, "Whilst the original writers were inspired, were the compilers equally inspired?" When one investigates just who were included in the list of compilers, that question becomes very pertinent! So the questions must then be, "How accurate and how biased were they?" When one considers that man’s very salvation could depend on his compliance with divine instruction (as in the case of the commandments), one cannot help hoping that some megalomaniac member of the early church didn’t, under Satan’s inspiration, surreptitiously "lose" some documents or parts of documents that didn’t quite suit his purposes at the time.

The very Bible itself makes several references to prophetic writings which are not part of it. For example, in 1 Chronicles 29:29 we read, As for the events of King David's reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer, and yet the only one of these records in today’s Bible is that of Samuel. There are no books of Nathan or Gad. In 2 Chronicles 9:29 and 12:15 similar references are made to the writings of Ahijar and Iddo. Again, those writings do not form part of present-day Scripture. Why not?

New Testament examples of this are the missing letters from Paul to the Corinthians and the Laodiceans. We know that the former was sent because Paul refers to it in what is designated in the Bible as his first letter, (5:9) but which was actually (at least) his second. Then, in his letter to the Colossians, we read, "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." (4:16) From this it is obvious that the Laodicean letter contained important testimonies or instructions, but it isn’t in the Bible. Should it be?

So, whilst the Old Testament writings were diligently copied and recopied by the Hebrew scribes as sacred documents, how many have been "lost" along the way? Similarly, how many other letters were written, not only by Paul, but also by all the other original apostles and evangelists, that no copies of now exist? Much of the New Testament as it exists today is, as much as anything, only the result of those church ‘secretaries’ who, at the time, were efficient enough to file correspondence. Also, one is prompted to wonder, how many, like numerous government documents of much more recent times, have been quietly "lost" in what, back then, might have been classed as a "security cover-up" or "socially sensitive?" Bearing in mind that the ruling authority during the apostolic era was pagan Rome, the real possibility of such cover-ups initiated by autocratic and ofttimes tyrannical imperial rulers has to be considered.

Some readers will have heard of a collection of writings known as "The Apocrypha." This comprises some twenty manuscripts which are actually included in some versions of the Bible. At the dawn of organised Christianity there were those who considered their inclusion essential whilst others did not. Of those who did not, the generally predominant view was that, whilst they contain valuable lessons and ideas, they are not divinely inspired and, therefore, not eligible for inclusion. The apocryphal book "The Letter of Jeremiah" in its present form, comprises only one chapter—numbered 6! What happened to the other five? And how much does it matter? Since there is no doubt that Jeremiah was an inspired prophet, surely all his writings are of equal importance. But then, did he actually write it?

The first five books of the Old Testament have comprised the Hebrew "Torah" for at least three thousand years. This is the foundation for the whole Jewish faith and many of the writings of the Old Testament that follow it were considered and accepted by God’s chosen people as divine guidance and prophecy long before the Messiah’s first advent.

This brings us to the New Testament and the question, "Are all the writings of the second part of the Christian Bible inspired?" Let me categorically state right here that, in asking that question, I do not wish to imply that I have a strong personal opinion either way. However, when Jesus referred to "Scripture" the Old Testament was all there was. When He said, "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44) was He referring to the whole of what we now call the Old Testament or, as He actually said, "the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" only?

There can be no doubt that books such as Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah were divinely inspired. The fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies they contain is proof enough of that. But what about books like Esther, where God isn’t even mentioned, or the Song of Solomon which is a love poem between King Solomon and ‘the Shulammite woman.’ Both are beautiful and inspiring but are they the results of divine prompting?

The oldest ‘book’ of the New Testament (generally thought to be the letter written by Jesus’ brother James) was not written until about fifteen years after the crucifixion. And when Paul wrote to Timothy another ten years later that all Scripture is God-breathed, there can be no doubt whatsoever that he was not referring to the very letter in which he made that statement. In the context that Paul used it, the very word ‘Scripture’ denoted the sacred Hebrew writings. He, (who, you will remember, was a Pharisee) was referring to the Jewish Tanach comprising the Torah, the Nebiim (the prophetic literature) and the Ketubim (other included documents such as Proverbs and Psalms—as well as Esther and the Song of Solomon). The dramatically differing opinions between Paul and the apostles Peter and James would tend to indicate that none of their writings were divinely inspired since Scripture cannot be in conflict with itself.

Some 650 years ago the Oxford scholar John Wycliffe exposed many apostate church traditions and, so that the rank and file citizens of his native England could read the Scriptures for themselves rather than relying on the twisted teachings of the all-powerful and abusive papist clergy, translated the whole Bible into English. At that time, of course, there was only really the Roman Catholic Church and Wycliffe was denounced for his teachings by the pope who unsuccessfully asked Oxford University to dismiss him. This request was denied because the Oxford faculty and many political leaders supported Wycliffe’s belief that people could have a personal relationship with God independent of church domination and he was thus able to survive the pope’s assaults.

He was called the "Morning Star of the Reformation" because he boldly questioned papal authority, criticised the sale of indulgences which were supposed to release a person from punishment in a totally Scripturally unsubstantiated place called ‘purgatory,’ and denied the reality of ‘transubstantiation’—the teaching that Communion bread and wine are miraculously changed into Jesus Christ’s actual body and blood. Wycliffe concentrated his efforts on the New Testament, and his friend, Nicholas of Hereford, on the Old Testament which were respectively completed in about 1380 and 1382.

This was, of course, before the advent of mass production printing, which didn’t occur until the next century and so, when it was finished, Wycliffe organised a group of poor parishioners, known as Lollards, to travel around England preaching Christian truths and reading the Scriptures in their mother tongue to everyone who would listen. As a result the true Word of God became known for the first time to many English people. Interestingly, the Roman Catholic Church continued to preach in Latin (a language which hardly anyone understood and which Jesus didn’t even speak!) for almost another 600 years until public pressure forced the practise to be abandoned. What were they trying to hide?

Because of his denigration of tyrannical papal authority, some years after his death, Wycliffe’s body was exhumed and burned. I strongly suspect that God looked down from Heaven with much amusement at the petty actions of men over the earthly remains for which he had long since ceased to have any use!

Several other English translations followed which had a major difference to Wycliffe’s in that his was actually a translation of a translation, since he had used the Roman Latin Vulgate version as his prototype, whereas the others used the oldest available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts.

Among these later translations were those of Miles Coverdale and William Tyndale and it is particularly interesting that, whilst these excellent works were rigorously destroyed by the Catholic church at the time (because they exposed it’s false teachings), their eventual acceptance came as a result of King Henry VIII’s defection from Catholicism in 1529 in order to ‘legalise’ his breaking of the seventh commandment! At quite a young age Tyndale set his heart on producing the first translation into English of the whole Bible from the original manuscripts. He is reported as saying to a priest who had told him that making the Scriptures available to the masses was unwise because only trained clergy could understand and accurately interpret the Scriptures, "If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture than thou dost." Well, not surprisingly, God did spare his life long enough for him to realise his desire.

It is interesting however, to speculate how much ‘mistranslation’ such as the examples mentioned in the next chapter of this book, were originally inherited from the Latin Vulgate by Wycliffe and then transcribed, 170 years later, via those early translations which were used by a large team of scholars in the production of the King James version which ultimately became the standard Bible for the English language-speaking world for nearly 400 years until the New International Version took over as the world’s best-selling Bible in 1986.

The principal resource used in the King James production was the Greek Textus Receptus of Erasmus—itself now considered by most Bible scholars to be decidedly inferior to more recently available material such as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus which was, as I earlier suggested could be the case with other hitherto unknown documents, locked away in the Vatican and no-one was allowed to consult it until the nineteenth century. Bearing in mind its somewhat dubious source, the continued dedication to the King James Version could, in the light of modern knowledge, be almost covered by its own wording of Jesus’ statement, "In vain do they worship me; teaching for doctrine the commandments of men."

In the English language there have been literally hundreds of Bible translations produced over the five-and-a-half centuries since the invention of the moveable-type printing process.

Also, during the almost 400 intervening years since the first publication of the King James Bible in 1611, numerous ancient documents have been discovered that have thrown much light onto the ancient writings. By far the most significant of these are the Dead Sea Scrolls found by a shepherd boy in a cave at Qumran, beside the Dead Sea in 1947, significantly the year that, after over two thousand years, Israel once again became in independent sovereign state. These scrolls, dating back to the time of Jesus, are a thousand years older than most of the oldest biblical manuscripts hitherto available and contain substantial portions of all the Old Testament books except Esther. They also contain documents that do not already form part of the ancient Scriptures and, although they are contemporaneous with them, only became known upon their discovery. Should some of these now be included in the Canon of Scripture? And what other inspired writings still remain lost or hidden? And, perhaps most significantly, who knows and who decides?

The many versions of the Bible available today can be roughly placed into three categories.

1. Literal word-for-word translations—referred to as "Formal Equivalent."

2. More ‘natural’ thought-for-thought translations where the literal translations of some words are substituted by more idiomatically acceptable equivalents so that, as near as is possible, the same impact as that intended by the original writer is achieved—referred to as "Dynamic Equivalent."

3. Paraphrases where the original wording is abandoned in favour of more idiomatic wording expressing the ‘idea’ rather than the literal statement.

It is interesting that, although the King James Version is often thought to be a formal equivalent, actually in a number of instances it isn’t. For example, the NIV translation of 2 Timothy 3:16 as "all Scripture is God-breathed" is literal whilst the KJV translation as "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" is actually a paraphrase. However, generally speaking, the NIV is a dynamic equivalent with a few paraphrases whilst the KJV is predominantly formal.

The danger with formal equivalent translations is that what was idiomatically understandable at the time and in the language that it was written, no longer makes sense in the modern English vernacular. Examples of this are words such as "cool" and "gay." Fifty years ago cool referred to temperature or demeanour and gay meant happy and bright. So if someone wrote in 1930 that there were two people, one of whom was very cool and the other gay their meaning would have been very different to someone writing the same words in 1998!

Similarly, there is a danger that dynamic equivalent translations and paraphrases produced by a single person run a grave risk of being subjectively biased to the translator’s way of thinking both theologically and linguistically so that the benefits of idiom are totally lost in idiosyncrasy. Therefore it is, I believe, essential that such translations are the work of more than one person and, when this is the case, a much more meaningful rendition of the Scriptures is achieved.

Thus it can be seen that the most important thing about any Bible version is really whether the original writer’s message (as compared to his actual words) is correctly conveyed. Whilst many formal equivalent enthusiasts vehemently decry paraphrases it must be accepted that accurate idiomatic renditions of the original writer’s intentions can often serve God’s divine purpose a lot better than the ambiguity of long forgotten phraseology. To summarise, I believe that anyone who really wants to know the Bible’s messages should not restrict themselves to any one translation but have at least one of each type and regularly cross-refer between them—especially when something seems a bit vague or hard to understand.

I have chosen to predominantly use the New International Version of the Bible in this book for several reasons.

1. Because, in my experience, the average modern English-speaking ‘Aspiring Christian’ has a lot of difficulty relating to the medieval English of the King James Version and,

2. Whilst many long-time professed Christians will adamantly proclaim the ‘authenticity’ of the KJV, when they express their interpretation of it, it becomes quite apparent that they don’t really understand it either.

3. As mentioned, the NIV (along with most other modern translations) has used much more reliable ancient manuscripts such as the Biblia Hebraica and the Dead Sea Scrolls which were, of course, unavailable when the KJV was compiled.

4. As a dynamic equivalent, the NIV is the product of an international team of over 100 highly eminent transdenominational Bible scholars thus minimising the risk of idiosyncrasy.

5. Since 1986 the NIV has been the first translation in almost 400 years to consistently outsell the King James Version worldwide thus making it the most popular modern translation.

Whilst much of the Old Testament is a record of Yahweh’s divine communication with mankind, the New Testament is more of, firstly, a humanistic historical report (as in the four gospels and Acts) of the life and actions of Jesus and His followers, secondly, commentary thereon (as in Paul’s and others’ letters) and, finally, a record of their evangelistic activities and advice (as opposed to ‘commandments’) given to fledgling Christian communities.

The singular exception is, of course, the Revelation which could be regarded as the only prophetic BOOK of the New Testament compared to the reports of Jesus’ and others’ prophetic statements contained throughout. By the same token, the motivation for the recording of those events and prophecies for all time could very well be considered divine.

As it is, the Holy Bible is the only document readily available to us today and its contents and the translations thereof are all that rank-and-file Christians have to rely on (in contrast with career theologists fluent in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). The translation errors that the next chapter cites are only illustrations of the traps that Satan has craftily laid for those earnestly seeking TRUTH. There are lots more, and comprehensive literature on the subject is available for those who care enough to find and read it. But, even there, most of it is published by some church denomination and thus reflects that particular church’s doctrinal biases. Therefore the question as to the inspired nature of Paul’s and others’ writings is one that you must determine for yourself. If they are only the writers’ opinions (albeit with the benefit of first-hand knowledge), then we are not necessarily obliged to share them (although doing so certainly won’t harm anyone). If, on the other hand, they ARE divinely inspired, then sharing them is not optional! No doubt, having read this, you have already made your own decision on the inspiration of such writings and, if you have concluded that they are divinely inspired, your response to some of the comments in the next-but-one chapter will be interesting.

13

TRUST THE TRANSLATION?

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emember those famous God-breathed words of John 3:16 which I quoted in chapter 7. "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." (By the time you’ve finished reading this book I hope that they will be forever imprinted on your mind!)

You may also remember the passage I quoted from the book of Hebrews which said "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His being,"

This is a very clear statement that Jesus REPRESENTS His family and thus it’s head, His Father God, and NOT that He IS God. As I will show, the Bible makes it quite clear that Jesus has been His Father’s representative to the human race since its creation. Beware of anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

Concerning the Holy Spirit, Jesus said:

"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:25-26)

The Holy Spirit is our Counsellor—an advocate SENT, NOT by Jesus, but by His Father IN HIS NAME to help us until He returns to take righteous believers to Heaven to be with Him and His Father.

Now, it is my personal belief from my study of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father Himself who lives unseen by the human eye amongst and within those who acknowledge Him as Our Father and Jesus as His Son. I do not perceive the Holy Spirit as a ‘separate’ being and this is why I do not support the trinitarian concept which, as I have already mentioned, has no scriptural foundation, having originated in Greek Platonic philosophy. In chapter 16 we will examine the meaning of the Hebrew words used in the Bible which are translated as ‘spirit’ and I will elaborate on the previous statement. This quotation from Romans 8 is quite clear.

"And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, HE WHO RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD will also give life to your mortal bodies through HIS Spirit, who LIVES IN YOU." (Romans 8:11)

So, just as you and I can, by faith, be filled by God’s Spirit LIVING IN US and reflect His glory, when Jesus walked this Earth, He was (and still is) filled with His Father’s Spirit and also reflected that glory. But, never forget, a reflection is quite different to the source. A source of light, such as the sun, emanates heat and energy whereas a reflector, like the moon, is cold and lifeless without the source.

It is pleasing to note that, in more modern translations of the Bible the Greek word pneumapneu'ma —is rendered as "Spirit" in preference to the more archaic term "Ghost" used in the King James Version. In the modern mind, the word ‘ghost’ conjures the idea—totally fictitious, let me stress—of the ethereal spirit of a deceased person, and God is quite definitely NOT DECEASED!

God’s Spirit is eternal and omnipresent, and has been since before the creation. The angel who delivered God’s Revelation message for the seven Asian churches to John opened it by saying:

"Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, AND from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Fatherto Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen." Then the angel quotes God, the Father,

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:4-8)

Until Jesus defeated Satan when He was resurrected from the dead God’s family was in heaven. Since that defeat, of course, everyone who fulfils the requirements listed in ‘Seven Steps to Salvation’ later in this book has, as Scripture assures us, been filled with God’s Spirit and accepted into His family.

As I say, I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a separate ‘being’—He is, to put it simply, ‘the Deity with us’—or, for that matter, wherever He wants to be—in Spirit.

So why do pastors and ministers stand piously at the front of church gatherings all over the world every Sunday and proclaim "the blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost" over their flocks? They are, no doubt, basing it (in addition to ‘parrot-like’ tradition) on the last verse of 2 Corinthians in which Paul expresses his desire for the church he founded. "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

The grace of Jesus Christ is the unmerited favour of eternal life which He bought with His life. The love of God is the unconditional adoration that the Deity, comprising the whole of Jesus’ family, has for their creation—originally in their own image. And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the knowledge that believers have that their creators are constantly watching over, comforting and guiding them spiritually. Please note the subtle change that the churches have made to Paul’s wording! If, for example, someone sends a message of condolence to a bereaved friend and concludes by writing "I wish I could be there with you but, rest assured, I am with you in spirit." that doesn’t mean that a disembodied ethereal being is sent to the grieving person. Rather, that person takes comfort in the knowledge that their friend is thinking about them and, perhaps, doing some practical things to help ease their pain.

I guess this is just one example of those ‘hollow and deceptive philosophies which depend on human tradition’ with which Satan has, very systematically and gradually over the centuries, corrupted the Holy Scriptures which millions of faithful Christians have been tricked into believing by church leaders disguised as angels of light and to whom they have entrusted their ‘religious’ instruction and who, in turn, have blindly entrusted their own education to their teachers!

The saddest thing is that just about all of those teachers are very sincere and love their Creator with all their being. Unfortunately though, most of them don’t really know very much truth about Him and will (I hope and pray) probably be quite disturbed should they ever learn that they are perpetuating that corruption. Disturbed enough to fix it!

Basically, big a book as it is, the Bible conveys a very simple message—GOD’S LOVE FOR HIS CREATION—but for some reason, religion has spent thousands of years working very hard to complicate it!

Now, with regard to the examples of this religious complication and corruption I have given, you may, in a sincere attempt to re-simplify it, be saying, "What does it matter just as long as God and Jesus are the focus of our devotion and respect?" and that is a fair question.

However, that is exactly how the crafty devil works. He slips the very thin end of his evil wedge into God’s Word in such a way that true believers say just that and then, next time, he drives it in a tiny little bit more—and then a bit more, and so on until, without you realising it, he has changed the whole emphasis and we end up with all those false ‘religions’ which appear all over the world.

Beware the religious devil!

Imagine you are travelling along a highway on a fine sunny day and there isn’t another vehicle in sight, you’re late and the road surface is excellent, so you decide that no one will be harmed if you drive your state-of-the-art sports car a bit faster that the law prescribes. There aren’t any traffic police to stop you and so you get to your destination on time. Does that make it right? There can be no doubt that it doesn’t. But, because you got away with it, next time you drive the same stretch of road at your speed and again and again and..... then, one day, you get pulled over by a policeman in an unmarked car. Do you think he will let you off if you tell him that you’ve always driven that road at that speed—that your ‘tradition’ overruled the law? Get the point?

Now there are some passages of Scripture which, in spite of that opening greeting in Revelation, many will quote as ‘proving’ that Jesus IS God. Prominent among these are the first verses of John’s gospel where it says; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God" and, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us." (v.14)

I would be the first to agree that, as presented, these passages are pretty conclusive. When John used the expression "The Word," he was alluding to the fact that, as the Chief Executive of God and Son Ltd, who actually carried out (executed) the physical work of creation at His Father’s word, Jesus was the embodiment of that word. And, of course, the Word was God’s—that is, God and Son Limited’s — and was with them. Jesus was the craftsman who carried out His Father’s plans. Just as a great building is known as ‘the work’ of the famous architect responsible for its design, it is the artisans in various building skills who actually do the work of constructing it. Interestingly, one secular description of God (the Father) is "The Great Architect of the Universe."

With the exception of John’s later writing, where, in Revelation 19, he describes Jesus’ final appearance as a vanquishing warrior riding a white horse and, in verse 13 tells us that His name is the Word of God, the same expression—the word—is used throughout the rest of the Bible to refer to Scripture itself—God’s Word—The Bible. But, since the whole Bible is the inspired word of God—not just parts of it—close examination of the original manuscripts is called for in order to fully understand John’s words.

Such examination will reveal that the Greek word logoslogos —means exactly what the translators have rendered it as in English—the word—so we cannot dispute that.

However, when we come to the word "God" we find that there are two slightly different Greek words used in different places. Where it says, "The Word was with God" the Greek is ton theon specifically referring to the Father, whilst in the second instance, where it says, "The Word was God" the Greek is theos qeov". Here the definition is more interesting. Like the Semitic word elohim, theos is a common noun meaning a god (with the indefinite article and a small g)—it is NOT a name, but a description—in this instance, a member of the "God family." When the Scriptures which I quote in this book are all taken into account—in particular John 14:28—and on the basis of Jesus being a member of His Father’s family, I believe that it is this definition which the translators of the Bible should have used in John 1:1. It also fits exactly with the correct translation of elohim as ‘gods’ rather than ‘God’ as explained earlier in reference to the very first verse of the Bible. Now, since, in this context, the word God signifies the family ‘name,’ (as in the example I gave earlier of John the baker becoming John Baker) it is thus perfectly acceptable to capitalise the G.

It is interesting how the people who so readily quote those verses of John 1 never seem to read the rest of the same chapter because, in the very next verse John says, "THROUGH Him all things were made." which clearly, by the use of the word ‘through,’ indicates that a higher authority instigated His creative actions. And, in verse 34, he quotes John the Baptist as saying, "I have seen and testify that THIS IS THE SON OF GOD."

Whilst it remains, after over 400 years, still possibly the most relied-on English translation of the Bible, the King James Version is definitely not incontrovertible. For example, in Hebrews 2:6-8, we find the much-quoted verses, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. [KJV] The first part of this Scripture is a (more or less) direct quotation of Psalm 8 and you will, no doubt, be extremely surprised to learn that the original Semitic word translated as "angels" in this passage is elohim! Yes, amazing as it may seem, for some reason totally beyond my comprehension, the translators chose to uniquely reduce the word meaning "gods" to "angels!" When this small fact is known the message becomes a lot clearer because it goes on to say, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."

It is possible that, if you’ve studied Scripture a bit, you’ve read Hebrews 2 and wondered, "If there is nothing that is not put under man, how can he be lower than angels?" However, substitute the correct translation of elohim as "gods" for "angels" in these verses and they will suddenly makes a lot more sense. What they are really saying is that mankind was created in the image of, but "a little lower than" the members of the God Family and that there is "nothing that is not put under him." When Jesus became a man, He put aside His Glory and "was made a little lower than the gods"—that is, lower than He was when He created the universe and sat with His father in heaven—so that, as a true representative of humanity, He could "taste death for everyone." We are even told, in 1 Corinthians 6:3, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?"

Another example of a singular and totally unwarranted change to the usual translation of a word in the King James Bible is found in Acts 12:4 where, referring to the imprisonment of Peter by King Herod Agrippa I, we read, "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him unto the quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." The NIV translation of the latter part of this verse reads: "Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover." The Greek word paschapavsca —from which is derived the description of the sacrificial lamb as ‘the paschal lamb,’ occurs 29 times in the New Testament and is translated in the King James version as "Passover" 28 of those times. Why the compilers chose to uniquely change it to "Easter" in this instance is bizarre because Herod was not, as far as is known, a follower of the Babylonian fertility god Ishtar. (More on this is discussed in chapter 24) Just about every other translation of the Bible has Passover in Acts 12:4.

A verse often used by well-meaning religion-indoctrinated people to "prove" that God and Jesus are one and the same person is, in the KJV, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: or, in the NIV, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4) Here Moses is speaking to Israelites shortly after reciting the Ten Commandments to them in the desert and, in the original Hebrew language, what has been stretched to ten or more words in English, was actually only six words. Whilst it is included in most English translations, the present tense of the verb ‘to be’—‘is’—does not occur in the Hebrew text at all. We are thus left to presume that it was added, along with the colon after Israel, by the translators on the assumption that it would make the meaning clearer in our language, But what has actually happened is that they have made THEIR meaning clearer! And, as this book shows, their meaning is wrong.

Of particular interest in the context of this chapter is the final word, here rendered as "one." The Hebrew from which this is derived is echaddj;a, —of which the primary translation is, indeed, ‘one.’ However, others are ‘only’ and ‘once’ and, if the whole sentence spoken by Moses is considered along with the next one (which was quoted by Jesus), —love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. — it becomes obvious that, where the translators have written, "the Lord is one," they should have rendered it "the Lord only" in reference to the solitary verb in the original Hebrew which is "hear." This, of course, completely changes Moses words from a statement to an instruction where he was telling the people, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord only."—or, even more succinctly, "Israel, listen only to the true Deity."—in other words, don’t listen to any other word purporting to come from God. The words translated ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ in these verses are Yehovah and elohim.

Besides, as we have already seen, Jesus was the God of the Old Testament and it is, therefore, extremely unwise to use Deuteronomy 6:4 in conjunction with the hindsight that we now have since Jesus’ first incarnation.

If dedicated Christians who have been duped by these translation ‘mistakes’ stop to think about it for a moment they should, with their regular study of Scripture, be well familiar with the stories of Jesus’ last minutes of mortal life. One of His final utterances was to the criminal crucified beside Him.

"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

You may be interested to learn that the original Greek texts of the Bible do not include punctuation marks as does modern writing, and therefore, there is no comma after the word ‘truth’ in the original manuscripts. Bible translators have added punctuation for the benefit of modern readers—or, we are obliged to assume, that was their intention!

However, further study of Scripture—and again it is Jesus’ own words which bear this out — proves those Bible translators to have wrongly placed the comma in what Jesus spoke to that criminal.

After His resurrection three days later, when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene outside His tomb on the morning of the first day of the week He said to her,

"Do not hold onto me, for I have not yet returned to the Father." (John 20:17)

This clearly tells anyone who thinks about it that, on the day of His crucifixion, Jesus DIDN’T GO to paradise. He slept in His tomb until His Father raised him from the dead between 60 and 72 hours later on the third day! The same will happen to you when you die. You will sleep in your grave in waiting for His return. I will address this in more detail shortly.

Thus it is glaringly obvious that, whilst the words Jesus said to the criminal are correctly translated, the misplacement of one tiny little comma makes a huge difference to the meaning! As Scripture itself proves, this is how it should read:

"I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus made His promise to the criminal today—on the day He spoke the words—but He didn’t fulfil it ‘today!’ In fact it isn’t yet fulfilled, and it won’t be until Jesus returns.

The same error occurs in some translations of Matthew 24:5—including the NIV, which quotes Jesus speaking to His disciples outside the temple in Jerusalem. The verse is printed thus: - "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." Just as commas were not used in the original Greek manuscript, neither were quotation marks. The same verse in the King James translation reads as follows. "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." You will notice that, in this version, whilst the comma following the word ‘saying’ is still present, the quotation marks around ‘I am Christ’ are not.

In either case, many preachers and teachers, given the translation they have to work with, have understandably taken Jesus to be saying that the deceivers He was warning about would say that they were Him. But is that the right interpretation? I believe not. If the punctuation marks and comma are removed could a paraphrase of Jesus’ caution read like this? "Many preachers will come claiming to be my representatives and, whilst they will acknowledge me as Christ, they will deceive many."

Take particular note that, whichever translation is used, Jesus said that ‘many’ would come and, if you think about it, even though there certainly have been cranks over the years who have claimed to be the returned Messiah, by no stretch of the imagination could anyone say there have been many—and those that there have been definitely haven’t ‘deceived many’. A few, yes—but not MANY. However, just about every preacher who claims to be Christian acknowledges that the man who ministered among the Jewish people almost 2000 years ago was the prophesied Messiah—the Christ—but that’s where the similarity ends! From there on, their alignment with the inspired word of God varies dramatically except that the vast majority of those supposed servants of righteousness ‘deceive many’ by preaching that God’s commandments, or at least some of them, are no longer applicable. Of those there most definitely are VERY MANY! Jesus summed them up when He quoted His own words (as Yahweh) to Isaiah.

"They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Matthew 15:9)

There is another quotation of Jesus’ that most translations, given the modern usage of vocabulary, give the wrong meaning to. I refer to another time that He was speaking to the Pharisees. Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) Now it doesn’t take much knowledge of the story of Jesus’ life on earth as a human being to know that it was the Pharisees who screamed and campaigned for His execution. So, on that, how could the kingdom of God have possibly been ‘within them’? Of course, it couldn’t! The Greek word translated ‘within’ is entosejntov —and an alternative translation given by Strongs Greek Lexicon is ‘in the midst of’ or, as it would be worded today, ‘amongst.’

As His Father’s nominated ruler of His coming kingdom, Jesus—the designated King—was, when He spoke those words to the Pharisees, standing right there surrounded by them. Thus it is obvious that, correctly translated, He said to them, "the kingdom of God is amongst you." Now that makes a lot more sense doesn’t it?

In his Gospel John reports Jesus as saying, "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever believes in me will never die." (John 11:26) and, "I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death."

At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death." (John 8:51-52)

Now, Beloved, let me ask you, does this sound familiar? Doesn’t it sound awfully like the lying serpent’s "You will not surely die!"? Yes it does. So how do these words of Jesus’ differ from that lie? Well, the devil got into real trouble when Jesus defeated death because a lot of people believed in His story—The Gospel of God’s Kingdom—and started preaching against Satan. This wasn’t so bad in the early days when the number of true Christians was relatively small. But then, some 15 centuries later, things happened which got him really worried. Not only did people start to translate the Scriptures into English but around about the same time, a German chap named Johann Gutenberg invented moveable printing type—and the first thing he printed was the Bible! Suddenly, the Gospel was going to be available to the masses. This required a devious plot on Satan’s part, and, being the craftiest of all God’s creation, he devised one. That plan? Get into the minds of the translators and make a few subtle changes to what the original authors actually wrote so that, when people read the Word, they will still be deceived.

