HWA.TV

Answers To Your Questions

That statement is true when the resurrection takes place at Christ’s Second Coming. The question is: “When is a faithful Christian ultimately saved?” Jesus said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). It is true that one who has truly repented and has been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38) has been “saved” from his past sins (Romans 3:25; Titus 3:5). We have been justified. Notice, also, the future aspect of salvation plainly stated in Romans 5:9–10. As you can see, the tense is future in both verses, “we shall be saved.”

The Bible plainly warns those who have been justified—saved from their past sins—that they must be vigilant not to fall away (Hebrews 6: 4–6): “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” See also the Apostle Paul’s concern that he not be a “castaway” (KJV), or “become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

We are saved from the penalty of our sins (justified) by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; His blood paid the penalty for our past sins. We are human and we will sin again. And then, because we are Christians—having the Spirit of God in us (sanctified)—we repent, through the grace and power of Christ living His life within us (Galatians 2:20; 1 John 2:1), and we are forgiven once more (1 John 1:9). Because we have an attitude of submission to God, and God’s Spirit continues to dwell in us, we are led through a repenting life of overcoming sins. As both 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15 teach us, salvation is also an ongoing process—we “are being saved.” Being “saved” is a three-part process of 1) Justification for past sins by the blood of Christ, 2) Sanctification by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit and then 3) Salvation by the resurrection to everlasting life. We will be ultimately saved when “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). At that time, the time of the resurrection, the expression “once saved, always saved” will be a true statement.

Notice, when Nicodemus came to Jesus secretly, as recorded in John the 3rd chapter, Jesus said to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Jesus was proclaiming the Kingdom of God—explaining a most important phase of it. Jesus went on to show Nicodemus that we who are born of flesh are flesh. But it is possible for us to be born again—next time, not as a mortal flesh-and-blood baby, but born of the Spirit. Then we shall be spirit—composed of spirit! Now in the 4th chapter of John we read that God is a Spirit. The Kingdom of God is composed of those born of God. True Christians are not yet “born again,” but are begotten by receiving God’s Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul made very plain to the Corinthians that while mortal flesh and blood cannot inherit, or enter into, the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50-52), that through the resurrection of those begotten by the Holy Spirit of God during this mortal life, this mortal then puts on immortality, and we, like the very God Himself, become immortal, incorruptible, actually, literally, born of God’s Spirit into the very God family. The Church, then, cannot be the Kingdom of God, for it is composed of flesh-and-blood mortals. The Kingdom is not, either, an ethereal something “set up in the hearts of men.” Therefore, Jesus here spoke of a literal birth—the entrance into the Family of God as a spirit being, and the process by which one attains that goal. Both water and God’s Spirit are involved.

Jesus was indeed “born again” at the resurrection. Colossians 1:18 tells us, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” The Church of God believes that God’s wonderful purpose in creating man is to perfect individuals by the power of Christ and then to give the saints immortality and glory like Christ. God’s purpose is to make us His own children in His own Family (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2; Rev. 21:7). Ultimately, we are to be born again into the very God Family.

The meaning of God’s grace is one of the most misunderstood concepts in traditional Christianity. Translated in our English versions from the Greek word charis, grace describes something vitally important. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Grace means something freely given or bestowed. In classical Greek it referred to favor from rulers. When the New Testament speaks of grace and contrasts it with works, we learn that God’s forgiveness is freely given. It is not something we have earned or deserved. The Bible shows that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and are therefore in opposition to God (Romans 8:7). How can anyone then come to enjoy God’s favor? Can we make ourselves innocent of past sins by future obedience? Of course not!

God has taken the initiative to bring us into harmony with Himself by giving His Son Jesus Christ to pay the death penalty for sin in our place. However, once God extends His unmerited favor toward us, we must respond. God requires a response of faith. This involves believing and trusting God. However, as the Apostle James points out, active, living faith in God will be demonstrated by our works (James 2:20–24). Paul made it plain to his readers that grace does not mean that Christians are free to continue practicing sin (Romans 6:1–2). Quite the opposite, those who have accepted God’s grace—His freely extended pardon—have turned away from sin and are seeking to live their lives based upon faith. Our obedience, or lack of it, demonstrates how deeply we believe and trust God.

We can never earn or deserve God’s forgiveness of our sins. No amount of future law keeping will atone for past law breaking. However, grace must never be construed as a license to sin. The Apostle Jude warned of those who perverted the meaning of grace by equating it with permission to disregard God’s law (Jude 4). The real purpose of God’s grace is clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In the very next verse Paul followed this explanation with an exhortation, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). Simply put, unless God’s forgiveness represents the start of a newly surrendered life of obedience to God, we have accepted the grace of God in vain!

It is God’s will that all mankind be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4). And in time sequence every person will be offered the opportunity of salvation (John 6:44, 65). However, Luke writes an important step in the book of Acts: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (4:12). It does not matter what sex, color, origin or rank, this is a promise, but all must willingly accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to obtain salvation because salvation is God’s free gift through faith in Christ (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Romans 5:10).

God does view the Jewish people in a special way as we are told in the book of Romans. “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (3:1-2). The Jewish people have maintained the Old Testament scriptures and God’s sacred calendar, which enables us to know the proper weekly Sabbath and annual Sabbaths (Leviticus 23). However, this does not mean God is a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11) in the matters of salvation as Paul makes very clear (Romans 2:25-29). In fact, through Israel’s rejection of God, gentiles are now being grafted into His church (Romans 11; Galatians 6:16).

Consequently, even though the Jews maintained the Old Testament scriptures Paul makes it very clear in writing to Timothy that the entire Bible is the “inspired Word of God,” in other words, God breathed (2 Timothy 3:15-17)—this would be inclusive of the New Testament as well!

Let’s begin by noticing two passages in the book of Hebrews, speaking of sinning willfully and being impossible to repent. First: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted [despite] the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:26-29)?

The “we” in this scripture refers to converted Christians—who have received God’s Holy Spirit through baptism and the laying on of hands by a true servant of God. None can, in fact, come to the real “knowledge of the truth,” until they have received the Holy Spirit to open their minds to that spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:9-11, 14). But notice, this sinning willfully is connected with “insulting the Spirit of grace,” which is certainly dangerously close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. However, most sins committed by begotten Christians do not fall into this category.

God looks on the heart—the inner motive—the real intent! If the Christian is trying—if he gets up whenever he falls down, and in repentance asks God’s forgiveness and sets out to do his very best not to make that mistake again—and to persevere with renewed effort, energy and determination to overcome—God is rich in mercy toward that person in his striving to overcome. Speaking to converted Christians, the Apostle John writes, “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

The second passage in Hebrews is this: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

What is meant by “falling away?” How shall we know how far is here meant? We know by what the scripture tells us: whenever it becomes impossible to renew one to repentance. Remember, God grants repentance (Acts 11:18, 5:31). Yet, of course God never forces repentance on anyone. When a person has come to the place where he won’t—can’t—has totally, completely, lost all desire to repent—is unable to repent—he has “fallen away.” And of course, this is not speaking of unconverted people—those who have never received the Holy Spirit. The test is this: If and when one really does desire to repent—does feel completely disgusted and abhorrent of self—does desire to repent and get back into God’s grace—He can!

There are many people today who do not repent. In fact, they clearly live their lives contrary to God and seem to prosper. It is God’s will to allow the truth to be a mystery to the whole of mankind at this time. This is made clear from Christ’s statement in Matthew, “That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (5:45). Nonetheless, the end of all this is found in Psalm 73. We will all be judged according to what we have been given, as every knee will bow before God, the Creator (Romans 14:11)!

What about the “backslider?” If somebody at any time becomes willing to repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)—turn and walk the other way—the gracious, merciful, all loving God will forgive and grant full repentance. God inspired James to close his book with this important admonition: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

That’s the final answer? If a person committed the unpardonable sin, he won’t want to repent. However, if someone wants to repent and reestablish contact with God—he can! And how about one never yet truly converted, or one who thought he was, but had only a false conversion and backslid? Well, whenever he is willing to really repent, and wants to find Christ—he can—if he just will!

Many people have misunderstood and stumbled over what Paul was writing about, claiming he was doing away with the law of Moses, and protecting the newly converted Gentiles from being led into “Judaism.” This is not true.

As background, Colosse was an ascetic community that practiced philosophy, the doctrine that you could pay for your own sins by denying yourself the pleasures of the body. They rigidly suppressed the body “in order to purify the soul.” Fasting often, they punished themselves, were mostly vegetarians, refused to eat meat and opposed drinking anything alcoholic. This pagan doctrine denied the need of a Savior. Those who followed this doctrine were severe ascetics, who opposed other Gentiles whose motto was “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” indulging in pleasures and the sins of the flesh. These ascetics sternly judged their Christian neighbors for freely eating meat God said was good for food, or drinking moderately, and for keeping the Sabbath and annual festivals. The Colossian converts had been taught, and understood and obeyed the gospel, and were imitating Christ in all that He did. Jesus came eating and drinking (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), showing He was no ascetic. These new Christians were daily enjoying life in temperance and self-control, especially in connection with each feast, every new month and the weekly Sabbaths. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were no longer ascetics attempting to conquer the pulls of the flesh by themselves. But the unconverted Colossians were sitting in judgment of them, condemning them for following their newfound Christianity. They were being judged for observing God’s festivals; His calendar measured by the new moon and the Sabbath. These once-heathen Christians never kept these days before and Paul was warning them not to return to their old pagan ways.

Now notice Colossians 2:17, “which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” The Greek word for “shadow” is skia, an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object. A better translation, based on the context, is “which foreshadow things to come.” The Bible clearly demonstrates that the weekly Sabbath foreshadows the seventh 1,000-year period in which man will rest from his labors of sin. Paul, in the Book of Hebrews, explains there is a Sabbath (rest) that man must keep (Hebrews 4:4–9). In like manner the seven annual festivals (Sabbaths) are memorials foreshadowing the plan of God. The Colossian Christians were keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths. Notice the last part of Colossians 2:17. The entire verse has confused many, but many more have stumbled over this part. The Authorized, or King James Version, provides the answer, so often obscured by newer translations: “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” The word “is” in the KJV is in italics. It does not appear in the original manuscripts. The original Greeks says: “the body of Christ.” Paul defines what the body of Christ is in chapter one verse 18, “And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church.” The true Church of God is the body of Christ. The Colossian Christians, and we today, are Christ’s body.

No one else is to sit in judgment of how we conduct our Christian lives. No man determines how we should live, because the responsibility of the Church—the body of Christ—is to determine these matters. A better translation of these often-misunderstood scriptures should be: “Let no man therefore judge you, but [rather] let the body of Christ [determine it].” Those who are expert in Greek language recognize that the first expression “let no man” requires there be a following expression, which tells who is to do the judging of the matter, in this case—the Church.

The verse states, “And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.” David’s successes against the Philistines revived a sense of unchecked anger in Saul, and the devil watched the opportunity of this open door, as he had done before. Saul’s envy and jealousy again returned, producing distraction of mind, which was exacerbated by diabolic influence. How?

Notice 1 Sam. 16:14: “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.” His own dark reflections, the consciousness that he had not acted up to the character of his kingship, the loss of his throne, and the extinction of his royal house, made him jealous, irritable, vindictive, and subject to fits of morbid melancholy. Adam Clarke’s commentary gives us further detail:

He was thrown into such a state of mind by the judgments of God, as to be deprived of any regal qualities which he before possessed. God seems to have taken what gifts he had, and given them to David; and then the evil spirit came upon Saul; for what God fills not, the devil will. The evil spirit was either immediately sent from the Lord, or permitted to come. Whether this was a diabolic possession, or a mere mental malady, the learned are not agreed; it seems to have partaken of both. That Saul had fallen into a deep melancholy, there is little doubt; that the devil might work more effectually on such a state of mind, there can be but little question. There is an old proverb, Satan delights to fish in troubled waters; and Saul’s situation of mind gave him many advantages.

The battle is for our mind! We have a natural mind that is, if we are not careful, in tune with the devil’s wavelength (Eph. 2:2). It picks up the very attitudes of Satan as expressed by selfishness, criticism, envy, unhappiness, etc., etc. Satan actually transmits to humanity that attitude of mind and heart which travels the way of sin. Of this natural mind, God says: “The carnal mind is enmity [hostile] against God; for it is not subject to the law of God …” (Rom. 8:7). The opposite attitude is that of the repentant Christian—that of the divine nature implanted by the Holy Spirit. This is the spiritual mind. The mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5)!

Beginning in Revelation 14, it is important to understand the time setting of this Scripture. It concerns the impending fall of “Babylon” (v. 8) and those who worship this false system. “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [that is, at Christ’s Second Coming]” (vv. 9–10).

When dealing with seemingly puzzling or challenging Scriptures, we need to step back and look at the whole context. There are many visions and parenthetical statements found in the book of Revelation. A vision is a foresight before the event, like a prophecy. Often a vision is used to give us foresight as to how things “will be,” before they are. These visions of the future in God’s kingdom are sometimes given as parenthetical statements within the context of a different time frame.

When these visions are given as parenthetical statements, it is usually obvious, when compared to other scriptures that detail in very plain language, the same events and their proper time frames. It is always a good rule of thumb, to let the very clear Scriptures interpret the Scriptures that are not as clear! For example, God inspired Paul to say plainly “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death is the cessation of life, not life in eternal hellfire. The Bible says, “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Christ likened death to “sleep,” when speaking of a young girl he resurrected, as well as when He resurrected Lazarus (Mark 5:35–43; John 11:11–14).

There is no life in the grave. Death is the cessation of life—not eternal torment. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV).

Those who do go into the Lake of Fire will be burned up and become “ashes” under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3). Ashes are the only things left once something is burned up. When one considers the overwhelming evidence given on the state of the dead, and compares it to Revelation 14:9–11, one must interpret that passage in Revelation in light of the other very clear passages on the same subject. Remember Christ said the Scripture could not be broken.

Now look at Revelation 14:11—one part at a time. “and they have no rest day or night.” Many assume “not resting day or night” is referring to eternal judgment. Yet, when you read about the Day of the Lord and what those suffering from the wrath of God will be going through, you can see that they would have no rest. It will be trial upon trial with no let-up. There will be no time to rest day or night. Many Jews experienced this same suffering in the Holocaust! But having no rest in the Day of the Lord is not eternal life in hell fire! This is simply an explanation of how severe and constant the plagues of God’s wrath (one of which is pouring out “fire and brimstone,” as happened to Sodom) will be until they are completed. The plagues do have a completion time—they will not last forever! Many passages use the word “complete” to refer to the end of the plagues.

Look at the other part of verse 11 “and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.” Notice, again, it does not say that they are tormented forever and ever, only that the smoke of their torment ascends forever. Smoke is used as a symbol of crying out during the Day of the Lord. “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3–4, KJV) (See also Revelation 5:8).

This smoke will rise up and be an eternal reminder of the pain and suffering that inevitably results from rebellion against God. The punishment, if the sins are not repented of, is eternal death. The incorrigible, who will not turn to Christ, will die and be burnt up and become ashes. But in all likelihood, this trial will bring most to repentance. But the smoke of the burning and destruction of both the beast system and those who worship the satanic beast system in the flesh—will serve as a lasting reminder of the way of Satan and the damage that he had done. This reminder will show the justness of God’s judgment on both man and Satan.

It has always been Satan’s lie from the beginning, when he told Eve, contrary to God’s statement to her and Adam, that she would not surely die. Do we believe God or the devil? Again God says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Yes, the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Only the repentant through Jesus Christ have eternal life, and that life will be glorious!

God is going to inflict this terrible punishment on those who have a part in this system of “Babylon” and they will have “no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:11), as long as they remain in that land falling under God’s wrath. They will have to flee that land and seek God’s mercy or be tormented by sulphurous fumes (v. 10) till they perish.

Man is not immortal and the Bible plainly teaches that flesh and blood is subject to combustion and death: “‘You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:3). The wicked shall be burned to ashes when they die the second death, from which there is never to be a resurrection (Revelation 20:6, 14).

With this information in mind look at Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10. Please note in Revelation 20:10 that the word are is in italics, which means it was inserted by translators. Based on what we have written above, God shows us when flesh is in fire it burns up. This means the Beast and False Prophet, who were cast into the Lake of Fire 1,000 years earlier, were, in fact, burned up at that time (Psalm 37:20). This verse is better translated “where the beast and the False Prophet were cast.”

No scripture is of “private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20-21). This means one is not to arrive at doctrine from a single scripture. All the scriptures on a subject are needed to arrive at a correct understanding. It is important to understand that “All Scripture [including the Old Testament] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16; note also Matthew 4:4).

In Isaiah 28:9–11 God inspired Isaiah to teach us the principle that we must search “here a little, and there a little” to come to the truth. “For with stammering lips… he will speak to this people.” To stammer is to stutter and it is defined as “A speech impediment marked by involuntary repetitions and pauses.” This tells us not to form a doctrine from one scripture. We must go to many scriptures and many different places (books) to arrive at a true understanding of God’s Word. We are also told that God inspired the Bible this way so that many would stumble and not understand. It is important to realize that the inspiration of the Spirit of God is also necessary to unlock the precious truths of God (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).

When we apply these principles, we understand that 2 Corinthians 5:8 cannot be talking about an afterlife in heaven. All we need to do is read a couple of the many scriptures that speak on the subject of an afterlife. “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13); “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29); “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand”’” (Acts 2:34).

Surely, David, a man after God’s own heart, and certainly, Abraham, the father of the faithful, would be living an afterlife in heaven if such a place existed. But the Scriptures plainly show that this is not the case. Such a belief is not supported anywhere in the Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 5:8 included.

What Paul is explaining in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 is that he was not afraid of death because he understood that when he died, then, in the next moment of his consciousness he would be resurrected to immortal, spirit life, in the Kingdom of God. The context of verse 4 clearly shows this is what Paul meant, saying “that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Paul certainly understood when this would occur. When will it occur? At the resurrection to immortality, when Jesus Christ returns in glory. Please read 1 Corinthians 15:50–54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17.

The Hebrew people occasionally practiced cremation. Yet the biblical record shows that they normally buried their dead, without embalming, in either tombs or graves. This was the practice in effect at the time of Jesus Christ. These were simple burials compared to the practices of today. Scripture shows that it was the custom of the Jews merely to wrap and bury those who died (John 19:40). Christ was buried according to that custom.

The Bible teaches that the manner of a person’s burial is not of great importance. Jacob was embalmed, and the Bible states that he will sit with Abraham and Isaac (who were not embalmed) in the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ was not embalmed, but He was resurrected to become the firstborn of many brethren. Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan, were cremated (1 Samuel 31:11–13). The book of Hebrews lists others who were martyred and received no burial. They are all listed as having been faithful to God and are promised to be in His Kingdom (Hebrews 11:39–40). And according to early church history, many Christians who are considered faithful martyrs were burned at the stake.

Does the manner of death, or the disposition of the body after death, determine our eternal life? When we die, there is no consciousness; our thoughts perish (Psalm 146:4, KJV). Death is likened to sleep (Job 7:21). And the resurrection is like waking up again (Daniel 12:2). Jesus Christ said that God is able to preserve us to be raised up later regardless of the condition of our physical remains, even if destroyed by fire (Matthew 10:15). The Apostle Paul shows that death, burial, and resurrection are likened to the process a seed undergoes when it is planted (1 Corinthians 15:35–37, 42–44). Whether we become dust, as God stated in Genesis 3:19, or ashes, God’s Word promises that we all will be resurrected (Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:12–13).

The practice of being baptized for those who have died is based upon a wrong understanding of I Corinthians 15:29. The inspired New Testament Church did not follow this practice, and the apostle Paul did not teach it. This custom was introduced into the professing Christian world about A.D. 150 by Marcion, a man who created his own religion and established his own church in Rome in A.D. 144.

The Bible clearly shows that before a person may be baptized, he must first repent (Acts 2:38) and believe (Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31, 33). The dead are not able to repent or believe, because “the dead know not any thing” (Eccl. 9:5). Baptism is for the living. Baptism is a symbol whereby the living acknowledge their sins, figuratively die with Christ in a watery grave, and rise out of that watery grave to live a new (righteous) life through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:4; 8:9; Gal. 2:20).

Baptism is also a symbol of the resurrection. To rise up out of the watery grave is to acknowledge belief in the resurrection of the dead (Rom. 6). To surrender one’s life to Christ now, to crucify the self now, to be baptized — all this is foolish unless there is a resurrection of the dead. If there were no hope of the resurrection, life could be summed up this way: “Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” Please compare I Corinthians 15:32.

I Corinthians 15:29 now becomes clear. The subject of the entire 15th chapter is the resurrection. Paul cites the example of those who were baptized as one proof of the resurrection. Their actions symbolized their hope that they would live again. The resurrection is the hope of the dead. “Why were they baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not?” seems to be Paul’s question in the King James Version. But, this verse is not correctly translated from the original inspired Greek. Paul is not talking about being baptized “in the place of” the dead, or “on behalf of” the dead, or “for” the dead. The Greek word translated “for” is huper. This word has several meanings and can be translated “above,” “over,” “instead of,” “for the realization of,” or “for the hope of,” depending upon the context in which it is used. Notice the following example.

Paul declared, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Greek word translated “of” in this verse is huper, the same word used in I Corinthians 15:29. In Philippians 2:13, huper cannot mean “instead of.” It would be senseless to say, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do instead of His good pleasure”! Correctly translated, this verse says, “God worketh in you both to will and to do for the realization of His good pleasure.” This is the translation given in “The Analytical Greek Lexicon”. What is God’s “good pleasure”? “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” declared Jesus (Luke 12:32). God works in us “in the hope of” giving us His Kingdom!

Thus, the Greek word huper in I Corinthians 15:29, according to the context, should be translated “for the hope of.” Notice the verse again: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the hope of the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the hope of the dead? What is the hope of the dead? It is the resurrection! Paul is writing about baptism; baptism illustrates the hope of the resurrection. Baptism — arising out of a watery grave—is a symbol of the hope of the dead, which is the hope of the resurrection. This verse, then, has nothing to do with the false doctrine of baptism on behalf of the unbaptized dead.

Context is the most important factor in understanding these Scriptures. Prior to these two verses, Jesus, beginning in verse 21, was describing the Great Tribulation. He said people in the end time, just like those in the time of Noah (vv. 37–38), would be living their normal lives going about their business when disaster suddenly occurs.

They will be working in the fields, working at their jobs, when the tribulation unexpectedly begins. Half the population will die or be taken into slavery—one of every two individuals. Jesus used this parable to emphasize what will come upon the modern descendants of Israel at the end of this age (vv. 21–22).

It is helpful to read the parallel account in Luke 17:26–37. Luke’s version, which includes the account of Lot and his wife, clearly shows that the Great Tribulation is already occurring at the time (vv. 28–33). The faithful believers in this end-time scenario have been taken to a place of safety here on earth prior to the tribulation (Revelation 12:6, 14–16).

The belief that half of the world will be raptured away cannot be reconciled with the rest of what the Bible says about Christ’s small end-time flock.

One of the greatest blessings God ever promised was the blessing of children! Abraham, by faith, waited many years for a son. Many of the promises which God gave to ancient Israel had to do with the begettal of healthy children. God says: “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalms 113:9). “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:3-5). Children are precious, priceless gifts from Almighty God!

God instituted the family to bring up healthy, whole-mined individuals (Mal. 2:15), not frightened children who must bear lifelong mental scars, or who become trapped into prostitution, sexual abuse or who grow up to victimize other children and perpetuate the cycle of abuse. God forbids incest (Lev. 18:6-17) and fornication (1 Cor. 6:9, 18; 7:2) and every other form of sex abuse because he knew the pain and problems that spring from them. Sex abuse robs children of the full opportunity to be those happy, future problem solving young adults. Instead of learning to be contributors; they must strive to be survivors. Abuse leads to a broken-down spirit, which is fatal to youth (Col. 3:21).

God long ago instructed us (Deut. 6:5-7; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4) to love our children and to teach them to love God and fellowman. It is obvious will be utterly ineffective in teaching this unless we are ourselves doing it.

Leviticus 23:3, “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” This is also repeated in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:24-25. The Hebrew word miqra’, is translated as convocation, which means something called out, i.e. a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal:–assembly, calling, convocation, and reading. In other words, we should strive, when possible, to attend a church service to be fed the truth with those of like mind on God’s holy Sabbath. This point is especially brought out by Philip the deacon, when he asked the Ethiopian eunuch if he understood what he was reading from the scroll of Isaiah. Notice the eunuch’s response, “And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him” (Acts 8:31).

What about eating and food preparation on God’s Sabbath (Exodus 16:22-26, Mathew 27:62, Luke 23:54)? The principle being taught from these scriptures shows us that we are allowed to eat on the Sabbath. Our families and brethren can certainly enjoy nice meals; after all, the Sabbath is a feast day! As Christians, we should make a concerted effort to have the majority of the preparation done before the Sabbath; however, God’s word also teaches mercy and shows that if small situations do arise we are okay to take care of them.

One scripture many like to use for justifying not keeping the Sabbath is Exodus 35:3, “You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” However, even most commentaries understand the context of this verse. Adam Clark states, “The Jews understand this precept as forbidding the kindling of fire only for the purpose of doing work or dressing victuals; but to give them light and heat, they judge it lawful to light a fire on the Sabbath day, though themselves rarely kindle it-they get Christians to do this work for them.” John Wesley comments, “Ye shall kindle no fire-For any servile work, as that of smiths or plumbers. We do not find that ever this prohibition extended farther.”

Nehemiah 13:15-21 teaches us about the restrictions of doing commerce and business on the Sabbath. God’s Sabbath is certainly not a time to do our full-list grocery shopping or to catch the latest sale at Home Dopot. However, if your car is about to run out of gas, God’s word teaches mercy and shows it is far better to “gas up” opposed to sitting on the side of the road, on a hot or cold day, and missing services and fellowship with the brethren.

There is also a strong principle found in Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight…Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord…” In this context, we should avoid our own recreation on God’s Sabbath, i.e., going to the ball game, hunting, fishing, etc. As Jamieson-Fausset-Brown point out, “God claims the Sabbath as His day; to take it for our own pleasure is to rob Him of His own.” For example, enjoy the day, go for a walk and enjoy God’s creation, but don’t go running in preparation for a marathon. This is the principle being taught.


The Sabbath day is truly a delight when observed the way that God commands us to keep it—all in balance (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)! For this reason members of the God’s church meet regularly on the weekly Sabbath.

In Leviticus 23 God also shows that His annual Sabbaths are to be kept and to include a holy convocation. This is also repeated in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:24-25. In other words, we should strive, when possible, to attend a church service to be fed the truth with those of like mind on God’s holy Sabbaths.

We need not celebrate the Eucharist as many of the “Christian” denominations today—in weekly or monthly cycles, etc.

We should follow the biblical example—that taught by Jesus Christ and followed by the apostles and the first century church. Jesus had introduced the “Lord’s Supper” (as many call it) as part of the Passover, at the beginning of the annual “days of unleavened bread.” The Passover was ordained forever (Ex. 12:24) and true Christians are commanded to observe it. At His last Passover supper, Jesus substituted the wine as the emblem of His blood, instead of the blood of the slain lamb. He substituted the unleavened bread for the roast body of the lamb as the symbol of His body, broken for us. The disciples continued to observe the Passover annually (once a year), now in the form of “the Lord’s Supper” using only the bread and wine, as a memorial (1 Cor. 11:24) of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 11:26), showing His death till He comes again. They also continued to observe the days of unleavened bread (Acts 20:6).

Coffee is a mild stimulant, which apparently is not harmful if used sparingly. Most people can tolerate and enjoy a moderate amount with no harmful effects. However, some people find that even a small amount causes nervousness, and they would probably be better off not to drink it at all. Neither should a person let coffee drinking become so necessary that the day is ruined if he does not have his coffee. The Bible does not specify coffee drinking to be a sin. The Bible teaches moderation (Prov. 23:1-3; 1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Tim. 2:9; 5:23). The same principle applies to tea.

It is interesting to note that Dan is also left out of the genealogies of I Chronicles 1-9. This historical point of interest may help explain why Dan was not mentioned in Revelation 7:5-8.

The tribe of Dan as a whole was guilty of idolatry—even to the point of stealing the idols they used to practice their religion (Judges 18:14-31). Theirs was the first organized idolatry in ancient Israel, and the longest in duration. It continued “until the day of the captivity of the land,” nearly 500 years later (Judges 18:30). Jewish tradition says that Dan was the first tribe to follow Jeroboam into his sin of idolatry. In their literature, the term “Dan” is often used to represent idolatry. From this summarized history of the tribe of Dan, we may have evidence of why Dan would not be among the 144,000 “servants of God” described in Revelation 7:1-4. Dan thoroughly rejected God’s true religion for thousands of years, substituting a continuous tradition of idolatry. The descendants of Dan say, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord” (Gen. 49:1, 18). The vast majority of Danites must wait for salvation until after the sealing of the 144,000.

It is reassuring to know that Dan and all the other tribes of ancient Israel will be saved. In fact, Dan is mentioned first in the apportionments of land in the soon-coming Millennium (Ezek. 48:1). The Bible records, “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). The 144,000 are only a very small portion of the people of all nations who will eventually be saved.

Jesus intended to illustrate an important lesson in this parable that most fail to understand. According to Jesus’ story, Lazarus died and was carried by angels to “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). We must first understand that God gave Abraham and his “seed” the promise of the earth for an eternal inheritance (Romans 4:13). The Apostle Paul said if we are Christ’s, we are considered by God as Abraham’s seed—children—and are then also heirs with Abraham to receive this promise (Galatians 3:29). It is through faith that we may become “children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). Christians would have an intimate relationship or a close bosom relationship with Abraham by sharing this promise. Christ likened it to being taken to Abraham’s bosom. This is what happened to Lazarus in Christ’s parable.

It is also important to understand that Abraham never received these promises (Hebrews 11:13). He will inherit them at the resurrection of the just, when Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God. That is also when Lazarus and all Christians, who have that intimate relationship with Abraham, spiritually speaking, will receive them at the first resurrection. Lazarus is a type of Abraham’s children who are to receive the promises at that better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).

But what about the rich man? Notice he died and was buried (Luke 16:22). He then lifts his eyes from the grave, not from a fiery hell of eternal torment. The word “hell” used here is translated from the Greek word Hades, which means the “grave.” It was not translated from the Greek word Gehenna, which represents the future lake of fire that will destroy the wicked forever (Revelation 20:14–15). The rich man is pictured as coming up out of his grave—through a resurrection—heading for that lake of fire.

We must make note of important time frames referred to in this parable. When Christ comes, all the righteous will be resurrected to immortality (vv. 4–5). They will have been immortal for over 1,000 years before the rich man is resurrected to be burned up in the lake of fire (v.14–15). He would have been in the grave, having no recollection of the passage of time (Ecclesiastes 9:5). At his resurrection from the grave, he sees the surrounding flames.

Some look at the great gulf (Luke 16:26) as the difference between heaven and hell. It really signifies the difference between mortality and immortality. Those who are made immortal will never die because they will be born of God by the resurrection (Revelation 20:6). As immortal sons of God, Abraham and Lazarus were on one side of the gulf and the rich man, as a mortal who rejected God’s way, was on the other side facing eternal death. Jesus Christ was teaching salvation for the righteous by the resurrection to eternal life into the Kingdom of God, and picturing the second and eternal death in the lake of fire—if we do not accept and act on the good news of the gospel.

The Book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ (v1). The very keynote verse, sounding the theme of the whole revelation is verse 10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” And it is here that most people begin to stumble, and to misunderstand! As this is not understood, endless controversy and strife and confusion have come from arguing as to whether the day of the week on which John wrote this message was Saturday or Sunday. John was not referring to any day of the week. The day of the week on which this happened to be written—if it could have been all written within one day—is not important, and that is not what this verse means at all. It does not refer to any day of the week, but to that prophetic period referred to in more than 30 prophecies as “The great and terrible Day of the Lord” (Isa. 34:8; Joel 2:1, 31; 3:14; Zeph. 1:14-15, 18). The house of John is John’s house. The Day of the Lord is the Lord’s Day. As Greek scholar Adolf Deissmann wrote, the grammar and connection both favor the view “according to which ‘the day of the Lord’ here stands for the day of Yahwe: the day of Judgment” (Encyclopedia Biblica, article “Lord’s Day”). New Testament and textual scholar F.J.A. Hort agrees that this meaning fits “best with the context” and “gives the key to the book” (The Apocalypse, pp. 15-16).

In spirit—in vision—John was carried forward almost 2000 years—projected into the Day of the Lord—during the time which seems is now just ahead of us! This one year period is described as God’s impending judgment upon the unrighteous and sinning nations of the world. It is described as the day of God’s wrath. It is described all through the Revelation as the time when God Almighty will soon, now, step in and supernaturally intervene in world affairs! God will send plagues upon the sinners of the earth! It is the time which follows the Great Tribulation, and leads up to and climaxes in the glorious second coming of Jesus Christ (Rev. 19).

Jesus Christ will return from heaven to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, to glorify the saved, and to rule on earth over all nations for 1000 years or millennia (Rev. 5:10; 11:15; 20:4-6). During that time all peoples (who lived through the Great Tribulation) will be given God’s truth, and salvation will be opened to all those who have never had their chance (Isa. 2:2-4; 24:6). Throughout this 1000 year period families will again grow and flourish and be taught God’s true way of life (Zech. 8:4-5; 14:1-21; Isa. 6:6-7; 11:9-9; 30:20; Micah 4:2-8; We learn about this plan of salvation through God’s annual Sabbaths (Lev. 23).

Luke 17:20-21: Check the context. In other words you must ask yourself, if “the Kingdom of God is within you”—who is the “you” that the Bible is referring to? In this case verse 20 explains that it is the self-righteous back-biting Pharisees! Now you know that certainly Jesus Christ wasn’t saying that the Kingdom of God is inside of Pharisees. Therefore, the context helps you to see that there must be a mistranslation in this particular verse. The word “within” should be translated “among” or “in the midst of”—referring to Jesus Himself as a Representative of God’s Kingdom who was at that time “among” the Pharisees! Your Bible margin probably points this out.

Romans 14:1 essentially explains the context of the chapter: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” In other words, Paul is teaching to be careful in judging your brother, especially one who is newer and would be weaker in the faith and has less understanding. Don’t waste time arguing over eating meat verses being a vegetarian or arguing about one day better than another for fasting—don’ t get caught up with pagan superstitions (e.g. Friday the 13th). God’s kingdom is far more important than these disputes. The Kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17) is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—spiritual things.

1 Corinthians 4:19-20: “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” Paul states, “Not in word” meaning not in human eloquence, excellence of speech, or speaking ability. The kingdom of God will result in the power of Almighty God through the mighty energy of His Holy Spirit—enlightening, converting, and sanctifying believers; and all of God’s genuine apostles are enabled, on all necessary occasions, to demonstrate the truth of their calling by miracles; for this the original word often means.

Enoch’s fate has long been misunderstood by many who study the Scriptures. Hebrews 11:5 states: “By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death and was not found because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (KJV). This is a reference to Genesis 5:23–24, which says, “So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not for God took him.” We should immediately notice that “all the days of Enoch” amounted to 365 years—not just part of his days, with the rest spent somewhere else. The expression “all the days of” is used about a dozen times in Genesis 5 and it always means the person lived that long and he died. In Hebrews 11, just quoted, Enoch is included in a list of faithful examples who “all died in faith, not having received the promises” of eternal life in God’s kingdom (v. 13). So Enoch definitely died at age 365.

What, then, about his “translation”? The Greek word rendered “translated” is metatithemi. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, it means “to change, remove” (p. 150). This reference goes on to say that the word can mean to transfer to another place. So God must have “removed” or “transferred” Enoch to another place. When? After his “walk” with God ended (Genesis 5:24)—when he died. The word metalithemi is rendered “carried back” in Acts 7:16, in reference to transporting Jacob’s dead body from Egypt back to Canaan. They “translated” him! In Deuteronomy 34:6 we learn that God took Moses’ dead body and buried him so that “no one knows his grave to this day.” It is the same with Enoch! His body “was not found” because God had translated or removed him. So why does the beginning of Hebrews 11:5 say, “Enoch was translated so that he did not see death”? This must not be talking about the literal, physical removal of a dead body. It must refer to a different “translation.” We find this different translation described in Colossians 1:13. As for Christians, God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into [some other versions say “toward” or “for”] the kingdom of the Son of His love.” This is a figurative translation from a path of spiritual darkness to a path headed toward God’s Kingdom! Enoch experienced this same spiritual translation when he began his 300-year “walk” with God at age 65, after his son Methuselah was born (Genesis 5:21–22).

Still, why does it say, “he did not see death”? This is a mistranslation. The original King James Version is correct in saying, “Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” The conditional tense of the verb refers to a future event! There is more than one death mentioned in the Bible. The first death is appointed to all people (Hebrews 9:27). There is also a second death in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:6). In John 8:51, Christ said, “Most assuredly. I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he shall never see death” (KJV). Obviously He was talking about the second death, since all of his disciples eventually died. Enoch will not see this future death either.

Putting it all together—Enoch was spiritually translated at his conversion to God’s way and walked with God for 300 years—making him worthy to escape the future second death, which will destroy the incorrigibly wicked. And, when he physically died at age 365, God literally translated or removed his body so that no one could find it. Enoch did not go to heaven.

2 Kings 2:11 reads, “Then it happened, as they [Elijah and Elisha] continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” Certainly, God did take Elijah into heaven. But just what does that mean? The popular interpretation of this verse is that Elijah was taken to God’s throne in heaven, where the Father and Christ now dwell. But the word “heaven” has three different meanings in the Bible: 1) the atmosphere, or sky(Genesis 1:26; 2:20; 8:2; 1 Kings 18:45); 2) the stellar universe, or outer space (Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13; Joshua 10:13); and, 3) the place where God’s throne is (Joshua 2:11; Psalm 11:4; 2 Corinthians 12:2). Elijah did ascend into heaven—but which heaven was it?

It is interesting to note that several years after Elijah’s ascension to heaven, he was still on earth! “And a letter came to him [Jehoram, King of Judah] from Elijah” (2 Chronicles 21:12). A careful study of the chronology of these events shows that Elijah was still on earth when he wrote that letter—several years after he “went up… into heaven.” “Though it is clear he [Elijah] is taken from the earthly scene in a chariot of fire that rises to heaven like a whirlwind, the author might well have had in mind his removal or ‘retirement’ to some remote area. If so, ‘heaven’ in this text is equivalent to ‘sky,’ and the author does not intend to imply that Elijah joined Yahweh as an immortal in the heavenly court. This appears to be the understanding of the Chronicler, who reports that much later, Jehoram, king of Judah, receives a letter written by Elijah (2 Chron. 21:12–15)” (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 3, pp. 91-92).

The Bible does not contradict itself (John10:35) and does not teach that we go to heaven when we die. Clearly, Elijah did not go to the 3rd heaven of God’s throne (John 3:13), but was taken up into the atmosphere.

One other reference that should be helpful to you is found in the Book of Acts: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day… For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’” (Acts 2:29–35).

Some point to the Apostle Paul as going to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.” Paul, in context, was relating to the Corinthians his past experiences in the preaching the gospel (Chapter 10, 11). He clearly prefaces his “third heaven” experience as “visions and revelations” (v. 1). This reference was undoubtedly a spiritual experience Paul had after his calling into the ministry and after being trained directly by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11–12).

Some teachers of biblical prophecy wrongly believe that Russia will take over the Middle East before Christ’s second coming. Where does that mistaken idea come from? It comes mainly from a misunderstanding of Ezekiel 38, which begins: “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (vv. 1–2).

Most biblical scholars identify these peoples as those from northern Russia. Wilhelm Gesenius, a 19th century Hebrew scholar and others note that the city of Moscow is derived from the Hebrew name Meshech. Ezekiel continues: “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops; many people are with you’” (vv. 3–6). Notice that the house of Togarmah is from the far north, that is, north of the Holy Land. When you look at a map, Russia is in the far north. Who will join Russia? Persia is mentioned. Most scholars agree that Persia is modern-day Iran. The Hebrew word for Ethiopia is Cush, the eastern branch of which is identified with India. The Hebrew word for Libya is Put (Put was the third son of Ham, according to Genesis 10:6), whose eastern branch, like Cush, is also identified with India. Magog is identified with the Mongols and Gomer with Indochina. Togarmah is most likely identified with Siberia.

We can generally agree on the identity of these peoples mentioned in Ezekiel 38. And Bible prophecy shows that these armies certainly will eventually enter the Middle East. But the question is: When?