As the Pharisees were quick to point out, everyone who had kept God’s commandments in the past had died. Did this mean that Jesus lied? Of course He didn’t! What it does mean though is that, through Satan’s crafty plan to perpetuate his lie, the Bible translators misquoted John’s Greek account of what Jesus said. The words translated in these passages as ‘never’ are ou meouj mhv —which, correctly translated, mean ‘in no wise’ or, to use more modern grammar, ‘by no means,’ and that translated as ‘die’ or ‘see death’ is apothneskoajpoqnhv/skw —meaning ‘eternal death.’ Thus a more correct translation of the latter part of John 11:26 would read, "Whoever believes in me will by no means experience eternal death."—in other words, whilst everyone (except Enoch, Moses and Elijah and those who are alive when Jesus returns) will cease to breathe and get put in their grave, those who believe in Jesus won’t stay there forever. Their death is the first death which is only temporary and we’ll look at this in greater depth in chapter 16 "Are the Dead Really Dead?"

Asaph, a leader of the temple choir in Jerusalem quoted God as saying to the rulers and Judges of Israel,

"I said, ‘You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler." (Psalm 82:6-7) But the one the majority of this world has chosen to be its god said, "You will not surely die!"

The point is that the common-noun term ‘god’ is a relative one. The rulers of Israel were personally appointed by Yahweh on behalf of God ("the Firm") and were thus His ‘agents’ among the people and, as He obviously considered, worthy to bear His title (with a small g). And guess what the word translated as ‘gods’ is. You got it—ELOHIM! Jesus quoted this verse to the Pharisees when they were about to stone Him because they said that He, a mere man, claimed to be God and He replied,

"Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If He called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God cameand the Scripture cannot be brokenwhat about the One whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said ‘I am God’s Son’?" (John 10:34-36)

And the Greek word used by John in quoting the Psalm is THEOS! Note particularly here that, although the Pharisees accused Jesus of claiming to be God, He said, "I am God’s Son." because, of course, He knew the truth!

More importantly right now though, DO YOU?

When God told Moses that he was to lead the Israelites (see chapter 3) Moses asked God to appoint someone else because, as he said, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10) Because Moses showed a lack of trust that God knew what He was doing God was angry with him and told him to recruit as his aide his brother Aaron, who was very good at speaking. He said that Moses could teach his brother what to say and then said, "He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him." (Exodus 4:16) And he did! So that, later on, God said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet." (Exodus 7:1)

Another Scripture often quoted in support of the doctrine that Jesus and God are one and the same is an expletive uttered by Jesus’ disciple Thomas.

When Jesus appeared to His disciples in the upper room for the first time on the evening of the day of His resurrection, one of them, Thomas, was absent. On being told of Jesus’ rising from the dead Thomas could not believe the story (hence the popular expression ‘doubting Thomas’). He said that he wouldn’t believe unless he could actually put his finger into the marks in Jesus’ hands where the crucifixion nails had been and his hand into the spear-wound in His side. Rather like someone today saying, "I’ll believe that when I see it!"

A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:26-28)

This was, of course, the astounded reaction of a man confronted with the most awesome experience imaginable. His beloved leader, whose terrible death he had witnessed only a week earlier standing there before him—alive. Not really a surprising response when you think about it. What might you have said in the same situation? I know a lot of Christians (and unbelievers) whose first words would be "Oh! My God!" And Thomas did not just say "Lord and God"—he said "MY Lord and MY God." So I don’t believe that the whole world should pin it’s faith on such a spontaneous reaction—especially when the word used by John in quoting Thomas was theos. Compare this with Hebrews 1:8-9. (see chapter 7)

Yet another Scripture which adherents of the King James version of the Bible will use to support a monotheistic doctrine are the last two of five sentences in Isaiah 44:8 which read, "Is there a God beside me? Yea there is no God; I know not any."

Firstly, in passing, it is very hard to understand, given the context of this question and the answer, why the translators have chosen to use a capital G for both instances of the word ‘god’ since neither of them refer to the Creator. But, more importantly, why did they choose to translate the second instance as ‘God’ at all, since the original Hebrew word, tsuwr, actually means ‘rock!’ In most modern versions of the Bible this is correctly translated but, as the NIV rendition shows, it has still been capitalised even though it clearly says, "other Rock!" "Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." And, as the word ‘God’ is translated from Õelowahh, it is again clear that, when the preincarnate Son of God, Yahweh spoke these words to Isaiah, He was referring to the Yehovah Deity, not any individual member of it.

In Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah we read,

And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

This is a very convincing piece of Scripture in the Bible that Jesus is the incarnation and personification of God Himself, because, for one thing, the translation of the original Hebrew is correct, so we can’t blame that. It is the second and particularly the third titles that are the most convincing. However, as I have propounded, as the SON OF GOD and thus a member of His ‘family,’ Jesus IS a mighty God (just as long as we remember that, as He said, He is not as mighty as His Father!) and, since by His own statements, we know that Jesus is eternal and thus was WITH His Father at the creation, and that all things were made through Him, He must therefore, be entitled to be acknowledged as an everlasting Father of Creation. Bear in mind also that Isaiah did not have the benefit of the hindsight that Yahweh’s incarnation as Jesus has given to us concerning the Deity.

Let me emphasise that what I have written is not intended to in any way diminish the divinity of Jesus or the love, reverence and gratitude in which we should hold Him.

He is our ONLY saviour, SENT by His Father because He loves us!

I imagine it is now becoming clearer how sincere lovers of our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus have been hoodwinked by Satan’s manipulation of those learned people who have translated the God-breathed Scriptures and in whom, because most of us are not fluent in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, have placed our trust. But when we see what a dramatic difference the mere placement of what may, at first, seem like an insignificant little comma can make, it highlights just how VITAL to the understanding of Scripture the work of Bible translators is.

This also illustrates how one solitary person can influence millions. Maybe it was Wycliffe, maybe Tynedale or Coverdale, or someone else who originally decided totally unilaterally to use the translations of the words elohim in Genesis 1 and theos in John 1 which almost every version of The Bible now presents. When one thinks about it (and, unfortunately, not many people do!), most traditions were born in a single mind and, like the proverbial mustard seed, just grew and grew until their origin became veiled in antiquity so that, what was once a solitary person’s thought can become the whole world’s unquestioned belief!

Jesus gave a very clear and frightening warning about this and He was so right!

"False christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect — if that were possible." (Matthew 24:24)

Nazi Germany was born in one man—Adolf Hitler’s—mind and look what that thought became! In the third century, at a time when literacy was a rare aptitude, an Egyptian-born philosopher named Origen, regarded as the father of allegorical interpretation of Scripture, formulated many misguided ideas which, along with those of his contemporaries, Tertullian and Irenaeus, because of their superior scholastic positions, were accepted by the precursor of the Roman church as truth, with the disastrous results described elsewhere in this book. Like them, those early Bible translators may have a lot to answer for!

One young American megalomaniac named Joseph Smith made up a complex story which he changed many times (more than 4000!) over a number of years which included the invention of a whole ‘new Scripture’ and which has deceived millions into joining a ‘church’ which does not recognise the pre-existence—and thus, the deity—of God and His Son and, in fact, claims that God is, Himself only an ‘exalted’ man. Jesus, they say, was the result of His heavenly Father, God having a sexual relationship with Mary! They even claim that, one day, ‘true believers’ will also be gods!

Does this sound familiar? Like Satan’s words to Eve when he told her that, if she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit, they would ‘be as Gods’ (Genesis 3:5 KJV) such teachings will and do deceive so many sincere but gullible people into the loss of their salvation.

The Bible tells us, "God ... knows everything" (1 John 3:20), Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13) and, in 1 Kings 8:39 Solomon, addressing God, says, "You alone know the hearts of all men." So, if you think about that, whilst you can fool other people and you can even fool yourself (that’s what those people who say they’re ‘above the law’ do) YOU CAN’T FOOL GOD! As the Bible says, NOTHING is hidden from His sight — so why try? I guess, if you’re guilty of breaking God’s law—(even if it’s only in your mind), this Scripture might be a bit horrifying. On the other hand, if you’re not, take great comfort because, as God’s Word clearly tells us, ONLY God knows your heart. Thank Him and praise Him because Satan doesn’t! That prince of evil can only go by the outward signs—your words and actions—to determine whose side you’re on—but God KNOWS even before you say and do them.

So, since God knows everything and, as the psalmist wrote in his song to his heavenly Father, "You remain the same, and Your years will never end." (Psalm 102:27) and, as He told Isaiah, "I make known the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10), it must follow that God knew the entire contents of His Bible even before He created the Earth. The original Hebrew and Greek words were written exactly as God inspired them. However, as those words spread across the world, translators—some of whom had no Godly inspiration whatsoever—got their hands on them, so that, whilst God provided the original texts, He had no control over which translations would be used by mankind, to whom He had given a freedom of choice! Satan is damned clever! (That is, clever and damned!)

Isaiah wrote about the Messiah’s birth, saying:

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel—which means ‘God with us." (Isaiah 7:14 / Matthew 1:23)

Since Ephesians 3:15 has told us that Jesus is a member of ‘God’s family,’ and the translators of the Scriptures deemed that the word ‘god,’ (again translated from theos) when used to acknowledge Jesus’ divine lineage was worthy of a capital G, then this Scripture is quite accurate. Bear in mind also that Yahweh was the only member of the Deity that Isaiah knew.

In Colossians 2:9 we read:

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form..."

the fullness of the Deity’ does not mean that Jesus WAS the Father, God Himself in bodily form, but rather that Jesus, as His Son and His representative here among mankind, had NEARLY all of His Father’s knowledge and authority (but not quite—Matthew 24:36 quite clearly shows this where Jesus Himself, speaking about His return says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, NOR THE SON, but ONLY THE FATHER.") —just as, in human terms, a Governor General has nearly all the authority of the monarch in Commonwealth countries.

In the King James Version of the Bible, the words of 1 John 5:7 make the statement that "there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

Again, there are many who think that John again used the expression "the Word" here in reference to Jesus, but I believe "These three" refers to the Father, His Word of knowledge (our Bible) and His Holy Spirit. Even if John was referring to Jesus though, the phrase "are one" doesn’t mean that the three are a single being—the original biblical text actually meant that they were (and, of course, still are) ONE IN AGREEMENT. How could they be otherwise?

Fortunately, the New International Version (NIV) Bible has the more explanatory latter two words in place of just ‘one.’ In the KJV the use of the expression ‘are one’ is the same, for example, as you and I agreeing on something and then making a public statement and concluding by saying, "We are one in this." (I hope, for the sake of your salvation, that, by the time you have read all the Scriptures I am quoting, you will be saying, "David and I are one in this!")

Jesus used the same expression several times when praying for His disciples TO His Father and I’m sure you’ll agree, He wasn’t talking about a single person.

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your namethe name you gave meso that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11)

It is, perhaps, significant to mention here that 1 John 5:7 does not appear in any Greek manuscript prior to the sixteenth century which prompts one to ask "Where did it come from at such a late date?" Was this the thin end of another of Satan’s wedges added to further the causes of some church hierarchy? If it was, then they should take careful note of God’s message to them right at the end of the Bible in His Revelation to John.

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." (Revelation 22:18-19)

The same serious error as that made in the understanding of 1 John 5:7 is made in the understanding of John 10:30, but please take particular notice that he used the same style of writing in 17:11 and 21 quoted earlier.

But if, even after all the evidence I have quoted, you’re still not sure what to believe, possibly the most authoritative statement on the subject of Jesus’ true identity are His own words in acknowledging Peter’s as quoted by Matthew in his Gospel (16:13-17).

He asked His disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" He asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter answered,

"You are the Christ,

THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD."

Jesus replied,

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by MY FATHER in heaven."

Jesus also said of himself, "No one has seen the Father except the one who is FROM God; only He has seen the Father..." (John 6:46)

Since thousands of people saw Jesus when He walked this earth this statement quite clearly tells anyone who can read that they weren’t looking at the Father. Obviously Jesus has had a personal relationship with His own Father since before the beginning of time and, just as He, Himself said without equivocation, has seen Him.

There are some passages of Scripture that may seem to be in direct contradiction with each other and how you rationalise this is, ultimately, up to you and God. Ask Him in ardent prayer to clarify anything which appears incompatible with your personal convictions but be very diligent in your perception of His answer.

Examination of Paul’s writings could be said to show that he appeared to contradict himself. As Peter so succinctly put it;

His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

For example, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote;

"For there is ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5)

—clearly TWO people—whilst in Acts 20:28 Luke reports him as saying;

"Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with HIS OWN blood."

To a closed mind at first glance, this may seem pretty conclusive. But then, how many times have you heard someone speak about his or her family and say, "They’re my own flesh and blood?" It’s obviously not a new expression! In fact, it occurs thirteen times in the Old Testament!

In Romans 9:5 Paul wrote of the Jews,

"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised."

Now this statement that Christ is ‘God over all’ seems to be quite non-negotiable too when taken on it’s own, but don’t forget that Paul also wrote, "Now when it says that "everything" has been put under Him, it is clear that THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE GOD HIMSELF." Reading on though, the very next verse reads;

"It is not as though God’s word has failed. Not all who are descended from Israel ARE Israel."

When directly related to the previous verse, this clearly shows that, for the true meaning of his use of words to be appreciated, Paul’s style of writing, which, as Peter wrote, contains some things hard to understand, needs to be understood. i.e.: - Not all who are descended from God ARE God—but they ARE members of God’s family—or, more correctly in this case, HE IS a member.... since the Scripture is referring to Jesus. Remember that Job 38:7 referred to all of God’s sons, and Ephesians 3:15 said that His whole family is in heaven and on earth.

When the translation errors are exposed it becomes more and more abundantly clear that, whilst the Scriptures are most definitely NOT NEGOTIABLE, the Biblethat is, the translation of the Scriptures you happen to usevery possibly is. I have predominantly used the New International Version throughout this book but I don’t want anyone to get the idea that, in doing so, I am promoting this particular translation as infallible. In fact, as I have shown, it most definitely isn’t! The only reason that I have given preference to the NIV is that is uses today’s speech rather than the somewhat archaic language of the King James Version which many professing Christians, even though they say they understand it, when one hears their interpretation of it, they clearly don’t! There are a huge number of Bible versions which, rather than being direct translations of the original texts, are paraphrases and, whilst most of them express the sentiments of the original, they cannot really be considered as true Bibles—even though many of then incorporate that word into their title. If you are a ‘new’ Christian with limited knowledge of Scripture I suggest that, at least initially, you use a literal translation rather than a paraphrase, and even if using one later, always cross-refer with the true wording.

The Scriptures themselves always answer the very questions they raise in some minds. For example, the four records of Jesus’ lifethe Gospelssometimes appear to disagree over details. Firstly, we must remember that Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus’ and therefore their accounts are first hand whilst Mark and Luke wrote, as it were, second-hand stories that they had heard. Mark’s Gospel was most probably the first of the four to be written since almost all of it is repeated in the other three, and, being Greek and not a Jew like the other three, Luke wrote his from a Gentile point of view. And, of course, each had his own style of writing and each had a different viewpoint. Thus we have four predominantly similar, but occasionally different accounts of the same events.

For instance, when comparing the different Gospel reports of the visit of the women to Jesus’ tomb we learn from John that, "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb..." (John 20:1) whilst Matthew says, "After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb." (Matthew 28:1) and Mark tells us, "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb..." (Mark 16:1-2) whereas Luke simply wrote, "On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb." (Luke 24:1)

Now all four of these accounts agree that a visit was made to Jesus’ tomb. They also agree that it took place on the first day of the week. However, when we come to who actually made the visit, we find three of the writers each mentioning a different number of women and the fourth not specifying how many or who. And regarding the time that the visit was made, at first glance it might appear that each account gives different timesone before dawn, one at dawn, one after dawn and one just ‘very early.’ Such apparent discrepancies have occasionally caused people (as Satan’s—often unwittingservants) to loudly denounce the Bible as ‘just a book of Jewish legend.’

If we take a closer look at this anomaly we see that such a claim doesn’t really have any foundation at all. Firstly, since Luke’s version is pretty vague anyway, we can safely skip that one. John tells us that Mary Magdalene went while it was still darkthat is, she set off from home before it got light. Coming to Matthew’s account, it is now obvious that, on her way to the tomb, Mary was joined by the other Mary as it got light, and then, as Mark wrote, they were joined by Salome, by which time the sun had risen. So you see, with a bit of common sense, it is easy to see that, contrary to what Satan would like you to believe, the Bible doesn’t argue with itself!

In the final analysis, assessment of these and other anomalies must be personal for each individual Christian in close collaboration with their God-sent counsellor, the Holy Spirit and prudent and educated STUDY of the Bible (as opposed to just reading it).

14

INTERPRETATION

(and “CONVENIENCE”)

 

N

otwithstanding translation errors, I have yet to meet anyone who claims to be a Christian who does not use the Holy Scriptures to suit themselves. They seem to be highly skilled at ‘reading between the lines’ words that aren’t there. (That’s one of the dangers of relying solely on a paraphrase version of the Bible as primary reference.) As we have just seen, Revelation 22:18 says that if anyone adds anything to ‘this book,’ God shall add to him the plagues described in it. Scary stuff! Yet, even here, there is conflict between Christians. Some say that statement only applies to the Book of Revelation whilst others say it refers to the whole Bible. Personally, although I believe that through John (the writer of Revelation) God only intended it to be applicable to that book, I like to play it safe and apply it to the whole Bible. You have to decide for yourself. Of course, if you are a Christian, you must accept that all Scripture is the inspired word of God, and as such, is not negotiable. There are no ifs or buts about this—you either accept it or you don’t!

It is interesting that, in most Christian bookshops, you will find copies of a book entitled "The Amplified Bible." Whilst I agree that the amplification of the Scriptures is a very worthy mission, I would love to know how the compilers of this book justify ignoring the clear warning of the fourth-from-last verse in it, because it is ‘added to’ throughout it’s entire length!

There are people who, when shown a particular biblical passage which conflicts with their religious traditions, will say something like "Oh yes, but whilst the wording says that, it really means this." with ‘that’ and ‘this’ often elaborately defined. Let me tell you that such people are no more than "scriptural rapists." If that expression doesn’t make sense to you I’ll explain: A defence often heard in secular rape trials is that the accused was ‘led on’ by the victim but then, when she is cross-examined, she adamantly states that she repeatedly told the accused that she did not welcome his advances. The defence lawyer then comes out with the classic statement (said in his best condescending tones), "But, members of the jury, when a woman says ‘No,’ as we all know, she often means ‘Yes’ or at least, ‘Persuade me.’ She was just playing hard to get." If the poor victim’s naturally friendly nature has been twisted by the slick lawyer to brand her as a woman of looser morals than members of the jury are comfortable with, this sort of reasoning is readily accepted with the result that the rapist goes free to rape again and his victim is often left feeling filthy and scarred for life.

You will notice that both the physical rapist’s and the scriptural rapist’s defences start with that little word "But." Well, Beloved, whilst in both cases they may fool their jurors—THEY WON’T FOOL GOD! I don’t believe He inspired the writers of His Word to pen ‘detective novels’ where the reader is obliged to figure out hidden meanings. Whilst He spelled out His instructions with crystalline clarity, prophecies often use graphic symbolism. It is, therefore, sometimes necessary to examine the Scriptures for explanations of that symbolism, but they are always there. He doesn’t want heaven to be only inhabited by slick lawyers and their rapist clients—He earnestly desires every single one of His children to be there with Him.

Now it is true that some of the Bible’s contents, especially as-yet-unfulfilled prophesies, are open to different interpretations and so, as might be expected, there are lots of them. Whilst I cannot see anything wrong with exploring all the possibilities it must be remembered that, whatever conclusion anyone comes to, unless Scripture clearly spells out what is yet to come, it is still only a theory. But, unfortunately, what seems to happen is this: Some deep-thinking intellectual comes up with what seems to be a very plausible explanation of a particular prophecy and, before you know it, their church has accepted it as fact and it becomes that church’s doctrine which they then present to all who will listen as fact!

There are two words which make a huge difference to messages preached from pulpits and which, unfortunately, the vast majority of denominational preachers leave out. Those two words are "I believe...." which should always precede any statement of scripturally unsubstantiated speculative interpretation of biblical prophecy. Instead, what are only theories are presented in such a way that an aspiring Christian in the congregation is impressed that what they have heard is factual and, if they don’t, like the Bereans, immediately go and search the Scriptures to verify them, they could well end up ‘believing a lie.’ If, however, the preacher commences his statement with those two important words, then all those who hear him would know that what he has said is open to question and, as such, disagreement with it is not heresy—even though the church endorsing the theory may try to tell you it is.

As I have endeavoured to illustrate, using only Scripture, if you’re a true Christian, a large part of the Bible (such as the Ten Commandments) is not negotiable—IT IS FACT. I have also given some of my own ideas about some biblical prophecies (such as the mark of the beast in chapter 21)—they are NOT fact! They are only one person’s theories. No doubt there will be some readers who share my views, or at least see some plausibility in them but, if you are such a person, don’t you dare go and mentally convert them into facts. Sure, go and prepare yourself for the possibility that the fulfilment of prophecy may prove those ideas to be correct—but don’t set them in concrete. And, if you do agree with any of what I have written, don’t you dare go and say to others "David Holt says..." Quote the Scriptures I have based my theories on and say, "The Bible says..."

There have been lots of good ideas propounded over the centuries which have resulted in doctrines where it is adamantly stated that this or that will happen (or has happened)—rather than may happen—in a particular way, and this is one of the reasons why we see so many churches. Whole denominations have been founded on expectations of Jesus’ second coming on a certain date and, when it didn’t happen, there was great disappointment, some very red faces and a hasty re-assessment of what was, originally, a very plausible theory. What better proof of the fragility of theories is there than history?

One example of this (certainly not unique) was a belief, propagated in the second quarter of the nineteenth century that Jesus’ would return in October of 1844—which, again with the benefit of hindsight, we now know He didn’t! The theory that initiated this belief, based on an individual’s sincere misinterpretation of Scripture, was sound enough but that’s all it was—a theory. Unfortunately though, it was presented as an unequivocal fact so that its supporters were firmly convinced that Jesus would come rather than that He may come or even could come. Therefore, when He didn’t, many were bitterly disappointed and fell right away from Christianity in their thousands. The responsibility for that must lie squarely with the church hierarchy that originally presented it as certain fact. Fortunately not all succumbed and some even went on to address the problem by propounding an alternative interpretation of the same Scriptures which had spawned the original error. Like the first one, this second theory is quite plausible—but it’s still only a theory! Since it is neither provable nor disprovable, until the great day when Jesus does return to resurrect the faithful no one will know the accuracy of it. There is nothing wrong with preaching it as a suggestion but sadly though, there are thousands of preachers who now present it as fact! As the popular folk-song says, "When will they ever learn?"

That is why I forbid anyone reading this book to take any speculative ideas I have expressed as irrefutable. If someone tells you something that is speculative, even if it makes very good sense to you, ask them to prove it. Of course, since it is speculative, they wont be able to! However, if you can’t disprove it, plausible as it may be, keep an open mind—if it happens, you’ll have been prepared, and if it doesn’t, you wont be disappointed! On the other hand, if your study of God’s word shows, beyond reasonable doubt, that the theory expounded is faulty then it is, as the Bible says, false prophecy.

So when you read a passage of Scripture which conflicts with what your church teaches and, as you should, you open a discussion on the subject, you are confronted with "Oh, BUT..."—beware!

For example, a scriptural instruction that seems to be totally ignored by most religions—I suspect because their leaders are so scared of being severely criticised by the ‘modern thinking’ worldly people today that they choose to make feeble excuses to cover themselves and, no doubt, keep their congregations and thus, their jobs. (They should take more heed of Jesus’ words, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:35-36)—

It is:

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (1 Corinthians 14:33-35) Paul repeated the same instruction in his letter to Timothy when he was pastoring the church at Ephesus. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:11-12)

Now this doesn’t go down too well in these days of ‘women’s lib’ and I would be the first to agree with those who say that women have a lot to offer—but, whether we like it or not, that is God’s instruction based on His original condemnation of Eve and all her descendants. (Genesis 3:16) At first glance, the above passage would seem to be in direct conflict with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians three chapters earlier, and which I will quote shortly, where he referred to women prophesying in such a way as to imply that it was perfectly acceptable for them to do so. What Paul was referring to in the above passages was women interrupting and thus disrupting church services by asking questions as opposed to actually ‘officially holding the floor’ as preacher or teacher. With Paul’s acceptance the evangelist Apollos was trained by Priscilla which would seem to conflict with his statement that he did not permit a woman to teach. However, study of Scripture makes it quite clear that women’s contributions were quite acceptable provided they were made with the church’s approval. The "Oh BUT" brigade will jump in very quickly and tell you that Paul wrote these lines specifically to the Corinthian and Ephesian churches because they had a problem with women interjecting and disrupting church services, butin my Bible, anywayit says "As in ALL the congregations of the saints." What does yours say, Beloved? (Yes, I know, I used the ‘but’ word toobut I hope I used it wisely!)

In twentieth century society, it doesn’t quite fit — but is God’s word negotiable? I believe not! For many years nearly all the Christian churches used this Scripture to support a total ban on women being ordained into their ministries but, over recent times, using such examples as Priscilla, this has gradually been changed in many congregations—but should it? The following two passages, also written by Paul would indicate not. In fact, it not only applies to the clergy, it even applies to elders.

An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. (Titus 1:6)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:1-5)

These Scriptures are not vague. And not only should he be the husband of one wife but a church officer’s children should be above reproach. Now some might say that this would seem to exclude bachelors, but the key word in the bold phrases above is "one" not "husband." The point that Paul is making here is that any man who is a husband and is appointed to church office must not have more than one wife. Thus the above passages do not exclude the unmarried, only the polygamist. This is made quite clear where Paul, himself a bachelor, writes:

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

In passing it is interesting to note that Paul wrote, "It is good for a man not to marry" when God, Himself said, "It is NOT good for the man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18) This could be another indication that at least some of Paul’s writings were his personal views rather than God-breathed. (ref. the previous chapter)

When asked how they justify the ordination of women those churches which now permit it say "Oh, BUT Paul was only addressing the people of his time and not the people of today." Well, I would like to know how they know this. Where does it say so in the Bible? The Scripture does not say "It is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church until later." The instruction ends with the word ‘church.’ (And, please note also, it doesn’t say ‘the Corinthian church.’)

On the other hand, though, referring back to Priscilla, (her story is told in Acts 18) she is never mentioned separately from her husband Aquila—and that, in itself may indicate that she was always, as Paul put it, in submission to him. Even if she did teach independently it would have only been with her husband’s sanction and at his request. So, if a woman displays an excellent and sound knowledge of Scripture today, should she be authorised by the church to act as a minister of the gospel? This question is one for each individual to handle privately in deep conference with God, through His Holy Spirit, in prayer. As far as this book goes, I decline to ‘pontificate’ on the matter!

"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." (Colossians 3:18) Like it or not, scripturally, woman is subordinate to man—but NOT inferior—and there’s a great difference! In the same way, the church is subordinate to Jesus and He, in turn, is subordinate to His Father. Without subordination we would have anarchy. Have you never wondered why the Bible says, "Just as sin entered the world through one man" (Romans 5:12) and Adam is always held responsible for the original sin, even though it was Eve that the serpent seduced and she who ate first and gave him the fruit? He should have exerted his God-given authority, stopped her and sent the serpent packing! This shows that true subordination involves the leader serving the subordinates’ interests—not ‘lording it’ over them and oppressing them.

"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." (Colossians 3:19) Everything the leader does should be in the best interest of those under him and not for selfish reasons which, sadly, is often the way it turns out.

"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." (Colossians 3:20)

Does this mean that children should obey a criminal parent who, like Dickens’ Fagin, taught those children in his care to steal? Of course not! This is made quite obvious by the very next verse. "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged." (Colossians 3:21)

For the entire time he spent with Jesus, Peter followed the traditional belief that the Jewish people were superior to all other races and, by extension, Jewish men superior to their women. It was not until after his Lord had ascended into heaven that his experience with the Roman centurion Cornelius prompted him to say, "I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right." (Acts 10:34-35)

Once upon a time there was only man—Adam—made in God’s image (more on that shortly). Now this brings up something very interesting—the Hebrew language in which Genesis was written is one of those where everything is either male or female—except ‘Yahweh’, which is both! Yes, Jesus’ preincarnate name is both male and female! It has no gender!

Remember how Jesus said that there will be no marriage in Heaven? The whole story goes:

"That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question." Teacher," they said, ‘‘Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"

Jesus replied, ‘‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." (Matthew 22:23-30)

If these two clues (along with another) are viewed together it is not hard to deduce that God does not have a sex—and nor did Adam until God took the ‘woman’ out of him. The word woman means ‘man with a womb.’ So, when Yahweh made Adam (which means ‘the man’) at His Father’s instruction He made him like them. The Bible’s wording actually tells us that Adam was sexless and that his creator God is too:

This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man" (Genesis 5:1-2)

"So God created man in His own image. In the image of God he created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

Eve didn’t get made until Genesis chapter 2, verse 22 and, between those two verses, God brought all the animals to Adam to be his companion before it became apparent that none were suitable. So the verse I have just quoted quite clearly and definitely isn’t referring to Adam and Eve where it says, "male and female He created them."—it’s only referring to Adam! Adam was two people in one. He was sexless—in the image of his maker! The Bible doesn’t tell us how long Adam spent with only the company of animals although the implication is that it was not very long. However, he did have long enough to name every species of animal created and, since there are literally millions, that must have taken a fair while!

I have no doubt that there will be some readers who are getting all steamed up and saying that what I have written is a blasphemous suggestion, but it isn’t mine. In fact it’s not a suggestion—it’s a Scriptural fact! Adam himself, when he was introduced to Eve by Yahweh, said,

"This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23)

It therefore follows that, since the woman was "TAKEN OUT OF" the man, before that happened, ‘the man’ MUST have had ‘the woman’ IN him—and he was created in God’s image. Unfortunately, in the late twentieth century, the term ‘bi-sexual’ has an unfortunate connotation, but taking it to it’s true meaning which is biologically defined as ‘hermaphrodite’—meaning having all the physical and psychological characteristics of both male and female—God is bi-sexual, (or, as I believe I have more correctly written, sexless or asexual) and so was Adam until Eve was taken out of him.