After Jesus’ second coming, He will work to bring world peace and reeducate the nations (cf. Isaiah 2; Micah 4). But that will take time. All nations will not automatically accept the rule of Jesus Christ when He returns. Even Egypt will apparently refuse the Lord’s command to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem (cf. Zechariah 14:18–19). The Russo-Chinese alliance, mentioned in Ezekiel 38, will attack after the Millennium begins—after the second coming of Christ, and after peace is established in the Holy Land. Notice what God says of the invading armies: “You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’; to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezekiel 38:11–12). Does Israel today “dwell safely” in unwalled villages, that is, without military protection? Of course not! Ezekiel is speaking of a time yet future, when Christ establishes peace in the Holy Land. Notice: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?”’” (v. 14).

God will destroy this eastern alliance and its armies when they attack restored Israel (cf. Ezekiel 39). There will be so many dead bodies that it will take months to bury them. “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land” (Ezekiel 39:12). Almighty God has all the power in the universe to fulfill His will. It is folly for nations to fight against Him and His purpose. But the nations will learn who is in charge. As God states: “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23).

One of Israel’s chief rabbis, Shlomo Amar has recognized the Bnei Menashe community as one of the lost tribes of ancient Israel. It has been reported that he plans to formally convert the Indian tribe to Orthodox Judaism. The Bnei Menashe (Children of Manasseh) claim to descend from this tribe of the exiled Israelites in the 8th Century BC. The BBC reports: “The community’s oral tradition is that the tribe trabelled through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China and on to eastern India.” The Bnei Menashe tribe, which is 6000-9000 members strong, represents only a tiny fraction of India’s north-eastern Christian community in the border states of Manipur and Mizoram.

“DNA studies at the Central Forensic Institute in Calcutta suggest that while the masculine side of the tribes bears no links to Israel, the feminine side suggests a genetic profile with Middle Eastern people that may have arisen through inter-marriage” (Rabbi backs India’s ‘lost Jews’). Although, they keep the Sabbath, follow kosher dietary laws and worship in synagogues, it can be presupposed they know very little about their history (Lev. 26:33, 38). As a whole the lost ten tribes know very little, if anything about their identity; yet, God knows who and where they are!

Accordion Contenta

God regards marriage as a holy union in which a man and a woman are joined together for life as “one flesh” by a sacred vow (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6). They are no longer separate and able to pursue independent activities and interests. Therefore, it is right to formalize the union of a man and a woman in marriage by a wedding ceremony—whether by the justice of the peace or by His ministers in which case God’s blessing is bestowed upon the couple.

Yes—marriages performed by other legally authorized officials are recognized by God. Provincial and Federal laws in respect to marriage are supported by Scripture. God tells us we are to obey the laws of the land when they do not conflict with His own (Rom. 13:1-7; Acts 5:29).

The Bible clearly shows both the Father and the Son are eternally self-existent; that they alone comprise the “Godhead.” Even though “there is only one God” (1 Corinthians 8:4; Deuteronomy 6:4), Scripture shows that God is a divine Family made up of more than one Being (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 2:19; 3:15; Hebrews 2:10–11).

Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament, the “Word” (logos), through whom the Father created all things (John 1:1–3; 1 Corinthians 8:6, KJV; 10:4; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2); the “only begotten Son” of the Father (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18); Savior of mankind (1 John 4:14); He died for our sins and was resurrected that we might be saved from eternal death (Acts 4:10–12).

Does Revelation 3:14 teach that Christ is a “created” Being, the “first of the creation of God”? The King James Version has led some to say “yes.” The problem is in translating the word “beginning.” Ignoring the full picture of what the Bible teaches, proponents of the idea that Christ was created pick the most convenient definition to prove their narrow point. The Greek for “beginning” is arche, defined as beginning or origin. To find the right definition of the word, John 1:1–3 confirms the meaning to be “that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause” (Online Bible Version 2.5.3).

Other translations bring the meaning into even clearer focus. Christ is “the Origin of God’s creation” (Moffatt, NRSV); He is “the Ruler of God’s creation” (NIV). “Beginning” would be better rendered the “Beginner” or the “Originator” of creation.

Much the same problem exists concerning Colossians 1:15. Again, proponents of a created Christ point to the word “firstborn” to justify their conclusions. In the Greek it is prototokos, the firstborn. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says that prototokos is a compound of “protos, ‘first’ and tikto, ‘to beget,’ [more properly “first begotten”]… further, in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the ‘first’ to be born.” Vine’s use of “priority to, and preeminence over,” which mainstream Evangelicals use to defend their trinitarian position, cannot be substantiated by the Greek.

First begotten or first born means just that. To concentrate on only Colossians 1:15 is again to overlook the full meaning of what the Bible pictures. Overlooked are vv. 16-18, which point us back to John 1:1–3.

Jesus Christ was “Immanuel,” which is rendered “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He was God in the flesh and is now our Great High Priest who, by His suffering, can sympathize and empathize with us (Hebrews 4:15).

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We must believe in Christ for salvation! However, to believe in Christ (the Word) is to believe in what He says, which is recorded in the Bible—the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:14-17; Hebrews 1:1-4).

Part of your question pertains to the “70 Weeks Prophecy” found in Daniel 9:25-27. To explain this prophecy, I will quote from parts of “Halley’s Bible Handbook”: “The Captivity, which was then drawing to a close, had lasted 70 years. Daniel is here told by the angel that it would yet be ’70 weeks’ till the coming of the Messiah [see verse 24]. The ’70 weeks’ is generally understood to mean 70 weeks of years, that is, 70 sevens of years, or seven times 70 years, that is 490 years. “The date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to re-build Jerusalem [see verse 25]. There were three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose … The principal one of these was 457 B C [the one given by Artaxerxes]. “The 70 weeks is subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week [see verses 25 and 27]. It is difficult to see the application of the ‘7 weeks’; but the 69 weeks (including the 7) equal 483 days, that is, on the year-day theory, Ezek 4:6, which is the commonly accepted interpretation, 483 years. “This 483 years is the period between the decree to re-build Jerusalem and the coming of the ‘Anointed One,’ [see verse 25]. The decree to re-build Jerusalem, as noted above, was 457 B C. Adding 483 years to 457 B C brings us to 26 A D.” Because there is no year 0, one year is gained and must be added to the A.D. date. It was A.D. 27 when Jesus was baptized and began His ministry, the very year that Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry. A most remarkable fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, even to the year.

The Bible tells us that at this date Jesus was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23). One possible reason He waited for this age to begin His ministry is the command He gave, which is found in Numbers 4:1-3, “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.” The Jews considered 30 years of age to be the age of manhood for boys.

Another possibility to consider is a principle John writes about, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him” (John 7:1). God has a specific plan and purpose—His will be done! Most likely, Jesus waited until the time was right to be certain the Father’s will be done. This also pertains to the fact that Jesus came about 4000 years after Adam and Eve. God has a plan of salvation for mankind, which is learned by analogy through the creation week.

As Genesis shows, God refashioned the earth and created all life forms in six days and then rested on the Sabbath. God also gave man six days in which to work, followed by a day of rest (Ex. 20:9-11). On the seventh day, man is to put aside his normal routine of daily activities and worship the true God (Isa. 58:13-14).


The Apostle Peter undoubtedly understood that the seven-day week is a pattern which applies to time on a far grander scale. 2 Peter 3:18 relates a Biblical analogy of one day equaling 1000 years with God (see Ps. 90:1-4). The Apostle Paul also had this principle in mind when he explained that the seventh day of the week pictures the peaceful time of rest that will follow this present age of human activity. In Hebrews 4:1-11, Paul relates to the seventh day as God’s rest day of the creation week, our rest on the Sabbath and the ultimate rest for Christian’s in the millennium. Since the seventh day of the week symbolizes 1000 years of peace under the rule of Jesus Christ, the first six days of the week represent 6000 years in which man has been allowed to govern himself and work out his own ideas and plans. In other words, each day of the week represents 1000 years of human existence.

Where are we now in this great plan? If you look at charts which list biblical events in time order—most charts show that human life was created about 4000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. History makes is clear that about 2000 years have elapsed since then—making a total of nearly 6000 years of human civilization to date. In short, man’s “week” is nearly over, and God’s great millennial rest will soon be here. God’s coming kingdom—His government—is what the church is commissioned to preach as a witness to this world (Mark 1:14-15; Matt. 24: 14). Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). We are ambassadors for that coming government (2 Cor. 5:20). For this reason we do not get involved with the politics of this world.

Finally, the only sign Jesus gave the Pharisees that He was the Messiah was the sign of Jonah (Matt. 12:39-40)—three days and three nights. God counts days from sunset to sunset (Gen. 1:4-13; Lev. 23:32) and Jesus stated there are “twelve hours in a day” (John 11:9-10). If we are to accept all the testimony of the Bible, we must conclude that Jesus was 72 hours in the grave, or the only sign—supernatural proof He gave—must fail!

A careful study of Matthew 27:45-66; 28:1; Mark 15:42, 47-16:2; John 19:31, 39 and Luke 23:50-56 can only come to one conclusion: Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, put in the grave that evening and resurrected on a Saturday evening—just as He prophesied!

The surprising thing is that the Christian use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine, three centuries after Christ. Archaeologists have not found any Christian use of the symbol before that time. According to one writer (W. E. Vine, “Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,” article “Cross”), the cross as a “Christian” symbol was taken directly from the pagans. The mere fact that the traditional cross figures so prominently in pagan religious custom ought to give us pause for thought. Especially, considering God forbids Christians to worship Him with pagan methods (Deut. 12:29-32; 13:1-3; Mark 7:9).

The Second Commandment prohibits the use of anything which represents God—including symbols and/or pictures: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4). Jesus Christ is God (Hebrews 1:8); this would prohibit any picture, likeness of Him or symbol in the worship of Him.

God does not condemn the proper use of jewelry (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-5), art, sculpture or family photos, only the pictures or images of anything used as an aid to worship Him—to “bow down to them.” God deeply appreciates beauty and incorporated artwork in construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35–40), and the temple (2 Chronicles 3,4). Decorations included representations of angels woven into the veil of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1), and as part of the Ark of the Covenant, the very Mercy Seat of God (Exodus 25:18–22).

When He was born as Jesus Christ, He was flesh and blood and could be seen, touched and felt. But what was He as God—as the Logos? That is answered in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit,” and spirit is invisible. This would certainly explain why God is not real to most people. God is invisible to human eyes (Col. 1:15). He does not seem real. To seem real, the mind naturally wants to visualize a definite form and shape. But even though God is composed of spirit and not of visible matter, God nevertheless does have definite form and shape.

Without God’s Spirit no one could ever inherit everlasting life! Without God’s Spirit you cannot fully worship God as you should—John said so! Absolutely no one can worship God in spirit if he has not the Spirit of God! God’s Holy Spirit will give you the supernatural help to live the same life today that Jesus Christ lived as a fleshly human being over 1900 years ago. Today Jesus Christ has sent His Holy Spirit to the members of His true Church. Through that Spirit, Christ is living in the flesh and blood members of His Church. They are living the very same kind of life Jesus lived—a life of obedience, overcoming and enduring to the end of this age.

Finally, in God’s due time by a resurrection, or by instantaneous change to immortality at Christ’s coming, you can be born of God—into the Kingdom of God! You will no longer be material flesh from the ground, but composed of spirit, even as God is Spirit. Without God’s Spirit you will not be able to really understand God’s truth (John 16:13). For centuries mankind has wanted to glorify God in his own way! They “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like … creeping things” (Romans 1:23)—the snake, and other things God had created. They have substituted holidays for God’s Holy Days. They worship the sun god instead of the Son of God. (They should have worshiped God in spirit and in truth and not through idols—John 17:17 and Ex. 20:4-5.)

Jesus Christ said that true Christians are to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). No matter who we are one’s physical ancestry will not prevent one from becoming a child of God today. The descendants of certain nations and peoples were never to enter the congregation of ancient Israel, but today we are told that all men of all nations may enter God’s Family upon real repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Please read Acts 17:30; Galatians 3:28-29, 6:16 and 2 Peter 3:9.

There is a basic key to understanding what nations in our day are referred to when they are mentioned in Bible prophecy. If we understand how to use this key, we can know, in advance, exactly what the nations today—Russia, China, and many others—will do in the times just ahead of us! This is vital to know in these end times. What is this key? The key is this: nations of Bible times naturally gave rise to nations of today. Therefore God in prophecy had to use the same names which they had then, to foretell what their descendants in our time would do! The descendants of these nations have taken other names in modern times, but such a small lapse of time has occurred between the bearing of their former names and their present ones that it is not at all difficult, in most cases, to pick up ancient history books and find what each nation’s name—its Bible name has been!

Russia will be the greatest of the “kings of the East” (Revelation 16:12). One of her armies will be destroyed at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12) along with the united armies of all the European Union gathered against Jerusalem. There are many biblical prophecies regarding the Eastern armies to include Russia and China (Gog and Magog). See Ezekiel 38:1-6, 11-12, 15-23; 39:1-20; Revelation 20:7-9.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The person executed may sometimes have been attached to the cross by ropes, but nails are mentioned in a passage of Josephus, where he states that, at the Siege of Jerusalem (70), the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailedthose they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest,[7] and in John 20:25. Objects, such as nails, used in the execution of criminals were sought as amulets.[8]”

Regarding the exact placement of the nails, the Bible does not explicitly tell us. However, one scripture as noted above, regarding Thomas, points out: “The other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary writes, “The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped, and was extended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet either by nails or thongs.” Other sources state, “Spikes about 7 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter were driven into the wrists. The spikes would hit the area of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain up the arms to the shoulders and neck” (www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/crucifixion-of-jesus.htm). “The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrists and deep into the wood. Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrist as part of the hand. The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified” (www.creatingfutures.net/crucifixion.html).

Following the account of Jesus teaching in the Temple at age 12, scripture states, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). So Jesus evidently spent most of those years in Nazareth. If He had not, He would not have been known as a Nazarene.

Now read the important account of Jesus preaching in the synagogue, after He was 30 years old: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up…” (Luke 4:16). And what did they think of Him? “…they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us” (Matthew 13:54-56)? This was Jesus’ own country (Luke 4:24). The people knew Jesus! They knew His whole family. How obvious that Jesus spent most of those 18 years between ages 12 and 30 in Nazareth. This was where He was trained and where He studied. Whether or not He traveled to any foreign nation is not revealed.

Many today believe Jesus told His disciples that Christians will spend eternity in “mansions” in heaven. They quote His words in John 14:1-4. Did Jesus really say that our reward is a mansion in heaven? The Greek word “mone” translated “mansion” means in more modern English, “a room, a place of staying, an abode, or a chamber.” So in the Father’s house there are a number of rooms or chambers (Jeremiah 35:2; Hebrews 8:5, 9:1-7).

But what is the Father’s house? What does the Bible declare the Father’s house to be? When in the Temple, Jesus said to the Jews who were selling doves and cattle therein: “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). Here is a simple Bible definition of the Father’s house.

Nowhere does the Bible call “heaven” the Father’s house. The Father’s house is being built in heaven, but it is not heaven! Heaven is never said to have “mansions.” What then is the place prepared?

There are two texts in the Bible which tell us what is being prepared. The first is in Matthew 25:34. Here Christ said: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The other text is in, Rev 21:2, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”


The Temple of Jerusalem standing in Jesus’ day was a type of the Kingdom of God and the city New Jerusalem. The Bible says the only places that are prepared are the Kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem. Since it is the Kingdom and the Holy City that are finally prepared for us ALL, then what Jesus is preparing for each of us must be individual positions in the Kingdom and in the new city, Jerusalem. Now it’s plain why Christ alluded to the temple as an example of the Kingdom of God and of the New Jerusalem.

Mary was truly a wonderful woman and righteous in the eyes of Almighty God (Luke 1:28). However, the Bible clearly reveals that she did not remain a virgin (see Matthew 12:46). Also notice Matthew 13:55-56, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren [brothers], James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” As you can see, the Bible reveals that Jesus had four brothers and at least, two sisters.

Through her scheming and designing, Semiramis became the Babylonian “Queen of Heaven,” and Nimrod, under various names, became the “divine son of heaven.” Through the generations, in this idolatrous worship, Nimrod also became the false Messiah, son of Baal the Sun-god. In this false Babylonish system, the “Mother and Child” (Semiramis and Nimrod reborn) became chief objects of worship. This worship of “Mother and Child” spread over the world. The names varied in different countries and languages. In Egypt it was Isis and Osiris. In Asia, Cybele and Deoius. In pagan Rome, Fortuna and Jupiterpuer. Even in Greece, China, Japan, Tibet is to be found the counterpart of the Madonna, long before the birth of Christ!

Thus, during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the pagans of the Roman world were “accepting” the new popular “Christianity” by the hundreds of thousands, carrying their old pagan customs and beliefs along with them, merely cloaking them with Christian-sounding names, the Madonna and “Mother and Child” idea also became popularized, especially at Christmas time. Every Christmas season you’ll hear sung and chanted dozens of times the hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night,” with its familiar “Mother and Child” theme. Those who have been born in such a babylonish world, reared and steeped in these things all their lives, have been taught to revere these things as holy and sacred—never questioning to see where they came from—whether they came from the Bible, or from pagan idolatry!

The Bible does not teach the worship of “mother and child.” Today, in mid-winter, the “sacred child” is still worshipped! The familiar mother and child theme at Christmas is a cleverly disguised pagan “mystery” which dates back to Nimrod and his mother Semiramis! The “New Year’s baby,” once worshipped in ancient Greece as Dionysus or Adonis—“the lord”—is now welcomed in the churches of modern Christianity! Catholicism denies that Jesus came in the flesh. They call His mother the “mother of God.” They say Jesus had only the nature Adam is assumed to have had before he “fell.” That is why the doctrine of the “immaculate conception” was invented—that Mary too was miraculously and sinlessly conceived. Human beings would like to ignore the feat that Christ came in the flesh to set us an example, showing us how we should live.

Scripture nowhere tells us how old Mary was when she was betrothed to Joseph or when Jesus was born. So no one can say with any certainty whether she was 12 or 16 or 20 or older.

Mother’s day is not fundamentally religious in character. It is a secular holiday of comparatively recent origin. In this world, parents are too often forgotten and neglected in day-to-day living. This world tries to make up for this by a special holiday dedicated to the role of each parent. The Bible, of course, teaches that parents should be honored at all times (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3).

We see examples of other secular holidays in the Bible such as Purim (Esther 9:1-) and Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which is observed in honor of the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabaeus in the second century B.C. It is an eight-day festival in which candles are lit, one on the first evening, two on the second, and so on until eight are lit on the last evening, symbolizing that the light of faith is certain to grow.

However, modern Hanukkah observances are more similar to Christmas celebrations. Many Jews, especially in the United States and Canada, have adopted Christmas customs and attached them to the celebration of Hanukkah.

Jesus, a Jew by human birth, was present at the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22). We learn from Christ’s example that it is not wrong to acknowledge certain national holidays, as long as they are not derived from paganism and do not violate God’s law. Thanksgiving, is another example. As far as Mother’s Day, Christians follow God’s instructions in remembering and honoring parents. If one also wants to send a card with personal best wishes, telephone parents, or have a nice meal on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

God’s guidelines with regard to clothing and dress are very general. God expects Christian women to dress in “modest apparel” (I Timothy 2:9)—that is, in clothes which are not flamboyant and garish. A Christian woman should not be an “exhibitionist” in attracting undue attention to herself by wearing clothing which is provocative or outrageous.

By the same token, this does not mean that Christian women should be drab, colorless, or tasteless dressers. A Christian is to be a light to the world, an example of balance and good taste. We should not be so out of step with the fashions of society that we stand out like the proverbial “sore thumb.” Clothes can be fashionable without being immodest or peculiar. Apparel should be appropriate for the occasion — decent swimsuits for the beach, jeans for yard work, and usually a dress or other nicer outfit for special occasions. A Christian woman should especially strive to look nice for her husband.

In the Old Testament, God gave this law: ” The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5). This refers to transvestism. It does not refer to a woman wearing pants which were designed for women.

The “meek and quiet spirit” of a truly converted Christian woman will be reflected in the kind of clothing she selects (I Peter 3:4). She will wear what is appropriate and stylish for any given occasion — but with proper modesty and decorum. And God will look on the heart of such a woman with approval.

The Church of God must base its beliefs and practices on Scripture and the practices of the early New Testament Church. Women were ordained as deaconesses, which were physical offices of service to the Church (Romans 16:1–2). The Greek word for “servant” in this verse is diakonos, which means deacon or deaconess, signifying servant or attendant. Deacons and deaconesses served the Church by assisting in non-preaching activities (Acts 6:2–3).

The Bible reveals that women are not to be ordained as ministers, which is also based on the teachings of the Apostle Paul and the practice of the early Church (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12).

God’ Word repeatedly demonstrates the important roles of women in the church. Note Deborah’s leadership (Judges 4, 5); Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 1, 2); Lemuel’s mother (Proverbs 31); the accounts of Ruth and Esther in the Old Testament; the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus; Priscilla (Acts 18:24–26): Dorcas (Acts 9: 36–40); Phoebe (Romans 16:1–2) and many others. Women, in today’s Church, continue to contribute as deaconesses, and in other roles, helping to bring stability as examples, especially of the “young women” and as “teachers” in God’s Church (Titus 2:3–5).

This is an analogy Jesus used to show how people who have not had their minds opened by God to receive spiritual understanding will often react when they hear the true Gospel. Put another way, Jesus was teaching His disciples not to try to convert those who are not yet being called (John 6:44). Such people are likely to respond by treating God’s truth like dirt. Just as a dog would bury a fancy heirloom in the dirt because it doesn’t know any better and cannot appreciate such worth, the person whose mind is not yet receptive cannot grasp the awesome value of the truth. To them, the truth would be meaningless and would be discarded. They would just trample it underfoot, so to speak.

While we should never attempt to force God’s truth onto any person, we should certainly “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [us], with meekness and fear [gentleness and respect]” (I Pet. 3:15). In other words, it is right to explain what we believe when someone sincerely asks us. Such interest may indicate that God is opening the person’s mind.

Notice how, at another time, Jesus used pearls to express the value of the truth and of God’s Kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46). God wants us to treat His truth like a priceless gem.

The context of these scriptures does not seem to show that the person has died, but rather living at the end-time. There are two scenarios: one person being about the Father’s business and one who loses interest. We all want to understand, but unless we are watching and praying Christ’s coming is going to sneak up on us (Matthew 24:42). All of us need to be “tuned in” to this Book—to the Word of God—watching world events, praying for understanding and praying for Christ’s righteousness. Pray that He will live His life in you and yield yourself so that He will live His life in you (Matthew 24:13).

Matt. 24:45-51: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. [We must be busy doing God’s Work right up to the end.] Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. [That is our reward, to be kings and priests-rulers under Christ in the coming Kingdom of God on this earth.] But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ [as many “mainline” preachers say, “Well, this stuff of Christ’s coming has been talked about all these years, nothing has ever happened, nothing ever is going to change.”] and begins to beat his fellow servants [to punish the true servants of God.], and to eat and drink with the drunkards [that can be spiritual drunkenness as well], the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, [He will be blinded; he won’t know what is ahead. He will not be watching and praying, and he will not understand.] and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth [many will realize their lost opportunity].”

There is a tremendous lesson in these verses for all of us, as there is going to be great sorrow from those who have not been willing to listen to the truth and to do what this Bible says. We all need to ask God to open our minds and hearts so that we will be willing to live by every Word of God. We can’t play games. We are near the time of the end. We must yield to God; surrender to Him and let Christ live His life in us (Galatians 2:20).

“The term ‘near-death experience’, or NDE, refers to a wide array of experiences reported by some people who have nearly died or who have thought they were going to die. There is no single shared experience reported by those who have had NDEs. “What little research there has been in this field indicates that the experiences Moody lists as typical of the NDE may be due to brain states triggered by cardiac arrest and anesthesia (Blackmore 1993). Furthermore, many people who have not been near death have had experiences that seem identical to NDEs, e.g., fighter pilots experiencing rapid acceleration. Other mimicking experiences may be the result of psychosis (due to severe neurochemical imbalance) or drug usage, such as hashish, LSD, or DMT” (the Skeptics Dictionary by Robert Todd Caroll).

The Bible states that no one (including the 12 apostles and Enoch) except Jesus Christ has gone to heaven after dying, or at any other time: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).

One other reference that should be helpful to you is found in the Book of Acts: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day… For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’” (Acts 2:29–35). The Bible teaches that death is the cessation of life (Eccl. 9:5, 10; Ps. 6:5; 115:17; 146:4).

Some point to the Apostle Paul as going to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.” Paul, in context, was relating to the Corinthians his past experiences in the preaching the gospel (Chapter 10, 11). He clearly prefaces his “third heaven” experience as “visions and revelations” (v. 1). This reference was undoubtedly a spiritual experience Paul had after his calling into the ministry and after being trained directly by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11–12).

To begin understanding what happens to man when he dies, one must understand what he is while living. Man is not immortal—man is a mortal, flesh and blood being subject to death (Heb. 9:27). Only God is immortal (1 Tim. 6:16). Our late church leader Herbert W. Armstrong was led by God to understand that the spirit of man is the essence that imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. It is different than the life given to animals. This spirit cannot function without human flesh. It cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel sensation without the brain. Likewise, the human brain without the human spirit, cannot act humanly.

Mr. Armstrong compared the human spirit to a computer, as the five senses “programmed” it, giving it a recorded memory, which gives the human instant recall of knowledge stored in the brain. “The human spirit does not think—it empowers the physical brain to think. This human spirit does not supply human life. The human life is supplied by the physical breath of air, and by physical blood” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow What It Will Be Like, 1979, p. 30).

What happens to this spirit at death? “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). The physical body returns to the earth, but the spirit of man returns to God with all the recorded information accrued during each human’s life, including the body form, shape, memory and character.

Note Mr. Armstrong’s explanation: “It will be PRESERVED UNCHANGED. “Such saints as Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel died thousands of years ago. STOP AND THINK ABOUT THAT! God had to provide some way to PRESERVE the form, shape, appearance, mind and character of saints for thousands of years. They were composed of corruptible flesh and blood. All that was THEM (man is composed wholly of matter) long since decomposed. Yet in the resurrection, it will seem to them as the next fraction of a second since loss of consciousness at death. “In the interim of death, they knew absolutely NOTHING. Says God’s Word, ‘For the living know that they shall die: but the dead KNOW NOT ANY THING’ (ECCL. 9:5). “The spirit which returns to God is the human spirit that was in them throughout life. It was not an ‘immortal soul,’ for the soul was mortal and corruptible [Ezek. 18:4]” (What Science Can’t Discover About the HUMAN MIND, 1978).

It is God’s Word that can define what soul is and what is spirit and determine what our attitude should be. We do not have an immortal soul (Ezek. 18:4). In the Greek the word “soul” is psuche or breath, the breath of life of animals and men. This is further substantiated in Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (KJV). The Hebrew word for “soul” is nephesh, which means “living being” and is used in Genesis 1:20–24 three different times in reference to animals God created.

The Greek word for “spirit,” pneuma, will need a longer explanation. Clearly, man is NOT a spirit, but is flesh; mortal, not immortal, and becomes a soul as soon as physical life enters him. Animals and men have the same temporary life and both die the same death (Ecclesiastes 3:19–20).

But man is different from animals in one very important aspect. He was created to become part of God’s family (Romans 8:14–17; 2 Peter 1:4), designed to have a godly type of mind with the ability to think, to reason, to make choices and decisions, capable of forming ethical, moral and spiritual attitudes. Man was created to develop holy and godly character. Man’s brain and mind has something that is different from animal brain that allows man to be far superior to animals. “There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding” (Job 32:8).

This human spirit is the non-physical component in the brain that does not exist in the brain of animals. It allows man to connect with and receive the Spirit of God—that joins with the human “spirit” that resides in the physical brain. It is the ingredient that makes possible the transition from human to divine at the time of the resurrection.

What happens to this spirit at death? “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). The physical body (soul) returns to the earth, but the spirit of man returns to God with all the recorded information accrued during each human’s life, including the body form, shape, memory and character.

To begin understanding what happens to man when he dies, one must understand what he is while living. The late Herbert W. Armstrong was led by God to understand that the spirit of man is the essence that imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. It is different than the life given to animals. This spirit cannot function without human flesh. It cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel sensation without the brain. Likewise, the human brain without the human spirit, cannot act humanly.

Mr. Armstrong compared the human spirit to a computer, as the five senses “programmed” it, giving it a recorded memory, which gives the human instant recall of knowledge stored in the brain. “The human spirit does not think—it empowers the physical brain to think. This human spirit does not supply human life. The human life is supplied by the physical breath of air, and by physical blood” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow What It Will Be Like, 1979, p. 30).

What happens to this spirit at death? “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The physical body returns to the earth, but the spirit of man returns to God with all the recorded information accrued during each human’s life, including the body form, shape, memory and character. Note Mr. Armstrong’s explanation: “It will be PRESERVED UNCHANGED. “Such saints as Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel died thousands of years ago. STOP AND THINK ABOUT THAT! God had to provide some way to PRESERVE the form, shape, appearance, mind and character of saints for thousands of years. They were composed of corruptible flesh and blood. All that was THEM (man is composed wholly of matter) long since decomposed. Yet in the resurrection, it will seem to them as the next fraction of a second since loss of consciousness at death. “In the interim of death, they knew absolutely NOTHING. Says God’s Word, ‘For the living know that they shall die: but the dead KNOW NOT ANY THING’ (ECCL. 9:5). “The spirit which returns to God is the human spirit that was in them throughout life. It was not an ‘immortal soul,’ for the soul was mortal and corruptible” (What Science Can’t Discover About the HUMAN MIND, 1978).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). John 1:1 and Gen. 1:1 both reveal that these two Supreme Beings of the God Kingdom, planning in perfect accord, created all things—including the law. The Greek word which is translated into English as “Word,” in John 1:1, is Logos. It literally means Spokesman, or one who speaks. And so everything was made by the Spokesman, or the Logos, who became Christ (v14)!

The Father, in the Scripture, is everywhere represented as the source of law (2 John v4). It was the Logos, on behalf of the Father, of the God Family who said (spoke), “Thou shalt not…” thus executing His awesome office as the very executive of the God Family!

Notice who is greater in the God Kingdom. Did Jesus say He and His Father are “one”? John 10:30 and 17:11. But did He also admit that the Father is greater in authority than He? John 14:28. Notice also I Cor. 11:3. Jesus Christ came to reveal the Father! Since the Father is greater in authority and since Christ—the “Word,” or Logos (John 1:1)—made all things for the Father (Col. 1:15-16), then it is evident that the Father has always been in supreme command in the Kingdom of God. However, they are in perfect harmony. Everything they think, say and do is one in the same thing! The Father’s commandments [10] are Christ’s commandments [10] and vice-versa.

The Ten Commandments are the basis of all God’s law. However, the commandments can be summarized in the statements “Love God [1-4]” and “Love neighbor [5-10]” (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 8:3; Matt. 22:37-40). What did Jesus Christ really mean by a “New commandment (John 13:34)?” Now, Christ stated a new commandment that we are to “Love one another.” Was this an added, additional commandment? Was this really something new? The principle of love was not new! Jesus Christ was teaching from the Old Testament. What did He mean by giving a new commandment (1 John 2:7-8)?

Love is an intricate part of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The commandment was new in that Jesus Christ magnified it in His own perfect life: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He showed the true spiritual intent and depth of the commandments, for the first time in human history. Throughout Christ’s life He taught and showed by example that keeping God’s law was an expression of love. Jesus Christ showed us how the law functions in day to day living as He practiced what He preached (perfectly). He was always giving of Himself. We should follow His example (Gal. 2:20). He showed a love that has no place for evil and a love that finds full expression in the spirit of the 10 Commandments (Rom. 13:10). The new commandment is reinforcing, magnifying and making the 10 Commandments ever more binding on Christians today. The new commandment gives us an example to follow (1 Peter 2:21)—showing us the true spiritual intent and outlining a way of life—one of love, giving and serving.

Thank you for your question about the observance of “new moons.” The Scriptures do show that on certain occasions ancient Israelites did assemble to observe the new moon, but they were not listed as commanded holy time, as were the Holy Days (Leviticus 23). The Bible does not command us to observe the new moons today.

One of the reasons for observance of the new moons was apparently to keep the Israelites in the knowledge of the beginning of each of the months in God’s “Sacred Calendar.” Calendars were not available to everyone in ancient Israel. Computation of the calendar was given to the priesthood, and it was their responsibility to compute the beginning of each month—the new moon—and make it known to the congregation of Israel.

A ceremony was held on the day of each new moon to let the people know that a new month had begun. From this observance the people could prepare for any festivals, annual Sabbaths and the approaching seasons. Because we have “Sacred Calendars,” it is no longer necessary to mark the beginning of each new month with a special meal or assembly.

There will be a regathering of the nation of Israel. They will have gone into captivity in the Great Tribulation and will be brought back to the boundaries that God has given them (Isa. 14:1). Yet, what are those boundaries as originally promised?

In Genesis 17:8, God promised “all the land of Canaan,” but in other scriptures He promised much more. In Genesis 15:18: “In the same day the Eternal made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt [the Nile] unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” The Euphrates is a considerable distance to the east in the ancient land of Babylon, which is today Iraq—considerably east of Palestine.

Will Israel extend even beyond these boundaries is explained as well: “And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south” (Gen. 28:14).

Here the size of the “many nations” is compared to the number of grains of dust of the earth. Elsewhere God compared the populations of these promised nations to the grains of sand on a seashore and to the stars—uncountable for multitude.

However, the assumption that no other nations will be existent after the Great Tribulation is incorrect. The Bible clearly references that peoples from other nations will live through this horrific time and be a part of the millennium (Isa. 2:2-4; 27:6; 60:3; Hag. 2:7). In fact, Zechariah 14 gives specific details of those who are spread across the earth and initially refuse to keep the Feast of Tabernacles: And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles (vv16-19).

God did not sanction polygamy in Old Testament times. Contrary to the suppositions many have accepted, He forbade it, and punished for it. From the beginning is was not so (Genesis 2:18, 24). The law governing this is found in Deuteronomy: “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the L ord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. “But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the L ord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:15-17).

Some believe and teach that Abraham was a polygamist, but fail to notice that while Sarah lived, Abraham never married. He did have the situation with Hagar, which produced many problems for him and his family. After Sarah’s death, he married Keturah. This was a perfectly legal marriage. There was no polygamy—no divorce (Genesis 25:1). A close examination of the Scriptures concerning Jacob (married to Leah and Rachel) shows that Rachel died after the birth of Benjamin. He paid a heavy price for his dual marriage. After her death he remained married to his first wife, Leah.

David had several wives and concubines, but after his tremendous sin of taking Bathsheba and having her husband murdered, David repented, in real heart-rending repentance. And there is no biblical reference of him ever again repeating the sin (2 Samuel 12:9-14; Psalm 51). It would appear Bathsheba became his only wife (2 Samuel 6:23) and Solomon his rightful heir (1 Kings 11:6).

Was Adam the first man created or were there others? There is much speculation about this subject, but there is only one source available to give you the correct answer—the Bible.

God’s word states: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’” (Genesis 1:26–27). “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

It will be helpful to look at the Hebrew word “man” used in the above Scriptures. It is ´adam, meaning: man, mankind—Adam, first man.

“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind [´adam] in the day they were created” (Genesis 5:1–2). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

The Bible does not specifically mention Adam’s race; however, it shows all races are descended from Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:20). It would seem that God intended for there to be different races to develop the differing climatic areas of the world (Deut. 32:8-9; Acts 17:26). Accordingly, it appears that God placed within Eve’s ovaries the genetic material which would produce the various racial characteristics in humankind.

Both Adam and Eve were of the same race (Genesis 2:23), and there is no indication of racial differences until about 2,000 years later in Genesis 10 and 11, in the genealogy of Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The races were preserved through the Flood by the wives of Noah’s sons.

Noah and his sons were of the same race. Shem is said to be the father of the Semite races (Jews, Arabs, etc.), Ham the father of the dark-skinned (Blacks), and Japheth the father of the yellow races (Japanese, Chinese, etc.).

These conclusions are based, in part, on the names of some of their descendants and where they later settled. Using Ham as an example, Ham was the father of “Cush” (Genesis 10: 6). The “land of Cush” is later called “Ethiopia” (Numbers 12:1). The word “Ethiopian” in the Hebrew is: Kuwshiyth or Cushite. Over the past, almost six centuries of mankind’s history, many peoples have mixed and mingled; therefore, we see today many variations of tribes, tongues and nations.

First let’s see the first part of Proverbs 13:22, which states, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children…” In other words, we should plan ahead. As we achieve and accomplish and are blessed, someone who really loves his family will plan his affairs to where at his passing an inheritance can be passed on to his children. It will probably be enough so that those children can then plan their lives and some of it may even be passed on to the grandchildren—especially if the children and grandchildren are learning and trying to do the right thing from the “good man.” This principle is talking about planning for the future of the family and showing enough love to not just waste everything and die a pauper so the family has nothing. Rather, we are to plan for the future, to enjoy the blessings God gives us. Then, once we are gone, those blessings can carry over to the next generation and perhaps the next.

Notice the last part, “…and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” A sinner may amass wealth, but when he dies that wealth doesn’t die with him. Somebody else is going to use that wealth and quite often that wealth will go to someone who is not a sinner like the sinner. The sinner scratched and clawed and did everything evil that he could in order to gain his wealth—his wealth was everything to him; yet, he cannot take it to the grave with him and that wealth could actually end up going to children who will live better lives and could use it in a better way. God blesses those who obey him. It’s just that simple.

Finally, what does Luke 16:8 mean? “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).

The master praised, or expressed admiration at his wisdom—not for being unjust. This should not be taken as the words of Jesus, as commending him, but a part of the narrative or parable. His master commended him—saw that he was wise and thoughtful, though he was dishonest. He had, on his own philosophy, made a very prudent provision for his support.The children of this world are those who those who are devoted to this world; who live for this world only; who are careful only to obtain property, and to provide for themselves without regard to God or others (1 John 2:15-17). It does not necessarily mean that they are wicked and reckless, but only that they are worldly, and anxious about earthly things. The children of light is a possible reference to those who have God’s Holy Spirit, and regard worldly things only as far as they may serve the great purposes of their salvation (James 1:16-17), and become the instruments of good to others and providing for the support of tomorrow’s world (Col. 3:1-2).

This scripture shows a basic contrast between these two types of peoples. One is focused more on the self and the other to promote the interests of their religion (Matt. 6:19-21).

Understandable knowledge of God comes from above. And the above is spiritual! God is a Spirit (John 4:22-24)! Understanding of spiritual things cannot enter the human mind through the five physical senses. Many of us were told about God from a young age, but it was inevitably vague, misty and unreal. You cannot see God—you cannot hear God (Romans 1:18-23). Most people form some imaginary picture of what God was suppose to be like—based on hear say or pictures or what they read about. And the picture is always clouded, out of focus or wrong.

Is it any wonder that God does not seem real—that He seems so far away. There are millions of “professing Christians” who say that they believe in God. Many profess to know about Him. But knowing about Him is a far cry from knowing Him. So how does one really come to know God? What is the key? There is a way in which you can establish actual, direct, personal contact with God—if you have not already done so—then He will become real.

God gives a picture of Himself in the Bible. He gives you and me a certain description of what He looks like and how He is. However, no one can really understand the Bible, until he has gained contact with God, through Jesus Christ, and has received the Holy Spirit, as a begotten child of God.

All of this requires the same kind of repentance that Job went through (Job 42:5-6)—a genuine abhorring of the self, an unconditional surrender to OBEY (Acts 5:32) Him and His law and a real living faith in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior. Then we get on our knees and talk to God and through the Bible He will talk to us.

Why is God so far off? It is because people are so far off from Him—so close to the physical, material things and interests of this present evil world. People devote their time to physical pursuits and they leave no time for God. You get to know those you are close to—in constant contact with—in conversation with! But, with most people their sins have cut them off. Our sins cut us off! Yes, we can (must) re-gain contact, but it’s not easy! Why? We have to repent—and that is not easy (Isaiah 55:6-9; Acts 2:38; Romans 6).

It is not enough to just say the words, “I’m sorry.” True repentance means to really confess that you have been wrong—that you are not good—that there is nothing good in you—that you not only have DONE wrong and sinned, but that you are wrong and sinful—-and that is not easy! The self has to die—and the downward pull of human nature will fight that to the very end (Romans 8:7). You must make an unconditional surrender to God and His law—His authority over you—His commandments—His teaching—His way of life that is so contrary to this world (Luke 14:26-33). Are you willing to surrender to God, to let Him turn your life right side up instead of up side down? Are you willing to live a totally changed life according to His teaching? Are you willing to give up everything for Him? Despite what or who you might have to give up!