Not only that, but as Jesus so clearly told the Sadducees, when He returns to re-create the faithful for eternal life on the new earth, they will, once again, be in His image. John actually said so. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2) Notice here that John wrote that we shall see Him as He is—and, bearing in mind that John was one of Jesus’ disciples who saw Him every day, the question must follow as to why he wrote this. The answer to that question lies in the fact that, when Yahweh put aside His divinity and His glory and became a human man, He also put aside His physical appearance. And when writing about Jesus’ humility, Paul very clearly showed that man is no longer in the image of his Creator when he said that Jesus made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7-8) Since Genesis has already told us that humans were made in His likeness, the only way this can make any sense is for the human to have changed because Yahweh said, "I, the Lord, do NOT change." (Malachi 3:6) This is also why; at the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage—because, if you think about it, with no gender separation, how can there be any marriage?

I hope that this goes at least some of the way to appeasing all those militant ladies who try to tell us that God is a woman and all those religious men who disagree with them! You’re both right! He is a woman! He’s a man too! When you think about it, how else could the supreme ruler of creation totally empathise with both sexes—which He does with absolute love and understanding? We’ve been here for thousands of years and we still haven’t mastered it! You will, of course, meet people who say they have (you may even be one yourself!) but just listen to them for a short time and you’ll soon see how condescending they get when speaking about the opposite sex.

Now if what I have just suggested makes sense to you and you share it with others, let me warn you that you will encounter people who say that Genesis wasn’t written in chronological order. Well, I’d like to know who told them so—and if that were to be true, where does the story of creation go? The opening words are "In the beginning!" Of course, such a statement is only one concocted by religion to justify its own narrow minded thinking.

This also answers those critical ‘activists’ who make a fuss about such terms as ‘postman’ or ‘tradesman’ etcetera, and demand their replacement by ‘postperson’ and ‘tradesperson.’ They’ve got it all wrong! From day six the word ‘man’ has actually meant ‘hu-man’ or ‘mankind.’ You will notice that, in many biblical quotations of Yahweh’s words where they refer to ‘people’ the word ‘man’ is used unless they are referring specifically to females. Thus, with the social demands of our time, it may well be necessary to produce yet another translation of The Bible where the word ‘person’ replaces the word ‘man’ where both sexes are being referred to.

For example, when Jesus said "No man cometh unto the Father but by me" [KJV] there can be no doubt that He meant "No person..."

Only when Yahweh took some of Adam’s flesh and bone and created Eve were the human sexes separated. This was done so that, although they were two individual people, ‘the man’ and ‘the woman’ could, by joining in unity (‘marriage,’ in today’s language) once again become one. Both are equally important. If women didn’t have the equipment to develop and give birth and nourishment to babies then humanity would have died out with Adam and Eve—but then, if men didn’t have the ability to fertilise the women, they’d have a hard job getting pregnant in the first place! Apart from those quite distinctly different functions, there is very little that both sexes cannot do! Some things men do better, some things women do better. Praise God that there are both!

The female ‘wo-man’ is, therefore, only subordinate to the male ‘man’ because she was part of him until separated out by Yahweh so that the male ‘man’ would have the companionship that God saw he needed. The Bible defines each one’s roles—and each is as vitally important as the other’s. If you disagree, just stop reading and sit and imagine being the only person on the face of the Earth—because, without both sexes, you would be if you happened to be the one God created!

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

As I have already pointed out though, this doesn’t mean that men can ‘lord it’ cruelly over women though, because they also get their role defined:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing or having cleansed her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5:25-28)

The reference to God’s original plan that a man and wife should become one person when they marry (Genesis 2:24) is quite evident here. Perhaps one of the saddest things in today’s society is the fact that so many husbands and wives no longer uphold these values of each other.

The woeful truth is, most churches follow the vast majority of God’s rulings to the letter but still choose to ignore or ‘bend’ some of His others which don’t quite suit their lifestyle. In his first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 11, Paul listed some of God’s other requirements of His people. He wrote:

"Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and as it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head. Every man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with no covering of hair on her head dishonours her head—she is just like one of the "shorn women." If a woman has no covering, let her be for now with short hair, but since it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair shorn or shaved, she should grow it again. A man ought not to have long hair since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:3-16)

Here again we find different churches and individuals interpreting Paul’s words very differently. Those ladies who, in the late twentieth century, (to quote them) "wouldn’t be seen dead wearing a hat" say that the Bible says that long hair has been given to them as a covering (even though many of them have quite short hairstyles). However, if the whole passage is studied, it can be seen that, if a woman doesn’t cover her head, she should have her hair cut off. So, if her hair is, itself a covering, this doesn’t make sense. That’s a bit like saying if a woman doesn’t wear a hat she should have her hat taken off!

On the subject of men with long hair you will again hear "Oh, BUT...." followed by, for example, "that’s not a salvation issue!" (This is a favourite with people who want to serve God their way rather than His.) Well read 1 Corinthians 11 again, Beloved. The opening statement is that the head of every man is Christ and then, later, we read that a man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonours his head. Now I want to ask you this:

Is dishonouring Jesus Christ a salvation issue or not?

In a pathetic effort to justify their decision to ignore God’s word, the long-haired man will tell you, "Jesus had long hair—just look at all the pictures of Him." Well, how many of those pictures were painted with Jesus sitting for them whilst He was here? NONE! NOTHING in the Bible says that Jesus had long hair. You will also be told that Samson had long hair. Yes, he did! This was because Samson was a Nazarite—a very special person totally set aside for service to God—sometimes for a short period of their life and sometimes, as was Samson, for their entire life. One of the restrictions, which the Nazarite vow required, was that the hair and beard must not be cut. During the entire period of his vow no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the Lord is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long. (Numbers 6:5)

Some people will tell you that Jesus was a Nazarite. But the Bible doesn’t say so! (It doesn’t say He wasn’t either.) We are, of course, told that He was a Nazarene—someone who came from Nazareth—but that is not synonymous with and should not be confused with being a Nazarite. More importantly though, even if Jesus was a Nazarite, the men who go to church with long hair today are quite definitely NOT Nazarites! Those still struggling to justify their long hair will argue that, since His life was totally set aside for service to God, Jesus must have been a Nazarite and therefore, did not cut His hair and, since the Bible instructs us to be like Him, we shouldn’t cut ours. Well, if they are going to use the instruction to be like Jesus to justify their long hair, I just hope that they have made a decision to never own property or have any sort of sexual relationship either, because Jesus did that too! The admonition to be like Jesus means to be obedient to God’s laws as was His Son.

Here’s another of God’s instructions which is ignored these days: "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this." (Deuteronomy 22:5)

This is part of the old covenant and not one of the Ten Commandments but it does say that ‘God detests anyone that does this’ and, since God doesn’t change, is there any reason to believe that He doesn’t still detest it? Yet how many women come to church wearing trousers and with their heads uncovered today? Only in some churches is this still considered to be undesirable. And how many male members of the congregation turn up with long hair hanging down over their shoulders? Even those churches that guide their members according to these scriptural instructions don’t follow other portions of biblical teaching—in particular, which day they keep as God’s Sabbath—whilst churches which do keep the seventh-day Sabbath choose to ignore these instructions. So how does one decide where to fellowship?

Have you ever noticed how so-called Christians eagerly dismiss as "cultural," or specific to the addressees at the time, those scriptural instructions and promises that don’t quite suit their chosen lifestyle whilst equally eagerly quoting others which do? The most obvious example, of course, are the pathetic attempts made to dispense with the second and fourth commandments, but there are much more insidious ones. For instance, there are people who keep all ten of the commandments yet they turn up to church (on God’s true Sabbath)—the men with hair down over their shoulders and the women bare-headed and with shorter hair than their husbands and, when lovingly shown 1 Corinthians 11, say "Oh, BUT Paul was only addressing the Corinthians when he wrote that—it was a ‘cultural thing’ at the time." and then, in practically the next breath, confidently recite Scriptures like the verse I quoted right at the end of chapter 11 in which God said, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) without any reference to the previous verse which says, "When the seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place." (Jeremiah 29:10) They like to quote verse 11 because it suits them and makes no demands, even though verse 10 makes it extremely clear that God’s remarks were specifically directed to the Israelites held in Babylonian captivity. I personally believe that God’s words to Jeremiah are as applicable to Christians today as they were when He spoke them. Just as applicable as Paul’s instructions!

What decision with regard to the divine inspiration of Paul’s writings did you make at the end of the previous chapter? I suspect that more professed Christians would say that the whole Bible is God-breathed than those who would not, so how come people who claim to be followers of God’s word happily accept what suits them and reject what doesn’t? Isn’t this a glaring example of "double-mindedness?" And, as James so succinctly wrote, "That man should not think he will receive ANYTHING from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all that he does." (James 1:7-8) Where do YOU fit here?

Those instructions which deal with dress and head-covering really open up a ‘can of worms’ with some people yet their wording is quite unambiguous. At a Christian men’s breakfast organised by a Charismatic church to which I was invited, there was one man who not only wore a cap at the table but even left it on when the guest speaker came over and prayed with him! (If he had been my mother’s son she would have knocked it off him!) This same man may well say that women should not speak in church! I didn’t know him personally, so I didn’t know his knowledge of Scripture or his beliefs. However, the pastor of the particular church was also present at the breakfast and he should have known better! If he has the calling to be a pastor then it is his responsibility to guide his flock along scriptural lines. Why did he not do so? I was sorely tempted (Satan is the tempter, by the way!) to speak to my Christian brother but, as a guest amongst his church, I felt that it was not my place to do so. Perhaps I should take my lead and example from Paul—he certainly wasn’t afraid to correct errors that he observed in the churches he visited.15

IN THE BEGINNING...

 

O

n the subject of the creation, the story, as told in the biblical narrative, is one which, with increasing scientific knowledge, is causing a widening rift between believers and non-believers—and I often wonder why. (Actually, when I think about it, I know why—Closed minds!) People who claim to be Christian and say that they believe the Bible have no difficulty accepting such things as a gigantic city 2200 kilometres wide, 2200 kilometres long and, perhaps most fantastic, 2200 kilometres high floating down out of space (see Revelation 21:16) and yet they protest loudly at any rational suggestion concerning other biblical symbolism. I just hope that such people don’t get allocated a dwelling space on the highest level of New Jerusalem because, at 2200 kilometres, there won’t be any air for them to breathe! I have no doubt that there will be those who will protest loudly at some of the suggestions that form part of this chapter and they have my sympathy. I pray that Almighty God, to whom NOTHING is fantastic, will open their closed minds.

I have always personally considered the creation story as told in Genesis as something of a paraphrase, laden with symbolism, intended by the writer (inspired by God) to describe the origin of the universe in a simplified manner easily understandable by the primitive and largely illiterate populace of the time. Symbolism is used extensively throughout the Bible and Christians everywhere accept it as such without dissension and yet, when it is suggested that same symbolism occurs in the very first chapter, some of them vehemently denounce whoever makes the suggestion.

Why do they flatly refuse to consider the possibility that, when listing the events of God’s creation, Moses used symbolism? Jotham did the same thing with talking trees in the ninth chapter of the book of Judges and no one takes that literally! Throughout His ministry on Earth Jesus used the same technique to illustrate His messages—He called them parables. And, of course, His amazing revelation, which forms the final book of The Human Being Manufacturer’s Handbook, is profusely laden with symbolism. I personally know many beautiful and sincere Christians who have no problem whatsoever with that yet vehemently denounce any suggestion that the very same book might start the same way as it ends. Perhaps they have forgotten that God the Great Creator said, "I, the LORD do not change." (Malachi 3:6).

At the beginning of Genesis 1:2—only the second verse in the Bible—we read, "Now the earth was formless and empty," (the King James version uses the words ‘without form and void.) That’s a pretty clear statement. Basically it tells us "There was NOTHING!" Yet, reading on, we find that the same verse continues; "darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." If there was nothing, what waters are these? Waters definitely have form and waters can hardly be described as void! Since the Bible never argues with itself, this single verse right at the beginning of the creation story makes it very obvious that symbolism must be in use doesn’t it? Once again, if we refer to the last book, we are clearly told that the waters that John saw in his visions represented peoples, multitudes, nations and languages (Revelation 17:15). (Please remember this, as I will refer to it again later in this book) It is very obvious that the symbolism used in Revelation cannot be taken to refer to Genesis since no people had been created at the time referred to in verse 2.

Before we go any further here, I want no-one to be in any doubt that, long before I was a committed Christian, I always believed that the wonders of the Earth and beyond did not occur spontaneously and that one only has to consider the beautiful complexity of a flower—let alone the human brain—to realise that it must have had a designer—a creator. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that anyone who believes that the human brain wasn’t carefully created by a being vastly superior to us probably has a faulty or damaged one!

In the light of modern knowledge (considerably different to three-and-a-half thousand years ago, when Moses wrote Genesis!) secular science generally accepts that the origin of the Universe occurred some 15,000 million years ago (give or take a few hundred million) and that to get where it is today took most of that time. Without even resorting to scientific theory, we now have such irrefutable evidences as living California redwood trees with over 12,000 annual growth rings and cave stalactites and stalagmites which could not, given the physical calcification properties, have reached their present size in less than 100,000 years! Now this tends to differ quite dramatically from the six days of creation of Genesis chapter one and the six thousand years of history as described in The Bible! But does it?

Actually, the six ‘days’ of creation are very adequately covered in the same volume where it states that, With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8) and a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4) This last verse was written by the very same man that wrote the creation story in Genesis and, more often than not, only the first fifteen words get quoted. But you will notice that Moses actually went further than simply comparing a thousand years to a twenty-four hour day. A night watch is a mere four hours! On that scale the six thousand years of biblical history since Adam would amount to about 13,149 million of our years! And don’t forget, Adam was created on God’s sixth ‘day’, which may well have been another 2,191 million years after He said, "Let there be Light!" Now don’t you find it particularly interesting that, added together, this makes 15,340,000,000—which is just about the exact age which science ascribes to the universe. Whilst all this is just ‘playing with numbers,’ the real point is that God’s time scale is very different to ours. If you need unequivocal proof of this go outside on a clear night and look up.

When you look into the night sky and see the stars you are actually looking into the past. Even when you see the sun sink below the horizon it actually happened eight minutes and thirty-two seconds earlier! That’s the time it takes for the light of the sun to reach the Earth. The next nearest star to us is Proxima Centauri which is 260,000 times further away than the sun—so it must follow that it takes just over 1500 days, or just over four years for that star’s light to reach us. So, if it blew up two years ago, we won’t know for another two years! Some of the stars, which we can see with our naked eye—let alone telescopes—, are much further than that. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (after the sun, of course), is 8.7 light years away so that, when a seven-year-old child looks up at it and recites "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" she is seeing what was before she was even conceived! It may not even be there nowbut we won’t find out for another 8.7 years!

Both Proxima Centauri and Sirius are members of our own Milky Way galaxy and, as such, are, cosmically speaking, relatively close to us. The Milky Way is one of a group of twenty galaxies known as the Local Group because they are all (in the vastness of space, relatively) close together. The farthest object from earth that is visible with the naked eye is the Messier 31 galaxy in the Andromeda cluster which is 2,309,000 light years away so that, when someone looks into the night sky at Messier 31, they are seeing what it looked like over 2.3 million years agoor, putting it another way, looking that far back in time!

So how does this relate to Genesis 1:14-16 which tells us that, on the fourth ‘day,’ God created the Sun, Moon and stars? Contrary to the argument of anti-scripturalists, it does NOT disprove the story of divine creation, but rather, it proves that, as I have written, God’s time scale is vastly different to ours.

And, when you think about it, God’s ‘day’ must be different to ours because our ‘day’ wasn’t even created until God’s fourth ‘day!’ If this doesn’t make sense to you, pause and read Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 to 16. The Almighty God, El Shaddai, The Father is all-powerful and can overrule the laws of nature if He so desires. Compressing thousands of ‘natural’ years into a single day is very easy for Him—because He’s supernatural.

Herein lies a clue to solving the apparent discrepancy between science and Scripture. Until a Polish gentleman named Copernicus wrote a treatise entitled "On The Revolutions Of The Celestial Spheres" in which he suggested that the Earth actually revolved around the Sun, everyone, especially the religious leaders, believed that all the heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. Typical of egotistical humanity, they figured that, as the home of God’s finest creation—man made in His own image—the Earth must be the centre of the universe. In fairness, and based on the way that the first chapter of the Bible is written, such an assumption is not really surprising. Interestingly, Copernicus’ work was completed within a few months of Henry VIII’s defection from the Holy Roman Empire and like Henry, but for very different reasons, he was considered by the papal masters to be a foul heretic, but time and scientific advances soon showed who was right and who was wrong. In Copernicus’ day it was feared that, if ships sailed too far west they would fall off the edge of the Earth! Not until 431 years later, in April 1961, did a Russian man named Yuri Gagarin go out into space and see for himself that the Earth really is a sphere and not flat. Of course, by that time not too many people doubted it—but no one had actually seen it!

However, there is another way of looking at everything I have just said.

Let’s just go back to the Genesis account again and let’s say that it IS literally true (as opposed to symbolically true). When, for example, God made the various vegetation features on day three, would He have only planted seeds? That doesn’t make much sense and, what’s more, it doesn’t agree with the wording of Genesis 1:11 which actually says, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. Furthermore, at the end of day three, we are told that God saw that it was good. Therefore it must follow that, at the beginning of day three, the earth was only water and then God separated land from that water which was just rock and dirt with no vegetation whatsoever and, by the end of the day, there were forests and flowers, meadows and jungles. Thus it is quite feasible that God made full-grown trees—and, as we all know, only three days later, there were fruit trees for Adam and Eve to eat from. It is, therefore, obvious that, to bear fruit they had to be full-grown trees, so they would have had all the characteristics of full-grown trees—including trunks with growth rings!

One way of looking at this is to think about buying a plot of land to build a home on and, before moving in, planting a beautiful garden complete with mature plants and even trees. In just the same way God, as the Creator, could quite easily have produced a completely functional ecosystem right at the beginning.

Then, having done that, on the next day He placed all the stars in their places—as David wrote in his song: "I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place." (Psalm 8:3) And of course, having set them in place, it would have been a small matter for Him to also put their light in place through the vastness of space wouldn’t it? Because He also said in Genesis 1:15, "and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth."

So, whilst the Biblical account of the creation could be laden with symbolism, what we must also consider is that it could equally be extremely accurate so that, when God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days, just like the cabinetmaker who makes ‘reproduction antiques’, He made them with ‘pre-ageing!’ Therefore, plausible as scientific evidence and techniques may be, they can never take that into account can they? In the end, the final decision on this ever-vexed topic is yours.

People who believe that the Genetic story of creation refers to literal—as opposed to symbolic—days automatically assume that, at that time, the earth took twenty-four of our present hours to make one complete revolution on its axis. But does it really matter whether God spent 144 hours or 15 million years creating? Don’t get all hung up on technicalities and be too hasty to ‘rubbish’ modern scientific theories (and remember, that’s all they are—theories—because no-one was actually there to witness what happened!) but rather, accept that, however the universe was made,

It was God who planned it

and His Son who did it.

Have you noticed how time seems to be going much more quickly in recent years? An oft-heard phrase is "There aren’t enough hours in the day." Well, this is not so fantastic as it may, at first, seem. God even prophesied to the prophet Amos that the day would come when He would reverse time!

"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes." (Amos 9:13)

The answer is ALWAYS in God’s own Word.

In spite of the theories of Charles Darwin there is no actual evidence of evolution—as opposed to adaptation—of which there is evidence. Study of prehistoric scientific theory shows that the sequential order of God’s creative events as described in Genesis agrees precisely with scientifically accepted chronology. However, I have also long held the view that ‘religious’ people who totally dismiss such theories display an incredibly narrow-minded attitude insofar that they very conveniently overlook the fact that nowhere does The Bible state HOW God undertook His great work—only that He did—and, as I have said, I see no reason to dispute that—and billions of wonderful reasons to believe it!

Of course, the way it is written, the Bible does say that everything was created by God’s word. I leave the individual to decide whether this is the total involvement that the Creator had in the matter or if that is simply an illustration of the making—the creation—of the decision. Father God spoke the word and His Son, Yahweh then went into production.

Bearing in mind that we are created in Their image just think about anything you’ve ever done in your lifetime. Wasn’t carefully making the decision to do it the first step? If it wasn’t then you acted on impulse or in panic and I strongly doubt that God created everything in either of those ways!

Even if, in His infinite wisdom, God had devised a process which we refer to as evolution to achieve His plans, who would we be to question it anyway? As The Bible says, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure!" (Titus 1:15) and so, if anyone thinks such postulations are ‘impure’ then maybe they should try some self-examination! Personally, I do not believe in evolution in the sense that a cow developed from a fish over aeons of time. However, I do believe that the various types of animals that exist within the over one million species and families of animals as contained within the classes of the some 26 phyla (or classes) of the animal kingdom have, over vast periods of time, adapted to suit their environments. One of the best evidences for this are the ability of certain species to procreate with each other, as, for example, a lion and a tiger or a poodle and a Labrador.

What I am saying here is that, for instance, an average city-dwelling couple, when taking a drive in the country will point out a cow or a sheep to their children but will rarely define them as a Hereford or a Charolais or a Romney or a Merino even though those different bovine and ovine species are quite different in appearance and can, of course, be interbred to produce, over a relatively short period of time, a new species. Even within our own species of homo sapiens there are considerable differences in appearance. A Pygmy of the Congo is about as different from a Scandinavian as is a Merino from a Romney and yet I doubt there are many Christians who would deny the fact that both the Pygmy and the Scandinavian are both descendants of Adam and Eve.

This is not restricted to external appearance either. A resident of La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, at 3625 metres above sea level has considerably larger lungs than someone born to a family in the Netherlands at sea level or even lower. This is simply to allow the Bolivian to inhale sufficient oxygen from the much thinner atmosphere of his home to enable him to function normally. Thus, if the Dutchman goes on a trip to La Paz, he finds himself getting out of breath at the least exertion. Now, if he moves to Bolivia permanently, his lungs will not grow dramatically (although his behaviour will change to accommodate his new environmentthis is a conscious adaptation) but, over many generations, his descendants will gradually acquire larger ones.

It would seem that many people, when they hear the word evolution, immediately think of human beings evolving from apes and apes from reptiles and reptiles from amoeba etc. but that is taking the whole concept to an extreme which doesn’t concur with the biblical sequence of creation. However, if it is accepted that all humanity is descended from one man, Adamwho was fashioned by God from the dust of the ground, how is the existence of three distinct ‘species’ of human—Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid—accounted for? Was Adam black, white, brown, yellow or red? And, since Adam was created in the image of God, what colour is God? (These are, of course, purely rhetorical and pointless questions since it doesn’t matter to our faith.)

Negroes are not sun-tanned Caucasoids and Mongoloids are not pale Negroes. In contrast, natives of India and Sri Lanka are not Negroids, even though they have dark skin. Putting it anthropologically simply, they are sun-tanned Caucasoids and, whilst Australian Aboriginals are Negroids, neighbouring New Zealand Maoris are Caucasian or, as some anthropologists believe, descendants of a cross between Caucasoids and Mongoloids who, way back in the mists of time, travelled from central Asia to the pacific islands and, ultimately, to New Zealand. The subject of this book does not warrant an extensive study of anthropology, but anyone wanting to clarify the inherent physiological (as opposed to cultural) distinctions between human races can do so at any library. However, what is important to humanity’s relationship to their Creator God is the fact that each race can interbreed with the other and produce viable offspring—which biologically supports a common ancestry—and the word in the English language which describes the divergence of those races is, like it or not, ‘evolution.’

One process of ‘evolution’ than no sincere Christian can argue with is the development of carnivorous animals (The word evolve, by the way, means to develop). Until Adam and Eve rebelled against God there was no such thing as death on the earth so it must follow that, without death, there could be no meat. Genesis 1:29, 30 tells us that, immediately after creating him, God said to Adam, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the groundeverything that has the breath of life in itI give every green plant for food. And it was so. Then, when death arrived and animals died, it became necessary to dispose of the corpses and so some of the animals changed their dietary habits to accommodate this need and carrion eaters resulted. From this it doesn’t seem so fantastic to assume that some of those animals developed such a taste for meat that, when there wasn’t a dead body handy for dinner, they went off and provided one for themselves—in other words, they became hunters. And then they discovered how much better freshly killed meat was than some old corpse that had been dead for goodness knows how long! Eventually man joined them. Thus the dental equipment of certain animals that had developed into regular meat-eaters changed to accommodate the chewing and flesh-tearing requirements of their adopted diet. This is also called evolution. So, before you enthusiastically decry evolution may I suggest that you just remember that, once upon a time, all animals were vegetarian?

It fascinates and frustrates me how some supposedly lateral-thinking ‘religious’ (I really think that sanctimonious is a more appropriate word!) people flatly refuse to accept, or even discuss any scientific explanation of creation.

Take, for example, the origin of the universe. One explanation which many scientists support today is what is commonly referred to as "The Big Bang Theory" and I fail to understand why so many God-loving people cannot even consider that as a possible (NB: I wrote ‘possible’ not ‘probable’) answer to how, having made the decision, God implemented and achieved His awesome plan.

I am sure that all but the most obtuse believer would accept and agree—

God is supreme in ALL things

including being the greatest scientist!

So what was there to stop Him using the laws of physics (which, let me remind you, He created anyway!) to set in motion an awesome chain reaction resulting in the universe as we know it today? Since He is ‘the fount of all knowledge’ who knows the end from the beginning, He must have known that compressing all matter and energy into a spaceless mass would result in a mighty explosion as a result of which this would happen. Again, The Bible perfectly fits such a hypothesis where it states, "the earth was without form and void."—A spaceless mass is, in effect, a formless void isn’t it? Then God said, "Let there be light." (Genesis 1:2-3) At the moment of the big bang, the brightest light ever to have existed would have occurred.

In passing, it is also interesting to note that the writer of Genesis (reputedly Moses, who wasn’t even born until, according to the genealogy related in his own books, well over two thousand years after the creation of Adam) seems to know the words spoken by God before the beginning of creation! This, in itself, proves that he was divinely inspired, doesn’t it? In fact, in Exodus 24:4, writing about himself in the third person, Moses wrote, Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

With the dramatic advances in scientific knowledge over the last few decades both secular and ecclesiastical media often feature the writings of and interviews with eminent theologians who actually acknowledge that the original texts do not answer the question of how God undertook the work of creation and that modern scientific thinking can be acceptable provided that, as I have done, it is conceded that, whatever technique was employed;

it was God who did it!

Obviously not all Christians have closed minds! Hallelujah!

The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Another ‘bone of contention’ with many religious folk is the acceptance of the possibility of there being life elsewhere in space—or extra-terrestrial intelligence.

When one considers that the Earth is one small planet in a set of nine (ten if the disintegrated or uncoalesced planet which now constitutes the asteroids is included) which orbit a comparatively small star—The Sun—which is one of some million million which comprise the Milky Way Galaxy which, in turn, is just one of several billion known galaxies, it would seem to me to be the height of audacity to assume that it is the only celestial body supporting life of any sort—let alone life as we know it. Until now, astronomers have only speculated the existence of planets outside our Solar System. However, on the very day that the first manuscript of this book was sent to the publisher an announcement was made by NASA that the first—about three times the size of our largest, Jupiter—had been discovered by the Hubble telescope at a distance of 450 light years from Earth in the Taurus constellation. Could we now be one step closer to meeting another of God’s creations?

As you will remember, The Bible told us that God created human beings in His own image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26) It is pretty safe to conclude that to mean both visually and intellectually. Now, as we all know, human nature is such that, when we design and build something new, we invariably go on to improve and further develop it. (If we didn’t, Fords would, by now, have probably built over 100 million Model As!!!) So, since we are made in God’s likeness, it must be safe to also assume that human nature is God’s Nature, and if that is, in fact so, then it would necessarily follow that God would also have made further developments. And, guess what? The Bible says so.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! (Revelation 12:12)

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9) What are angels if not extra-terrestrial beings? Science fiction movies depict aliens in all sorts of fantastic forms and you may be saying that is spurious but then there are lots of biblical descriptions of angels being quite different to humans such as having wings, for example.

Please take particular note that Paul opened that statement with the admission that what follows is how it seems to him. In other words it is speculative. This, in itself, hints that Paul’s writings do not constitute divinely inspired Scripture (ref. Chapter 12). So if it was OK for Paul to make such speculation, it must be just as OK for us to. Thus there is every possibility that the whole Earth and everything in it may be just one episode in a long and ongoing line of God’s creations and, since Paul said that we are ‘at the end of the procession,’ it is obvious that he considered the possibility that God may have made other humans in other parts of the vastness of space before He made us. Where in The Bible does it say that we are the only work that God did? And, more to the point, where does it say that we shouldn’t contemplate such a possibility of further developments? Are we to assume that God simply ‘gave up’ His creative work after His seventh day of rest? If that is the case, then we can hardly be described as being in His likeness! Because its none of our business, The Bible doesn’t mention what He did on the eighth day, does it? God and Son(s) Ltd are in the real estate development and construction business.

There is, however, one aspect to all those movies about aliens from outer space which is very wrong. That is the way that, in the vast majority of cases, they are hostile. I’m sorry to disappoint all you sci-fi enthusiasts but the moviemakers have got it all wrong! If one day we do meet other inhabitants out there in the vastness of the universe, it is us who will be the ‘bad guys,’ because it was our planet that Lucifer was banished to! We have the unique and dubious distinction of inhabiting the only place in space where evil exists which is why, as Paul so succinctly put it, we have been made a spectacle to the whole universe.

Author Eric Von Daniken, in his book ‘Chariots of The Gods’ postulated that, throughout history, the Earth has been visited by extra-terrestrial beings and he cites numerous plausible ‘evidences’ to support this theory. In a time less tolerant than the present, religious zealots accused him of heresy because, amongst those ‘evidences’, he cited biblical passages (i.e.: Ezekiel 1) which he suggested could have been primitive descriptions of encounters with spacecraft. In his defence Von Daniken wrote that, even if his ideas were ever to prove correct [remember Copernicus], at no time did he ever suggest that the extra-terrestrials were not, like us, created by a supreme creator who, as far as he was concerned, WAS GOD.