Do you want Him that much? Do you want the happiness of a real Christian life that much? Do you want everlasting life in the Kingdom of God that much? Few do! That’s why God is not real to most. God can be real to you—but are you willing to repent?

There is a basic key to understanding what nations in our day are referred to when they are mentioned in Bible prophecy. If we understand how to use this key, we can, know, in advance, exactly what the nations today—Russian, China and many others—will do in the times just ahead of us! This is vital to know in these end times. What is this key?

The key is this: nations of Bible times naturally gave rise to nations of today. Therefore God in prophecy had to use the same names which they had then, to foretell what their descendants in our time would do. The descendants of these nations have taken other names in modern times, but such a small lapse of time has occurred between the bearing of their former names and their present ones that it is not at all difficult, in most cases, to pick up ancient history books and find each nation’s name—its Bible name.

Russia will be the greatest of the “kings of the East” (Revelation 16:12). One of her armies will be destroyed at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12) along with the united armies of all the European Union gathered against Jerusalem. There are many biblical prophecies regarding the Eastern armies to include Russia and China (God and Magog). See Ezekiel 38:1-6, 11-12, 15-23; 39:1-20; Revelation 20:7-9).

Ever since the time of Adam man has rebelled against the government of God. As the Supreme Ruler of the universe, God has decreed that 6000 years be allotted to man to decide for himself whether he will voluntarily submit to the Government of God (Isa. 9:6-7). For 6000 years man has been allowed to govern himself and work out his own ideas and plans apart from God. Man universally has rejected God’s rule and His authority, but God has not been idle in human affairs. What God has been doing these 6000 years very few recognize. Now is not the time God is trying to save the whole world. He is rather calling out of the world a select few whom He chooses (John 6:44). To us He reveals Himself, His will and His purpose. But we must voluntarily choose to obey Him (Deut. 31:16-19).

Of course, much of what man has chosen is simply following the path of rebellion of Satan. Human nature is now a Satan influenced nature. The Bible reveals that Satan is the god of this present world (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9)—attempting to usurp the plan of God.

God shows that fully one third of all the multiplied millions of the angels followed Lucifer in his rebellion, and were cast down to the earth with him! (Compare Rev. 12:4 with Rev. 1:20.) These fallen angels, remember, are spirits, not human beings! To accomplish his work of deception, with the ultimate goal of destroying human beings, Satan utilizes these millions of disobedient spirits! He is called the prince of demons (Matt. 12:24). The time is rapidly drawing nearer when Satan the devil will no longer be permitted to deceive the nations! At this present time, God is directly allowing Satan to be used as His instrument in blinding the world, so the lesson of mankind will be so firmly and completely etched in its own blood that there will never again be a society existing in total rebellion against God’s government!

Satan despises government, except as he himself harshly and in hate employs it. God is Creator, and preserver of His creation. Satan and his angels turned to destruction—they became destroyers. The minds and attitudes of Satan and the demons became perverted. Satan’s work is a labor of deception—first he deceived himself—now of deceiving mankind upon earth—of turning God’s truth upside down—causing honest sincere people to accept a counterfeit for the genuine—deceiving the people into sin. And how successfully he has worked at his occupation for six thousand long years! Due to Satan’s rebellion against God, he has doomed himself to a miserable existence. As a result of this he hates the rest of us so much that he wants as many of us to share in his misery as he can. He may know that he will ultimately lose the battle for control of this world, but he doesn’t care as long as he can spread the misery around.

We are nearing, now, the end of 6000 years of human self-rule under the guise of Satan the devil. The second coming of Jesus Christ to establish God’s government upon this earth is at hand.

In Rev. 20 we find described three resurrections. First, in verse 4, the saints who are Christ’s are to live and reign on the earth with Christ for one thousand years. Satan will be put away (verses 1-2) but the rest of those who have died will not live again until after that thousand years (verse 5). Then, beginning verse 11: “Then I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God” (the second resurrection); “and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of life: and the dead were judged according to their works by things which were written in the books [of the Bible]” (verse 12).

This will be by far the greatest resurrection, in numbers resurrected. It will include the billions, who have lived and died cut off from God, young babies who died prematurely, those deceived by Satan or who never heard the name of Jesus Christ—who were not then judged. This will be their first genuine opportunity for salvation!

In 1 Timothy 2:4 it tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” This is God’s desire; yet, He will not force men to be saved. As free moral agents—with the ability to choose—some few will be put into the “Lake of Fire”, which is the “Second Death” (Revelation 20:14-15). God will give every human being an opportunity to learn the truth, but He will not allow a rebellious spirit into His family—some will unfortunately be burned up, instantaneously in the “Lake of Fire” or hell (Hebrews 10:26-27). This will only happen if people willfully sin after God has revealed His Truth, then unless they repent they become His “adversaries” deserving of “fiery indignation” (Malachi 4:1). What are the characteristics of these people? The Apostle John tells us in the book of Revelation, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This is the Biblical reference to the third resurrection (20:14, 21:8)!

Many teach that these Scriptures represent an ever-burning hell where the wicked are tormented by burning forever. There is no life in the grave. Death is the cessation of life—not eternal torment. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV). Those who do go into the Lake of Fire will be burned up and become “ashes” under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3). Ashes are the only things left once something is burned up.

Concerning Revelation 8—here is the opening of the seventh seal. And what is this seventh seal? Remember, as each seal was opened, John recorded what he saw, in his vision. In every case, the things he saw were symbols, but these symbols represent actual world events occurring in a definite time-order. So notice what John saw, when this seventh seal was opened: “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets” (8:1-2).

Whether or not this half an hour silence is also symbolic or to be taken literally remains to be understood. This is a mystery, which will be revealed in the “last days.”

Soon, now, the time is coming when gross spiritual darkness will cover this earth—when no human will be permitted to preach Christ’s true Gospel. For this reason, we must work while it is day—the night is fast drawing on when no man can work for God. At that time God shall send angels with His final warning to the apostate nations under sway of a great deceiving church as a final witness against them. Three such angel messages are foretold in Revelation 14.

John in the Apocalypse or book of Revelation describes the last warning message: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture” (Rev. 14:9, 10). This prophecy is most significant because it is revealing, in advance, events immediately ahead of us at this present time.

Is drinking one’s own urine considered cannibalism? Actually this practice is referred to as urophagia. Many advocates claim urine therapy is a panacea—there is practically nothing it won’t cure. These practices are carried out in many countries such as China, Japan, Africa and India. For most people, most of the time, one’s own urine is not likely to be harmful (unless tainted or high in toxicity). However, it is not likely to be healthful or useful except for those extreme, rare occasions.

Notice the description of Assyrians siege of Jerusalem: “But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you” (Isa. 36:12)? The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary states, “Isaiah, as a faithful historian, records the filthy and blasphemous language of the Assyrians to mark aright the true character of the attack on Jerusalem.”

Cannibalism, also called anthropophagy is the act or practice of humans eating other humans. In zoology, the term “cannibalism” is extended to refer to any species consuming members of its own kind (Cannibalism – Wikepdia). See Deut. 28:53-57; 2 Kings 6:26-29; Jer. 19:9; Lam. 4:10. These passages apply to the siege of Jerusalem and general predictions of what would happen to the Israelites if they disobeyed God—they are not condoning the practice. The Israelites could have avoided these terrible circumstances by repenting at any time.

There is no direct statement in scripture that says, “Thou shall not eat human flesh or drink urine.” However, there are some biblical principles and practices that indicate, for instance, cannibalism is a terribly evil thing (Gen. 9:1-6). In the law of Moses—regarding food and sanitation—the fact that cannibalism and drinking urine is never mentioned is a strong indication that such a thing is understood so clearly to be wrong that it doesn’t need to be mentioned.

The Bible shows that God gave His servants visions and dreams to convey special messages (Genesis 46:2–4). Another example is found in Matthew 17:1–9. Peter, James, and John saw a vision of the future Kingdom on earth. Visions are means of communication God used in the past and the Bible indicates He will use them again (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28). It is important to realize such visions are almost always directed toward His ministers and only when the circumstances warrant.

God is not, at present, using visions; He speaks to us through the Bible: “God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days [today] spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Scripture shows that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God (John 1:1, 14).

God speaks to us through His Word, Jesus Christ. It was Jesus Christ who inspired both the prophets and the apostles, and they preserved it for us (2 Peter 1:21; Luke 1:70; John 16:13). So it is through the Scripture that the Father reveals His will, His commandments, and specific promises.

A variety of factors may be involved when someone experiences a vision, dream, or premonition. We must be very careful about attributing any such phenomenon as being from God. The Apostle John warns us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

How should we test the spirits? The prophet Isaiah warns: “When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19–20). If a dream or vision does not agree with the message of the Bible, we can know it is not of God. Also remember God will provide the reason He gives a particular vision.

Some visions can be wishful thinking to escape a bad circumstance and dreams may simply be caused by mental or physical stress or the pressures of daily life. The Bible reveals that dreams may also result from agitation, “For a dream comes through much activity” (Ecclesiastes 5:3). In some cases Satan can bother individuals through bad dreams, we should ask God to rebuke him (Jude 9).

Several religious groups that preach against blood transfusions, discourage donating blood, basing their teachings on a misinterpretation of Leviticus 3:17: “This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood’” (see also Leviticus 7:26–­27). These groups mistakenly apply this to receiving blood by transfusions. Ingesting (eating or drinking) blood, which God’s Word prohibits, and receiving it into the body’s circulatory system, is not the same thing.

The Bible does not specifically condemn one for donating or receiving blood through these medical procedures. But one must consider that there may be health risks involved, as any doctor can tell you. In this day of AIDS, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases, one should weigh these risks against the benefits you are anticipating.

In Rev. 20 we find described three resurrections. First, in verse 4, the saints who are Christ’s are to live and reign on the earth with Christ for one thousand years. Satan will be put away (verses 1-2) but the rest of those who have died will not live again until after that thousand years (verse 5). Then, beginning verse 11: “Then I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God” (the second resurrection); “and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of life: and the dead were judged according to their works by things which were written in the books [of the Bible]” (verse 12).

This will be by far the greatest resurrection, in numbers resurrected. It will include the billions, who have lived cut off from God, were deceived by Satan or never heard the name of Jesus Christ—who were not then judged. The Bible does not emphatically say how long the Great White Throne Judgment will be; however, it does seem to indicate a 100 year period as noted in Isaiah 65:20, “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.” This will be their first genuine opportunity for salvation!

In 1 Timothy 2:4 it tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” This is God’s desire; yet, He will not force men to be saved. As free moral agents—with the ability to choose—some few will be put into the “Lake of Fire”, which is the “Second Death” (Revelation 20:14-15). God will give every human being an opportunity to learn the truth, but He will not allow a rebellious spirit into His family—some will unfortunately be burned up, instantaneously in the “Lake of Fire” (Hebrews 10:26-27). This will only happen if people willfully sin after God has revealed His Truth, then unless they repent they become His “adversaries” deserving of “fiery indignation” (Malachi 4:1). What are the characteristics of these people? The Apostle John tells us in the book of Revelation, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This is the Biblical reference to the third resurrection (20:14, 21:8)!

At this point, the entire earth will be burned and purged of all uncleanness. It will be made pure by an extreme all encompassing fire (2 Peter 3:10). Once the earth is completely purified, then God’s very throne will be placed here on earth and the events of Revelation 21 will be accomplished—a new heaven and a new earth! What a glorious time to look forward to!

When Christ returns He will come in the clouds of heaven and His angels will gather His elect from all parts of the earth. They will meet Him in the air and all will soon thereafter descend upon the Mount of Olives. What will happen to this mount when Christ’s feet touch it (Zech. 14:4)? Notice a deep ravine thus formed becomes the channel of a mighty river which will arise in Jerusalem. Half of this mighty river flows eastward in the channel formed by this split, and the other half flows westward (v8). The river flowing eastward empties into the Dead Sea! And that which flows westward empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Looking at the map of Palestine, you will find Jerusalem northeast of Egypt, which is the location of the Nile. Jerusalem will be the coming center of world government.

Notice also that the eastern channel of “living waters,” which flows into the Dead Sea is the same river described in Ezek. 47:1-9. And the river described in Ezekiel causes everything with which it comes in contact to live and be healed! The Dead Sea will be healed and will give life to the barren places through which it flows (v12). The Dead Sea, which is 1286 feet below the Mediterranean Sea level, is the lowest spot on earth! The water of this sea is now so salty that no plant or marine life can possibly exist in it. Look at any Bible map of Palestine and notice that the Jordan River constantly empties into the northern extremity of the Dead Sea—the Nile River does not. Even though Dead Sea has no outlet, the water level remains fairly constant. This is because extremely hot temperatures cause the waters to evaporate at about the same rate at which the Jordan supplies the Dead Sea with muddy water.

But when this new river—the river of “living waters”—begins to empty into the Dead Sea not far from the mouth of the Jordan River, the waters of the Dead Sea will rise until they overflow southward through the desert. The overflow will probably carry into the Gulf of Aqaba. It will then be in this overflow area that new life will spring up when the waters will have become fresh. And all places into which it flows in Palestine will receive new life! Notice the significance of this river which will flow from Jerusalem. This river has a dual meaning and points to the giving of God’s Holy Spirit in the millennium (John 7:37-39)! The Holy Spirit of God is pictured as living water.

Christ will sit upon David’s throne at Jerusalem, the world’s capital—the same place from which the river of life arises (Rev. 22). His rule, which shall also “go forth from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3), will have a “healing” effect like the actual river! His rule will heal the strife-torn nations of the world (Isa. 2:3-4 and Malachi 4:2)!

The Bible describes the final phases of World War III. The king of the North’s armies will occupy northern Africa and the holy land. But developments in the northeast will so disturb this king that he takes military action (Dan. 11:44). This action appears to be described in Revelation 9 as the first woe or the fifth trumpet plague (Rev. 8:13; 9:1).

Notice this action takes up five months during the year-long Day of the Lord. A massive 200 million-man army from the east crosses the Euphrates River, which runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq. The three plagues caused by this phase of World War III will kill a third of mankind (Rev. 9:12-19)—approximately two billion human beings.

The final and seventh trumpet announces the return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth (Rev. 11:15). The nations are angry and will combine their armies to fight a common foe, the Commander of Heaven’s armies (Rev. 15:1, 8; 16:1).

At this point, eastern armies will move westward on their way to Megiddo—Armageddon—an area located about 55 miles north of Jerusalem overlooking the largest valley in Israel—the valley of Jezreel.

Shockingly, after Christ’s return, these armies will combine as they are “gathered to make war against Him” (Rev. 19:19). They will gather to do battle against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:2). Jesus Christ will now intervene! He will stop World War III and bring lasting peace to the world (Zech. 14:3-4)! Foolish military leaders will quickly learn how powerless they are against the omnipotent, divine power of God. At this great climatic battle of all ages, the Creator God will prevail, defeating puny humans in their attempt to conquer God (Rev. 16:14).

Here are the scriptures speaking directly of this number:

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six” (Rev. 13:17-18).

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Rev. 15:2).

From these scriptures, we have the following definite points:

1. The beast has a number, and may be identified, if we have wisdom, by this number. 2. The number is 666. 3. We are told to count this number — that is, add it up. The same Greek word is used elsewhere only in Luke 14:28: count the cost. 4. This number, 666, is the number of the Beast. The only Bible interpretation of this symbol, “beast,” is a kingdom or the king who rules it, and therefore, really is the kingdom (Dan. 7:17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 27). Therefore 666 must be the number of the kingdom, or government, or empire, as well as that of the king who founds or rules it. 5. The expression “the name of the beast, or the number of his name” makes plain that the number 666 is the number of the name of the kingdom or empire. 6. The expression “it is the number of a man” shows we must also count this number in the name of the king, or ruler, over the kingdom identified as the “Beast.”

The beast of Revelation 13 is the Roman Empire! The founder and first king of Rome was Romulus. The Roman Empire was named after him. His name, the name of a man, also is the name of the kingdom. And every citizen in the kingdom bears the same name—a Roman. When John wrote this Revelation, telling us to count the number of the Beast, he wrote in the Greek language. Consequently, we should look for this name, and the number 666, in this language recognized in the Bible, not in the Latin. We are all familiar with the Roman numerals, where letters are used for numbers. All understand that I is 1, V is 5, X is 10, etc. But many do not know that the Greek language, in which the book of Revelation was written, also uses letters for numbers. In the Greek, the language in which Revelation was written, this name is “Lateinos.” It signifies “Latin man” or “the name of Latium,” from which region the Romans derived their origin and their language. This word, too, signifies “Roman.” In the Greek, L is 30, A is 1, T is 300, E is 5, I is 10, N is 50, O is 70, S is 200. Count these figures. They count to exactly 666! It is indeed no coincidence that the name of the kingdom, its founder and first king, and of each man in the kingdom, counts to exactly 666! It would seem that the Beast stands identified!

The question actually pertains to God’s 7,000 year plan. Most people have never heard about God’s 7000 year master plan for mankind. That great plan is, of course, pictured by the seven day week.

Does God have an actual time plan? A 7,000 year plan is not specifically stated in scripture, but it’s understood through scriptural analogy. In Genesis 1:1 through 2:37 we can read the overview regarding the days of creation. God recreated the earth in six days and on the seventh day He created the Sabbath. On the seventh day, man is to put aside his normal routine of daily activities and worship the true God (Isa. 58:13-14).

When speaking prophetically we can see a principle defined in scripture as noted in 2 Peter 3:8. One day is analogous to 1,000 years to God (see also Psalm 90:1-4). Further, the Apostle Paul shows in Hebrews 4:1-11 that the Sabbath points us directly to the coming millennium. A “millennium” is simply a term meaning 1,000. The implication is that God has allotted 6,000 years for mankind’s self rule, followed by the 1,000 year reign of Christ with the saints (Revelation 5:10).

Where are we now in this great plan? If you look at charts which list biblical events in time order—most charts show that human life was created about 4000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. History makes is clear that about 2000 years have elapsed since then—making a total of nearly 6000 years of human civilization to date. In short, man’s “week” is nearly over, and God’s great millennial rest will soon be here.

What is the purpose of the Church? Why did God have Christ raise it up? The Church is God’s spiritual organism; well organized, for feeding on spiritual food, training and developing in spiritual righteous character the future God Beings—sons of God the Father. And what is the opposite of organized—disorganized, but God “is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33)? The world is full of religions confusion, agendas and counterfeits; yet, by deduction if there are counterfeits, then the fact remains there must somewhere be the genuine article (2 Tim. 3:13-17)!

For that training—that spiritual development of God’s character, God has given His Church a dual responsibility: 1-“Go ye into all the world” and proclaim the Good News—announcement—of the coming Kingdom of God. 2-“Feed my sheep.” But in feeding the sheep, developing in them God’s spiritual character, God has given them their part in supporting, backing up, the great commission, “Go ye into all the world.”

Do we learn truth by “going it alone”—no—the Bible says so—“ But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The example of the Ethiopian eunuch illustrates this point vividly when he replied to a question of his understanding the scriptures: “How can I, except some man should guide me” (Acts 8:31).

We never want to forget that God has a purpose being worked out here below, that He has a plan. We need to remember that God calls a people to Himself for the working out of His purposes. He always has. And God has predestined a people to Himself in this end time to be the very basis of His divine work on earth. For that people to be effective, they must be a people who are convinced of His plan, who are solidly committed to and supporting that plan, and who are diligently preparing themselves for the very next step in that plan. And it also must be a people who are fully convinced that God is totally and utterly able to carry out the entirety of that plan and purpose to the nth degree.

Through God’s Church we’ve come to understand that God brought ancient Israel out of Egypt, a type of sin, to make of them a society to show other people how to live. So today He is calling His Church, spiritual Israel, out of this world, to show and to teach people ultimately how to live in God’s kingdom. God led ancient Israel through Moses teaching them, preparing them, showing them His way. So God today is leading us through His government for the working out of His purposes. And just as His purpose was rooted in ancient Israel then, so is it rooted in us today (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12:18, 26-31).