I echo that sentiment because, as I have stated, I personally firmly believe that the Earth WAS created and did not get to where it is today spontaneously. Why are so many ‘religious’ people so suffocatingly narrow-minded? They really ‘put off’ Aspiring Christians! And, when you think about it,

ANYTHING

which puts off even one aspiring Christian

HAS TO BE THE WORK OF SATAN!

The enormity of creation is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Its total absence of limitations precludes the true understanding by the finite human mind of two of our own words—namely infinity and eternity. Quite simply, it is impossible for us to envisage anything with no end—ever. If you can’t agree with that statement, then, as you look into the sky, try to rationalise the thought that, if it were possible for you to fly upward at the speed of light, you would never—ever—come to the end of space or time! Quite ‘mind-boggling’ isn’t it?

It never fails to fascinate me how there are Christians who use God’s instruction to Ezekiel when assigning him tasks to act out the then yet-to-occur siege of Jerusalem and punishment of the rebellious Israelites to cover the whole of Scripture (or, perhaps, more significantly, the bits where it suits them!).

Because he was a devout man of God, Ezekiel was selected by Him to provide graphic illustrations to the Israelites of the forthcoming fate of Jerusalem. Amongst other highly symbolic acts, God told Ezekiel, "Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the house of Israel. After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. (Ezekiel 4:4-6)

This was a specific instruction to Ezekiel at that time and yet there are people who interpret any mention of days in prophesies elsewhere in the Bible to also signify years. They glibly say, "Ah! But those days are ‘prophetic years." By what authority they do this I have yet to discover but, at the same time, it is those very people who will vehemently denounce me for my use of Psalm 90:4 in this chapter to suggest (please note: NOT to categorically state—only suggest) that God’s time scale is different to ours and that Biblical and scientific theories concerning creation and development (‘evolution’) of the animal species can be compatible.

In case anyone has the idea that I am trying to answer the questions discussed in this chapter, let me state right now that this is not the case. I have made some (I hope) rational suggestions. As Paul wrote, this is how it seems to me. All I want is for people to open their minds, consider ALL the alternatives and form their own conclusions. Only God and the heavenly hosts know the answers and we must wait until we meet Him face to face to learn the truth and I think some might get quite a surprise!

16

ARE THE DEAD REALLY DEAD?

 

T

he Bible tells us about a vision which the prophet Daniel received in which he saw the second coming of the Messiah. More of this vision is told in chapter 23 but the following verses are particularly interesting in the context of this one.

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

‘The Ancient of Days’ here refers to God and ‘one like a son of man’ to the coming Messiah, Jesus. This passage from Daniel can be directly related to the account in the book of Revelation of the thousand-year reign of Jesus. I’ve already quoted part of it, but it bears repetition.

"And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be set free for a short time.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:1-6)

These prophetic Scriptures clearly show that Jesus will be GIVEN the full authority and EVEN THE THRONE of His Father’s Kingdom for a thousand years (usually referred to as ‘The Millennium’). So, in simple human terms, it could be said that, right now, Jesus is the ‘Crown Prince’ of The Kingdom of Heaven. Isaiah referred to Him as ‘Prince of Peace.’

For someone to be given something, there must be a giver. So by whom will Jesus be GIVEN His authority?

By His Father, God Almighty—that’s by whom!

—Which further makes it obvious that He cannot be God Himself!

However, there are three other things that should be noted here.

1. Those who remained faithful to God and Jesus will be priests and reign with Jesus when He returns,

2. That the faithful dead will ‘come to life’ at the START of the millennium and,

3. The unfaithful dead will wait in their graves or, if they were living when Jesus returned, where they were struck down ‘by the breath of His mouth and the splendour of His coming’ until the END of the millennium.

Note that, whilst the prophecy of second Thessalonians 2 only refers to ‘the man of lawlessness,’ the previous chapter makes it clear that the same fate awaits his followers. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day that He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) and, in Isaiah 11:4 we read, He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

Note that those struck down will not have been buried because there will be no-one to bury them since the faithful living will have gone with Jesus to the place He said that he was going to prepare for them. Simon Peter asked Him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." (John 13:36) "In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am." (John 14:2-3) and, as Acts 1:9-11 tells us, that place is heaven.

He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven."

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was also given a prophecy in which the Lord Almighty said: "At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywherefrom one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground." (Jeremiah 25:33) and Revelation 19:21 tells us that all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

There are those who misguidedly believe that Jesus’ millennial reign will be on the earth but as I’m sure anyone who has read these passages will agree, this clearly is not so.

It also clearly illustrates that there is no such place as ‘Purgatory’ where the souls of dead people go to be tormented until Jesus returns. Again, that is just another creation of a corrupt and self-aggrandising church system to instil fear of disobeying the church hierarchy into the rank-and-file peasantry of the feudal middle ages who, unlike people today, were largely illiterate and couldn’t read biblical truth for themselves. As it is, this has become so well-established in the minds of sincere believers over the centuries that, even though literacy is much greater today, they still happily go along with what they have been taught from birth and cling to those entrenched teachings. Rather than diligently study their Bibles and learn truth they implicitly trust their religious teachers and are indoctrinated with lies! One of the principal reasons for this sort of teaching is so that the church can sell ‘indulgences’ and thus swell their coffers. If this sounds incredible that’s because it is! Yet, even today, there are millions of truly sincere believers who think that, because they paid the price prescribed by some priest, called a penance, into the church, that their sins are forgiven. As I have shown, salvation does have a price, but it isn’t monetary—there’s a lot more to it than that!

Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father WHO SENT ME draws him, and I WILL RAISE HIM UP ON THAT LAST DAY." (John 6:44)

This is why I wrote that there is no such place as purgatory where the souls of dead people go to be tormented until the day of resurrection. Quite simply, everyone who has experienced the first death is sleeping in their grave until Jesus comes to raise them up. If it were otherwise then, if you think about it,

there wouldn’t be any need for Jesus to return

to resurrect them!

If earthly dead people are alive somewhere then they are already resurrected aren’t they? The Bible clearly tells us otherwise! They’re patiently waiting—and I don’t think they have very long to wait!

Paul wrote;

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, WHEN HE COMES, those who belong to him. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changedin a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) We’ll look at this verse in more detail shortly.

Even before Jesus’ death and resurrection his close friend Martha knew when the faithful would rise to be in heaven. Speaking about her brother Lazarus who had died four days earlier, Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection AT THE LAST DAY." (John 11:23-24)

On this occasion Jesus raised Lazarus from death back to mortal life—although he would eventually die again and lie in wait, as his sister had said, for the resurrection at the last day. Until then the dead will sleep so that they will have no awareness of the passage of time. It will be as though they had blinked!

When someone dies, you will often hear their Christian friends say, "He’s gone to be with the Lord." If a person believes that they go anywhere other than their grave when they die then, basically, they don’t believe Jesus’ promise to return and resurrect them do they? And, if they don’t believe Jesus’ promises, then they are not really a Christian, are they? What they should be saying is, "He’s gone to sleep in wait for the Lord." This is what the wisest man of all time wrote about them in God’s Word.

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6)

Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both; As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

And, even higher than King Solomon was God’s personal angelic messenger who, describing the time of the end to Daniel, said;

"But at that time your peopleeveryone whose name is found written in the bookwill be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:1-2)

As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then AT THE END OF THE DAYS you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. (Daniel 12:13) We’ll look at two intervening verses from Daniel in chapter 35 which will introduce very recent developments that will amaze you, but, for the time being, this makes it pretty clear that anyone who has died the first death is totally inactive until the day that Jesus spoke about when He referred to Himself as God’s Son (not God!) and said;

"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:25-29)

So if, as King Solomon wrote, the dead will never again have a part in anything that happens under the sun, you may be asking, "What about when the good are raised up to live at the last day? Surely they will have a part again then." and you would be quite correct. But it wont be under the sun. "How do you figure that out?" you may well be asking.

As always, Scripture provides the answer. In the description of the New Jerusalem we are told;

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:23) There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. (Revelation 22:5)

Since Revelation 20 and 21 clearly state that the New Jerusalem will not come down from heaven until the end of the millennium this also proves that Jesus’ thousand-year reign will not be on the earth.

Religious ‘tradition addicts’ will try to tell you that, when you die, your spirit is what goes to heaven, basing their statement on Ecclesiastes 12:7 which says, "....the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it."

This is just another example of people reading words that are not there. The Bible does not say that YOUR spirit goes to heaven—it says THE spirit returns to God. The dust and the spirit referred to are explained in the second and third chapters of the Bible where the creation and condemnation of man are described.

"The Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7 [KJV])

To Adam He said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return," (Genesis 3:17-19)

The Hebrew word translated as ‘breath’ in Genesis 2:7 is n`eshamahhm;v;nÒ — and that in Ecclesiastes 12:7 (and Genesis 1:2) as ‘spirit’ is ruwachj'Wr. —and each is interchangeable. The Strongs Hebrew Lexicon gives exactly the same English definition to both words—spirit or breath. Thus, from this description of man’s creation, it can be seen that the formula for human life can be compared to a mathematical equation.

Body (made from dust) + spirit (breath given by God) = living soul

Therefore, when the breath (or spirit) leaves the body, the living soul simply ceases to exist and the body, as the Scripture clearly says, returns to the ground it came from so that reciprocal equations would read:

Living soul - spirit breath = body

Body - spirit = dust (i.e.: nothing)

So, contrary to popular belief, mankind does not possess an immortal soul and, in fact, the Bible tells us GOD [is] the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who ALONE IS IMMORTAL and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

This also proves that the Holy Spirit cannot be a separate, independent entity. God’s Spirit is the means by which He is anywhere and everywhere. It is how He is ‘all things to all men.’ Since Jesus ascended to sit at His Father’s right hand the Holy Spirit is God’s ("the Firm’s") means of communication with humanity. Throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit is referred to very rarely as "He" but rather as "His Holy Spirit" or "the Holy Spirit," and on the few occasions that it is, study of the syntax easily shows that "He" refers to the owner of the Spirit rather than the Spirit as a separate entity. There is no doubt that the Deity in Its full complexity is beyond the understanding of mortal man and it therefore follows that, much more important than comprehensive understanding is acceptance by faith. Nonetheless, it is my personal belief that, whilst Yahweh and His Father are two quite separate and independent entities (albeit in total agreement and harmony with each other), the Holy Spirit does not have, for want of a better way of putting it, a ‘mind of its own.’ Now it is true that Jesus said that everything He did and said was what His Father gave him to do and say, but the very fact that He was able to make that statement indicates that he chose, because of His unswerving love for His Father, to behave that wayin other words, it wasn’t automatic. Put another way, quite simply, it is my belief that the difference between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is such that the Holy Spirit is totally dependent on the Father so that, if He ceased to exist (which is, of course, impossible) then the Holy Spirit would also cease to exist. However, in that same event, the Son would not cease to exist.

The Greek word pneuma which was discussed in chapter 13 is the same as both the Hebrew words n`eshamah and ruwach and this is why I write that I believe the Holy Spirit is not, as trinitarians believe, a separate and independent entity. Rather, it is the wisdom of our Creator, ‘breathed’ into His true followers. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19) Thus, the spirit which enlivens our bodies is the breath of life given to us by God at our birth and which returns to Him when we die whilst the Holy Spirit is the breath of God Himself which is not essential for the animation of the human ‘dust body’ but without which that animation is meaningless. God will happily breathe His Spirit into whoever makes their life a commitment to Him and seeks first His kingdom and His righteousness but He will not force it down anyone’s throat if they don’t. Note that the following quotation begins with the word ‘IF.’

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

It was only a short time after God breathed the breath of life into Adam in the Garden of Eden that Satan started the lie—the original sin—"You will not surely die."—the lie that he is still telling the whole world! Except that now he adds all sorts of riders to his lie. "You will not surely die," and then, depending on who he is speaking to, "You will go to purgatory." or, "You will be reincarnated." or "You will at last be reunited with all your dead friends and relatives." or, "You will reach that wonderful day when you will go to be with Jesus." etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! Friends, does any of this sound familiar?

Let’s all go to a séance and hear from dear departed Grandma. She did not surely die—she is somewhere out there in the ether waiting for us to summon her to give us a message from beyond the grave. But wait a minute! The dead know nothing—so how can Grandma give us a message? Well, you tell me!

"But," you may say, "People all around the world are seeing the Virgin Mary and receiving great reassuring messages from her." Well, of course Satan isn’t going to have his counterfeit give depressing messages, is he? When the car salesman demonstrates a sleek sports car does he tell the prospective buyer how heavy it is on fuel or that new tyres cost three times as much as regular ones? No he doesn’t! He tells him how fast it accelerates from 0 to 100; he talks about the twin carburettors and the amazing cornering ability, anti-lock brakes and the body-contoured seats and generally extols all the good features. Well, Beloved, Satan is a very good salesman. One only has to look at how successfully he has sold all his counterfeit religions to see that!

And much as this may disappoint her fans, even if she were still alive somewhere, Mary isn’t a virgin any more. In case you forgot, Jesus had half brothers who were fathered by Mary’s husband, Joseph. Since those people who claim to have seen Mary also claim to be Christians, it should follow that they accept the Bible as God’s word—and God said that the dead no longer have a part in anything.

Beloved, whom are you going to believe? There can be no fence-squatting here. God said, "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you WILL surely die." but Satan said, "You will NOT surely die!" Will you eat the forbidden fruit and accept the serpent’s lie, or will you join me in denouncing any teaching which says that the dead are anything other than, as Daniel wrote, sleeping in the dust of the earth?

There are sixty-six places in the Bible where death is referred to as ‘sleep.’ Unfortunately these days, death is viewed by many as being terminal but, as Revelation 20 tells us, the second death in the lake of fire is what’s terminal. Earthly death is merely a doorway between mortality and judgement.

Personally, I look forward to earthly death (in God’s time—read Ecclesiastes chapter 3 sometime.) because I know that existence on the other side of that doorway when the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, (1 Corinthians 15:54) will be so much better for those who love God and Jesus, repent of their sins and make a sincere effort to keep God’s commandments. Then the saying that is written will come true:

"Death has been swallowed up in victory."

"Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?"

(1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Where the Scripture says that the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, you may be wondering exactly what ‘the imperishable’ is. Paul anticipated that question earlier in the same chapter of his letter to the Corinthians.

But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" (v.35) Paul starts his answer to these questions by stating that they are foolish, which I feel was a bit hard. In verses 47 to 49, He writes, The first man [Adam] was of the dust of the earth, the second man [here meaning Jesus] from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples assembled in the upper room following His resurrection, They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have," (Luke 24:37-39) From this, we can see that Jesus’ heavenly body—as compared to the earthly body he took on when He became human—looked just the same. The disciples instantly recognised Him. He even asked them for something to eat and was given a piece of broiled fish. It is clear, therefore, that ‘the man from heaven’ was not an ethereal being who floated around on a cloud playing a harp as some have been led to believe. So how does the imperishable heavenly body differ from the perishable earthly body?

Returning to 1 Corinthians 15 we read where Paul says that the raised body believers will receive bears little resemblance to the dead one which, as he put it, was ‘sown’ like a grain of wheat in the ground yet comes up as a tall green plant and then goes on to say,

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.

The body that is sown is perishable, [that is: - when it was alive it suffered sickness and infirmity and eventually died, got buried and rotted]

it is raised imperishable; [it will never suffer or die]

it is sown in dishonour, [for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God]

it is raised in glory; [the resurrected body will not know sin]

it is sown in weakness, [man sold out his power to Satan when he chose to follow him]

it is raised in power; [that God-given power will be restored]

it is sown a natural body, [it is made from earthly materials – dust]

it is raised a spiritual body. [at the resurrection, we will be like Jesus]

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (vs. 42-44)

Thus we can deduce that, although our new spiritual body will look the same and be easily recognisable to friends and loved ones in the Kingdom of Heaven, it will be dramatically different is every other respect, which is obviously what Paul meant when he wrote, "I declare to you brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (v. 50) Since Scripture never contradicts itself, it is obvious that the ‘flesh and blood’ Paul was referring to in this statement is the perishable flesh and blood body as we know it, which, as medical science knows, starts to deteriorate even before it reaches maturity. The ‘new’ body will be made of a ‘different’ flesh and blood which will last forever!

Just think of it, no more colds and toothache, no more animosity and fighting, where the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:3-4) Don’t you want to be a part of all that?

Knowing what is in store for the obedient who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus it is puzzling why so many professed Christians weep and wail and show so much sadness at funerals. Where the dead person was a true Christian, surely those remaining should be happy that their loved one has been saved from the dreadful suffering of the great tribulation to come before Jesus’ return (we will look at this in chapter 21). But then I suppose that, if the one who had died is dearly loved and, even though he had accepted God’s invitation, had ignored His instructions, those left behind must feel distraught in the knowledge that they may never see their loved one again.

Jesus told a story about such people. You’ve possibly heard it before but I ask you to read it again and, as you do, just imagine that you are staging a play and have to cast the characters of the invited guests. Think about your own family and friends and see which part each would be most suited for. The king in the story is, of course, God and, for this exercise, I want you to take the part of the king’s head servant.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

But they paid no attention and went offone to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:2-14)

The originally invited guests represent those people who have heard the gospel message but chosen to ignore it, even though it is repeated again and again. They cannot claim ignorance of it and, as the story shows, they even ridicule and mistreat (spiritually kill) the messengers who do everything they can to convince them. As prophesied by Jeremiah, it is their bodies that will litter the earth when the final invitation is given to the world.

The guests who were invited in their place are those who didn’t even know about the wedding until the last minute. They couldn’t go if they didn’t know—or, as Jesus explained, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44) They represent those who have died and never kept God’s commandments or worshiped Him because they had never heard of Him—people like tribes in remote parts of the earth who lived and died before missionaries ever reached them. Such people never had the chance to know their Creator and so He will ensure that they do get a chance. This will, in effect, be their first chance. Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of this today is the removal from public school curricula in most so-called Christian countries of any sort of Bible studies so that young people—tomorrow’s adults—unless their parents teach them at home, grow up with little or no knowledge of their divine Creator. It also includes those who, whilst sincerely thinking and believing they were serving the true God, are members of apostate religions claiming to be Christian and yet, by their unscriptural behaviour, are actually serving "the god of this world." The leaders and teachers of those religions will be condemned at the first resurrection but, because He is so loving and mercifully kind, those who erroneously trusted them will be given a second chance by God. However, if you are such a person reading this book, you can never again say that you didn’t know. Since they were also God’s creation and, since He is fair and just, it would be totally incongruous with a loving Creator for those ignorant of His truths to be consigned to the lake of fire without even having a chance.

In 1 Corinthians 6:2, Paul wrote, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" and that is what I believe is meant in the passage I quoted at the beginning of this chapter where it said that those who remain faithful will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. "The world" that will be judged by the saints (which includes you if you keep your side of God’s deal with you) are those who, through no fault of their own, did not know God. Like the wedding guests rounded up from the street corners who learned about it from the king’s servants, they will be given the chance to make the vital decision having been told the truth by those who really know it. Then they will be judged by them based on what that decision is.

Nonetheless, the Bible says that the way they lived their first life will be evident in their ‘second chance’ life. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. (Revelation 22:11) This is what is represented by the man who was improperly dressed. Even though, in Palestine in Jesus’ time, it was customary for special festive garments to be provided by the hosts for wedding guests who could not afford their own, this man had refused to wear them. Jesus provides a robe of righteousness for whoever will follow Him—but we have to put it on! If we refuse, the outcome is told in the final act of the play of Jesus’ story. God invites many (everyone)—but not many come, and of those that do, few dress properly (that is, obey His commandments) and are chosen. Jesus will say, "I never knew you." (Matthew 7:23) and they will be thrown out into eternal darkness.

Those receiving this ‘last chance’ that do accept God and His Son and repent of the sins they committed in their lives will become citizens of God’s kingdom and the relatively few that diligently followed God’s word rather than religious traditions and found the narrow gate during their earthly lifetime—"small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:14)—represented in the story as the king’s servants—will be their kings and rulers when the new earth is established at the end of the millennium. These are the people that the 24 elders surrounding the throne in John’s vision of heaven sang about to Jesus, the Lamb, "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10)

Here lies great reassurance for those who have lost babies and young children to untimely death. It is my belief that those little innocents will be resurrected and allowed to grow to maturity during Christ’s millennial reign so that they will have every opportunity to learn about God and what is required of his servants. Then they will make their personal choice that will determine their fate when the throne of heaven is restored to God. This is examined in chapter 20.

The "wicked" that will be destroyed and left unburied on the earth (or in their graves) are those who had those chances during their lifetime to accept their Creator and Saviour and His Father, but chose not to. That also includes those who said that they accepted them but chose not to follow their commandments— having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5) — in other words, lawless sinners!

So, to summarise, there will be four distinct types of people when Jesus returns:

1. Those who accepted God (the Deity represented by Yahweh) as their Creator and Jesus as God’s (the Father’s) Son and as their Saviour and obeyed God’s commandments.

Referred to by Jesus as "the elect."

These will be the priests, judges, and rulers with Christ described in Revelation and are those Jesus alluded to in His parable of the talents when the master said, "Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" (Matthew 25:23)

2. Those who accepted God as their Creator and Jesus as their Saviour but did not obey God’s commandments.

These people fall into two distinct categories, the first of which will get a second chance and the other which wont!

a. Because, without, like the Bereans, checking the validity of those teachings in the Scriptures, they sincerely but erroneously trusted their religious leaders who taught lies.

b. Because, even though they knew the truth, chose to ignore it, either for the sake of family or church ‘harmony’ or because keeping God’s commandments demanded too great a change in their lifestyle.

3. Those who, because of the time at which they lived, their geographical location or impaired mental capacity to understand, never heard the gospel and, therefore, did not know about their Creator or Saviour.

Since they never even had a first chance, they will get one when they will be judged by 1 (above) on how they lived and how they respond to the truths told to them. The latter will determine whether they live in the new earth or die in the lake of fire.

4. Those who knew about God and Jesus and who knew Their requirements of Their followers but consciously and deliberately rejected some or all of them. This includes followers of apostate religions who clearly know God’s truths (2b above), agnostics, atheists, Satanists and occultists as well as those who have ‘defected’ from Christianity to other religions.

These people will not be given a second chance. (ref: Revelation 22:11, above) They will be consigned directly to the lake of fire where the time taken for them to be finally destroyed will depend on the severity of their transgression of God’s law.

It does not, however, include sincere followers born into other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism etc who, whilst they may have heard about God and Jesus, have, because of their upbringing, believed Christianity to be false. They fall into category 3.

I guess it’s wilful sinners who fear death! I don’t! Do you? So, Beloved, on the subject of keeping God’s commandments, all those churches that are teaching that we don’t have to any more since Jesus died and rose in defeat of sin are not following Scripture are they?

THIS IS JUST ANOTHER LIE WHICH THE ENEMY HAS RAISED UP ‘FALSE PROPHETS’ TO PEDDLE TO THE INNOCENT MASSES!

"IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE,

OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS."

 

17

NO EXCUSES!

 

J

esus’ close friend and disciple John wrote of God:

"If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, HIS SON, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:6-7)

That is, of course, REPENTED SIN, and John goes on, in the next chapter, to make that quite clear. (Please take not of the "ifs" in these verses. That small word makes a tremendous difference to how you read them!)

"We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. ANYONE WHO SAYS, ‘‘I KNOW HIM," BUT DOES NOT DO WHAT HE COMMANDS IS A LIAR, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:3-6)

—or at least try to—AND THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT AT ALL THAT JESUS WALKED ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENTS—ALL OF THEM!

There are numerous references to this in The Bible and some are quite specific. Before Jesus paid the price for sin the penalties—the ‘curse of the law’—for breaking the commandments were, as I have shown, clearly spelled out. Here’s another example which covers a multitude of sins:

"Anyone who sins deliberately, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken His commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him." (Numbers 15:30-31)

Paul wrote, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘‘No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:11-14)

Note the use of the words "our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ" which again, indicates Jesus’ membership of His Father’s family.

Herein lies the difference between then and now. No longer do sinners have to be cut off from their people. Jesus has told us to love them—which, if we do, means that we should, rather than cut them off, share with them and do everything in our power (our God-given power!) to show them their errors and bring them back into righteousness. The greatest ‘tool’ in that power is The Word of God which, you will recall, is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be THOROUGHLY EQUIPPED for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) If they listen, no more will their guilt ‘remain on them’—Jesus has borne it for them.

"No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:9)

But, if anyone refuses to accept that Jesus is the Son of God or EVEN IF THEY DO, BUT CHOOSE NOT TO OBEY GOD’S COMMANDMENTS, as the following passages show, there is nothing more that can be done for them and they will receive judgement and punishment on their own behalf.

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS LEFT, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." (Hebrews 10:26-27)

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace." (Hebrews 6:4-6)

So when we see someone—especially a fellow Christian—deliberately sinning it is our duty as Christians to unstintingly do our utmost to ensure that they are turned from their transgression as soon as possible. Don’t think that you might do something about it tomorrow—the sinner might die or Jesus could return tonight—and then it will be too late! Does this fit you right now?

Don’t be like Pharaoh. He had already backed down on his word to let the Israelite people go to the wilderness to worship God and so God had sent a plague of frogs upon the Egyptians. They were everywhere—in their ovens and their beds—they were everywhere! Just imagine it. So Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and told them that if they prayed to God to take away the frogs, he would let the people go to offer sacrifices.

Moses said to Pharaoh, "I leave to you the honour of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile."

"Tomorrow," Pharaoh said. (Exodus 8:9-10)

Tomorrow! Think about it—if you had nasty, slimy, croaking frogs all over your home, why on earth would you want to spend even one more night sharing your bed with them? Wouldn’t you have answered Moses, "Right now!"? But Pharaoh was the king and he wasn’t going to appear to grovel to anyone—not to Moses and not to his God. Wasn’t he like the man who, full of arrogance, said, "I’ll repent at the eleventh hour." and died at ten-thirty! Beloved, the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, "In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."

I tell you, NOW is the time of God’s favour, NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And OVER ALL THESE VIRTUES PUT ON LOVE, which binds them together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:12-14)

Note the inclusion in the above passage about forgiving. Jesus warned us that we must not hold grudges against anyone.

"When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25) and "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36)

This is, of course, particularly well known from its reference in the Lord’s Prayer—

"Forgive us our trespasses [offences] as we forgive those who trespass against [offend] us." (Luke 11:4)

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)

There are Christians who confuse God’s forgiveness with His love and say, "God’s love is unconditional, so I’m saved by His grace and forgiven." The first part of that statement is absolutely right but what they fail to realise or understand is that, as Jesus’ words make abundantly clear, God’s forgiveness most definitely is conditional. It is there for everyone but that’s another part of God’s deal—as the above Scripture clearly points out, they have to fulfil their side of the deal to receive it.

I am so glad that Our Lord said ‘if you do not forgive men...’ Satan isn’t a man—he’s a serpent! And he’s unforgivable!

Paul’s advice: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (Ephesians 4:26) is also worth remembering. Have you ever noticed how someone can suffer all sorts of trauma and harbour great bitterness toward a person who has (in their eyes) wronged them? They lose sleep and their health deteriorates as they chew their fingernails and mutter to themselves whilst that person goes happily through his or her life quite oblivious to the anger and hatred being felt toward them? What’s the point? Who’s doing the suffering? Certainly not the alleged offender. If the problem can’t be sorted out, agree to disagree but if an amicable solution simply cannot be achieved, quietly disassociate yourself from the offender — but DON’T HARBOUR A GRUDGE.

Jesus said, "I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:27-31)

Our Saviour wasn’t advocating passive submission to oppressors when He said this. Paul expressed it this way:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary; If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

So pray for your oppressors and for yourself and leave God to deal with them. He doesn’t miss anything and, HE will judge your alleged oppressor (and you) absolutely fairly and as the Scripture says, HE will repay. But if you don’t immediately deal with something lovingly, or more particularly, someone who has upset you, it will only fester into a nasty sore that will ultimately destroy YOU.

It’s interesting how the breaking of some of God’s laws are still criminal offences whilst others are not. As I have shown, these days, murder is still subject to severe punishment whilst things like homosexuality, adultery and even prostitution aren’t even against the law in many so-called Christian countries!

But that doesn’t change God’s view of it.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

In the light of these quotations from Paul’s letters and particularly Hebrews 10:26, I am very concerned for persistent sinners—especially those dear to me—i.e.: those people who know The Lord and cannot claim ignorance of His teaching and of right from wrong.

Paul went on to say that even such sinners can turn away from their sin—in other words, REPENT—and still achieve salvation through Jesus but he made ‘no bones’ whatsoever about the fact that anyone who says they are a Christian but continues to sin without repentance is, as John so openly stated, A LIAR who will LOSE THEIR INHERITANCE! (But then maybe they believe the serpent who said, "You will not surely die!")

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But IF YOU ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT, YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that THOSE WHO LIVE LIKE THIS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE HIS SINFUL NATURE, FROM THAT NATURE WILL REAP DESTRUCTION; THE ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE THE SPIRIT, FROM THE SPIRIT WILL REAP ETERNAL LIFE. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 5:16 - 6:10)

From all this it should be now clear to you that, where there were once many and varied penalties for lawlessness—the curse of the law—there is now only one,

— DISINHERITANCE —

the ‘second death’ — the loss of a sinner’s salvation.

If someone is living in a homosexual relationship or having an ‘affair’ with a married man or woman then they are certainly not living up to Jesus’ command to love their neighbour!

That is most definitely NOT what He meant!

Their neighbour is also the family or spouse who are being hurt by their actions. If adulterers really loved their neighbours, they would do everything they could to help them to enjoy a harmonious married life—not satisfy their own selfish lust or try to prove that they can do a better job!

There are people who are living wilfully sinful lives who have attended various churches in the hope that they will find one that will countenance their sinful behaviour so that they, in turn, can make a pathetically futile attempt to justify it before God. However, if they are truly servants of the Lord, the pastors of those churches should be following the ‘Instruction Manual’—The Bible. It is NOT NEGOTIABLE!

These days we even see some churches conducting homosexual ‘marriages.’ Their pastors try to justify their actions by saying that they are following Jesus’ instructions by not judging, but loving their neighbours. They need to read the wisest man of all time, David’s son, King Solomon’s advice in the book of Proverbs!

"My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths are crooked, but she knows it not. Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel, lest strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich another man’s house.

At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘‘How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife? For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly." (Proverbs 5)

And this is how his father, King David asked God to help him to quit his sinful habits:

"God’s laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light. God’s laws are pure, eternal and just. They are more desirable than Gold. They are sweeter than honey, for they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them.

But how can I ever know what sins are in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. And keep me from deliberate wrongs; help me to stop doing them. Only then can I be free of guilt and innocent of some great crime." (Psalm 19:7-13 [TLB])

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about a member of their congregation who was committing the sexual sin of incest.

"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the one who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this sinner over to Satan, so that his body may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother [or sister] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked from among you." (1 Corinthians 5)

This may, at first, seem to be a direct contradiction to Jesus’ warning; "Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1 KJV) although He did go on to say, "In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1)

But then Paul did go on to write to the Corinthians, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge the angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody amongst you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? (1 Corinthians 6:2-5)

What Paul is saying here is that Christians, not civil courts, should judge Christian doctrinal disputes. The problem seems to be that most Christians think their particular doctrines are right and anyone else’s are wrong—which is why Jesus said that those who judge will be judged in the same way that they have judged. Therefore, if you aren’t prepared to be judged as severely as you judge others, then don’t judge others!

This might, at first, suggest that pastors who tolerate sin among their congregations (like those conducting ‘gay’ marriages) can expect to receive a like measure of tolerance from God on the Day of Judgement. But what Paul was concerned about was the fact that tolerating a deliberate and public sinner amongst them was placing the whole church at risk.

"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." In other words, one rotten apple can—and will—turn the whole boxful rotten if it isn’t removed and thrown away. Handing such a sinner ‘over to Satan’ may seem like a pretty un-Christian thing to do but, in the final analysis, is it better that only the rotten apple is lost or the whole box? Clearly Jesus says that it is. "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:30)

Blatant sin amongst God’s people, the church body, will eventually corrupt them all—particularly when they see it going unpunished. This is why Paul seems so judgemental of the Corinthian church’s attitude towards the sinner amongst them. By telling them to hand him over to Satan he was hoping that the experience of being in Satan’s hands would bring the sinner to a realisation of just what the wages of sin are like before he died and it was too late. The reference to the destruction of the sinner’s body could well be an allusion to what Satan did to Job when he was covered from head to foot with boils. This terrible experience, far from turning Job away from God, only served to give him a stronger understanding of his heavenly Father’s unending and perfect love.

If the churches that blatant sinners attend permit them to go undisciplined, they are not following God’s NOT NEGOTIABLE directions. As I have written, no-one is without sin, we all struggle against it every day, but what this Scripture is talking about are those people who deliberately go on sinning without any feelings of guilt and make no effort to repent. Such people have made a conscious decision to follow Satan’s path and, having done so, can no longer expect fellowship with God or His people. The popular expression to cover this is "You can’t have your cake and eat it!"

I once spoke to a pastor who actually suggested that it would be better if a deserted husband who sincerely loves God and Jesus didn’t attend his church since his wife and her lover were going there! I couldn’t help wondering if, had he lived nearly two thousand years ago, that pastor would have been a Pharisee and voted for Barabbas to be released!

Jesus has a clear message for that pastor and his church. This is what He said to John when He gave him guidance for the infant Thyatiran church before presenting him with graphic visions of His return and the ‘Day of Judgement.’

"These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." (Revelation 2:18-23)

I cannot help but wonder if the pastor I spoke with, who has a TV ministry through which he, no doubt, influences many Aspiring Christians, is even familiar with these Scriptures! The Bible has a warning for such people: -

"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1)

Remember also what Paul wrote about them masquerading as angels of light in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. (chapter 7)

The same pastor told me that, although she was a very dear friend, I shouldn’t be concerned about the adulterous woman because she and her lover were attending his church and she had confessed her sin and been ‘slain in the Spirit’ and thus her salvation was assured.

If such a person hears the Word of God preached in church and then goes home and gets into bed with her lover then that person must be in no doubt that they aren’t sinning in ignorance.

Because I don’t believe for one minute that this pastor and others like him intend to misguide those who come to them seeking the Lord, I pray every day to God the Father, in Jesus’ precious name, for their eyes to be opened—not just for the sake of wilful sinners who their false teaching deceive into believing that they are saved when they are NOT—but for their own sakes too. They are also my neighbours. Scripture is very clear on this.

Shortly after speaking with that pastor I learned that my adulterous friend had been rushed to hospital having been bitten by a poisonous red-back spider. God must have heard my prayers believing Psalm 91 and was merciful on this occasion so that she received treatment in time to ensure that the effects of the bite were minimised because, since she was persisting in her adultery and the rejection of her husband, had she died that day, she would, without doubt, have been despatched straight to ‘the second death’ on Judgement Day.

Because such wilful sinners have apparently made their choice and because they are my neighbours, my heart bleeds for them. I can only hope and pray that someone will give—or, at least, show them a Bible and that the Lord will direct their attention to such words as Hebrews 10:26 and those I have quoted of Paul’s and these of Peter’s:

‘‘Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus." (Acts 3:19-20)

Repentance doesn’t just mean being sorry.

It means GIVING UP COMPLETELY whatever sin it is that is being committed.

Every human being ever created has been given a free will and only they can accept the forgiveness, ‘divine amnesia’ and salvation that Jesus bought for them. God will never force it upon them, nor will Jesus, Even though it may be the ardent wish of your soul, you cannot force it upon someone you love—although you can claim it for them by prayer of intercession through the Holy Spirit. In praying through the power of God’s Holy Spirit you are, if you’re in the service of God as commanded by Jesus, empowered to break through Satan’s evil influence on your loved one. But you aren’t their judge, and shouldn’t want to be!

All that YOU can do is pray for them! The rest is up to themselves and to God.

The homosexual seeking a ‘church marriage’ doesn’t have to indulge Satan’s perversion, the adulteress doesn’t have to continue to suffer and cause suffering to the husband who loves her, because Jesus has bought them freedom from Satan’s wicked use of those who want to serve God. (Remember, they are going to church!) Here again though, the problem is that, if they have put their trust in the teaching of their pastors (as should be right and proper), they probably don’t believe that they need to claim that freedom! They, and many like them, possibly even think that, because they acknowledge God and Jesus, they are quite safe in their iniquity.

The Scriptures make it crystal clear that they are not!

This is how Satan is now working to destroy the church. Once upon a time he worked with and through his own—atheists, pagans and heathens, but God’s people simply rejected that and worked even harder to ‘convert’ Satan’s followers. They even had quite a measure of success and, of course, this didn’t please him very much at all!

So he decided on a change of strategy (remember, he is the craftiest of all God’s creations). He figured that, by beguiling God’s followers into adopting practices like the teaching that committed Christians are ‘above the law,’ and will not surely die, he will be more successful in his destructive work. It was prophesied by Jesus and echoed by Peter, John and Paul (and others)—so why are so many churches and preachers letting Satan fool them with his ‘inside job?’

Actually it isn’t really all that ‘new.’ Even within a few years of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection a sect of ‘believers’ known as Nicolaitans were preaching that, since Christians were ‘saved by grace’ they were, therefore, no longer subject to God’s laws. They claimed that all their sins, not just past ones but even those not yet committed, were forgiven by Jesus sacrifice. This is what Jesus said about those misguided people after He criticised the fledgling church in Ephesus;

"But you have this in your favour: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, WHICH I ALSO HATE." (Revelation 2:6)

Beloved, we are into the subtlest of spiritual warfare. The devil and his ‘double agents’ are tenaciously using religion to undermine the people of God.

Don’t be fooled just because your church teaches that it is ‘the only true religion.’ The Pharisees honestly believed that they were right, but this is what Jesus said:

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:10-14)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." (Matthew 23:27-28)

Most of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel has a very pertinent message for many of today’s religious leaders but the sad thing is, they all think it is addressed to ‘the other fellow!’ But, praise the Lord, we have all still got the ultimate weapon with which to defeat Satan—GOD’S WORD! As He tells us,

"No weapon forged against you will prevail and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and this is their vindication from me." (Isaiah 54:17)

If you aren’t sure about something which someone who is, supposedly, a servant of God’s tells you, do not delay in checking it out in your Bible. It is the infallible Word of God. And, if your study shows you that they are wrong, show them what the Scripture says and then, if they don’t accept correction, think very seriously about changing churches, because your minister or pastor will have shown himself to be in Satan’s power and, far worse, unwilling to reject it!

The apostle John told a story about another woman who was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. There are, no doubt, many women cheating on their husbands (and husbands on their wives) who may be feeling some sort of affinity with her.

But have they followed Jesus’ command at the end of this story?

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them,

‘‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her,

‘‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

‘‘No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and SIN NO MORE." (John 8:3-11)

We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things while done in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10) Persistent sinners who worship the Lord and think that they are already redeemed by the blood of Jesus should read what He, Himself had to say about that!

And I’m sure they’ll agree, it doesn’t leave any doubt whatsoever does it?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY THOSE WHO DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23) "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to." (Luke 13:24)

As Yahweh, Jesus told the prophet Jeremiah what He will do to sinners:

"I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen—your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution!" "And if you ask yourself, "Why has this happened to me?"—it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. Can the Ethiopian [Negro] change his skin or the leopard it’s spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." (Jeremiah 13:26-27, 22-23)

Anyone familiar with the specific Scriptures which are part of this book, must know that deliberate and consistent sinners are quite definitely not doing the will of their heavenly Father. One way we can intercede with God for such people is by asking in Jesus’ name for their eyes to be opened to their devastatingly miserable condition and then they may realise what a terrible fate awaits them and ask for God’s deliverance. We can also bind Satan’s power in Jesus’ name, but the ultimate responsibility is obviously their own and, without them taking it, it will be a lot harder.

Also, anyone reading this who trusts in Our Lord and is having difficulty quitting their own sin, should pray for their own deliverance from Satan’s diabolical trap, and seek the prayerful support of others. If enough voices combine to cast the possessive demons from them, I am sure that God will not allow them to stay. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray this with confidence in His promise.

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it WILL be yours." (Mark 11:24)

Solomon exhorted men to heed their Father’s commands and then had some words for that woman’s adulterous lover:

"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished." (Proverbs 6:23-29)

On the subject of ‘infant Christians’ Jesus said, "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck." (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42)

"When tempted, no one should say, ‘‘God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and SIN, WHEN IT IS FULL GROWN, GIVES BIRTH TO DEATH."(James 1:13-15)

There can be no misinterpretation of these passages—they are straight to the point! —NOT NEGOTIABLE!

Jesus has already died to pay for our salvation. He can’t do it again, —and remember, He is God’s ONLY begotten Son to have walked this earth—which is why Hebrews 10:26 says that NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS LEFT. Once we have knowledge of the truth, then we must either make every effort to end our relationship with the devil and his ways or abandon all hope of meeting our Lord other than very briefly on the Day of Judgement! As the owners of a free will, the choice is ours and ours alone and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s no choice at all!

18

ACCEPT YOUR GIFTS

A

 

far wiser man than me whose name I bear once wrote,

Praise the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all His benefits

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

Beloved, is there anything hard to understand in these words? Yet in spite of everything the Bible tells them, there are still Christians who say that their afflictions are sent by God to strengthen them and, therefore, it is not God’s plan—or will—for them to be delivered of those afflictions. Well, whether you are an Aspiring Christian or someone who has been dedicated to the Lord for years, I have to tell you that such a belief is nothing more than a pile of garbage!

God’s will is

perfection for all His creations.

Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)

Of course, not one of us will achieve this until we enter His Kingdom but He certainly won’t do anything to prevent us from getting as close to it during our earthly life as possible. That’s Satan’s prime objective and when you let him succeed in it is when those afflictions come. The Bible is chock-full of passages telling us that it is God’s will for the righteous to prosper and for them to enjoy good health. For example, Yahweh said:

"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to OBEY ALL THE LAW my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then YOU WILL BE PROSPEROUS AND SUCCESSFUL." (Joshua 1:7-8)

My son, DO NOT FORGET MY TEACHING, BUT KEEP MY COMMANDS IN YOUR HEART, FOR THEY WILL PROLONG YOUR LIFE MANY YEARS AND BRING YOU PROSPERITY. (Proverbs 3:1-2)

Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)

When you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The Lord Your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord Your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, IF YOU OBEY THE Lord YOUR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDS AND DECREES that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30:2,3,5-10)

Take particular note in the above passage of the words used to refer to YahwehThe Lord your God. Doesn’t this clearly show, as I wrote in Chapter 7, that, as Yahweh, Jesus was the God of the Old Testament?

Once again, you will also notice that the prosperity He promised is qualified by an "IF." That little word makes His offer conditionalit’s a deal—and it sounds like a very good deal to me. And take note that Yahweh wants us to honour Him with our "firstfruits"the very best of what we receive, not whatever leftovers we can spare after we’ve satisfied all our own desires! In the next chapter we’ll take a closer look at what God (the deity) requires of us. If we do our bit He’ll certainly do His! He’s longing to!

Has it ever occurred to you why God will do these things? You have, no doubt, met people who call themselves Christians who say, "Oh, I don’t want to be rich. I’m not greedy. Greed is sinful! All I ask is that God provides enough for my basic needs." Well, Beloved let me tell you right now that such statements are the height of gross selfishness! Let’s look at the essence of what those people say in a different way. They most likely would never think of it like this, but what they are actually saying is, "Oh, I’m only interested in looking after my (own) needs. I’m not the least bit interested in helping anyone else but myself!" What never seems to cross their mind is that, if they were rich, they would be able to follow Jesus’ admonition to feed the poor and help the needy. If they were fabulously rich they could help millions maybe! So don’t be selfish and think only of your own needs. Think rich and be ready to be one of the greatest philanthropists the world has ever known. But do your best to keep your philanthropy as anonymous as possible. In the next chapter we’ll take a closer look at giving and see what Jesus said about keeping it secret in Matthew 6.

Most people (including many who say they’re Christians!) will tell you that prosperity is something that they get as a result of hard work and good luck. Well, I have to tell them that, first of all, luck is a word derived from Luciferso I don’t want anything to do with it! And second of all, this is what Yahweh said;

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for IT IS HE who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

That first bit is just what King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon said, and look what happened to him! The story is told in Daniel, chapter 4so why not pause reading this book and open up your Bible and see how it could relate to you. It’s quite an eye opener.

 

Now notice here that God gives us the ability to prosper in confirmation of His covenant with Abraham and his seed when He told him, even though his wife Sarai was well past child-bearing,

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3)

Poor people don’t have a great name and, if they head a great nation, they can’t be much of a blessing materially to their subjects without first prospering! WE are Abraham’s seedif not by blood, by adoption, because ALL PEOPLE ON EARTH will be blessed through him. The Bible says so! Hallelujah!

No doubt there will be readers who will say that ‘blessing’ isn’t necessarily wealth. In the next chapter I will be looking at God’s rebuke and advice given to the prophet Malachi, but there is one small piece of that Scripture which is also significant to the present subject so, since it well bears repeating, I’ll mention it here too.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (Malachi 3:10)

The tithe part is what we shall discuss shortlybut take particular note that God tells us to TEST HIM!

"Oh! Brother!" you’re probably saying, "My Bible says, in Deuteronomy 6:16, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’" and Jesus even quoted this verse to Satan when he tempted Him in the wilderness."

Yes it doesbut it doesn’t finish there. It goes on to say, "as you did in Massah." —and, in Exodus 17:7, we learn that the testing which God said not to do was saying, "Is the Lord among us or not."—in other words, testing (doubting) His omnipresence, not his provision for us. But take special note in the passage from Malachi that God says He will pour out so much blessing that there won’t be room enough to store it. I remind you of what God said to Jeremiah and Solomon:

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

"With me are riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity." (Proverbs 8:18)

So don’t go around saying it isn’t God’s will for you to prosper because it simply isn’t true! But as long as you say it’s trueIT WILL BE! Because the Bible also says that you shall have what you say!

Having said all that it is only fair to warn you that this coin has two sides. Here’s what will happen if you don’t fulfil the conditions specified by God for you to receive the prosperity He has for you. Let’s go back to Deuteronomy 8 and see what else God says. You will see that this also starts with "If."

If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods [money, for example] and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)

One of the most awe-inspiring pieces of literature ever written is this passage from the book of Isaiah.

"See, my servant will act wisely; He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at Him—His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness—so will He sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of Him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; THE PUNISHMENT THAT BROUGHT US PEACE WAS UPON HIM, and BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and THE Lord HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open his mouth. From arrest and judgment He was taken away.

And who can speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

Sometimes an atheist will decry the Bible as nothing more than a book of fictional legends and fables written by men but the way Isaiah’s prophecy is written one might well think that he wrote this passage as a report after Jesus’ crucifixion and when you consider that it was written almost 700 years before Jesus walked upon the Earth the accuracy of it is nothing short of incredible. If this passage is not a clear and unequivocal testimony to the fact that all Scripture is God-breathed I don’t know what is! (Although, if you’re still not convinced wait till you get to chapter 35—if that doesn’t do it, nothing will!)

The words ‘by His wounds we are healed’ make it quite clear that, by His Father’s will, Jesus paid the full price for us to have total healing. Yet you will still hear people who claim to be Christians praying for healing and, almost apologetically saying, "...if it is your will, Lord..."

Perhaps the most common expression heard, used by both believers and those who have absolutely no personal relationship with God or Jesus, is the one so often tacked onto the end of an expressed righteous wish "...God willing."

God IS willing!

The Bible is full of other testimonies to His willingness for His creations to be ailment, trouble, strife and poverty FREE! When people say "God willing." in relation to those blessings they are throwing insulting doubts in His face.

When He [Jesus] came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I AM willing," He said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. (Matthew 8:1-3)

When a Roman centurion asked Him to heal a valued servant who was dying, Jesus said, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed." This Roman knew that entering a Gentile home was definitely not acceptable for a Jew which is why he did not expect or ask Jesus to go to his servant but, as he said, "just say the word." When He heard this, Jesus was amazed and said to His followers,

"I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." (Matthew 8:8, 10-13)

Beloved, take particular note here that Jesus did not say, "Go! It will be done just as I say."—He said it would be done as the centurion believed! In this simple little story lies, perhaps, the most significant message in this book. It is repeated many times in different biblical quotations but I believe, nowhere more succinctly than here.

"It will be done just as YOU believe it will."

When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because, if you doubt, you are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. You should not think you will receive anything from the Lord; you are a double-minded man, unstable in all that you do. (adapted from James 1:6-8)

NO BELIEF — NO RESULT!

Anyone who has read their Bible will know that, throughout the three-and-a-half years of His ministry, Jesus healed the sick and infirm, gave sight to the blind, fed multitudes with next-to-nothing, changed water into wine, drove out evil spirits, walked on water and even raised the dead AND, as reported by John, He said,

"I tell you the truth, ANYONE WHO HAS FAITH IN ME WILL DO WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING. HE WILL DO EVEN GREATER THINGS THAN THESE because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." (John 14:12-13)

And later on, after He had risen from the dead, just before He ascended into heaven He also said,

"And these signs will accompany THOSE WHO BELIEVE: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; THEY WILL PLACE THEIR HANDS ON SICK PEOPLE AND THEY WILL GET WELL." (Mark 16:17-18)

One of Satan’s particularly evil tricks is the way that he has succeeded in deceiving millions of Christians into disbelieving Jesus’ own words that

ANYONE WHO HAS FAITH WILL DO

EVEN GREATER THINGS!

So why do some preachers piously stand in front of their flocks and tell them "Miracles aren’t for today, —that was only for the disciples." and sew Satan’s rotten seeds of doubt? Perhaps they haven’t noticed that, in the quotation above, it says these signs will accompany THOSE WHO BELIEVE! And perhaps they haven’t read the bit of their God-breathed Bible which says, "I THE Lord DO NOT CHANGE." (Malachi 3:6)

WELL, I’M A BELIEVER! WHAT ABOUT YOU? Oh! My beloved brothers and sisters, when Satan’s servants, masquerading as servants of righteousness, tell you that your promised miracle isn’t possible, use Jesus’ own words to them:

"O, Ye of little faith." (Matthew 6:30) "Get thee behind me, Satan!" (Matthew 4:10 [KJV]) and follow the Bible’s instructions.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful AND EFFECTIVE. (James 5:13-16)

Ask your church’s appointed servants of God to anoint you and lay hands on you in Jesus’ name and bring God’s healing—or WHATEVER you genuinely NEED (not just WANT)—to you. If they refuse, or do it for the wrong reasons (like their own glory), find another church where they do follow the ‘instruction book.’ Remember that God hears our requests provided that they are according to His will.

There are lots of sincere Christians out there in the world who are, unfortunately, negative thinkers. They read in their Bibles where Peter, the disciple who Jesus told would be the rock on which He would build His church, wrote about Jesus:

"He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

Then they drop their eyes and say, very hesitantly, "Well, I believe that, but I don’t feel any better—I’ve still got this pain." (Notice that nasty little ‘but’ word again. The doubters always use it—and they often follow it with the word ‘I’!) Jesus said,

"BELIEVE—AND IT’S YOURS."

But they believe Satan’s symptoms rather than Jesus’ word.

I have spoken to Christians who say, "You can’t make demands of God and say ‘Please heal me.’—it doesn’t work that way." and, in the first part of that statement they are quite right. However, what they fail to understand is that the word ‘please’ is actually an abbreviation of ‘if it pleases you,’ so, when that word is used the request is certainly not a demand. So, in that respect, saying, "Please heal me." is still not correct since the Bible has already told us that it does please God for us to be healthy. More correctly, I believe we should be more aware of His promises to us as defined in His Word, claiming them and saying "Thank you for healing me."

Claiming God’s promises

is NOT making demands!

Just as long as we believe those promises—

By His wounds YOU ARE HEALED

Not you WILL BE healed!

Not you COULD BE healed!

Not you MAY BE healed!

The God-breathed Scripture says

"you HAVE BEEN healed!"

Get it? Past tense. It’s already happened! But as long as someone allows Satan’s symptoms of suffering, sickness or infirmity to fool them into believing they aren’t healed, THEY won’t BE!

Jesus said "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU." (Matthew 17:20)

Beloved, is Jesus’ statement hard to understand? Nothing means NO THING! The last six words are not cryptic or veiled, they are translated correctly, so what sort of challenge should some stupid virus or deformity be for true faith? We’ll look at faith in more detail shortly.

You MUST BELIEVE that it is God’s will for you to be sickness-free. You MUST BELIEVE what Isaiah wrote—He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. Until you do, you can’t appreciate healing without being double-minded because, as James wrote, that man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:7)

Another David parable. The scene is a major golf tournament—The ABC Motors Classic Masters. A brand new luxury car is offered by the sponsors as a prize to any player who gets a hole-in-one. It’s parked on a plinth in front of the clubhouse for all to see. The TV cameras beam the image of an international player (we’ll call him Arnold Norman) teeing off at the fourth. The cameraman expertly follows the ball’s flight to the green, where it bounces once and trickles into the hole. The commentator excitedly yells, "It’s in! It’s in! Fantastic! What an amazing stroke! Arnold Norman has just become the owner of a beautiful brand new ABC sports car!" and the producer immediately switches between shots of the car, close-ups of Arnold’s beaming face and action replays from several angles.

Now, Arnold is still out on the course playing golf with another fourteen holes to go. Nobody has given him any ownership papers or keys. Nothing has been signed. What would he think if arrived back at the clubhouse and the sponsor didn’t deliver on the promised prize? The thought of such a thing happening never even crossed his mind. He’ll just spend the rest of his game euphorically looking forward to getting into HIS new car. In his mind he had fulfilled the "IF" of getting a hole-in-one and already accepted the promised reward. Not for one second has he doubted the honesty of ABC Motors. So why do people who call themselves "Christian" doubt God’s honesty?

It is interesting how just about everyone who apples that title to him or herself has no trouble believing the Bible where it tells them that their name is written in the Book of Life. They rejoice in it—and so they should—Jesus died for it! But have any of them ever read the Book of Life? Has anyone even seen it? No! They haven’t! They believe it by faith. So why don’t they equally strongly believe the Scriptures telling them that God’s will is for them to be prosperous and sickness free? Matthew 15:6-9 provides the answer where Jesus said "...you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." They go out of their way to find reasons why they shouldn’t be prosperous or sickness-free.

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

Some people think this applies to money—and it does! But that’s not all! It says you will be made rich in EVERY way—and that includes spiritual and physical health and happiness as well as prosperity. It also says that He (God) supplies the seed (His Word), so plant the healing seed of God’s Word in your mind right now. If you don’t plant the seed how can you reap the harvest? And, let me assure you, God’s Word will leave you in no doubt that IT IS HIS WILL for you to be healthy!

Jesus told the parable about the farmer who sowed seed and:

Then Jesus said to them, "Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them." (Mark 4:13-15)

Isn’t that exactly what has happened to God’s words about His will of healing? As soon as you’ve read those words they are a threat to Satan. As I have written, if you don’t read them (i.e.: you’re not a Christian), you’re no threat to Satan and so he will take comparatively little notice of you. But, once you’ve taken God’s word on board in your life, Satan the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10)

So what else does Yahweh’s word say on the subject of healing?

He said, "IF you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, IF you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)

Notice the condition which Yahweh put on His Deal here. OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS or NO DEAL! So what happens to those who don’t obey?

Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. (Psalm 107:17) And, as James said, you only have to break one!

Sin started with Adam and Eve. They allowed Satan into human life and, along with death; he brought sickness, infirmity, poverty, anger, envy, greed, lust, hatred and everything else that spoils God’s wonderful creation. If God had wanted us to have all those things He would have provided them in the Garden of Eden—BUT HE DIDN’T!

Adam and Eve chose rebellion. They chose to follow Satan instead of Yahweh, their Creator. What do YOU choose? Bad health is the gift of Satan. Yahweh’s gift is good health. Poverty is the gift of Satan. Yahweh’s gift is prosperity. Friction and animosity are the gifts of Satan. God’s gift is love. The ONLY powers greater than Satan’s are those of God and Jesus. (That, by the way, is what the Bible means when it says they are one.)

So, whilst Jesus defeated Satan at His resurrection, until His return, the world is still under the power of Satan because Adam gave him the authority over himself and all his descendants. It is up to each individual to reject that authority and enforce Jesus’ authority in its place. It isn’t automatic. We have to do it. If that makes no sense to you, just look around you. Has Satan been banished from the earth? NOT YET! But you can banish him from your life by virtue of the power given to you through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

JESUS! The name at which every knee shall bow—including Satan’s. In that Name you can claim your health and prosperity. You have the authority to kick Satan out of your life. Jesus said:

"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:18)

Bind Satan right now, loose Jesus’ healing and be well. During his entire ministry on earth Jesus never once refused to heal anyone who came to him. Why would He be any different now? He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)

But you have to let Him!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

To fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (Matthew 8:17) So, if you’re sick, why isn’t He carrying yours right now? I’ll tell you why.

Because you don’t believe what the Bible has told you.

Satan the thief has stolen the word away from you.

Probably some ‘religious tradition addict’ has told you a story about how Paul had ‘a thorn in his flesh’ and, even though he asked God to take it away, God refused. Religious tradition teaches that Paul’s ‘thorn’ was sickness—some say poor eyesight, but this is what the Bible says:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Now that’s interesting isn’t it?

A messenger of Satan!

God didn’t send Paul his thorn at all! Satan did. In case you didn’t know, God doesn’t use Satan’s message service—He has his own, and it works fine! But you have to be tuned into the right channel! Nevertheless, why did God refuse to send Satan’s messenger packing? Paul continues:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Please note here that FOUR TIMES Paul’s ‘thorn’ is referred to as a weakness—NOT as a disease. So don’t let Satan’s disciples try to trick you into believing that God left Paul in sickness—because the Bible doesn’t say so! And the ‘thorn’ didn’t seem to slow Paul down, did it?

Then there are sick people whose friends say, "God is punishing you." Job’s friends said that—and they got well and truly put in their place! (Since Job’s story takes up the whole book which bears his name, I will leave those readers who want to study it to do so sometime at their leisure.)

The only time God inflicts such punishment is when He previously warns that He will. This is what is sometimes referred to as cause and effect or "The IF—THEN principle."—IF you persist in doing wrong THEN I will punish you. This is simply God being a good parent. A good human parent doesn’t just lash out and punish their child without first instructing kindly and warning what the consequences will be if the child disobeys. God is no different!

So when friends tell you that the Bible is full of stories about God inflicting all sorts of horrendous punishments on people, just tell them that He only did so as a last resort. God is good and His mercy endures for ever and ever. (Psalm 136:1 KJV)

Sickness isn’t God’s punishment—it’s Satan’s reward! God doesn’t hand out diseases and infirmities to those who love and obey Him. That’s Satan’s line of business—and, sadly, he has a great sales team and lots and lots of customers. Do you want to be one of them? If you do then all you have to do is disobey God’s commandments and Satan will pay up promptly! He’s craftier than that though! Before handing out his diseases, he shows you how to ‘have a good time’ by disregarding the commandments (which were, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, given for your protection). He’ll show you how to have lots of ‘other gods’ —like liquor or drugs (which will cause all sorts of sickness and eventually kill you), or adultery (which will probably give you AIDS or some other sexually transmitted disease and eventually kill you), he’ll show you how to cheat in business or steal so that you can get more of the great god Money and afford more of those activities. He’ll make sin as attractive as he can—he will tell you "You will not surely die!"—but, eventually, HE’LL KILL YOU—because the real wages of sin is death!

And he won’t care a jot—because he will have scored you as a win on his game card. And God will weep at the loss of one more of His precious children at their own choice.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. (James 5:1-5)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid, what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Another traditional ‘old wives tale’ says that God gets glory from His people’s suffering because they are such wonderful examples of loyalty in spite of their afflictions. There is no glory in suffering—not for the sufferer and, therefore, not for his heavenly Father!