What about the “individual Christian” or the “sideliners” who don’t want to be apart of the Church—who want to seek salvation direct and alone with Christ? The answer is this: God Himself laid out the plan and the method by which humans may be, after begettal, trained and prepared to become part of the Divine Personnel of born God Beings that shall form the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God will be the God Family—a superbly and highly trained and organized Family of God Beings, well organized on God’s pattern of mutual teamwork and cooperation to function perfectly together. They shall become the God Family. Remember God is that Divine Family. Those who “go it alone” will not learn these paramount lessons! Those who “go it alone” in this world of Satan’s—apart from the family—are therefore not trained and developed in spiritual character according to God’s pattern. Such can never fit in as a part of the Family then, if not trained and developed with the Family, the Church, now.

The apostle Paul explained that the “… carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). That carnal mind is the natural human mind—the nominal, sincere, natural, common “way of looking at things” that all of us were born with! Paul went on to say, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Did you notice it? If a man has not the spirit of Christ—he doesn’t belong to Christ, and therefore is not yet a true Christian!

Notice another important scripture: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

God says we must undergo a renewing, a transforming, and a changing— of the mind! This changing of the mind is a change of human nature. The nominal, natural way of human nature is the way of selfishness. The self is the entire motivating drive in human nature. It is the pleasing of the self, the satisfaction of the self—the way of getting for the self that is the basis of human nature. All human beings are selfish. And behind the selfishness of every person lies the root cause of it all: Satan. This world is being governed by Satan the devil (2 Cor. 4:4). He is the deceptive force in everything we see today (Rev. 12:9). Through the air waves he spreads the attitudes of rebellion, hate, vanity, etc. (Eph. 2:2; 6:12).

God is not trying to save the whole world right now. This is not the only day of salvation. True Christians have to live in this world, but are not to be a part of it. They are “ambassadors” for a different government (2 Cor. 5:20). An ambassador by definition means: a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government of sovereign as the resident representative of his own government or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary).

The Bible is a summary book or, more properly, a series of related summary books. It does not always give detailed accounts of God’s intervention in the affairs of men. Understanding this is fundamental to solving alleged biblical errors.

Another crux point in understanding alleged inconsistencies in the Bible is the nature of biblical chronology. In general, a chronological thread runs throughout the Bible. But the events within each book are not always recorded in chronological order. Even the books themselves are not always arranged according to when they were written.

What about apparent numerical inconsistencies and alleged errors about who did what in the Bible record? Often, two passages that seem to contradict do not say exactly the same thing. They are not intended as verbatim duplicates. Important key word differences will often solve the supposed contradiction and even add more detail to whatever subject is being discussed.

Sometimes we must consider the historical perspective. Dr. Collett reminds us: “Let those who imagine they have discovered errors and contradictions in the evangelists’ writings remember how easy—indeed, how natural—it is to give three or four accounts of one circumstance from different points of view” (Scripture of Truth, pg. 140).

Doctrinal mistakes can emerge from translation errors. Knowing the most exact and literal meaning of the original text is critical in some instances. Discrepancies caused by errors in translation from the original languages frequently may be solved simply by consulting several different translations, Strong’s Concordance and Greek Lexicon.

The most important key in viewing an apparent Bible contradiction is your attitude toward the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Understanding God’s master plan and developing perfection of character should always be the main purpose for which we study our Bibles. If a problem persists, simply reserve judgment. Put the problem on the shelf for a while or do further study. Pray about it. A logical answer will surely come.

First, this is not God’s world. This world is currently under the guise and deception of Satan the devil until the second coming of Jesus Christ in full power and glory (Rev. 12:9; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 6:12).

Also, Jesus Christ clearly taught that it is by God’s design that His Church live in the midst of these conditions: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:11-17).

It is by overcoming human nature, Satan the devil and this present-evil world that a true Christian is to develop the character of God—perfect, holy and righteous character. This kind of character must be developed, by the free-choice, decision and the intent of the one in whom it comes to exist.

Regarding Christian and Christianity, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary states: “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ; based on or conforming with Christianity; the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture.”

The first place the word Christian is found is Acts 11:26, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Regarding this verse Barnes’ Commentary states: “And the disciples were called Christians, etc. As this became the distinguishing name of the followers of Christ, it was worthy of record. The name was evidently given because they were the followers of Christ.” (See also Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).

A Christian is simply a “Christ-like” individual—one who professes belief in Jesus Christ. However, true belief involves faith and obedience. We must believe in Jesus and believe Jesus, i.e. emulate what He taught and lived. Jesus taught and lived a way of life based on the Ten Commandments and Statutes—the Sabbath, Holy days, clean/unclean meats and etc—“the way” as the Bible states

Original Christianity was slowly watered down and compromised until it was fully counterfeited by the 300’s A.D. by the Babylonian Mystery Religion. “Mainstream Christianity” as seen and taught today is simply a collection of man-made traditions and pagan customs labeled “Christian! The true Church that Jesus built (Matt. 16:18) still exists today and endeavors to follow the original teachings (“the way”) of Jesus Christ, the apostles and the first-century Church.

It is commonly accepted today that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and that He was resurrected from the dead about sunrise on Easter Sunday morning. There were no eye-witnesses to the resurrection. Therefore, for proof there is but one dependable source and one reliable historical record—the Bible. It’s the only true available record available for us today. Any tradition, which conflicts with God’s revelation must be dismissed! Jesus expressly declared that the only sign—supernatural proof—he would give that evil and adulterous generation was that He should be 3 days and 3 nights in the grave. Those that were with Jesus and believed saw additional evidences: healings, miracles, fulfilled prophecies and etc… It’s important that we truly comprehend the real significance of the sign: The Pharisees demanded proof—Christ offered only one! The evidence was not even the resurrection itself, but the length of time He would rest in His grave (Matt. 12:39-40).

How does the Bible define the duration of “nights and days” (Jonah 1:17)? Many higher critics admit that the Hebrew expression “three days and three nights” means 72 hours—three 12 hour days and three 12 hour nights. What is the truth? Did Jesus know how much time there was in a “day” or in a “night” (John 11:9-10)? Jesus rose the third day. Notice how the Bible defines the time required to fulfill “the third day.” (See Gen. 1:4-13.) Here the Bible defines the amount of time involved in the expression “the third day.” It includes three night periods and three light periods. Jesus said they contained 12 hours for each period = 72 total hours! You cannot by any process of arithmetic, figure any less than 72 full hours in a resurrection from the dead, which occurred three days after the crucifixion. If we are to accept all the testimony of the Bible, we must conclude that Jesus was 72 hours in the grave, or the only sign—supernatural proof He gave—must fail!

In order to be three days and three nights in the tomb, Christ had to rise from the tomb exactly the same time of day that his body was buried and the tomb closed. If we can find the time of the day that He was buried, then by simple deduction we can find the time of the day that He rose—with a gap of exactly 72 hours. Jesus was laid in the tomb about the time this same day ended—just before sunset (Matt. 27:45-66). According to the laws observed by the Jews all dead bodies must be buried before the beginning of a new day (Deut. 21:23). Jesus was buried before darkness (well after 3 PM) on the same day He died! And since he rose from the tomb at the same time of day, three days later, Christ rose from the tomb, not at sunrise, but in the evening when the day ended. If it happened any other way, He failed to prove the only sign He gave of His Messiahship—showing that He really was the Son of God. He staked His claim on that one and only sign. Therefore, a time-honored tradition must be shattered (Good Friday-Easter Sunday)!

Scriptures tell us that the day after the crucifixion was a Sabbath, so many blindly assume that the crucifixion was on a Friday. Christ was killed on the “preparation day” before the Sabbath, but for what Sabbath (Matt. 28:1). The word “Sabbath” is from the Greek sabbaton, (sab’-bat-on), which means by extension the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications (Strong’s 4521). This verse should read “Sabbath’s.” There were two Sabbaths occurring between Christ’s death and resurrection. John’s gospel gives the definite answer: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (19:31). A high day represented one of the annual Holy days or Feast days (Lev. 23).

The Passover lamb, killed every year on the 14th of the first month (Abib) was a type of Christ. Jesus is our Passover, sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7). He was slain on the very same time of day the Passover had been slain every year. And this day, the Passover, was the day before—and the preparation for—the Feast day, or annual high day Sabbath, which occurred on the 15th of Abib (Feast of Unleavened Bread). We know that the Mary’s observed where the body of Jesus had been laid. They did not buy their spices to anoint the body of Jesus until after that Sabbath was past. They could not prepare them until after this—yet after preparing the spices they rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment (Mark 15:47-16:2; Luke 23:50-56). There is only one possible explanation! There were two Sabbaths that week with a day in between—otherwise, there is a contradiction. After the annual high day Sabbath—the first Day of Unleavened Bread—these women purchased and prepared spices—rested on the weekly Sabbath—they came back on the first day of the week and the body was already gone (1 Cor. 15:3-4)!

We can conclude Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, the middle day of the week. He died shortly after 3 PM that afternoon, was removed from the cross or stake and buried Wednesday evening—as Daniel prophesied in the midst of the week (Dan. 9:24-27). Now count the three days and three nights. His body was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in the grave (3 nights). It also was there through the daylight portion of Thursday, Friday and Saturday (3 days). He rose from the grave Saturday evening, at the same time of the day that Joseph of Arimathea had buried him and closed the tomb! No wonder Mary Magdalene and her companions found an empty tomb on the first day of the week. The only sign Jesus gave was the sign of Jonah—three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Historically, the Hebrew calendar shows that our Savior died on Wednesday, April 25, 31 AD.

To help us understand, we can look at the word “Christmas” itself. It means “mass of Christ,” and has its origins in the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet even Catholic sources acknowledge that Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church, and that it does not have apostolic origins. Notice: “Christmas (i.e. the Mass of Christ), in the Christian Church, the festival of the nativity of Jesus Christ… As late as 245 Origen, in his eighth homily on Leviticus, repudiates as sinful the very idea of keeping the birthday of Christ ‘as if he were a king Pharaoh.’ The first certain mention of Dec. 25 is in a Latin chronographer of A.D. 354, first published entire by Mommsen.… [December 25 was] a Mithraic feast and is by the chronographer above referred to, but in another part of his compilation, termed natalis invicti solis, or birthday of the unconquered Sun” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., article: “Christmas”).

But why do people celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25? Late December is the time of the winter solstice, one of the major festival periods in the ancient world. Historians note “the birth of many solar saviors and dying gods is celebrated at this time, usually on December 25th” and that “Christmas is a wonderful amalgamation of many religious traditions, ancient and modern, pagan, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Mithraic, and Christian” (Pennick, pp. 132-133). Modern Christmas is a composite of several year-end festivals celebrated in pagan Rome. The Saturnalia, (December 17-21) was a time of “extravagant decadence” when slaves and masters traded places for a few days. It was a season of revelry where the common greeting was “bona Saturnalia.” Next came the Sigillaria—the feast of dolls—on the 22nd when toys were purchased and given to children. The Brumalia (December 25) was celebrated as the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, when the days began to lengthen after the solstice” (Christmas and Christmas Lore, Crippen, p. 7). These were times of feasting, drinking and debauchery. The Egyptians also celebrated the rebirth of the sun in the form of an infant several thousand years before the Romans (see The Golden Bough, St. Martin’s ed., pp. 471-472).

Now where did we get this mistletoe custom? Among the ancient pagans the mistletoe was used at this festival of the winter solstice because it was considered sacred to the sun, because of its supposed miraculous healing power. The pagan custom of kissing under the mistletoe was an early step in the night of revelry and drunken debauchery — celebrating the death of the “old sun” and the birth of the new at the winter solstice. Mistletoe, sacred in pagan festivals, is a parasite!

Holly berries were also considered sacred to the sun-god. The yule log is in reality the “sun log.” “Yule” means “wheel,” a pagan symbol of the sun. Yet today professing Christians speak of the “sacred yule-tide season”! Even the lighting of fires and candles as a Christian ceremony is merely a continuation of the pagan custom, encouraging the waning sun-god as he reached the lowest place in the southern skies!


The Encyclopedia Americana says: “The holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log … are relics of pre-Christian times.” Of paganism! The book “Answers to Questions”, compiled by Frederick J.

Haskins, found in public libraries, says: “The use of Christmas wreaths is believed by authorities to be traceable to the pagan customs of decorating buildings and places of worship at the feast which took place at the same time as Christmas. The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christian Era.”

For a complete background on the pagan customs of Christmas please refer to Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 2 and 3, Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern Mythology and Religion, 1993, page 206, Story of Civilization, volume 1, page 66 and Eusebius, In Praise of Constantine, chapter 13, page 267.

The Bible plainly teaches against Christmas celebration, which derives most of its customs from paganism (Jeremiah 10:1-5, 32:35 ). As true Christians we are commanded not to follow the way of the Gentiles—including Christmas (Deut. 12:29-32)—however, we are commanded to celebrate God’s appointed Sabbaths. This command can be seen by reading the entirety of Leviticus 23, regarding Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits or Pentecost (Acts 2), Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles (7 days) and the Last Great Day (Vv 4-44).

The exact date of Jesus’ birth is entirely unknown, as all authorities acknowledge. However, there are strong biblical indications of when Jesus was born? On the surface, Luke’s account reveals little about the time of Jesus’ birth. No dates are given and no season of the year is named. However, as a well-regarded historian, Luke, provides a sound, orderly account of the events that removes much doubt as to the general time of Jesus’ birth. All the clues are there, and all that is required is to dig them out and put them in order to discover the truth.

The census of Quirinius that required Joseph to travel from Galilee to Bethlehem would most probably have taken place after the fall harvest when people were more able to return to their ancestral homes (Luke 2:1-5). Besides, it was customary in Judea to do their tax collecting during this period, as the bulk of a farmer’s income came at this time.

Another point is that Joseph and Mary had to find shelter in a barn or some other kind of animal shelter because the inns were full (verse 7). This indicates that travelers from around the world had begun to arrive in Jerusalem and surrounding towns. Thus, the fall festival season had already commenced. There would have been no similar influx of pilgrims in December.

Also, as the shepherds were still in the fields with their flocks (verse 8), Jesus’ birth could not have occurred during the cold-weather months of winter. Sheep were normally brought into centrally located pens or corrals as the weather turned colder and the rainy season began, especially at night. If this were not significant, it begs the question, why would Luke have mentioned it in such detail if not to convey a time reference (see Ezra 10:9-13)? Notice what commentator Adam Clarke writes regarding this: It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts [wilderness], about the passover [sic], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the passover [sic] occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light on this disputed point. (Clarke’s Commentary, vol. V, p. 370)

We certainly do not use this knowledge to celebrate His birthday. Christ died for us—that is something that we could not do! He tells us to commemorate His death, not His birth (I Corinthians 11:23-26). This is done every year, once a year, as a memorial, on the Passover (Leviticus 23:4-8).

I Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 do seem to contradict each other. One verse says that only the two tables of stone (inscribed with the Ten Commandments) were in the ark. The other verse lists several additional objects which apparently were also in the ark. But, God’s Word does not contradict itself!

The original Greek word translated “wherein” in Hebrews 9:4 is HOU. From “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible” and other sources, we find that HOU means “at which place.” HOU is a general word that does not necessarily mean “wherein,” “within,” or “in.” It simply means “in the same location as.”


With this in mind, notice Deuteronomy 31:24-26: “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book [not the Ten Commandments which God had written on two tables of stone, but the civil law which Moses had written in a book — the law of Moses], until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.”

Notice that the book of the law was not placed INSIDE the ark, but “in the side of” (“by the side of” RSV) the ark. That is why the book of the law is not mentioned in I Kings 8:9 as being in the ark. The book of the law, along with the pot of manna (Ex. 16:33-34) and Aaron’s rod, was kept by the side of the ark, not in it. All of these items could properly be described as being HOU — in the same place as — the ark.

The Church of God represents the group of “called out” followers of Jesus Christ. Yet what are God’s people called out of? The Apostle Paul answers this question. Notice: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God… Therefore ‘come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

God’s people were to be kept in the name of God (John 17:11). All the way through the New Testament, the true Church is called by God’s name. The biblical name of the true Church is “the Church of God.” God names things what they are. The name is clearly stated in both singular and plural form in twelve different places in the New Testament—including Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 11:16, 22; 15:9; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:14; 2 Thess. 1:4 and 1 Tim. 3:5, 15.

We see that the correct Bible name is: “the church of”—which belongs to and is ruled by—“God.” The name of God is sometimes wrongly appropriated—just as is the name of Jesus Christ. But whether false churches use it or not, scripture shows that it must be applied to God’s true Church—the Church of God.

God’s true Church is the collective body of individuals, called out from the ways of this present world, who have completely surrendered themselves to God’s rule in their lives, and who, through the Holy Spirit, have become the begotten sons of God (Rom. 8:9). It is not a politically organized denomination that one joins. The true Church of God (1 Cor. 1:2) is not comprised of many divided, quarreling denominations, but one Church, made up of many scattered members. It is one Church united in Spirit, mind, attitude and heart because its members have totally surrendered their wills to God and live by the Word of God (Eph. 4:4-6). Only those who have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in them are true members of that spiritual organism, the “Body of Christ” (Romans 8:9-14; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:11-16).

The purpose of the Church of God is to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness; to feed the flock and to organize church congregations to provide for the spiritual and material needs of our members as God makes it possible; to preach the end-time prophecies and to warn the English-speaking nations and all the world of the coming Great Tribulation

Jesus emphatically stated: “…I will build my [one] church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). This is either a promise we can all count on or an abject lie. If we believe the Bible to be the sole source of truth, then we know this is a promise we can count on amidst the religious confusion around us.

However, God’s word shows us that it is our individual responsibility to prove where God’s true Church is today (Eph. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 14:33; 1 Thess. 5:21). Jesus Christ tells those seeking the true Church that there would be identifying signs.


Here are seven proofs one could begin researching to find God’s true Church: 1—God is Ruler, meaning proper Church government (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11); 2—the three signs—the weekly Sabbath (Ex. 31:12-17; Mark 2:27-28), the annual Sabbaths (Lev. 23; Acts 20:6, 16; 1 Cor. 5:8), the correct name. God’s people are to be kept in the name of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; 1 Thess. 2:14); 3—the truth about pagan doctrines (Jer. 10:1-); 4—God’s power (Mark 16:17-18); 5—health laws; 6—prophecy; 7—true spirituality (John 16:13; Acts 18:25-26; 19:9, 23).

The purpose of the Church is to preach the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness (Mark 1:14, Matt. 24:14); to feed the flock and to organize church congregations to provide for the spiritual and material needs of our members as God makes it possible (John 21:15-17, 1 Peter 5:1-4); to preach the end-time prophecies and to warn the English-speaking nations and all the world of the coming Great Tribulation (Ezek. 3 and 33).

Many people have misunderstood and stumbled over what Paul was writing about, claiming he was doing away with the law of Moses, and protecting the newly converted Gentiles from being led into “Judaism.” This is not true.

As background, Colosse was an ascetic community that practiced philosophy, the doctrine that you could pay for your own sins by denying yourself the pleasures of the body. They rigidly suppressed the body “in order to purify the soul.” Fasting often, they punished themselves, were mostly vegetarians, refused to eat meat and opposed drinking anything alcoholic. This pagan doctrine denied the need of a Savior. Those who followed this doctrine were severe ascetics, who opposed other Gentiles whose motto was “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” indulging in pleasures and the sins of the flesh.

These ascetics sternly judged their Christian neighbors for freely eating meat God said was good for food, or drinking moderately, and for keeping the Sabbath and annual festivals. The Colossian converts had been taught, and understood and obeyed the gospel, and were imitating Christ in all that He did. Jesus came eating and drinking (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), showing He was no ascetic. These new Christians were daily enjoying life in temperance and self-control, especially in connection with each feast, every new month and the weekly Sabbaths. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were no longer ascetics attempting to conquer the pulls of the flesh by themselves.

But the unconverted Colossians were sitting in judgment of them, condemning them for following their newfound Christianity. They were being judged for observing God’s festivals; His calendar measured by the new moon and the Sabbath. These once-heathen Christians never kept these days before and Paul was warning them not to return to their old pagan ways.

Now notice Colossians 2:17, “which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” The Greek word for “shadow” is skia, an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object. A better translation, based on the context, is “which foreshadow things to come.”

The Bible clearly demonstrates that the weekly Sabbath foreshadows the seventh 1,000-year period in which man will rest from his labors of sin. Paul, in the Book of Hebrews, explains there is a Sabbath (rest) that man must keep (Hebrews 4:4–9). In like manner the seven annual festivals (Sabbaths) are memorials foreshadowing the plan of God. The Colossian Christians were keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths.

Notice the last part of Colossians 2:17. The entire verse has confused many, but many more have stumbled over this part. The Authorized, or King James Version, provides the answer, so often obscured by newer translations: “Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” The word “is” in the KJV is in italics. It does not appear in the original manuscripts. The original Greeks says: “the body of Christ.” Paul defines what the body of Christ is in chapter one verse 18, “And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church.” The true Church of God is the body of Christ. The Colossian Christians, and we today, are Christ’s body.

No one else is to sit in judgment of how we conduct our Christian lives. No man determines how we should live, because the responsibility of the Church—the body of Christ—is to determine these matters. A better translation of these often-misunderstood scriptures should be: “Let no man therefore judge you, but [rather] let the body of Christ [determine it].” Those who are expert in Greek language recognize that the first expression “let no man” requires there be a following expression, which tells who is to do the judging of the matter, in this case—the church.

“Canon” (Greek kanon) means a reed; a straight rod or bar; a measuring stick; something serving to determine, rule, or measure. What is the cannon of the Bible? This refers to the definitive list of the books which are considered to be divine revelation and included therein. A canon distinguishes what is inspired by God verses what is not revealed and human such as the Apocrypha, Book of Kings, gospels of Judas and Phillip and etc.

The Apostle Peter remarked that some of Paul’s epistles were hard to understand and many were twisting and perverting his writings, as well as, “…the rest of the scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16). The Apostle Paul in instructing Timothy comments on, “…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation…” (2 Tim. 3:15). When Jesus Christ and the apostles were teaching they were teaching from the Old Testament—they were the only available canonized scriptures at that time!

The Bible reveals how Ezra and Nehemiah reestablished God’s Government in the Old Testament church. The central authority in Palestine to carry out that government has often been called by the Greek name “The Great Synagogue.” The word “synagogue” in Greek means assembly. This is the name most modern writer’s use when referring to that authoritative body of priests established by Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 10). But whether the name Great Synagogue or Great Assembly is used, it always represents the same institution.

It was this Great Assembly, with the Spirit of God guiding them that put together the Scriptures of the Old Testament (2 Tim. 3:16; 1Pet. 1:20-21). Our Old Testament comes to us because of the work of this Great Assembly under the leadership of Ezra!

The Old Testament scriptures were entrusted by God to the Jewish community for preservation (Rom. 3:1-3). They have been faithfully preserved in handwritten manuscripts by scribes called Masoretes, who have gone through great lengths to protect the accuracy and count of all the words in a given book, as well as, of all the letters (Matt. 5:18).

It is most probable that our New Testament was completed by the Apostle John just prior to his death at the end of the first century. At that time he was living in Ephesus, a Greek-speaking city located near the western coast of ancient Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

The Greek manuscripts, which originated in Asia Minor, are classified by modern scholars as the Antiochian or Byzantine type. This was the text used in the Greek world, differing somewhat from the Western and Alexandrian types preserved in Rome and Egypt.

Copies of the Byzantine texts were brought west by scholars fleeing from the Turkish invasion in the 15thcentury. Many of these Greek scholars, and the manuscripts that they brought with them, ended up in the area of Basel, Switzerland after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is from these manuscripts that printed texts of Erasmus (1516) and Stephen (1520) were primarily derived. Stephens’ text was known as the Textus Receptus (Received Text) and was the accepted standard of the Greek New Testament for about three centuries.

The Authorized Version or King James Version, long the standard in the English-speaking world, was first printed in 1611 after a seven-year effort by 54 scholars. The Greek Received Text was one of primary use in translating this version, drawing off the work of earlier scholars such as William Tyndale.

There are a number of spurious ideas stating that Constantine defined the Bible, as we have it today. These ideas are improvable.

Marriage was designed and instituted by God when He created Eve as a wife for Adam. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Genesis 2:18). God meant for man and woman to live together as one flesh. He instructed that a man leave his father and mother and form a new family (Genesis 2:24). God designed marriage to be for life—that the husband and wife would love and honor one another and be joined to one another until death. The Bible speaks of this as a sacred union between man and woman, a type of the spiritual relationship Jesus Christ has with His Church (Ephesians 5:22-31).

The world in which we live is not the world that God wanted for man. It is full of wickedness, evil intentions, and creates conditions in which godliness is hard-pressed to survive (Genesis 6:5–13; Romans 3:10–18). Marriage is a godly institution, but it is subject to being undermined and destroyed by human weakness, unfaithfulness, perversion and irresponsibility or, as God sees it—sin. Often the result of such sin is divorce, something that God hates (Malachi 2:16).

But what about those who have been divorced? It is important to note that, upon conversion, a repentant person’s sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38; Psalm 103:1–3, 10–12). A divorce that occurred, prior to conversion, contrary to God’s instructions, is a sin that would be forgiven, and the new Christian would be free to marry again “in the Lord,” that is, within the Church.

Divorce for those who are already in the Church is another matter. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:10–13 that a converted person must not leave or divorce an unconverted mate who is willing to live in peace with the converted mate. One who divorces such a mate and remarries commits adultery (Matthew 19:9). God does not sanction such divorce and remarriage once He has bound the couple in holy matrimony (Matthew 5:32).

If, however, an unbelieving mate does not wish to dwell in the marriage with the believer and seeks to be separated, in such cases, it would not be sin for the believer to remarry (1 Corinthians 7:27–28), if he or she marries a true Christian. A truly yielded Christian should seek to obey Christ’s teaching in this matter and strive to rebuild the loving relationship, which first led to the marriage (1 Peter 3:1–7).

It is interesting to note that Jesus Himself immersed no one with His own physical hands—His disciples did it for Him, by His authority. Notice Christ’s command regarding His true church, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus Christ is clearly showing that it is those who go forth teaching or preaching His true gospel are the ones He commanded and commissioned to do the baptizing (Mark 1:14-15).

A Church of God baptism is concluded with, “In the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.” The one performing the baptism does it in the name of Jesus Christ—by His authority! In other words, the authority has been vested to the individual to perform the baptism by Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3). In reality, it is really Jesus Christ performing the ceremony—as it is done in the name of Christ. The man performing the ceremony is merely a human instrument—a servant of Christ—never performing the service to his own credit, honor or glory.

There are many scriptural examples of the baptism ceremony. In every New Testament example, the one performing the baptism ceremony was a representative of the true Church of God, which was founded by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). Christ has set up a proper church hierarchy. He uses men to lead from the top down in order to maintain order from within His church (Ephesians 4:11-13) and to edify the brethren in every way (1 Corinthians 14).

For baptism to be valid three conditions must be met. The first two conditions are faith and true repentance (John 3:16, Hebrews 11:6, Acts 2:38). These conditions must be thoroughly explained and understood by the individual seeking baptism. Therefore, it is completely necessary for the one performing the baptism to have complete command and understanding of these conditions, in order, that they may be explained completely and thoroughly. If these conditions are not truly met the baptism is not invalid. It is paramount for the one performing the ceremony to properly assess the person’s true understanding of these conditions.

The third condition of the baptism ceremony is the laying on of hands (Hebrews 6:2). There are many biblical instances where the laying on of hands is used—the Bible leaves us no doubt as to what the laying on of hands is and how the true Church of God should employ it (see Genesis 48:14-19, Leviticus 8:14-23, 16:21; Matthew 19:13-15, James 5:14). God has also willed that the laying on of hands is used in ordaining His true servants to a position of authority (Numbers 27:18-23, Mark 16:18, Acts 13:1-3, 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6,). God has chosen to work through a physical church and a physical ministry—as imperfect as they may be. It is God’s will that His true church utilizes the laying on of hands as a physical symbol of the authority that God placed in His church and with His true ministry. Jesus Christ is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:12-18) and He has given His true servants the authority to baptize those who have faith and have truly repented of their sins. Along with the full water, immersion is promised the Holy Spirit—through the laying on of hands.

Notice the example in Acts 8. Philip (a deacon) went to the city of Samaria to preach the gospel. Many believed and were baptized. However, the apostles, Peter and John, were sent to lay hands on them for the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15-17). Only God can beget a repentant, baptized person with His Spirit, but He has given us the laying on of hands as a physical symbol of recognition of the human instruments through which He works. A physical act to show our faith and trust in Him and to show that we know where He is working on the earth today—to show our acceptance of the authority He has placed with His servants.

A person seeking baptism should look to a man who he or she feels is a man of God, called of Christ and used of Him in the work of His true Church.

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city[Jerusalem] and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). Perhaps, the earthquake opened the graves. The bodies of the saints were raised, and they came to Jerusalem after Christ was raised. He was raised to supernatural life, and they were raised back to physical life as a witness that He was indeed the Son of God. The Bible does not specify the exact length of time, but they would have only lived out whatever mortal time they had remaining in their lives.

“This prophet [Agabus], of whom we know nothing, is once more mentioned and his mode of acting was like that of the ancient prophets, who often accompanied their predictions with significant emblems (Acts 21:10). He was probably a Jew, but whether converted now to Christianity we cannot tell. Most learned men are of opinion that the famine of which Agabus prophesied was that mentioned above, which took place in the fourth year of this emperor. A. D. 47” (from Adam Clarke Commentary). The Bible does not give us any more details on his life or his length of days. However, we do know that there were other men of God that post-dated Agabus—the Apostle John (A.D. 98-100).

There is only one source available to give you the correct answer—the Bible. The Bible interprets the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21).

God’s word states: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’” (Genesis 1:26–27). “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). After God had made Adam He noted that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, “The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to man” (Genesis 2:21-22) And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).

It will be helpful to look at the Hebrew word “woman” used in the above Scriptures. [She shall be called Woman] A literal version of the Hebrew would appear strange, and yet a literal version is the only proper one. ‘iysh (heb 376) signifies “man,” and the word used to express what we term “woman” is the same with a feminine termination, ‘ishah (heb 802), and literally means “she-man” (from Adam Clarke Commentary).

“This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind [´adam] in the day they were created” (Genesis 5:1–2). “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

The Bible does talk about multiple resurrections. Take note of 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order…” The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is considered the “resurrection chapter” of the Bible. Its subject is the resurrection of life, after death! However, there is in God’s master plan order or succession of resurrections. Continue: “Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (v23).

Who are they that are Christ’s at His second coming? The Apostle Paul also stated, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed” (verse 51). When Paul uses the term “we” he is speaking of true Christians who have faithfully accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, obeyed God’s laws, rejected the ways of their human nature, received God’s Holy Spirit, and humbly yielded their lives to the government of God. When shall this change occur? “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” and continuing on we read, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality” (verses 52-53). This is describing the first resurrection—a resurrection from human flesh to spirit—that is why it is considered the better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

However, what about the rest of humanity? Notice Revelation 20, beginning verse 11: “Then I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God” (the second resurrection); “and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of life: and the dead were judged according to their works by things which were written in the books” (verse 12).

This will be by far the greatest resurrection, in numbers resurrected (to flesh). It will include the billions, who have lived cut off from God, were deceived by Satan, or never heard the name of Jesus Christ—who were not then judged. This will be their first genuine opportunity for salvation! In 1 Timothy 2:4 it tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” This is God’s true desire!

The Church of God bases its beliefs and traditions on Scripture. Women were ordained as deaconesses, which were physical offices of service to the Church (Romans 16:1–2). The Greek word for “servant” in this verse is diakonos, which means deacon or deaconess, signifying servant or attendant. Deacons and deaconesses served the Church by assisting in non-preaching activities (Acts 6:2–3). The Bible reveals that women are not to be ordained as ministers, which is also based on the teachings of the Apostle Paul and the practice of the early Church (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12).

1 Timothy 2:12; must be read in, not out of, context. Paul, under Christ’s inspiration, said it is not proper for women to exercise administrative ecclesiastical authority over men within the Church. Women were not to become elders (ministers) or to give sermons—that is the context of this chapter. But this does not imply inferiority. It is for this reason that the Church of God does not ordain women as ministers. But Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:8–11 and Romans 16:1, allows the ordination of deaconesses for services to the Church. The Bible indicates that Priscilla and Aquila were deacon and deaconess. God even used them to help educate a powerful and effective teacher named Apollos. “Now a certain Jew named Apollos. … This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24–26). Here we find a woman and her husband together teaching a man the ways of God.

God’s Word repeatedly demonstrates the important roles of women in the church. Note Deborah’s leadership (Judges 4, 5); Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 1, 2); Lemuel’s mother (Proverbs 31); the accounts of Ruth and Esther in the Old Testament; the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus; Priscilla (Acts 18:24–26): Dorcas (Acts 9: 36–40); Phoebe (Romans 16:1–2) and many others. Women, in today’s Church, continue to contribute as deaconesses, and in other roles, helping to bring stability as examples, especially of the “young women” (Titus 2:3–5).

How should a woman wear her hair, based on what the Bible says? The Bible does give some guidelines: “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Corinthians 11:15). The problem for many is what Paul meant by “long hair.” The Greek word for “long” is komao, or to let the hair grow, to have long hair. Does this mean that a woman should let it grow without ever cutting it? No, it does not. In context, Paul was speaking about women having their hair for a covering, making them appear as women—feminine, as distinct from looking like men.

Some religions teach that if women refuse to cover the very hair itself with a veil, then it should be shorn or shaven. We do not believe the Scriptures support that position. The Greek usage in verse 6, paraphrased, simply states, “If a woman does not have long hair, it is as if she is shorn, which is shameful, so let her have long hair as a covering.” That is how Paul ends the issue in vv. 14–15: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for herhair is given to her for a covering.” Men should not have long hair like a woman. They should look masculine. If long hair is a glory to a woman, it is a shame to him (KJV). The same is said for a woman (v. 6)—she should look feminine.

A key to understanding this more clearly is Paul’s introductory comments to this part of his letter in v. 2: “Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.” He ends the discussion similarly in v. 16: “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

Paul was establishing new Christian guidelines (traditions). He was dealing with Corinthian pagan traditions as well as the influences by the Corinthian Jews on the newly converted Christians. Pagan temple prostitutes had shorn or shaved heads. These were often ordinary women who served their gods in this manner and some wore veils to cover their heads. The Jewish women of that time (and today) also covered their heads with some sort of material when they were in the presence of the Torah. The Jewish men then (and today) wore hats or small skullcaps. But nowhere in the Bible does God’s Word command women to cover their heads with some type of veil or hat.

Paul was drawing a wide line between how Christian men and women were supposed to appear in a society filled with immorality and pharisaical teachings. The Apostle is simply telling Christian women that their hair is the proper covering when praying, rather than a man-made veil made of some material.

But what constitutes “long hair” for a woman or a man—and should current trends be the criteria for a Christian to follow? It is now popular for men and women to dress and look alike—the androgynous look. But should a Christian follow such fads because it is the fashion? The Bible says no: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). God still wants men to look masculine and women to look feminine.

It is important to note that v. 15 says “long hair” not “uncut hair.” The Bible does not prohibit the cutting, curling, styling, or setting of a woman’s hair. It must be long enough to be a covering. If her hair makes her appear like the men around her, then it is not long enough for a proper covering. Paul says a woman’s long hair is a “glory” to her. It needs to be well-groomed and worn in a tasteful manner. The Bible also warns against going overboard with personal grooming—“in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works (1 Timothy 2:9–10). Also, notice 1 Peter 3:3–5.

A primary Scripture in this discussion is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And note Jesus Christ’s own words in Luke 20:34–36: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.’”

In the final analysis, God does not look at men or women differently. Those who worship and obey Him, both men and women, will become “sons and daughters” in His kingdom (2 Corinthians 6:18). It is while we are here on earth, in our fleshly bodies, that God has set some standards governing the function of men and women. Those standards are based on godly roles of men and women, not whether they were created equal or not. Eve was created to be a helpmate for Adam (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew meaning of the word “mate,” “comparable” in the NKJV, is ezer, one who helps. This is not a demeaning label. God, seeing that Adam could not make it on his own, provided a partner for him who was equal in value and potential in the overall plan God had for mankind.

The pharaoh of Egypt at that time was Amenhotep II. The overwhelming biblical and historical evidence is that he did not die with his army in pursuit of Israel.

In Psalm 136:15, we find that God “overthrew Pharaoh and his host (army) in the Red sea.” The Hebrew word translated here as “overthrew” is “na’ar.” This word is also found in Exodus 14:27. It does not mean “to drown” or “to toss or tumble about as in the water” as some have attempted to assert. It simply means “shook off” as is mentioned in the margins of many Bibles and in “The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon.” (Nehemiah 5:13 is a good illustration of how “na’ar” should be translated.) Therefore, these verses simply say that God shook off the Egyptians (including Pharaoh) from their pursuit of the Israelites. These scriptures say nothing of who was drowned.

In Exodus 14:28 we see that the waters covered “the host of Pharaoh,” but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned. Exodus 15:19 in the Authorized King James Version reads: “For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them.” At first, this might appear to be evidence that Pharaoh drowned. But an examination of this verse reveals that “horse” should not be singular. Verse 19 of Exodus 15 is correctly rendered in the New King James Version (also called the Revised Authorized Version): “For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them.” Naturally, the horses and horsemen of Egypt were considered to be Pharaohs. But this scripture does not say that Pharaoh’s personal horse, or that Pharaoh himself, drowned in the sea.

This is significant because the death of such an important person would almost certainly have been given a special note in the Bible. The Old Testament contains many clear references to the deaths of enemy kings, most of them much less important than this pharaoh. Archaeology proves that Amenhotep II ruled for at least 16 years after the Exodus.

Really, they complement each other. Matthew’s genealogy shows that of Joseph. Matthew recorded it for legal purposes; he was writing to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Jews’ custom in keeping records was to trace descent through the father. For legal purposes, the Jews of Jesus’ day looked on Him as a son of Joseph (John 6:42). Additionally, Joseph’s lineage was given to emphasize the fact that Jesus had to be born of a virgin. Jesus would not be allowed to sit upon the throne of David if Joseph were His real father since Jechonias (or Jeconiah) was one of his ancestors (Matt. 1:11-12).

Jeconiah, called Coniah in Jeremiah 22:24-30, was so evil God cursed him and his descendants and said “no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah” (verse 30). Jeconiah did have children (I Chron. 3:17) but none of his descendants sat on the throne. The curse on Jeconiah’s line would have passed on to Christ if He were Joseph’s real son, but He wasn’t—He was begotten by the Holy Spirit and was the Son of God. Joseph’s children could not, therefore, inherit David’s throne. How, then, could Jesus be a descendant of David and qualify to sit on the throne? Thus, the genealogy in Luke 3.

Luke’s genealogy is focused on Mary. According to Jewish usage, Mary’s genealogy was given in her husband’s name. The original Greek merely says Joseph was “of Heli” (Luke 3:23). In fact, Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli, since his father was Jacob (Matt. 1:16). Unlike in Joseph’s lineage, there was no wedge to the throne of David in Jesus’ actual blood genealogy through mother. Her ancestor was David’s other son, Nathan (Luke 3:31). To fulfill the promise to establish David’s throne forever, God honored Nathan by making him the ancestor of the promised King who would sit on David’s throne through eternity (Luke 1:31-33).

But how could Mary convey David’s royal inheritance—the right to the throne—to her son, since all inheritances had to pass through male descendants? According to God’s law given to Israel, when a daughter was the only heir, she could inherit her father’s possessions and rights if she married within her own tribe (Num. 27:1-7, 36:6-7). Jesus was Mary’s son through Nathan and could inherit the throne legally because of her marriage to Joseph, whose genealogy shows he was of the tribe of Judah. Also, it appears that Mary had no brothers who could be her father’s heirs. Joseph became Heli’s heir by marriage to Mary and thus inherited the right to rule on David’s throne. This right then passed on to Christ. Therefore, both genealogies had to be recorded to establish Jesus’ right to rule on David’s throne.

On the fourth day of creation, Jesus Christ commanded, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures…” (Genesis 1:20). This was a reference to all the various species of fish. On the fifth day of creation, Jesus Christ commanded, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature…” (Genesis 1:24). This was about all the various land animals. On the sixth day, God made man. He states, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). In each case of the use of a living creature or living being it is the same Hebrew word, Nephesh (neh’-fesh)), which means properly, a breathing creature, body, or mortality. Therefore, humans and animals don’t have a soul we are a soul—a soul that can most certainly die (Ecclesiastes 9:5, Ezekiel 18:20, Matthew 10:28). So how does this fit into 2 Corinthians 5:8?

The Apostle Paul remarks in verse four, “For we who are in this tent [body] groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed.” What does Paul mean to be further clothed? He explains, “That mortality may be swallowed up by life” (verse 4). We are physical, flesh and blood human beings and we will die (Hebrews 9:27). To live everlasting, we must be changed to spirit beings—that don’t get sick, tired, or die. Paul was not afraid of death as he knew that his next waking moment would be in God’s Kingdom upon being resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Who gives this everlasting life as spirit beings? Paul says in verse 5, “God!” And the Holy Spirit is given to those who repent, obey and have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a down payment or “guarantee” (Acts 2:38, 5:32, Ephesians 1:13-14). With this guarantee Paul continues, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body [physical] we are absent from the Lord [spirit]” (verse 6). With this understanding we should live a certain way of life, the context is set in verse 7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Paul is teaching us to trust in God and not our physical senses—we want to touch, taste, smell, and see. When we walk by sight, we are putting our trust in our physical senses more than in God. This leads to trying to protect ourselves and we follow what seems right in our own eyes—we justify, which is contrary to scripture (Proverbs 3:5, 14:12). Self-preservation or self-trust never works (Matthew 16:25). Faith is a fundamental subject, but it’s a life and death subject. It’s a challenge to walk by faith because we can’t see what’s around the next corner—human nature always wants to see around the corner! Walking by faith means that we put it in God’s hands, we act on His instructions and we trust Him to make things work out—for example, even when it doesn’t work out on paper.

As we understand and live this way of life, Paul finally states, “For we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body [physical] and to be present with the Lord [spirit]” (verse 8). Yes, we can have this confidence if we learn now to trust God and not our physical senses.

To begin understanding what happens to man when he dies, one must understand what he is while living. The late Herbert W. Armstrong was led by God to understand that the spirit of man is the essence that imparts the power of intellect to the human brain. It is different than the life given to animals. This spirit cannot function without human flesh. It cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or feel sensation without the brain. Likewise, the human brain without the human spirit, cannot act humanly.

Mr. Armstrong compared the human spirit to a computer, as the five senses “programmed” it, giving it a recorded memory, which gives the human instant recall of knowledge stored in the brain. “The human spirit does not think—it empowers the physical brain to think. This human spirit does not supply human life. The human life is supplied by the physical breath of air, and by physical blood” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow What It Will Be Like, 1979, p. 30).

What happens to this spirit at death? “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The physical body returns to the earth, but the spirit of man returns to God with all the recorded information accrued during each human’s life, including the body form, shape, memory, and character.

Note Mr. Armstrong’s explanation:

“It will be PRESERVED UNCHANGED. “Such saints as Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel died thousands of years ago. STOP AND THINK ABOUT THAT! God had to provide some way to PRESERVE the form, shape, appearance, mind and character of saints for thousands of years. They were composed of corruptible flesh and blood. All that was THEM (man is composed wholly of matter) long since decomposed. Yet in the resurrection, it will seem to them as the next fraction of a second since loss of consciousness at death. “In the interim of death, they knew absolutely NOTHING. Says God’s Word, ‘For the living know that they shall die: but the dead KNOW NOT ANY THING’ (ECCL. 9:5). “The spirit which returns to God is the human spirit that was in them throughout life. It was not an ‘immortal soul,’ for the soul was mortal and corruptible” (What Science Can’t Discover About the HUMAN MIND, 1978).

There are a number of scriptures that can be cited. In 1 Corinthians 12:13-31, the Apostle Paul explains that the Church of God is one body; however, the whole body is made up of many members: eyes, ears, nose, hands, feet and etc… “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues [languages]” (Verse 28). The analogy that Paul is expressing is that different people all have different abilities and talents, but all are given for the good of the whole.

People often recognize the talents of singing, dancing, public speaking or athleticism, but there are so many more that are easily overlooked; yet, equally important and necessary. The talents of listening, of serving with an open heart, being positive and encouraging people, working with young people, working with old people, being compassionate, empathetic and etc… (see Romans 6:6-13).

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus Christ teaches the “Parable of the Talents.” In this parable, He explains how He disperses to each person certain talents and how we are to use them. Notice these comments from the Adam Clark commentary, “[Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability] The duties men are called to perform are suited to their situations and the talents they receive. The good that any man has he has received from God, as also the ability to improve that good. God’s graces and temporal mercies are suited to the power which a man has of improving them. To give eminent gifts to persons incapable of properly improving them, would be only to lead into a snare. The talent which each man has suits his own state best; and it is only pride and vanity which lead him to desire and envy the talents of another. Five talents would be too much for some men: one talent would be too little. He who receives much must make proportionate improvement; and, from him who has received little, the improvement only of that little will be required. As five talents, in one case, are sufficient to answer the purpose for which they were given; so also are two and one.”

People’s talents become evident as they live their lives. We learn of them through time and chance, through experiences or education, through the admonishments of others, and from our general interests and hobbies in life. As we learn of our talents it is important to strive to use them, develop them and glorify God in them!

What does 1 Peter 3:18-20 mean? The assumption is that Christ was preaching to the “souls of men in hell.” But notice the time element here. Christ was not preaching while he was three days and three nights in the grave, but during the “days of Noah while the ark was being prepared.” These were spirits, not men, because, as Scripture proves, men do not have immortal souls (Ecclesiastes 5:9, 10). The answer can be found in 2 Peter 2:4 “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [hell is a mistranslation from the Greek word “tartaroo,” which means a condition of restraint or “imprisonment”] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” Christ, during the time of Noah, was preaching to the sinning angels, or demons that followed Satan and are bound to the earth by the power of God until the day of their judgment.

God entered into a covenant relationship with the nation of Israel over four hundred years after His promise was made to Abraham—God kept His promise (Genesis 17)! Notice Exodus 3:8, “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” The covenant was clear—if Israel obeyed God they would be blessed with vast physical blessing and if they disobeyed they would be cursed (Exodus 19, 20, Deuteronomy 28). Israel was never offered spiritual salvation—it was a physical covenant!

Israel faltered time after time on their agreement of the covenant. They did not fully obey God, but they are without excuse. God revealed to them, through Moses and the prophets, the knowledge of His way of life. As Israel constantly slid away from God into idolatry, God sent to them His prophets, with His admonitions, pleading with them to return. Notice the example of the prophet Jeremiah, “‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord, ‘And I will not cause My anger to fall on you; For I am merciful,’ says the Lord” Many of God’s prophets they stoned to death!

As a whole the nation of Israel disobeyed God, but an individual few in Old Testament Israel did obey God and by becoming God’s prophets, they became part of the very foundation of the New Testament CHURCH OF GOD. The Church is built, “On the FOUNDATION of the apostles (New Testament) and prophets (Old Testament), Jesus Christ Himself being “the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).

Christ’s apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, taught, “Through the years from Abraham until Christ, God had called out of Satan’s world begotten and prepared PROPHETS, as the preliminary co-foundation of God’s CHURCH! Jesus himself is the main foundation. During Jesus’ 3 l/2 years earthly ministry, he called out, chose, and trained, to begin with, the second co-foundation, his original 12 apostles.”

The FOUNDATION for the Church of God is Jesus Christ—He is the Head (Colossians 1:18)! His apostles, with the prophets, formed the remainder of the foundation. God called and prepared the Old Testament prophets. In this same manner, He has called and still calls and prepares the CHURCH to overcome Satan today. All prophets, apostles, and Church brethren in whom resided the Holy Spirit shall be resurrected and/or changed to immortality at Christ’s second coming (1 Corinthians 15).

The apostle Paul states, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Again, Mr. Armstrong writes, “An apostle is ‘one sent forth’ with Christ’s gospel message, including the supervision of proclaiming that message to the world by means and persons other than himself. Also, an apostle was given supervision over all the local congregations or churches (I Cor. 16:1). The apostle Paul had oversight over the churches of the Gentile world (II Cor. 11:28). The prophets set in the foundation of the Church are those of the Old Testament, whose writings were used to form a considerable part of the New Testament and gospel teaching and functioning. Prophets were a pre-foundation of the Church of God. No prophets are mentioned as having either administrative, executive, or preaching functions in the New Testament Church. Evangelists were leading ministers, proclaiming the gospel to the public, even raising up local churches and having supervision over some churches under the apostle. Therefore, an evangelist may hold executive functions under the apostle in the Church headquarters or work today. An evangelist is not necessarily stationary. Pastors are stationary pastors over a local church or contingent group of local churches. Then there were placed in the Church teachers–not necessarily preachers. Yet all ministers and teachers are called elders in other New Testament texts.”

All teaching came from Christ through the apostles. Even though, prophets are not mentioned as having either administrative, executive, or preaching functions in the New Testament Church, a few times Christ communicated to apostles via the prophets (of which there are none in God’s Church today since the Bible for our time is complete). God’s Church today, as in the first century, receives its teachings from the living head of the church Jesus Christ.

In these passages, Jesus Christ describes Himself as the good shepherd—for He gives His life for the sheep(Psalm 22). In John 10:16, Christ states, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold…” The question to ask is who the sheep are in contrast to the fold.

We must turn to other scriptures for further explanation (Isaiah 28:9-11). The account given in Matthew helps us understand, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). It is evident from this verse that the sheep referred to here and in John 10:16 is the nation of Israel. From here there are two important points to understand: First, Jesus Christ’s three and one half year ministry consisted in the regions of Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan (Matthew 4:25). Second, He was primarily teaching to the Jews who lived in these regions.

The Jews were the sheep living in those immediate regions of Christ’s ministry, but there were others who were a part of the fold who were not there. Who are these others? As seen in Genesis 35:23-26, Jacob had twelve sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Nahptali, Gad, and Asher. These twelve sons made up the 12 tribes of Israel or the house of Israel (Genesis 49).

In 721 BC the northern tribes of Israel went into Assyrian captivity. Upon their captivity, these Israelites were deported and dispersed into other regions. Later the southern tribe of Judah was defeated and taken captive by the Babylonian armies in 604 BC. As their northern brothers and sisters, they were also deported and dispersed into other regions. However there is one difference to make note of: the Jews, who are the one tribe of Judah were allowed later to return to the area of Judea by the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC. Therefore, the “other sheep” that Jesus Christ made mention of in John 10:16 were the remaining eleven tribes of Israel.

Regarding this fold, there is one more aspect that should be mentioned. God is grafting into the fold many gentiles—those of non-Israelite lineage. Notice these verses on this subject: The Apostle Paul writes, “And if some of the branches were broken off [Israel], and you [gentiles], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them…” (Romans 11:17), “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God [Christians]” (Galatians 6:16) and finally “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). The fold, which is Christ’s sheep, are those who have faith in His sacrifice, His true gospel, are being about the Father’s business, have truly repented, and are obeying God’s laws (see Acts 2:38, 5:32, Matthew 19:17, Mark 1:14-15, Hebrews 11).

What will be the inheritance of the sheep? Jesus Christ, in His own words, tells us that the sheep will inherit the Kingdom of God as spirit beings and the goats or incorrigibly wicked will be burned in the Lake of fire—the second death (Matthew 25:31-46, 1 Corinthians 15). This is the potential future for the sheep in which case this promise will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ. At this time the promise is reserved in heaven at the throne of God with Jesus Christ sitting at His right hand (1 Peter 1:3-4). “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). God’s kingdom is currently in heaven, but where will this kingdom ultimately be set up, where will this revealing take place, which corresponds with the inheritance of the sheep?

There are many scriptures that make a plain statement of the sheep’s inheritance. Notice what Christ taught from the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of [not in] heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5). Notice the model prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In Zechariah 14:9, we also read, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.” Jesus Christ will someday return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords as He ushers in the Kingdom of God on this earth (Revelation 19:16)—headquartered in Jerusalem (Revelation 21). The sheep will help Him rule, as written, “And have made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on earth” (Revelation 5:10). At this time the crown of glory is located in heaven, but Jesus Christ will soon come again and He will bring these crowns for His sheep, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

The secret rapture theory is a teaching that goes back to the early 1800’s and has been most recently sensationalized by author Tim LaHaye in his series: Left Behind. This theory teaches that Christ will return twice. First, a secret return to whisk away Christians (dead or alive) off to heaven during the three- and one-half years of tribulation on earth—as noted by Revelation 3:10. Second, after these three- and one-half years, Christ will openly return in power and glory to destroy the rebellious nations of this earth and establish His Kingdom.

It’s important to note that the secret rapture theory is a false doctrine. In fact, the word “rapture” is found nowhere in the Bible nor does the Bible teach Christ’s second coming to be done in phases. What does the Bible teach? In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul writes, “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” This scripture is in reference to Christians waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ in full glory and power, which is done very openly and in one phase. The tribulation and the Day of the Lord, culminating in a three- and one-half year periodwill be Satan’s wrath on this earth and God’s punishment on rebellious mankind (Revelation 6, 8-9, 16). The entirety of Matthew 24 gives us a clear indication of the tribulation and heavenly signs, which occur prior to Jesus Christ’s second coming. The nations will mourn and see His coming—there will be nothing secret about it. There are clearly many events that will precede the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, 2 Thessalonians 2:3). However, the world as a whole will be oblivious, as in the very days of Noah (Matthew 24:37).

Where will God’s true church be placed during this time of calamity? The Apostle John by the revelation of Christ gives us a general idea, “Then the woman (church) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Revelation 12:6, Matt 24:36-44). Let’s also notice the reference in Revelation 12:14, “But the woman (church) was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, form the presence of the serpent.” This reference to a great eagle is pointing to the fact that true Christians will be protected and put into a place of safety, by God, during the great tribulation (see Exodus 19:4).

This is the context of Luke 17:32-37. However, notice verse 31, “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise, the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.” Again, the context is made clear (place of safety)—if there is a secret rapture then there would be no need to warn people about returning for their belongings.

Notice what the Apostle Paul writes regarding the future of the true saints after the tribulation and Day of the Lord, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The saints are brought from all points of the earth to be gathered in the clouds over Jerusalem (Matthew 24:31). The last trumpet as signified by the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23) signals both the resurrection of the saints as well as, the time when Christ returns to judge the nations (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Therefore, we are admonished, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). True Christians will be in a place of safety during the great tribulation. They will then be resurrected or changed at the last (7th) trumpet—to reign as kings and priests with Christ on earth (Zechariah 14, Matthew 5, Revelation 5:10). This coincides with the second coming of Jesus Christ and the Day of the Lord.

Context is the most important factor in understanding these Scriptures. Prior to these two verses, Jesus, beginning in verse 21, was describing the Great Tribulation. He said people in the end time, just like those in the time of Noah (vv. 37–38), would be living their normal lives going about their business when disaster suddenly occurs.

They will be working in the fields, working at their jobs, when the tribulation unexpectedly begins. Half the population will die or be taken into slavery—one of every two individuals. Jesus used this parable to emphasize what will come upon the modern descendants of Israel at the end of this age (vv. 21–22).

It is helpful to read the parallel account in Luke 17:26–37. Luke’s version, which includes the account of Lot and his wife, clearly shows that the Great Tribulation is already occurring at the time (vv. 28–33). The faithful believers in this end-time scenario have been taken to a place of safety here on earth prior to the tribulation (Revelation 12:6, 14–16).

The belief that half of the world will be raptured away cannot be reconciled with the rest of what the Bible says about Christ’s small end-time flock.

As true Christians, we must follow the admonition given to us by Jesus Christ when He said, “And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Notice that we are to be witnesses—scripture does not indicate that we are here to convert. Being a witness means that you let your light shine before men and let your example speak for you; so when people see your good works they will glorify God in heaven (Matthew 5:16). We are not called to convert nor make someone believe the way we do. In fact, in John 6:44 it is written, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” God does the calling—we do not! We cannot save anyone—only God can (Matthew 10:28)!

Notice what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Behold I tell you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised, and we shall be changed” (Corinthians 15:51-2). This event is describing the first resurrection, the better resurrection, which will occur on the Feast of Trumpets for the true saints of God. Who are the true saints that will be in this first resurrection? It will be those who have complete faith in God the Father and in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:6). It will be those who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)—living differently with God’s help—resolving not to sin. It will be those who grow in grace and knowledge, change and overcome (2 Peter 3:18). It will be those who keep God’s laws in spirit and truth (Matthew 19:17, John 4:23). It will be those who keep God’s Sabbaths and Holy Days (Leviticus 23:1-, Hebrews 4:9). It will be those who support the work of the living God with their time, prayers, resources, and service (Matthew 28:19-20).

John, the last surviving Apostle puts it eloquently, “Here is the patience (persistence, endurance) of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). It will be those who endure to the end that will be saved—whatever that end will be (Matthew 24:13)?

The meaning of God’s grace is one of the most mis­understood concepts in traditional Christianity. Translated in our English versions from the Greek word charis, grace describes something vitally impor­tant “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Grace means something freely given or bestowed. In classical Greek, it referred to favor from rulers.

When the New Testament speaks of grace and con­trasts it with works, we learn that God’s forgiveness is freely given. It is not something we have earned or deserved. The Bible shows that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and are therefore in opposition to God (Romans 8:7). How can anyone then come to enjoy God’s favor? Can we make ourselves innocent of past sins by future obedience? Of course not!

God has taken the initiative to bring us into har­mony with Himself by giving His Son Jesus Christ to pay the death penalty for sin in our place. However, once God extends His unmerited favor toward us, we must respond. God requires a response of faith. This involves believing and trusting God. However, as the Apostle James points out, active, living faith in God will be demonstrated by our works (James 2:20–24).

Paul made it plain to his readers that grace does not mean that Christians are free to continue practic­ing sin (Romans 6:1—2). Quite the opposite, those who have accepted God’s grace—His freely extended par­don—have turned away from sin and are seeking to live their lives based upon faith. Our obedience, or lack of it, demonstrates how deeply we believe and trust God. We can never earn or deserve God’s forgiveness of our sins. No amount of future law-keeping will atone for past law-breaking. However, grace must never be construed as a license to sin.

The Apostle Jude warned of those who perverted the meaning of grace by equating it with permission to disregard God’s law (Jude 4). The real purpose of God’s grace is clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In the very next verse Paul followed this explanation with an exhortation: “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). Simply put, unless God’s forgive­ness represents the start of a newly surrendered life of obedience to God, we have accepted the grace of God in vain!

Once a person is saved, could their salvation be taken away? The question is: “When is a faithful Christian ultimately saved?” Jesus said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). It is true that one who has truly repented and has been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38) has been “saved” from his past sins (Romans 3:25; Titus 3:5). We have been justified. Notice, also, the future aspect of salvation plainly stated in Romans 5:9–10. As you can see, the tense is future in both verses, “we shall be saved.”

The Bible plainly warns those who have been justified—saved from their past sins—that they must be vigilant not to fall away (Hebrews 6: 4–6): “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” See also the Apostle Paul’s concern that he not be a “castaway” (KJV), or “become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

We are saved from the penalty of our sins (justified) by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; His blood paid the penalty for our past sins. We are human and we will sin again. And then, because we are Christians—having the Spirit of God in us (sanctified)—we repent, through the grace and power of Christ living His life within us (Galatians 2:20; 1 John 2:1), and we are forgiven once more (1 John 1:9). Because we have an attitude of submission to God, and God’s Spirit continues to dwell in us, we are led through a repenting life of overcoming sins. As both 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15 teach us, salvation is also an ongoing process—we “are being saved.” Being “saved” is a three-part process of 1) Justification for past sins by the blood of Christ, 2) Sanctification by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, and then 3) Salvation by the resurrection to eternal life.

We will be ultimately saved when “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). At that time, the time of the resurrection, the expression “once saved, always saved” will be a true statement.

The term birthright does appear several times in the Bible and refers to the inheritance rights of the firstborn male child of the family. The property of the family was generally divided among the father’s sons upon his death; however, usually, a double portion went to the firstborn who would assume the care of his mother and unmarried sisters. The birthright with its privileges and responsibilities could be forfeited in two ways: by behavior that was offensive to the father or if it opposed God’s will.

In the case between Esau (firstborn) and Jacob, notice God’s will, “Two nations are in your womb (Rebekah), Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). Later on in verses 29-34, we read that Esau squandered his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of soup. The selling of the birthright was a fair deal and God respected it. In Genesis 27, Jacob tricks his father Isaac to gain his father’s blessings. This lie was unnecessary, as the blessings came with the birthright. As a result of this deception, Jacob suffered certain consequences later on in his own life (see Genesis 28, 29).

“So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben” (Genesis 29:32). Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn through his wife Leah. However, Reuben committed an indiscretion against his father and disqualified himself, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch” (Genesis 49:3-4, also see Genesis 35:22 and 1 Chronicles 5:1).

Reuben disqualified himself, which enabled the birthright to be handed down to Jacob’s grandchildren—Ephraim and