"You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13)

God has planned for the day when He will say to His beloved Son, "Go now. The time is come for our people to be delivered. Harvest time is here." And Jesus will assemble every single angel in heaven to accompany Him to raise up the faithful with new, perfected bodies to join Him in the air.

THEN God will get his greatest glory.

Certainly not from his people’s infirmities and sicknesses! Take yours and lay them at Jesus’ feet and accept the healing that is YOURS "BY HIS WOUNDS." If your church doesn’t follow the teaching of James 5:13-16, then find one that does!

Mind you, it is hardly likely that God will be able to deliver your gift of healing if you are flat out abusing your body with tobacco, alcohol and various other poisons like marijuana, heroin, cocaine and speed. This can be likened to the warranty you get when you buy a new appliance for your home. If you study the wording of any those documents you will see that it only applies provided the product is used as, how and for the purpose for which it was designed. For example, if you broke your electric carving knife by sawing wood with it, you could hardly expect the manufacturer to replace or repair it. God’s guarantee of health is just the same so if you are doing things with your body which guarantee sickness, you can’t really expect Him to fix you can you, because you have voided the manufacturer’s warranty. But if you treat your body right then it carries a lifetime guarantee! (There’s that word "if" again!)

In the meantime though, don’t forget what else Jesus and others said about false prophets working miracles—turn back to page 78 at the beginning of chapter 8 and read the passage from 2 Thessalonians again—be very watchful and, above all, as Jesus said, HAVE FAITH!

There’s nothing more impressive than someone who has been a cripple for years leaping out of his or her wheelchair and walking or a blind person receiving his or her sight. Such miraculous happenings are very convincing. They encourage those who love the Lord to believe without question every word that the preacher performing them says and non-Christians are brought into their fold when they see them. Such events often take place at huge evangelistic rallies with lots of very choreographed ‘Christian entertainment,’ TV coverage and, to use a current ‘buzz-word,’ ‘hype.’ They are great ‘sales-getters.’ Be very wary of preachers who shout and yell and perform great miracles, for God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Satan is very crafty—just remember, he’s very capable of giving out diseases and infirmities and he can cure them just as easily. He knows that, if he makes someone suffer and then uses one of his servants "masquerading as an angel of light" to cure them with incredible signs and wonders he has a great tool which will deceive even the elect—if that were possible.

That includes YOU, beloved,

and YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT!

When Jesus performed His miracles the Pharisees said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:24-28)

So, bearing in mind what Jesus also said about true believers doing even greater things than He did, how do you figure out who’s side every evangelist who hits town is on? I can only echo what I have already said—check out everything each one does and says with God’s Word and, if you find discrepancies, beware.

As a quick initial check, see if those evangelists keep ALL the commandments, if they don’t, then you must ask, "Which ‘god’ are they really serving?" Then see who actually gets the glory. Sure, most of these preachers will do a lot of yelling "Hallelujah" but then, when the media reports of their rallies are released, there will be all sorts of wonderful stories about how the great faith healer "so-and-so" completely healed this and that person of some terrible afflictions—with little or no mention of the real healer. Although, as I have warned, if the preacher isn’t totally aligned with Scripture, the "healer" in such instances is more than likely the impostor masquerading as an angel of light! The result is that the evangelist is the one who gets all the glory.

Again, this is nothing new. When Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra on their missionary journey, they experienced a similar problem.

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, "Stand up on your feet!" At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. (Acts 14:8-20)

You will notice in this account that it says the people of Lystra "saw what Paul had done." Now, in this instance, what Paul had done was act as God’s instrument and, when the people praised him and Barnabas and wanted to make sacrifices to them, they tore their clothes in great anguish because they wanted no glory. These days there are some ‘evangelists’ who happily receive and acknowledge the praise (standing ovations) of their followers and they literally bask in the glory that is heaped upon them. Their retouched pictures are everywhere. They certainly don’t tear their designer suits or dresses and they very certainly don’t decline the vast amounts of money that their ‘disciples’ pour into their coffers by way of monetary ‘sacrifices.’

Whilst Paul and Barnabas "had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them," most modern ‘showmen’ evangelists have absolutely no difficulty accepting vast sums of money—the modern equivalent of the animal sacrifices of biblical times—which are more often than not openly solicited so that they often become millionaires as a result!

Their rallies are extensively promoted as ‘free’ since they practically never carry an admission charge with a footnote on advertisements advising that there will be the collection of a ‘freewill offering’ at each session—which usually means three times a day—thus ensuring that ‘believers’ come well prepared. They truthfully announce that all but ‘expenses’ are used for ‘the Lord’s work’—except, of course, when one examines the doctrines they preach and compares them with those taught by Jesus and the early apostolic church, one is constrained to ask "Which ‘lord’?" They tell TV interviewers who have the audacity to ask such questions that ninety-nine percent of the money collected is used to pay costs such as the venue hire (usually a huge stadium or auditorium) and the elaborate sound systems and television equipment with the balance going into the expansion of their own and others’ ministries. There are usually no ‘staff’ costs because the organisers recruit local followers to act as registrars and ushers on a voluntary basis—and invariably get more volunteers than they need. The interviews are usually well rehearsed to give the impression that the evangelist is just a servant of God, but when it is realised that in a single week-long ‘revival’ convention it is not uncommon for over a million dollars to be collected, the ‘paltry’ one percent that the preacher gets is $10,000! Ten rallies a year and that’s $100,000! If time for preparation is allowed, that’s not bad for about half-a-year’s work! When this is added to all the other income that tape and book sales as well as donations brings in it is not surprising to learn that there are some preachers who are extremely wealthy. Most of them employ very sharp accountants who disguise their incomes from everyone but the tax man (and sometimes, even from him!)

Have you ever noticed how those big evangelist meetings are always held in relatively affluent cities? You never seem to see one in poverty stricken areas (where God’s word of encouragement is most needed)! Have you ever wondered why? The closest parallel to some of these ‘shows’ is a rock concert, and sometimes the similarity between attendees is too close for comfort!

When they went on missions, Paul and his companions travelled long and arduous journeys on foot or by donkey, they suffered hazardous sea voyages and stayed at believers’ humble homes. Many modern evangelists travel the world first-class—often in their own corporate jets and chauffeur-driven limousines and stay at the very best resorts and hotels. Paul and his associates didn’t even have homes and spent a lot of time in prisons. They worked as tentmakers and other trades in order to feed themselves. Modern evangelists live in homes that are more like palaces and eat the best of gourmet foods (often those advised against by Yahweh as unclean!)

Having said all this, let me again stress that in so doing, I am NOT saying that every evangelist that fits the picture I have painted is a wilful charlatan. I believe that the vast majority are very sincere. Perhaps they started out with the purest of intentions but the adulation and prosperity that their natural personality brought them corrupted them so much that the Scriptures which teach modesty and restraint have become so insignificant as to be forgotten. Of course, there is no doubt that those who have consciously ‘got on the religious bandwagon’ solely to make money had better enjoy the fruits of their labour in this life, because they wont be getting another one! Their end will be what their actions deserve!

People love a ‘show’ and Satan knows it so he provides people masquerading as angels of light to give them one!

Needless to say, since He knew the end from the beginning, Jesus had something to say about that.

"Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)

And, to the self-satisfied Laodicean church He said,

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)

Beloved, Satan IS the craftiest of all the ‘animals’—don’t let him suck you into his cunning traps. Get your ‘act’ right with God, determine to keep ALL His commandments and make every effort to follow up on that determination, stop abusing your body with poisons and then, in the quiet privacy of your room, thank God for His perfect provisions, believe that they are yours, commit your total life to Him—AND REJOICE! Because, by Jesus’ wounds,

YOU HAVE BEEN HEALED!

19

GIVE GOD HIS SHARE

C

ontinuing on where Yahweh said to the prophet Malachi, "I the Lord do not change." we read:

"So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty.

Before we examine the content of this verse there is something else that I want you to think about. Remember back in chapter 13 I suggested that there are numerous places in the Old Testament where the placement of quotation marks is erroneous? In the above verse, and six more times in the following verses, you will notice that the last four words have not been included within the quotation marks by the translators. However, when it is understood that this is actually an account of Yahweh (the preincarnate Jesus) speaking to Malachi on God’s ("the Firm’s") behalf, it becomes obvious that they should be. Correctly rendered, I believe that a paraphrase of this should read: "My Father says, ‘Return to me and I will return to you,’ because, ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from the decrees I gave to you and have not kept them." When viewed this way you can see how the whole of the following passage should be within the primary quotes with the actual words spoken by God the father to His Son to say to Malachi in secondary quotes.

"But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the Lord Almighty. ‘‘Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the Lord Almighty.

"You have said harsh things against me," says the Lord. "Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you? You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’"

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name.

"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the Lord Almighty." (Malachi 3:6 -4:3)

The reference to ‘robbing’ God of tithes in this passage of Scripture is referring to the fact that, since the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it, (Psalm 24:1) it must follow that everything we receive comes from our Creator, one tenth of what we have should be given to the work of helping those in need and proclaiming His Kingdom. When you think about it, our heavenly Father is a lot more generous than most governments isn’t He? Does the government of your country let you keep ninety percent of everything you earn—your harvest?

Remember the story I told right at the beginning of chapter 3? You will recall that you were re-employed by the merciful boss when you sincerely repented of breaking the safety rules. Let’s take that story one step further. The owner of the company decides to open branches in other countries and, because he can’t be everywhere at once, appoints you as general manager of the one you work at. Now we have already seen what a generous and benevolent employer he is and these characteristics are particularly evident when he tells you that, in your new position, you will no longer be paid a set salary but instead, you will be paid 90% of whatever profit your branch makes! All you will have to do is operate as though you owned the business and simply pay ten percent of the net profit to the owner by way of mailing him a monthly cheque.

Can you believe this boss! Was there ever an employer like him? Well, YES there is! We know Him as "The Father" and the firm’s name is God and Son Ltd. This firm owns everything that exists. (It even owns you—but has given you complete freedom!) Returning to the earthly situation, everything goes well for a while and, by virtue of your business acumen, you dramatically increase the profits of your branch, thus justifying the faith the boss had in you when he promoted you. But then something very sad happens.

Someone (maybe your wife, whose name is Eve) suggests that, since the huge increase in profits is the result of your efforts, you should get more of them—totally and conveniently overlooking the fact that the increased productivity was only possible because the boss bought and paid for all the additional plant that you asked for! Then, one day, your son asks you to help him buy a car but you don’t have quite enough spare cash to give him what he needs. So, instead of sending a 10% cheque this month, you only send 5%. Again, I imagine that, by now, you have got the point of this story. So, let me ask you, if you were the boss, what would you think of the manager—yourself? How long would your patience last?

Do you show your love and loyalty to your heavenly Father by returning to Him that which is his? At least one seventh of your time and one tenth of your income belongs to God. So, if you are presently putting only five percent of your income into the church collection (or whatever other Christian charity you have chosen) you are ‘robbing’ God of half of what actually belongs to Him anyway!

Do not confuse tithing and giving. The tithe is not a gift to God—as I have written, It’s already His. ‘Offerings’ are anything over and above the basic one-tenth tithe and are an expression of your gratitude for the blessings you have received. Don’t give grudgingly as a sense of duty though—do it because you want to.

Paul likened giving to planting seed.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)

This is what Jesus said you can expect if you give generously to God’s work.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)

But He did warn, "When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:2-4)

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

In spite of the media reports of people living in poverty, in modern developed nations of the world, even the so-called ‘destitute’ have welfare to fall back on. No one needs to starve. Charitable organisations—both Christian and secular—are always available to help the unfortunate and needy. Yet when it comes to giving, some people still stop at nothing! They accept everything that their wonderful creator provides for them—and keep it all to themselves! Where do you fit in this picture?

From all this it should now be very clear that, as the Scripture says in Romans 8:12, WE DO HAVE AN OBLIGATION—but, unlike the legal one that the Israelites of old had, which carried immediate (sometimes terminal!) punishment for it’s transgression—ours is a moral one of LOVE with no immediate punishment at all.

The principal difference is that the fulfilment of our obligation is

ETERNAL BLISS!

Isn’t that worth making the effort for?

As I have written, we all sin and when friends hurt us, the burden is sometimes too great to carry alone. David had to submit his pleas to God on his own behalf because there was no one else to speak for him.

But since Jesus defeated Satan, we have an advocate sitting at the right hand of His Father ready to intercede for us and ALL WE NEED TO DO IS ASK in His name!

Expressing deep dismay over the treachery of a close friend David wrote this Psalm.

"Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert;

I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm." Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a person like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.

Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them.

But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.

God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them—men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.

My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. But You, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in You." (Psalm 55)

Doesn’t the idea of trusting your heavenly Father and letting Him carry all your burdens seem a whole heap better than trying to struggle along on your own?

From all the Scriptures I have quoted it is easy to see that only believing Jesus is the Son of God without living your life in a sincere effort to please God will not guarantee you a place in heaven. When you really think about it Jesus’ burden IS light and His yoke IS easy—unless, of course, you’re yoked into a life of sin or religious tradition and the burden of giving it up is too much for you to contemplate.

Jesus lived his whole human life of thirty-three years totally blamelessly — without spot or wrinkle — so that he would be a perfect sacrifice.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

[Then that’s just what he did! Laid down His life!

FOR YOU AND FOR ME!]

"YOU ARE MY FRIENDS

IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND."

(John 15:13-14)

Knowing His impending fate, on the night before He was crucified, three times Jesus’ humanity surfaced momentarily and He prayed to His Father,

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. YET NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL." (Matthew 26:39)

Like you and me, HE WAS HUMAN! He had the same human emotions and trepidation as anyone would have on the night before his execution. That awful night in Gethsemane was like sitting on death row! Will you show the same dedication to the One who gave everything for you? When you contemplate that, who do you think gets the best side of the deal?

When churches tell you that’s FREE — that you don’t have to earn it — they are absolutely right. But once you’ve accepted it, RESPECT IT, or it will be taken away from you.

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away! (Job 1:21)

This verse is often misquoted (what’s new!) as "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away." as people wag their finger at you accusingly. So give God His portion by sharing your blessings with those around you and don’t give Him any reason to take away the wonderful gifts Jesus bought for YOU and they are YOURS FOREVER!

Yes, Jesus’ yoke of your love, loyalty and obedience in exchange for a perfect everlasting life is indeed

A GREAT DEAL!

The greatest deal you’ll ever get on this Earth!

And you don’t have to wait for the January sales —

IT’S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW

20

WHERE WILL YOU GO?

R

eferring to the time after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus said: -

"In that day YOU WILL NO LONGER ASK ME ANYTHING. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ASK IN MY NAME." (John 16:23)

That seems clear enough to me, so why do preachers still pray to Jesus? Ignorance of The Word, that’s why! If that offends anyone I’m sorry for them, but I’m not sorry for writing it, because ultimately I’m answerable to my Creator not to them!

‘To pray’ means ‘to make supplication—to ASK’ so, if you are one of those people who prays to Jesus, rather that to His Father in His Name, then I ask you to study your Bible and pray (to God the Father Himself—in Jesus’ Name) that the scales of traditional religious deception will be taken from your eyes as they were from Saul of Tarsus’ eyes. (see Acts 9:18) He won’t let you down!

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door WILL be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)

It is, of course, perfectly acceptable and desirable to give thanks and praise directly to Jesus for what He did for us, but the Scripture clearly shows that we should not be ASKING Jesus for anything.

Almost 4000 years ago God gave Abraham a ram as a substitute sacrifice for his son Isaac. (The story is told in Genesis 22)

Then, 2000 years later,

He gave another substitute sacrifice,

His own Son Jesus,

for the whole world!

And Jesus paid the ultimate ransom price for the restoration of all the wonderful privileges—happiness, prosperity, health and even (eventually) immortality—which Adam forfeited when He and Eve were hoodwinked into disobedience to God’s instruction by Satan disguised as a serpent. Ultimate means last, final. That is why the Scripture says that no sacrifice for sin is left.

YES, JESUS PAID

THE ULTIMATE PRICE!

Hallelujah!

(That, by the way, means ‘Praise Jahweh’ in Hebrew or, in other words, praise Jesus, the Son of God.)

Jesus has already defeated the devil!

Perhaps it hasn’t fully sunk in yet (although, don’t forget, the Bible does say, in Revelation 12:12, that the devil knows his time is short)—which is why he still works so hard at corrupting God’s Word and His people. But the time is coming when it will because Jesus is coming back!

So when and where? Remember, He said: -

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, NOR THE SON, but ONLY THE FATHER." (Matthew 24:36)

Isn’t that clear enough indication that

Jesus and His Father are two quite distinct beings?

Certainly totally deserving of every believer’s appreciation, reverence, obedience and love.

This in NO WAY detracts from the divinity of Jesus.

"So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:26-31, 37-44)

Are you ready?

Well, if you aren’t, don’t leave it too long because it isn’t far off, and if you’re not ready when He does come then all you will have to look forward to is second death in the lake of burning sulphur as described in Revelation. If you’re not sure what being ready means, chapter 25 will provide some answers.

Earlier we saw in the prophesies of Daniel and Revelation how the throne of judgement will be given to Jesus. Continuing that prophesy in Revelation 20 we read: -

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:7-15)

Paul also wrote about the end.

"Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power." (1 Corinthians 15:24)

This clearly tells us that, when the time comes, (and remember, ONLY the Father knows when that will be) God (and Son Ltd) will hand over control to Jesus for one thousand years, at the end of which the final destruction of evil will take place and Jesus will hand back that control to His Father.

Occasionally someone who has studied Scripture will tell you that the passage from Revelation, which I have quoted, only mentions ONE person on the throne of judgement. They seem to think that this indicates that Jesus and His Father are the same person, but what they fail to appreciate is that the occupant of the throne in John’s vision is JESUS ALONE. We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) and Jesus foretold this: "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father." (John 5:22-23) In John’s revelationary vision God had handed the throne over to His Son for the thousand years and John was not shown where His Father was during that time (probably under the ‘need to know’ rule).

But in the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 you will notice that he says, "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty AND the Lamb are its temple." (Revelation 21:22)

BOTH OF THEM!

Another popular misconception about the fate of those who reject God’s gift of salvation is that they will live in the fires of hell for eternity. They base this on an erroneous connection between three verses from Revelation. The first is 19:20 which says, "But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur."

The second is the one from the passage I just quoted a page back which, referring to this, says, "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

And the third is 14:9-11 where we are told, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever."

Now you will notice that the first two of these three verses leave no doubt that Satan the devil, the beast and the false prophet definitely will be tormented in the lake of burning sulphur for ever and ever. That lake of fire has been prepared—as Jesus plainly said in the quotation below—for the devil and his angels—NOT for God’s beloved creation. However, God is not a despotic tyrant and, much as it will distress Him to do so, He will respect the choice of those who select the path that leads to the second death. But He will not watch them suffer for ever. The last quotation above only tells us that the smoke of sinner’s torment will rise for ever. It does not say that they will be tormented for ever. In other words, the lake of burning sulphur will still be there with smoke rising from it long after those humans who were thrown into it had died the second death and become, as the prophet Malachi said, "ashes under the soles of your feet." (Malachi 4:3)

Jesus told a parable about a king whose subjects cared for the needy and said, "The king will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’" (Matthew 25:40-46)

If they have disobeyed Him, then punished they must be—and, as we have seen, the wages of sin is death. The punishment is not the dying, it is the death, and it is that which is eternal. Where will you go—to eternal death in the lake of fire or eternal life with God? The choice as to which fate befalls you is yours, not God’s!

In all of these graphic word pictures of the end of this age, you will have noticed that the Scriptures repeatedly mentioned those who... had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.

You may have wondered what that meant.

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THE MARK OF THE BEAST

T

he time is very close, I believe, when governments all over the world will adopt a computerised identification system for all human beings which they will ‘sell’ to their citizens by including many wonderful features which will make it seem like the answer to all their fears.

These will include such things as:

¯ instantly available medical statistics ¯

¯ the total removal of cash ¯

¯ cardless financial transactions ¯

¯ document-free international travel ¯

¯ dramatic reduction of paperwork ¯

¯ no more need for licences ¯

—to name just a few.

All that a person will need is a bar-code, just like those on every product you buy at the supermarket, ‘tattooed’ on their hand or forehead, and all the tedious documentation we have become so used to in today’s bureaucratic world will immediately be done away with for ever! This personal bar-code will be totally invisible to the eye and its laser application will be completely painless, so there will be no cause for concern about pain or disfigurement.

Just imagine this:

You have just been involved in a motor accident and are lying, unconscious and bleeding in the street.

As soon as the ambulance arrives, the paramedic simply scans your hand or forehead with his laser pen to learn your name, address, medical history, blood group, allergies, next of kin, employer, insurance details and anything else relevant to the situation.

He is then able to administer safe treatment which you’re not allergic to, whilst your loved ones, your employer and your insurance company are all notified whilst you are still at the scene of the accident.

This will undoubtedly save lives.

But will it?

Here’s another real-life scenario.

You have to make an urgent business trip overseas or maybe you want to rush to visit a sick relative. All you need to do is grab your essentials and dash off to the airport. There you tell the clerk your destination and wave your hand over a scanner just like the one the checkout girl at the supermarket uses. You won’t need a passport or even a ticket. You won’t need any money, a credit card or chequebook.

Your hand will be all you need!

On the way through, you decide to buy some duty-free gifts. You won’t need to provide a ticket as proof that you are travelling. You won’t need money or travellers cheques.

Your hand will replace all these things!

The technology to make all this possible is available RIGHT NOW. Many major supermarkets already have the equipment in place to mark and to scan customer’s hands or heads. Governments have the computer hardware which will accommodate the databases to document every one of their citizens.

The decision to implement this system could be made tomorrow!

How about this?

A driver is stopped by the police. These days he doesn’t even have to be doing anything wrong. It could be just a random check—a breath test for example. As a routine part of the check his hand is scanned and immediately the police officer is alerted to the fact that the driver he has stopped is a wanted criminal!

The fugitive is promptly taken into custody and public safety is thereby instantly preserved. There will be no escape!

These are all examples of the benefits which ‘government marking’ will bring to society. The system won’t be hard to ‘sell’ to the unsuspecting masses.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

If you answered "Yes," Well, think again!

Before we get too enthusiastic about government encoding, let’s have a look at what the book of Revelation says about ‘the beast’ which will come to terrorise and dominate the world before God’s final triumph.

"He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666." (13:16-18)

"If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (14:9-11)

The Lamb in this passage refers to Jesus who, as the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of all mankind, is likened to the sacrificial lamb of old testament Israeli law.

Doesn’t sound quite so great now, does it?

"The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image." (16:2)

"But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur." (19:20)

Then, at last, as we have already seen in Revelation 20:10-15, Satan gets his! And he’s closely succeeded by his followers. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.... If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Well, Beloved, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to be one of them!

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

The mark of the beast is at hand (or forehead) and, when it comes, it will replace all cash as well as all those plastic cards so that, as The Scripture says, without it no one will be able to do business. It is already a well-known fact that governments are very keen to introduce a cashless society where all transactions are done by electronic funds transfer at point of sale (‘eftpos’).

Once the system has been ‘sold’ to the masses by extolling all those benefits I listed, and everyone has been marked and inextricably integrated, it will only be a matter of time before it is expanded to include total monitoring of everyone on earth. Imagine building into ‘the mark’ a mini-transmitter powered by the person’s body heat in such a way that the only way it can be shut down is by the person dying. Then, using already operational satellite global positioning technology, the location of anyone on earth could be instantly tracked by computer. That would add another ‘sales’ benefit: - no more lost or missing children. Author George Orwell had the idea almost half a century ago although he placed it just a little bit earlier than what will inevitably happen. But believe me, the time is very close when "Big brother will be watching you!" What was once science fiction will soon be science fact!

As Scripture which I will quote in a moment shows, the beast’s ‘front’ will be a global politico-religious government. It is my firm belief that this world power will be armed with a super-computer which Satan and his servants will control. The way the Scripture reads, by the time this one ‘New World Order’ government is ready to introduce ‘the mark’ the death penalty will have been universally restored, and, according to Revelation 20:4 the penalty for defying the new law to be marked will be beheading! Will we witness the return of Madame Guillotine? Now that would be one way for God to find out who really loves Him wouldn’t it? Maybe—just maybe—He will let Satan have enough rope to hang himself (and all those who serve him) by letting him set up such a system through his corrupt religious and political cohorts.

The Bible told us in the passage from 2 Thessalonians 2 which I quoted in chapter 8 that there will be a world political authority and warned us that that authority will arise from within the church. It’s leader is referred to as ‘the man of lawlessness’ or, as the King James Bible calls him, "The Son of Perdition" and, in the books of Daniel and Revelation as "The Beast."

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:1-8)

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead:

MYSTERY

BABYLON THE GREAT

THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES

AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH

(Revelation 17:1-5)

These passages leave us in no doubt as to who and what ‘the beast’ is and where he got his power and authority, and what he will do (and IS DOING!). Take particular note that Babylon, ‘the mother of prostitutes’ is astride the beast which is thus being controlled by her. As we shall see, this is particularly significant.

Revelation 13 tells us that "The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority." So who is ‘the dragon?’ The answer to this question is found later in the book of Revelation. "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:1-2)

We are also told that the beast came up out of the sea. What is the significance of this statement? (Remember, nothing in the book of Revelation is written just for effect—everything has a meaning.) Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages." (Revelation 17:15) Back in the formative years of the Christian church the part of the world with the greatest density of population and the largest diversity of nations and languages was Europe. So it can be seen that the beast ‘arose’ out of Europe.

In biblical prophecy a woman is symbolic of the church—a pure woman, God’s true church (see chapter 28), and an impure woman—a prostitute, an apostate or counterfeit church. A beast represents a nation or kingdom—a political power. So Revelation 17 shows us that the fallen church—referred to as a prostitute, is riding on the back of and thus controlling a political power which arose in Europe and that the rulers of nations and their subjects—‘the inhabitants of the earth’— ‘committed adultery’ with her.

What adulteries have the rulers and inhabitants of the earth committed with the apostate church? Principally they are:

1. The laying aside of God’s commandments—in particular the first, second and fourth (see chap. 2)

2. The replacement of baptism as directed by Jesus with ‘sprinkling,’

3. The presumption to forgive sin and

4. The teaching that the dead have an immortal soul which has already been resurrected and has, as it teaches in direct contradiction with Jesus’ promise to return to resurrect the dead, "gone to be with the Lord."

Next we are told that the beast had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. What is the significance of the ten horns and seven heads? Again, Revelation 17 provides the answer.

"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:9-14)

This calls for some geographical and historical knowledge—or, as the Scripture says, "a mind with wisdom." A popular description for the city of Rome is "The City of Seven Hills" because of its landscape. The five fallen kings (or kingdoms) are those referred to in Daniel chapter 7—Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, The pagan Roman empire and its successor, the Roman papacy during its 1260 years (prophetic days or, 42 months) of tyrannic apostate rule when even heads of state (with the notable exception of Henry VIII of England) bowed in submission to its iron rule. The ‘king that is’ refers to the Papacy following its receipt of ‘a fatal wound’ in 1798 when General Berthier of the French revolutionary forces entered Rome, dethroned the pope and took him to prison where he died the following year. (The prophetic accuracy of these statements is examined in more detail in chapter 23.)

The ‘king’ who John wrote is ‘not yet come’ and ‘must remain for a little while’ has now arrived. This clearly refers to the papacy since its ‘official’ reinstatement in 1929 under the Lateran Treaty signed by none other than Benito Mussolini whose dead body was, ironically, later publicly hanged upside down by Italian partisans at the end of World War II. This treaty granted the Vatican enclave in Rome absolute independent autonomy as a fully recognised sovereign state. However, full diplomatic relations with all other world states was not immediate and it was not until 1983 that a complete accord was signed by Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan of the USA and Babylon climbed astride the beast!

This brings us in this prophecy, I believe, to the present time. I stress the words "I believe" here because the whole prophecy is, as yet, unfulfilled and it is both dangerous and presumptuous to pre-empt God’s word—although, don’t forget, the Scripture does say that its interpretation ‘calls for a mind with wisdom.’

One only has to read, listen to or watch the news to see how there is a strong movement active right now in the world to establish a universal union of religion and politics—popularly referred to as "The New World Order." Is it overly presumptuous to speculate that this New World Order is the eighth ‘king’ of Revelation 17? When one sees the anarchy which is rampant throughout God’s beautiful creation it is not hard to realise that Planet Earth certainly needs a new world order of government, but this definitely isn’t it! The New World Order that is coming—and coming soon—is the one-world establishment of God’s Kingdom under the rule of Jesus. Only then will peace reign triumphant.

On each head, we are told, is ‘a blasphemous name.’ What is this name? Or, more to the point, what is blasphemy? Well, the Pharisees knew the answer.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Luke 5:20-21) So this tells us that one of the authorities given to the beast by the dragon (Satan) will be the power to forgive sins—except, of course, that this is a counterfeit—the beast (or his representative) tells the sinner that their sins are forgiven but, unless they are confessed to God Himself in sincere and private (ref. Matthew 6:6) prayerful repentance, the sad fact is they are NOT forgiven. With this thought in mind it is distressing to contemplate how many poor unsuspecting people there are in the world who sincerely believe that, because some mere mortal human told them their sins were forgiven, think that their salvation is assured when, in fact, it isn’t!

"He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, [forgiving sins—for a price!] proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4)

Who in the world is both an active head of state and an active church leader?

Who refers to himself as God’s personal representative here on earth—even to the point of being crowned with a triple crown as "King of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions."?

Who, in direct contravention of the third commandment and Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 23, is known to all his followers as "The Holy Father"—a title applicable only to our heavenly Father, God Himself?

Who changed three of the Ten Commandments?

Who, along with his servants, presumes to forgive sins confessed to them?

Who do you think the antichrist— ‘the man of [Scriptural] lawlessness’—THE [first] BEAST—is? Beloved, there is only one answer to these questions—and it’s the same for each of them.

On the mitre worn by the pope of the Roman Catholic Church there is an inscription above his forehead which reads,

VICARIVS FILII DEI

meaning ‘vicar of the Son of God.’

In Roman numerology certain letters of the alphabet have a numeric value. You’re probably familiar with them from dates or clocks. — I=1, V=5, X=10, L=50, C=100, D=500 and M=1000.

The Scripture said, This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. Using the values above, calculate for yourself the total numeric value of the title on the pope’s mitre.

His number is 666!

When Daniel has his vision of the great beast that would come at the end times he asked the angel who came to him for more information and one of the things he was told was:

He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws. (Daniel 7:25)

and, in a decretal publication of the Roman Catholic Church we find the following statements:

"The Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, EVEN THE PRECEPTS OF CHRIST." and "The Pope has authority, and has often exercised it, TO DISPENSE WITH THE COMMAND OF CHRIST." (emphasis added)

HOW DARE HE!

Beloved, can you read those quotations and fail to be outraged? As surely, as God lives, anyone who presumes to do such things end will be what his actions deserveand, believe me, it won’t be a pretty sight!

The Bible tells us that, Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God’s possessionto the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14) So it obviously follows that, if you are filled with the Holy Spirit you bear God’s seal and not the mark of the beast. The problem is that a lot of people have believed a lot of lies and think they’re filled with the Holy Spirit when they’re not. Instead they have mistakenly allowed themselves to be seduced by Satan’s evil counterfeit.

Scripture also tells us that one of the signs which ‘marks’ God’s people is the Sabbath day. You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. (Exodus 31:13)

Therefore the ‘keeping holy’ of God’s Sabbaths, including the seventh day [Saturday] is an outward and instantly recognisable sign of one who is, at least, obedient to God’s fourth commandment and, since that is the one almost universally broken by professed Christians all over the world, probably to ALL of God’s commandments. Thus, it must be agreed that Sunday worship is the outward and readily visible sign or ‘mark’ of those who do not and, therefore, ‘follow the beast.’ We’ve already had a look at some biblical answers to the question of the Sabbath in chapter 6 but the Bible does specifically mention a physical mark on the hand or the forehead.

But there are two verses in Revelation 13 that leaves anyone who can read in absolutely no doubt regarding the ultimate deception that Satan has masterminded.

Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and THEY ALSO WORSHIPED THE BEAST and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Revelation 13:5)

ALL INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH WILL WORSHIP THE BEAST—all whose names have NOT been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

Beloved, where does most worship take place? Yes! In churches! At the onset of the seventh Millennium, hardly a week goes by when we don’t read and see news reports of miraculous and wonderful ‘evangelistic rallies’ where hundreds and even thousands of wonderfully genuine people are ‘saved.’ Then, once ‘saved,’ those people flock to churches on the first day of the week, the venerable day of the sun god, and worship Satan’s counterfeit christ sincerely believing that they are following Jesus Christ—and they never even realise that they have been deceived because, rather than make a daily study of God’s word to learn the truth, they believe every word that their weekly visit to listen to Satan’s servant, masquerading as an angel of light preaching Satan’s false gospel, laid before them.

The technology to introduce the antichrist’s global identification system is in place NOW. As a relatively small island nation, New Zealand was selected as a world test-bed for eftpos and one of the very early things that was discovered was how easily clever criminals can duplicate the plastic cards. It therefore follows that a more secure system must be developed as soon as possible. The introduction of ‘the mark’ is only around the corner and, coupled with other ‘last days’ predictions that Jesus made, when it arrives, the scene will be finally set for His return.

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as [Pharaoh’s magicians] Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone." (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

Finally, we come to the inscription on the great apostate church prostitute’s head which proclaims her as ‘the mother of prostitutes.’ If this is so, who are her daughters? To answer this question we need to review the events of the middle ages when, with the arrival of the printing press, the Bible became more available to the masses and those great pioneers of the reformation realised just how much the tyrannical Roman church had been persecuting the people.

So, having reached this realisation and broken away, why did the papacy’s daughters retain their mother’s ‘adulteries?’ When he set the wheels of Protestantism in motion Martin Luther told his former masters that the new church was founded "on the Bible and the Bible only" yet it retained its graven images and Sunday as its day of worship. The answers to the questions on Sunday worship in chapter 6 are based on the Bible and the Bible only but it would seem that a thousand years of tradition was just too hard to overcome!

Now I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I believe that all who belong to the Roman Catholic Church or her daughter churches are automatically destined for the lake of fire. It is NOT THE MEMBERS of these churches who are the antichrist. The Bible is very clear on this. Whilst Jesus did say, "Watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him," He went on to say, "and if he repents, forgive him." (Luke 17:3) Scripture warns us not to criticise other people because they are God’s creation and He loves each one just as much as any other. Even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (Jude 9) Don’t forget though, by definition, to be slanderous an accusation must be untrue! I have many dear and valued friends who belong to apostate churches and I love them as my neighbours just as God loves them. In fact, I probably spend more time praying for them than anyone else! The thought of even one of them being lost because he or she wilfully refuses to accept the truths spelled out in God's word is distressing to say the least and, when I fail to bring them to an acceptance of those truths the sadness I feel for failing to adequately serve my Divine Creator would be almost overwhelming were it not for His infinite mercy.

As I wrote at the end of chapter 16, those who sincerely believed that they were following God’s plan and who never heard the word of truth, will get a second chance. But, Beloved, as I also wrote, if you have read this book this far, that doesn’t include you! You now have to make a decision! After describing the prostitute "Babylon" in Revelation chapter 17 John goes on, in chapter 18, to report the words of the angels who announced her final destruction.

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour. With a mighty voice he shouted:

"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk of the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth have committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

"Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as a queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her; death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord who judges her." (Revelation 18:1-8)

You will see a number of things in this passage but, I believe, the most significant one is that the members of Babylon (the antichrist apostate religions) are referred to by the angel—speaking for God—as "MY PEOPLE." They are NOT addressed as Satan’s People and no one should think of them as such. They are still God’s people and are urged to come out of ‘Babylon’ so that they will not share in her sins and punishment. Escape is only a matter of learning the truth and making a decision. I also believe that God will make it possible for everyone who wants to listen to learn the truth before He sends His Son to raise up those who made the right decision. And I have no doubt that in God’s Kingdom there will be many ex-Catholics, ex-Anglicans, ex-Pentecostals and ex-just-about-any-Babylonian-followers who do make that decision. But I’m equally sure that there wont be any who have heard but ignored the message to come out of her. Beloved, where are you right now? (This may be the most crucial question you have been asked in your entire life.)

The stage is well set for the whole world to witness, first, the installation of the ‘eighth king’ who is ‘going to his destruction’ and secondly, Jesus’ return. We are not told where this will occur, but it is my belief that it must be over Jerusalem—everything in Scripture points to that. So, how will people on the other side of the Earth know that He is here? Some people suggest that the answer could be, for example, television news flashes. Something happening anywhere on Earth can now be instantly beamed, via satellite into every home with a TV set in it. But I don’t think God needs that news service because just before He said that His return would be like lightning which is visible from the east to the west, (see previous chapter) Jesus Himself said,

"Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming that I am the Christ, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and THEN the end will come.

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it." (Matthew 24:4-23) Rest assured,

We will know when He arrives!

Look, He is coming with the clouds,

and EVERY eye will see Him.

(Revelation 1:7)

Take particular note of Jesus’ opening words in that passage and then look at what John was shown in his preview of the end time.

Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. (Revelation 13:11-14)

We have already seen who the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed is and that ‘the waters’ are representative of multitudes of people and nations, so it is safe to deduce that ‘the earth’ would represent a sparsely populated area. Thus, if the first beast arose from the populous ‘old world’ it follows that the second beast arose from a ‘new world’ where there were few people. This points to the Americas or Australia. As the above passage testifies, this second beast will seem to do good and the miraculous signs he will be given to do on behalf of the first beast will deceive many.

Who, then, do you suppose that this second beast is who will enforce the mark of the first beast? I have already made reference to what I believe is one of the greatest deceptions of our time—the phenomenon called the Toronto blessing—and this originated in North America. At the time of writing (mid 1998) the only nation to have ‘caused fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men’ is the United States of America when she detonated atomic bombs above the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Please note that the incendiary bombs of the Second World War and the napalm of Viet Nam did not cause fire to ‘come down from heaven’—the resultant fires only occurred after the bombs had landed.)

Can we, therefore, conclude from these signs that the second beast, later identified as ‘the false prophet,’ is North America? Let’s go a little further. The United States of America first became an independent nation in 1776—just 22 years before the papacy received its ‘fatal wound’ which was later healed—it was the land to which the Pilgrim Fathers and others like them had fled to escape religious oppression in Europe. The second beast is described as having ‘two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon’ which implies that, although giving the impression that it is as peaceful as a lamb, it is, in actual fact a domineering warmonger. The USA has—so far—very adequately demonstrated its apparent desire to promote world peace by sending its troops of war to wherever there is a disagreement between other nations. There can be little doubt that the technological lead to implement world-wide government encoding will come from the USA, AND in the last few years that country has taken a major stance on the unification of world religion—including the re-establishment of advanced diplomatic relations with the Vatican and moves to constitute universal ‘Sunday Sabbath’ observance!

While people are saying "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

As I view the present trend of world events I eagerly look forward to the day when Jesus’ statement that He will return in the clouds with a fanfare of trumpets and multitudes of angels comes true.

We occasionally see ‘street corner evangelists’ with placards reading, "The end is at hand" or words to that effect, telling us to repent and be saved because the Lord is returning any day now. I would like to know how they know, when not even Jesus himself knows, when that will be! In the passage I have just quoted from Matthew 24 Jesus listed a number of events which will precede his return. Those things include wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes—Revelation 7:14 refers to this time as "The great Tribulation." There are churches which teach that such things as the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was part of Jesus’ prophesy but I am sorry to tell them that, compared to what the world will experience before the end, that was just a ‘bump in the night!’ There have been at least four earthquakes in various parts of the world this century stronger than the Lisbon cataclysm. Another suggested fulfilment of the prophesy is the current AIDS epidemic, but again, I believe this is nothing compared to what will be experienced.

In Luke 21 Jesus describes another event which must happen before He comes again. We read, "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those on the city get out, and those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoner to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (vs. 20-24)

From this it is clear that, before Jesus returns, God’s beloved Holy City will be pillaged and its people horribly persecuted. Again, this has happened many times throughout history, but never as it will at the end of the age. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (vs. 34-36)

Beloved, is anything about Jesus’ words ambiguous?

"ALL THOSE WHO LIVE ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH."

Sometimes you hear about religious fanatics who set up communes in remote wilderness areas in the hopes that they will escape the strife which will, inevitably, be greater in the cities. If they only would believe their Saviour’s words they would know that such efforts will be futile. They may delay the day but the ultimate outcome will be inescapable by human wiles. Their only real hope is in Jesus own words:

"PRAY that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen."

And believe in faith that your prayer has been heard.

As Jesus said, "Such things MUST happen, but the end is still to come." So I can virtually promise readers that Jesus won’t be here today. However, I guess that depends on when you are reading this. You’ve possibly heard the story about the man who received a letter from his landlord telling him that the rented house he lived in was going to be demolished to make way for road expansion and advising him the required 21 days notice to clear his belongings out before the bulldozers arrived—and then he noticed the postmark was 20 days old!

All joking aside though, I do tend to believe that The Lord’s return isn’t all that far away. If the Scriptures are read the way they are written one might well assume that the "end of the age" was almost two thousand years ago—and in many respects it was. The real point is that that was the beginning of the end—what is now imminent is the great climax. One reason that I say this is attributable to the marvels of modern communications technology.

Whilst He doesn’t know when He will return, Jesus did say that He would not return until "this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14)

There can’t be many places left in the world today where the gospel has not been preached—although it is probably true to say that much of the evangelism taking place today, rather than being the gospel about the Kingdom of God, as He preached, is more a gospel about Jesus—which is only part of the true gospel. Nevertheless, evangelists travel to every corner of the Earth and radio and TV programmes purporting to be Christian penetrate everywhere. In mid 1997 the incredible ‘Towards 2000’ radio network had the ability to broadcast the gospel to anywhere in the world and is doing so in over 260 different ‘Mega-Languages!’ (A Mega-Language is one spoken as their mother-tongue by over a million people and less than one hundred million—that’s a Giga-Language.) Even if they have chosen to ignore it, who will not have heard God’s Word by the turn of the millennium?

Having said all that though, we must be aware that the vast majority of evangelists are NOT preaching the TRUE gospel—that is, the same gospel that Jesus preached—which included obedience to ALL of God’s commandments. Jesus was so accurate when He described TRUE believers as a "little flock." "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

Out of all the "revival" meetings, TV and radio broadcasts, "outreaches," literature and ordinary churches, how many actually preach the true gospel message?

NOT MANY!

As a proportion of people who describe themselves as "Christian," those who do are, indeed, a little flock—and Jesus clearly said that the gospel which would be preached in the whole world before the end would be

THIS GOSPEL

not some counterfeit laden with graven images and Sunday worship!

God’s own Word actually tells us that His Holy Spirit will reveal God’s plans to true Christians, but not to unbelievers:

However, as it is written: ‘‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him"—but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

So, on the strength of that, anyone who is a true believer in Jesus’ salvation can expect to receive a spiritual message telling him that Jesus is coming. Here’s what the Bible tells us about it. You will see that this is one of those instances I referred to where Paul refers to people who die as ‘those who fall asleep’ and confirms that they will not rise up until Jesus returns.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11)

Where Paul wrote that the Lord would come like a thief in the night he didn’t mean that Jesus would sneak up under cover but rather that He would come when we are least expecting Him. Don’t worry, if you’re a believer, God won’t leave you out! But don’t be like the five foolish virgins Jesus spoke about either.

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’

But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

‘‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 25:1-13)

In passing it is worth noting here that Jesus only said ‘the day or the hour.’ He didn’t mention the month or the year. In fact, after listing all those ‘signs of the times’ He went on to say, "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it [the end] is near, right at the door." (Matthew 24:32-33)

Another reason that I suggest that Jesus’ return is imminent is the geologically statistical fact that earthquakes registering above magnitude 4 on the Richter scale in 1995 were more than double the number in 1985. Beloved, the fig tree is not only coming into leaf, it is beginning to blossom!

Whilst it is very difficult to calculate from biblical and secular historical records, it is well known that we are very close to the 6000th year from the creation of the universe. According to my calculations, 1998 AD is the year 6000 AC (after creation). Thus 1999 will be the first year of the seventh millennium.

The Bible tells us that a thousand years are but a day to the Lord (Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8) and, in Revelation 14:13, says that the righteous will "rest" from their labour for the millennium of Christ’s reign. In this passage from Hebrews 4 that time is repeatedly referred to as ‘rest’ and a clear message given at the end of it.

Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard it did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God had said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’"

And yet His work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all His work." And again in the passage above He says, "They shall never enter my rest."

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later He spoke through David, as it was said before:

"Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." [Psalm 95:7-8]

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11)

Could it therefore be that the seventh millennium will be a Sabbath of rest unto the Lord? Will 1999 be the year that ushers in the thousand years of Jesus reign? The wisest of us knows not! But just in case it is,

stay alert!

When the propaganda telling you all the ‘advantages’ of coding starts, what will you say? As Jesus said of the Roman hierarchy that murdered Him, when that hierarchy’s successors come to murder you, will you be able to say, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). When it becomes a legal requirement to have our ‘government code’ placed on our hands I might end up on ‘death row’ because there’s no way I’ll permit it to be done to me. Beheading only lasts a couple of seconds but salvation and eternity in paradise with our divine Creator and His Son will be permanent! I know which I prefer!

Will you be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo or Jeremiah? If you are standing firmly in faith for the words of the Bible message will you be able to repeat Jeremiah’s words to those who wanted to kill him because he told them the truth?

"As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing." (Jeremiah 26:14-15)

On that occasion the people listened to Jeremiah—the next verse tells us that the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, "This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God."

Back in Jeremiah’s time, even though they didn’t respect Him, the people still acknowledged God but when government encoding comes in, the officials won’t care if you speak to them in the name of God—they won’t even believe He exists! So don’t expect the same outcome that Jeremiah got!

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

It is not my intention to ‘spread doom and gloom’ here, but the Scriptural warnings can’t be ignored. The point is that no matter what the world—under the direction of Satan and his cohorts—does to your body, they can’t touch your soul unless you let them. If you refuse the mark, are persecuted for righteousness sake and beheaded for God’s truth, yours is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus promised it!

On the subject of ‘marks’ the Bible tells us that God doesn’t like tattoos! Yes, I’m sorry sailors, but this is what the bible says:

"Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:28)

Now if you’re a Christian and this Scripture bothers you, you may be feeling as though you wish you’d never got tattooed before you became a Christian, don’t forget, you’re a new person now so you don’t have to take Jesus’ words to ‘current sinners’ to heart where He said:

"And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:30 [KJV])

What you did before you were reborn is past history. If you truly regret what you did then and have told God so, YOU ARE FORGIVEN and HE HAS FORGOTTEN, so don’t go chopping off your limbs to get rid of your past errors! Mind you, if your tattoo is of a naked girl or demonic image or of some other profane nature, it would be prudent to keep it covered so that you don’t offend anyone else and, by flaunting it, give God reason to believe that you are not as repentant as you told Him! And, of course, you don’t have to amputate to get rid of tattoos!

So, now that you have read what the Bible says about having a mark on your hand or your forehead, do those examples of how wonderful it would be to be ‘encoded’ seem quite so exciting any more?

NOT TO ME, THEY DON’T!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

There is an ironic footnote to my theory that the ‘mark of the beast’ is a religio/government ‘encoding’ instigated very craftily by Satan. Remember the third example I gave of the driver being random breath tested?

The people who are most against such a system are Satan’s very own disciples—the criminal element of society! There’s no way that they want the authorities to know their business—which, of course, they would, once everyone was ‘in the system!’ Perhaps the bottom line is that the real criminals are the ‘powers and principalities’ of this world whose main objective is the subjugation of the people—especially God’s people.

If you value your salvation (and, to be honest, I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t!) fight tooth and nail against any moves towards government encoding—to the death if necessary—because it will only be the ‘first death’ and, compared to the ‘second death’ that’s nothing!

I pray for strength for all who are faithful, in Jesus’ name.

God WILL bless you.

FOR EVER!22

SOME OF JESUS’ TITLES

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ome other titles (NOT NAMES) by which Jesus is referred to in the Scriptures include:

AVIOUR.

As well as being the most descriptive of all His titles, this is probably also the closest to an English version of Jesus’ name which, which, incidentally, is the Greek form of Joshua— hoÆsûeaÔ) —and means ‘Yahweh is salvation’ or, since the Israelites would not speak the name Yahweh, ‘the Lord saves.’

I believe that there are many people who think that ‘Christ’ is Jesus’ ‘surname’ or, as is often put on official forms these days, ‘family name.’ This is incorrect. (As I have written—His ‘family name’ is God!) The word Christ is derived from the Greek word christos Cristov" —which translates exactly the same as the Hebrew word Messiah j'yvim —, which means ‘anointed one.’

Jesus actually only became (the) Christ when He was anointed by His Father’s Holy Spirit immediately after His baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Before that He was just Jesus the carpenter of Nazareth.

Sure, He knew what His destiny was, as did His human family and others, but until that anointing, having taken on human form and laid aside His divinity, He was not empowered by God. So, as this illustrates, JESUS is His name and CHRIST is a description of Him.

Literally translated, Christ Jesus means Anointed Saviour.

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IGHT OF THE WORLD.

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4-5) How true! Just as Jesus is the Light of the World, Satan is like a black hole in space. The gravitational forces of it are so great that even light is pulled into it so that nothing can be seen. It is impossible for him to shed any light at all! Jesus’ whole life is one of illumination whilst Satan’s is one of darkness and the darkness simply doesn’t understand the light! But Jesus gave us this wonderful reassurance:

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46) —The darkness of sinful ignorance, that is. This is encapsulated in the modern expression when asking for advice or information, "Could you throw some light on the subject?"

He also told His followers that they should be like Him in this respect:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16)

You will notice that the way Jesus described our light was as "good deeds" and good deeds in the biblical sense means keeping His Commandments!

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God’s Word is light too: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

ON OF MAN.

This was Jesus’ favourite reference to Himself. It emphasised His humanity during His earthly walk whilst de-emphasising His divinity.

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OOD SHEPHERD.

One of the principal industries of biblical times was sheep farming, and everyone understood how a shepherd cared for his flocks, protecting them from wild animals, bad weather and straying from the protection of the fold. It was a twenty-four hour job.

By comparing Himself to a shepherd and humanity to sheep and goats Jesus was able to convey the importance of His role as our Saviour.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

He spoke about the time of His return:

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left." (Matthew 25:31-33)

In this analogy sheep represent believers and goats unbelievers.

King David started his working life as a shepherd boy whose job included him rescuing his animals from lions and bears. He always relied on God’s protection when doing this and that is why he wasn’t afraid to fight Goliath.

When he wrote his famous 23rd Psalm he compared Yahweh (the Lord) to a shepherd who diligently looks after his sheep.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want." (Psalm 23:1)

When Jesus walked on this Earth He spoke to the people of the Middle East—principally to the Israelites—but He spoke about the whole world.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as THE FATHER KNOWS ME AND I KNOW THE FATHER—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I HAVE OTHER SHEEP THAT ARE NOT OF THIS SHEEP PEN. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:14-16)

"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (1 Peter 5:4)

The analogy of Jesus being like a shepherd and humanity like lost sheep was used by Isaiah in that amazing prophesy of his about the coming Saviour.

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)

"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." (Mark 6:34)

Read what Jesus said and remember it when you answer the questionnaire at the back of this book.

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." (Matthew 18:12-14)

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they [the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, to whom He was speaking] did not understand what He was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers but the sheep did not listen to them. I AM THE GATE; WHOEVER ENTERS THROUGH ME WILL BE SAVED. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:1-10)

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Peter wrote, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:25)

AMB OF GOD.

In Old Testament Jewish law—the old covenant—it was a requirement that anyone who had broken any of God’s or Moses’ laws, or ‘rules’ (sinned) should make a public acknowledgment of the fact by making a sacrifice of a flawless ("without blemish") product of his work. One such sacrifice was a male lamb which was ceremoniously slaughtered on an altar as a ‘blood covenant’ in accordance with very strict guidelines.

Eventually though, God realised that this form of atonement for sin wasn’t working because the people just carried on sinning and making sacrifices but NOT repenting—that is, not giving up their sinful practices. The modern equivalent of this is the apostate practice of paying a penance for sins committed and then going away and repeating them. So God decided that He would send His precious Son—who is without blemish—to be the ultimate sacrifice for everyone who had ever lived before or since.

The difference is that Jesus did not die permanently like the sacrificial lambs of old. In three days and three nights He defeated Satan’s wages of death to mankind (for Adam’s allegiance) and rose in the most spectacular victory that has been or ever will be known.

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HE VINE.

Jesus also compared Himself to a grapevine and us as its branches.

"I am the true vine, and MY FATHER is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. NO BRANCH CAN BEAR FRUIT BY ITSELF; IT MUST REMAIN IN THE VINE. NEITHER CAN YOU BEAR FRUIT UNLESS YOU REMAIN IN ME.

I am the vine; you are the branches. IF A MAN REMAINS IN ME AND I IN HIM, HE WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT; apart from me you can do nothing. IF ANYONE DOES NOT REMAIN IN ME, HE IS LIKE A BRANCH THAT IS THROWN AWAY AND WITHERS; AND SUCH BRANCHES ARE PICKED UP, THROWN INTO THE FIRE AND BURNED. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:1-8)

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Now there may be readers who have not loved the Lord all their lives and who, before they decided to give their all to Him, broke lots of His rules. If this includes you, just remember, you’re not on your own. Many more of today’s Christians started out as atheists or agnostics than dedicated Christians. No one can put the clock back. What is done is done and what is past is past. If you have confessed your past sins to God, asked His forgiveness and forgiven anyone against whom you have borne a grudge then stand on the bridge and look upstream. View the water that is coming. Don’t look downstream at the water that has passed under the bridge—it is gone, just like the old you. You are a different person. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The old sinful you is dead and buried, so leave him buried and forget the past, be filled with joy and go forth to serve God and your neighbours in love. As the Scripture says, when you are in Jesus and He is in you, you will bear much fruit.

Someone say "Hallelujah!"

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READ OF LIFE.

This title is in allusion to the spiritual nourishment which comes from feeding on Yahweh’s Word. After His baptism by John, Jesus went away into the desert.

After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:2-4)

Later, He elaborated on this. After He had fed the multitude with five loaves and two small fish His disciples left and went across the Sea of Galilee. It was then that Jesus followed them to their boat, walking on the water, and they all went to the other side of the lake. But the crowd, realising that only one boat had left and that Jesus was not in it, went looking for Him and eventually found Him at Capernaum. "Rabbi, when did you get here?" they asked Him.

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval."

Then they asked Him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent."

So they asked Him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?" [I must say that, considering what He had just done with five loaves and two fishes, the audacity of these questions amazes me! However, back to the story.] "Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ "

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives light to the world."

"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

"I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread which comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."

On hearing it, many of His disciples said, "This is hard teaching. Who can accept it?" (John 6:25-35, 48-58, 60) This is still so, even though we have the added symbolism of the last supper, which, of course, the disciples didn’t have when Jesus spoke those words.

The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

It is unfortunate that the words written by Paul to the Corinthians are considered by many churches to be the best description of the last supper and are, therefore, the ones most often read at communion services. However, if we read the full story of the events of that evening in the upper room, we find that eating the bread and drinking the wine is not all that Jesus said to do in remembrance of Him. Let’s look at John’s account.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

Jesus replied, "You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."

Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For He knew who was going to betray Him, and that was why He said not every one was clean.

When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" He asked them. "You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:2-17)

In those days there were no such things as sealed roads or concrete paths. Only important buildings had paved walkways and the standard footwear was sandals, so people’s feet usually got dusty and grimy when they went from place to place. It was customary, therefore, in Jesus’ time, for the lowliest of a household’s servants to wash visitors’ feet. By doing this act of service for His disciples, Jesus was demonstrating that He came to earth as a human being to serve rather than be served. As His followers we should follow that example.

Of course, today there is no need for visitors to have their feet washed. However, there is equally no need for people in church to eat and drink since, firstly, they probably ate before coming and, secondly, the amount of bread and wine taken for the communion ‘meal’ is no more than a token—the reason they do it is because Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me." So why, then, do hardly any churches follow His other direction, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." with regard to washing one another’s feet in token of demonstrating humility and servitude? In fact, it is this direction that He gave first. Is it that everyone wants to partake in Jesus’ body and blood—the Bread of Life—but not too many want to demonstrate servitude to Him and their fellow believers?

Beloved, surely if Jesus asked His followers to do this humble act and, in particular, told them that they will be blessed if they do, we should all be doing it with as much eagerness as we take the communion bread and wine. If we take the bread and wine without doing it, aren’t we forgetting Jesus’ own advice that "It is more blessed to give than to receive."? (Acts 20:35)

Note also Jesus’ statement that He will raise up those who partake of the Bread of Life at the last day. This again testifies to the fact that no one who had died is in heaven—or anywhere else other than in his or her grave! (ref. chapter 16)

23

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

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ow that we have established who Jesus is and bearing in mind that we are in the thick of spiritual warfare, it would be appropriate to dispel a few myths about His arch enemy, Satan. No military general would dream of going into battle without first obtaining as much intelligence about the enemy as possible and if we, as Christians, think we’re any different, we run an enormous risk. Before entering the Promised Land the Israelites sent spies in at God’s command to ascertain the fertility, size and fortification of the towns etcetera. Then, later Joshua sent two spies into Jericho where the only shelter they could find was in the home of a prostitute named Rahab. These stories are told in Numbers 13 and Joshua 2. So let’s find out exactly who and what the enemy commander, Satan, is and what he can and can’t do—his strengths and his weaknesses.

We have already seen him described as a dragon and a beast and so it is understandable that people who have read a little bit of Scripture would see him that way. However, contrary to popular opinion and cartoonists’ impressions, the character we often call the devil is not a little black impish creature with horns, hooves, a tail with an arrowhead at its tip and a forked tongue armed with a barbed trident and tending a furnace. Yahweh described him very differently to Ezekiel so let’s see how the prophet wrote God’s description of Satan in chapter 28 of his book. Whilst he is referred to as ‘the king of Tyre,’ it is clear from the wording that this was an allusion to a man who must have been so evil that Yahweh used him as a physical and visual representation of the devil. But since the human king of Tyre could not have been in the Garden of Eden and must have been born rather than created, and since he definitely couldn’t have been a guardian cherub, there can be little doubt as to whom Yahweh is really referring.

Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

"You were a model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared." (vs. 12-13)

Doesn’t sound like that ugly little cartoonists’ demon so far does he? Let’s read some more.

"You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for I so ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you." (vs. 14-15)

Model of perfection! Perfect in beauty! Blameless in his ways! Are we talking about the same character here? Well, the last six words give us the hint that we are, don’t they? So let’s read on and see what else Yahweh has to say.

" Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned." (v. 16)

Now he’s starting to sound more like the evil devil we were brought up to know about. So what did God do about this rebellious angel whom He had anointed as His guardian cherub?

"I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you." (vs. 16-18) [This is probably where all those cartoonists got the idea to draw the devil breathing fire or throwing fireballs around.] The account goes on to describe Satan’s ultimate destruction which is, of course, yet to come.

Under Yahweh’s divine inspiration, the prophet Isaiah wrote a prophesy against Babylon in which he likens King Nebuchadnezzar to the morning star which, in the Hebrew language, is referred to as Heylel lleyhemeaning ‘Shining One’ or ‘Lucifer.’ Whilst most people are familiar with it, this is the only time in the entire Bible that this name is mentioned—and even then, not in all translations as such. The likeness to the morning star may well be in allusion to the fact that, as with the return of the sun at dawn, the morning star fades, firstly into insignificance and then totally from view, so, with the return of God’s Son at His second coming, Lucifer will disappear.

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, [Lucifer, KJV] son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

Lucifer, once God’s own personal guardian angel, got delusions of grandeur and thought to unseat the Great Creator from the throne of heaven. It was a rebellious plot to overthrow the Ruler of the universe. But God saw it coming and threw His ordained one out of heaven down to the earth. Jesus witnessed the event and told his emissaries about it. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Luke 10:18)

Where Isaiah wrote that Lucifer was ‘brought down to the grave,’ the Hebrew word he used for grave was sheol lwaov] which is the same word sometimes translated as ‘hell’ in the Old Testament. This puts paid to another misconception that hell is some subterranean dungeon filled with fire and brimstone which is the dwelling place of the devil and his supporters. In the New Testament there are two Greek words translated as ‘hell.’ That most used is Hades a{/dh" which is equivalent to the Hebrew sheol. The other is geenna gevenna meaning "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire." This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, which was, basically, the city’s garbage dump where all the rubbish was thrown and burned. As with many garbage tips today, the fire never went out. This analogy was used by Jesus and others to graphically illustrate the lake of fire where the wicked will meet their final destruction.

A unique exception to the use of Hades and geenna is in chapter 2 of Peter’s second epistle, which I quoted at the end of chapter 7, where he wrote "...God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment." The word Peter used here to denote the place whence the rebellious angels were banished from heavenmost probably because it would have had more significance to the Greek recipients of his letterwas tartaroo tartarovw which is derived from Tartarus, the subterranean abode of the dead of Greek mythology.

When Satan instigated his ‘coup’ he was not without support. Many of the angels who had previously served as part of God’s heavenly host under General Lucifer made the greatest error of their existence and elected to stick with their officer rather than their King.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. (Revelation 12:3-4)

God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell. (2 Peter 2:4) Satan and his supporters’ home since he was cast out of heaven is right here amongst men and women. This is hell (Tartarus but not Gehenna)! He is very angry and bitter towards God for foiling his planned ‘takeover’ of Paradise and, to take revenge, he has made it his prime mission to subvert as many as possible of God’s childrenUSbefore his final demise. Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9) Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. (Revelation 12:12) He also knows that we will judge the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3) and so that’s why he and his fallen angel cohorts are doing their best to recruit as many humans to their side now before those who remain faithful to God pass sentence on them!

John and Peter’s description of Satan in these verses compares remarkably with the vision of the four great beasts which Daniel had over 600 years earlier. It is the fourth beast which is of particular significance to this chapter.

After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beastterrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.

While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and thrown into the blazing fire. (Daniel 7:7-8, 11)

I, Daniel was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this.

He gave me this explanation: The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:15-16, 23-25)

From this explanation that Daniel was given we learn several significant facts which help us to identify the kingdom represented by the little horn.

1. It will arise after and among ten kings, from the original kingdom depicted as the fourth beast.

2. It will be different from the earlier ones.

3. It will subdue three of the earlier kings.

4. It will speak against the Most High.

5. It will oppress His saints.

6. It will try to change times and laws.

7. The saints will be handed over to it for ‘a time, times and half a time.’

Because they have already been fulfilled and are now ancient history and no longer relevant to us (other than to serve as further proof of the infallibility of Scripture) we don’t need to study the first three beasts of Daniel’s vision in any detail here. Suffice to say that the first was Babylon, where the vision occurred, and, in a subsequent dream the Bible identifies by name the second and third beasts as Medo-Persia and Greece. The fourth beast, whose identity is important to us today, is not named but history has shown that the kingdom represented by the fourth beast with iron teeth is Rome which usurped Greece as the major world power. This was the pagan Roman Empire under whose rule Jesus was crucified. The ten ‘kings’ that came from the Roman Empire were the ten tribes which eventually gained semi-independence from Rome and founded the European nations. And the little horn which rose in their midst and, even though they were independent, exerted authority over them to the point of annihilating three of them (the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths) was the papacythe Holy Roman Empirealthough it wasn’t known as such until the coronation in 800 AD of Charlemagne, king of the Franks (one of the ten tribes) as Emperor. It is the only power that completely identifies with the description given to Daniel. This also ties in precisely with the beast of Revelation discussed in chapter 21.

The difference between this ‘kingdom’ and all the others was that it is a religious rather than, like them, a political power. It speaks against the Most High—blasphemesin that it acknowledges its leader, who it blasphemously calls "The Holy Father," as being "Jesus Christ, Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh." (Catholic National, July 1895) and claims to have the authority to forgive sins. History bears emphatic witness to the fact that it has oppressed the saints under the medieval inquisition in which tens of millions of Christians were martyred. We have already seen, in chapter 6, how it changed the times and law of the fourth commandment. This brings us to the final identifying point which I touched on earlier in my discussion of the mark of the beast, and which we will now look at more closely. As I expect you will agree, the mathematical accuracy of it leaves absolutely no doubt as to the correct interpretation of the other six.

The exact meaning of Daniel’s use of the expression ‘time, times and half a time’ is open to debate. He repeated it chapter 12 of his book where he wrote about the angel messenger who had come to explain his vision. The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand towards heaven, and I heard him swear by Him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 12:7)

If the word ‘time’ in this context is construed to signify a year, (and some Bible translations actually use the word ‘year’ instead of ‘time’ and ‘two years’ instead of ‘times’) this would be translated as three and a half years. In Daniel’s day each Jewish month was ‘rounded’ for administrative purposes to 30 days and so three and a half years would be equal to 42 months or 1260 days. It is safe to make this deduction because that is exactly the same time prophesied in Revelation which, although written six and a half centuries later, still preceded the fulfilment of the prophecy.

They [the Gentiles] will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:2-3)

We have already seen in chapter 6 how, in biblical prophesy, a day represents a year, so this tells us that non-Jewsthe strongly anti-Semitic Gentile supporters of the Holy Roman Empirewould trample believers in biblical truth, here represented as ‘the holy city,’ and by Daniel as ‘the saints’ for 1260 years during which time two witnesses would prophesy dressed in clothes of mourning for the Christian martyrs murdered by the papal inquisitions.

By the time of the Gothic war in which the Ostrogoths were finally annihilated the Roman Empire had grown so big that it had been divided into two for easier administrative purposes with, sometimes, two emperors ruling conjointly and, at others, a single one ruling both the Eastern and Western divisions. But, in 476 AD the last of the separate Western Emperors, Romulus Augustulus, no doubt already weakened by the Vandal pillaging of the Western capital, Rome, was deposed by Herulian invaders and Zeno, the Eastern Emperor, installed Odoacer, the Herulian conqueror, as ‘governor’ of the Western division. However, this didn’t go down too well with the Bishop of Romeby this time already known as papa, or, in English, pope, meaning ‘father’because Odoacer was, like the leader of the Vandals who had already wreaked great destruction in Rome, an Arian. Arianism was a form of Christianity, named after Arius, an Egyptian priest who, whilst acknowledging Him as the Son of God, erroneously believed that Jesus, the Messiah was created by God as opposed to being, as the Bible clearly teaches, eternally coexistent with Him.

So, at the pope’s insistence, Zeno co-opted the barbarian Ostrogoths, led by Theodoric, to successfully oust the Heruli from Italy. The only problem was that the Ostrogoths were also Arian believers! They were only (marginally) more acceptable to the pope because they came with the support of the Eastern Emperor, who was, by this time, Justinian. As it was, Rome was already suffering at the hands of the Vandals from northern Africa and so, in 535, Justinian sent a huge army, led by General Belisarius, to get rid of the unwelcome Arians. Thus were the first three horns uprooted at the instigation of the ‘little horn’ infant papacy.

So who is represented by the beast’s other seven horns? There are numerous interpretations as to their identity, some of which spread their appearance over several centuries right up to, including and beyond the present day. However, the wording of the Scripture says, another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This makes it very clear that they were all existing at the same time because the ‘little horn,’ which we have already established as the papacy, came up among them and that they were all present both when the little horn appeared and when three of their number were uprooted, so it must follow that they were contemporaneousthat is, all in evidence at the same time. Another school of thought suggests that, in addition to the three barbarian ‘tribes’ or nationalities already discussed there were (with the modern corresponding areas they came from) the Gauls of France, the Lombards of northern Italy, the Alamanni of Germany, the Burgundians of Switzerland, the Celts of the British Isles, the Visigoths of Spain and the Suevi of Portugal. But these don’t anywhere near cover the full extent of the Holy Roman Empire, as it eventually became known. For one thing they don’t include any of the people covered by the Eastern Empirein particular, the Israelites, Syrians, Egyptians, Macedonians, Turks and Greeks. The main point is that, whoever they were, they were part of the beast and their descendants now form part of the ‘re-vitalised’ Holy Roman Empire.

To return to the ‘little horn’, three years after ridding the Empire of the Arian influence, in the year 538 Eastern Emperor Justinian wrote to the bishop of Rome ‘officially’ acknowledging him as supreme head of all churches throughout the Roman Empire. This was the opening of the door to the Roman Catholic Churchreferred to by Daniel as ‘the power of the holy people,’—to a much wider political influence over what had previously been principally a religious domain.

Then, exactly 1260 years later, in 1798, Pope Pius VI was dethroned and taken prisoner by General Berthier during the French revolution thus bringing to an end the iron rule of a religious force which, for over twelve and a half centuries, had seen the martyrdom of millions. But Daniel’s prophecymost of which has now been fulfilledclearly says that it will be completed and the end will come ‘when the power of the holy people has been finally broken.’ Yet resurrection day wasn’t in 1798so what happened?

The answer is found, firstly in Revelation 13 and then in recent history. I quoted the full account of the last days prophecy in chapter 21 but it is verse 3 which is of particular significance here. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.

You will remember that the ‘fatal wound’ which the papacy received in 1798 was healed in 1929 with its reinstatement, and it is only now, at the turn of the millennium, subtly attempting to become ruler of the worldnot this time by its failed tyrannical methods of the middle ages but by way of a proposed world-wide ecumenical movement whereby it is making every effort to woo its ‘daughters’ back into its web. The papacywhich, as we have seen, has itself ‘changed God’s times and laws’ is also actively establishing political alliances with whatever nations will listenwhether they are nominally Christian or not!

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4) "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." (2 Corinthians 11:4) Indeed many people do! Satan has ‘come of age’ in the subtlety department! He has made unbelievers of people who would be believers (and sincerely think that they are) by convincing them that Jesus excused them from obeying God’s commandments. His old original lie "You will not surely die." is as effective a deception today as it was 6000 years ago.

The clever trick with which Satan has so successfully managed to dupe literally hundreds of millions of would-be Christians is, in effect, an elaborate extension to his original lie. This is how it works: He has skilfully promoted the idea that Jesus, being the Son of God, was totally incapable of sin and, therefore, whilst being an inspirational example, absolutely impossible to emulate completely since we are ‘mere mortals’ who, as the Bible so correctly states, have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Like his words to Eve on that fateful day in Eden, this is a blatantly heinous lie. You will remember that the Scripture I used to check out the message I believe the Holy Spirit gave to me said, "This is how you recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God." (1 John 4:2-3) The meaning of this is that, for Jesus to ‘come in the flesh,’ He had to, in humble obedience to His Father’s will, temporarily and voluntarily lay aside the power of His divinitythe awesome glory which made Moses’ face glow when he met Him on Mount Sinaiand become totally human. Who, being in very nature in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [held on to], but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. (Philippians 2:6-7) Being totally human, He was as vulnerable as you and I to Satan’s temptation. Hebrews 4:14-15 says, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."

By having his ‘servants of righteousness’ preach that we are different to Jesus as He was when he ‘came in the flesh,’ Satan has conned multitudes into believing that they are quite incapable of keeping God’s commandmentsas Jesus spent the best part of His ministry trying to teach people to doand therefore there is no point in even trying. This is nothing new, for as early as the closing decade of the first century, John wrote, "Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist." (2 John 7) If that was the situation 1900 years ago, what is it now? They use this fallacy to teach that we are ‘saved by grace’ and not by deeds. But, in both Testaments, the Bible teaches, "Be holy, because I am holy." (Leviticus 11:45 / 1 Peter 1:16) With His help this must be achievable because God’s messages, "Sin is lawlessness," and "The wages of sin is death." are still as true as ever they were, and He wants none of His children to perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

(But Satan says, "You shall NOT surely die!")

If my interpretation of the final part of the biblical prophecy is correct, the ‘New World Order,’ instigated by the papacy in collaboration with the United States of America, with its government encoding, will come to passbut it will not lastand when it ends, that is when ‘the power of the holy people’ will be finally broken and Jesus will return. So how long will it last?

In chapter 21 I quoted Jesus’ own description of the events of the days leading up to His return and you may recall that He foresaw just how hard Satan would work to bring down the faithful and said, "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." (Matthew 24:22) These reassuring words tell us that, although God will permit Satan to wreak his havoc on the earth, and make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of JesusHe will not abandon those who remain faithful to Him and, as Jesus prophesied, will limit the time Satan is allowed. It will be literally, "the survival of the fittest!"

The two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3 are described as two olive trees and two lampstands which are, of course, themselves symbolic and much speculation has surrounded their actual identity. One school of thought has suggested Moses and Elijah, who were seen with Jesus at His transfiguration, but this seems doubtful because, in verse 7, we are told that the beast kills them. Another believes that, even though verse 6 refers to them as ‘two men,’ the two witnesses are the Old and the New Testaments of the Biblethe (as we have already seen) accurate messianic prophesies of the Old Testament and the Gospel message of the New. The Bible was a forbidden book during the great 1260-year apostasy and its prophecies were veiled—clothed in sackcloth? Whoever they are, Satan is certainly doing his utmost to kill those two witnesses and, as Scripture prophesies, will succeed just before the time of the end.

Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. (Revelation 11:8-10)

The torment that the prophets will have inflicted on the earth’s population are the constant reminders (as contained in the two testaments of the Bible) of the importance of demonstrating love for God by keeping His commandments, which, of course, will not fit well with their chosen lifestyle. The world ecumenical movement has stated that its goal to unify all religions under one banner, with Sunday legislated as its ‘holy day,’ is the year 2000. Is the time almost here when Satan will seduce all but the very elect into his campaign of sinful lawlessness? One only has to look around at the dramatic increase in violent crime, pornography, child abuse, theft, broken marriages, and legislative, police and judicial corruption, to see that it can’t go on much longer before the world is reduced to total anarchy. That is when the two witnesses will lie dead in the street of the great city, which is so indescribably evil that it is likened to Sodom and Egypt, for three and a half days. The identity of this great city is given as ‘where also their Lord was crucified’ so there is no doubt that the Scripture refers to Jerusalem. It also says that people of every tribe, language and nation will gaze on the bodies. The headquarters of the United Nations is presently in the United States’ most populous city, New York. Could it be that, when the New World Order is eventually established, the UN, just as it has located its World Health Organisation and International Labour centres in Geneva, will select as its religious ‘capital’ the city equally holy to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Jerusalem? The inspired Word of God indicates that it will, and it sounds drastically terminal. But take heart, Beloved, and read on.

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. (Revelation 11:11)

As Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will NEVER pass away." (Matthew 24:35)

I imagine that there will be readers who are now asking why God will let Satan do all the terrible things that the Bible foretells will occur before Jesus’ returnand that question is not unreasonable. We must fully understand that God has a plan for the Kingdom of Heaven where the old order of things will have passed away and so He must be absolutely sure that everyone who enters His kingdom is spotlessly cleansed of sin. If just one tiny speck gets in, like a virus, it would grow and multiply and heaven would be no different to the earth as we know it now. Therefore God is allowing Satan to do everything he can think of to prove people unworthy to enter and, as Jesus said, if he were to be given long enough, even the elect would succumb.

Having said all of this I want to make it very clear that, even after resisting all of Satan’s trials, there will still not be anyone who is worthy to enter the kingdom in their own right.

But, praise God, those who remain loyal to Jesus

will, by the power of His blood, be made worthy.

Two of the devil’s favourite tricks are the disguises with which he has cleverly ingratiated two pagan festivals in place of seven of God’s annual festivals to masses of people and we’ll take a closer look at this in the next chapter.

Now I don’t want anyone to get the idea that they should be dwelling on the capabilities of the enemy. The Bible tells us whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about SUCH things. (Philippians 4:8) so don’t go around thinking and worrying about the devil all day. Fill your mind with wholesome thoughts. However, I believe we do need to be very well aware of the traps that he can lure us into. If we don’t know what weapons he uses, how can we be ready to resist him when he uses them? And resist him we most certainly must.

Submit yourselves, then, to God.

RESIST THE DEVIL,

and he WILL flee from you.

(James 4:7)

Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

You will notice from this passage that the forces of evil are not waiting in some fiery subterranean place of horrorsthey are in this worlddescribed as dark in allusion to the prolificacy of deceptionand they are still in heaven too. If that sounds unbelievable, the story of Job tells us, One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"

Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." (Job 1:6-7)

Satan comes and goes as he pleases. He will not be a prisoner until Jesus returns and he is chained in the abyss. To find out just what the full armour of God is, let’s continue reading Ephesians 6.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18)

If we are going to be able to successfully resist the devil, we need to be fully equipped and, as part of that equipment, I believe we should be armed with a full awareness of the weapons he uses. There are the obvious ones and there are what I call ‘the insidious ones.’ The obvious ones are things like violence, crime, pornography, drunkenness, adultery and all those things which everyone with a conscience knows, deep down, are wrong, even though many of them enjoy them. They are known in today’s world as "The Permissive Society." Yahweh described it to Ezekiel as Satan’s ‘dishonest trade. However, it is the insidious tools of his advertising department that Christians need to guard against. Most of them are exposed throughout this book but just in case anyone misses any of them, I will summarise them briefly.

As I mentioned in chapter 13, most of Satan’s tools are variations of the plain old simple wedge. He sneaks the thin end of it into a Christian’s faith and, like driving it into a dam, starts a tiny leak which, with the passage of time, becomes a torrent and the Christian is so far from the truth that he has forgotten what it is. Three of the most potent of those wedges the Bible calls ‘deception,’ ‘lies’ and ‘tradition’ and they are by far the most effective tools in his kit. Nowhere has Satan used his wedge of tradition more successfully than by driving it into God’s fourth commandment and, since the main subject of this book is the exposition of religious tradition which bears little or no relationship to biblical truth and deceives all but the very elect, I will do no more here than list them as the most fearful of the devils weapons.

Being the craftiest of all God’s creations, the devil also has in his tool kit something which surprises many peoplethe Bible! Yes, he uses it with great zeal. He knows it back to front and inside outhe even had the audacity to quote it to Jesus when he tempted him in the wilderness. But then, as always, he quoted it out of context. I hope that this book adequately exposes some of his nasty little tricks of this nature.

In recent times people have begun to realise that religious tradition, far from being God’s creation, is Satan’s device and so they have sought to replace it with something better. However, Satan is way ahead of them. He has simply given them what seems to be a much better alternative. That alternative is what I call "Feel-good Religion." Unfortunately, whilst it appears, on the surface, to preach Bible truths, this modern apostasy is in many ways, even more insidious than its forerunner. And thousands are seduced into it every day. They happily use one of the devil’s favourite tools in the working of counterfeit signs and wonders. This usually forms part of a major campaign promoting "feel-good" religious gatherings where attendees are encouraged to speak in unknown languages even though they have no idea what they are saying or where the inspiration to say it comes from. These were dealt with in chapters 8 and 18.

You may have also heard about amazing "near death experiences" where someone has been involved in a terrifying accident or been close to death as a result of illness and pulled through. They tell all sorts of incredible stories about seeing bright lights, going to heaven and meeting Jesus, of looking down on their own body and then being "sent back" because their task on earth "for god" isn’t yet completed. You will notice that I have purposely used a lower case g because it certainly isn’t our Creator God who does these things. A similar phenomenon is what is called "out-of-body experience" where much the same sort of things happen, except that the victim is not near death. In both cases, the gullibility of humanity is used by ‘the god of this world’ to it’s fullest with such tales. Poor fools take the bait, hook, line and sinker and run around dispensing Satan’s deceptions with great enthusiasm, drawing even more into his web of destruction. Steven Spielberg makes less fantastic movies and no-one believes those stories are true, yet when someone who has been used by the devil tells their story, gullible people are sucked into Satan’s vortex of doom by their thousands. When this happens to loved ones the frustration is distressing.

The similarity between these events and drug-induced ‘trips’ is particularly interesting. When drugs produce the same sort of hallucinations, so-called Christians denounce them vehemently yet, when Satan dispenses them and drugs are not involved, they eagerly pronounce them as "miracles sent by God!" Quaint isn’t it? Well, it would be if it weren’t so horrifying.

Another of Satan’s weapons, as we saw in chapter 11, is manipulation of God’s word by way of influencing Bible translation and one more of his favourites is fear. For example, the fear of rejection by family, friends and colleagues because, as a Christian, you are ‘different.’ We’ll look at this in greater depth in chapter 29 where I will examine persecution. There is also the fear that a person has sinned so much that it’s too late for them to be saved and that is the subject of chapter 36.

So, as you can see, our enemy doesn’t come at us with a full frontal attack telling us that he’s right and Jesus is wrong. He’s much more subtle than that. By far the most terrifying weapons in his arsenal are a forged ID with the name Jesus on it and a preacher’s disguise. He sneaks up behind us and, appealing to our carnal human nature with the lie "You will not surely die," cleverly camouflaged as ‘Grace’ and works his way into our lives in such a way that we not only let him, but often even welcome him without realising his true identity. If you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile but the end result will be the same—he’ll win the battle for your soul and, even though he isn’t going to win the war, YOU WILL SURELY DIE the second death!

The first step in beating Satan is exactly what the Scripture says"submit yourselves to God"and if you haven’t yet made a commitment to serve the One who created your original ancestor and the One who died for your salvation and if the prospect of being burned up in the eternal lake of burning sulphur—like a useless, withered branch which bears no fruit—scares you and, like me, you prefer the idea of meeting God face-to-face and being a citizen of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21, ensuring that you are is really not difficult at all and we’ll look more closely at that in the next-but-one chapter.

24

GODS FEAST DAYS

I

n the previous chapter I made reference to the replacement of God’s appointed feast days with pagan festivals. Now, since most modern professed Christians sincerely believe that the most holy days of the year are Christmas day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, let’s see just what the Bible says about religious festivals.

Christmas, apart from being the modern western world’s most commercialised yearly function, is actually a ‘Christianised’ version of the ancient Roman midwinter solstice celebration of the rebirth of their sun god Sol, combined with their festival of Saturnalia honouring the planet-god Saturn. With the ascendancy of Christianity following Paul’s execution in Rome in the late 60s, as much due to the already full calendar of pantheistic pagan religious feasts, it was most convenient to ‘incorporate’ this new one into already existing ones. This also, of course, made it much more acceptable to the pagan populace of the time. Another principal reason for this was an extremely strong and pervasive anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the Roman Empire in the immediate post-apostolic period surrounding the Jewish revolts of 70 and 135 AD. Anything having the slightest hint of Judaism was very unpopular and so it was convenient to ‘Romanise’that is: ‘paganise’Christianity, rather than appear to be a Hebrew sympathiser. Like many other societies since, they wanted the salvation but didn’t want to acknowledge its origin. The Egyptian scholar, Origen, who studied under the prominent Greek theologian, Clement of Alexandria, made a life-work of combining Platonist Greek philosophy with Christianity.

Many other cultures around the world practised the worship of sun gods such as Mithras of Babylon, Helios and Apollo of Greece and Ra of ancient Egypt as well various sun gods of north, south and central American pre-Columbian Indians, the Pacific islands and the many races of Asia. This is really quite understandable if one allows for the fact that those people did not know the Creator God. They had worked out that the crops which fed them flourished as a result of the warmth of the summer sun and that it was the evaporative effect of the sun’s heat that produced the clouds which, in turn, produced the essential rain. Since they had nothing to do with this process, they naturally assumed that the sun alone was responsible for their daily life-giving provisions and so they worshiped it as a superior power to themselvesor, in a word, a god. They simply had no idea that their ‘god’ had been placed there by the real God.

Whilst their ancestors, the descendants of Noah, had, of course, known God, over the generations this knowledge had gradually faded where the people had lost interest. Children ceased to be brought up in the knowledge of their divine Creator so that, through no fault of their own, as God warned, the iniquity of the fathers [was] visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 20:5 KJV) However, typically human, those people had an inherent need of a ‘higher focus’ of their admiration, devotion and worship so they created their own ‘gods’ and the sun was a natural and principal contender for the title.

One thing Christmas most certainly is NOT, is the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem, which didn’t even take place at that time of the yearhaving occurred, as near as possible to calculate from secular history, around mid-September. Scripture doesn’t say when Jesus was born. The use of mistletoe, holly and evergreen trees all come from various European pagan rites.

"Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter." (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

And Yahweh said that to Jeremiah some 600 years before He was born as Jesus!

Tradition tells that ‘Santa Claus’ was a kindly medieval fellow based on the fourth century Turkish philanthropist, Nicholas, who anonymously delivered gifts to the underprivileged and was later canonised by the Roman Catholic church for his efforts thus giving him the ‘title’ Saint. As the anniversary of his death is celebrated on December 6th he has gradually been incorporated into the Christmas ‘pantomime.’

A number of Christian churches now openly admit Christmas’s pagan origins and a few even totally disassociate themselves from it whilst others ‘downplay’ its significance yet still hold carol services and their members ‘double-mindedly’ put up Christmas trees in their homes and participate in the commercialism of exchanging gifts. When asked why they do these things they will say "Oh, but, whilst I know the truth, it gives me an opportunity to proclaim the Lord to those who don’t!" I have to ask, "Which ‘lord’ are they proclaiming?"

Another popular response is that Christmas is a "Season of Goodwill" when Christians can show love to their fellow men. Well, Beloved, I am constrained to enquire why such celebrations and sentiments need to be seasonal. Surely loving our fellow man is a 365-days-a-year activity! Do we need a "season" to extend goodwill to our fellow humans? How pathetic! It reminds me of how, in the First World War, a Christmas day ‘truce’ was proclaimed and there are stories of British and German soldiers leaving their trenches and exchanging Christmas greetings and even gifts. Then, next day, they shot each other! So much for "Christmas!"

Perhaps the most plausible reason for the December 25th celebration is that, because they don’t actually know what time of year Jesus was born, Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate God’s wonderful gift to mankind. Of course, this should surely be a year-round celebration, however, the setting aside of an extra special time is typically human and, if Christmas is kept in perspective, I see reasonable justification for it. But I certainly see no justification whatsoever for the commercial and secular Bacchanalian festival that seems to be the modern Christmas.

Similarly, Easter has little or nothing to do with Jesus’ crucifixion, which, as we saw in chapter 10, actually occurred, in modern terms, on Thursday, April 6th 30 AD, and His resurrection on Sunday, April 9th. Certainly not originally, having evolved, according to some historians from the Babylonian festival of Ishtar, the god, (or variously, goddess) of fertility. Others suggest that, in Europe, the carnival of Teutonic goddess of spring and fecundity, Ë astre, celebrated at the vernal equinox was the forerunner. In either case the use of symbols of fertility and proliferation such as eggs and rabbits was prominent. The fact that they have been passed on into supposedly Christian memorials is, to say the least, horrifying. When one considers that the most important day on the Christian calendar is that on which our Saviour gave everything for us, it is interesting to speculate how many professed Christians today could even actually say, without looking it up, what date on our calendar Abib 14thPassover Dayoccurred this year.

In the cases of both Christmas and Easter it is the children who are Satan’s principal target. He knows that God’s Word says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)so he works especially hard on youngsters. You will often hear adults saying such things as "Christmas and Easter are really for the children." and, because of the huge demands made on most families these days by commercialism and peer pressure, concentrating most of their expenditure on their younger members. Yes, Satan sure knows what he is doing! Just imagine trying to tell a small child that Christmas is bad and will not be celebrated in his or her home and then trying to explain why all his friends received gifts and he didn’t!

Remember, we are made in God’s own image and we humans enjoy these annual ‘party times’ so its probably pretty safe to assume that we inherited that from our Creator. And, guess what? If we study the Bible, we find that God certainly does enjoy special times of feasting, thanksgiving and worship. God’s appointed feasts are listed for us in Leviticus chapter 23. You will notice that the Bible refers to these as "feasts" and, because of the more modern usage of that word, we tend, these days to immediately think of a big banquet-type meal. However, whilst eating was certainly a part of them, the word which better describes these very special occasions today is "festival"itself derived from the root word "feast"denoting a time of joyful fellowship and worship, or, as the Scripture says, "sacred assemblies."

The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. (vs. 1-2)

The Weekly Sabbath we have already examined in detail in chapter 6.

"‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord. (v. 3)

The Passover and Unleavened Bread.

"‘These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’" (vs. 4-8)

The Passover is in commemoration of the Lord ‘passing over’ the Israelites on the night before they left Egypt on the great exodus to find the Promised Land where He commanded His people to mark their doorframes with the blood of a sacrificed lamb as a sign that they were of the Israelite people. He said,

"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival unto the Lorda lasting ordinance." (Exodus 12:12-14) This is the commemorative meal that Jesus and His disciples shared on the night before He was crucified.

The following night the whole Israelite populationprobably at least two million peopleleft Egypt behind a spectacular pillar of cloud and fire and, for the first seven days, God commanded them to eat only unleavened breadthat is, bread made without yeast so that the people didn’t have to delay their flight waiting for the dough to rise before baking. The first day of that week, the fifteenth day of the first month on the Jewish calendar, is the first of seven special annual Sabbaths proclaimed by God which He established as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come to remind them of His deliverance. Abib, the first month of the Hebrew calendar (twice referred to in the Bible as Nisan by Babylonian exiles), began close to the spring equinox so that, on modern calendars the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls around the beginning of April.

The final Passover took place when Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of ALL mankind.

Firstfruits.

The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah [about 4-5 litres] of fine flour mixed with oil—an offering made to the Lord by fire, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin [about a litre] of wine. You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. (vs. 9-14)

This feast is to remind people of how the Lord provides for His creation. Held on the last day of the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, this now occurs around the middle of April.

Jesus the Man was the ultimate "Firstfruit" of humanity when He was resurrected on the third day.

Feast of Weeks.

"‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord. Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect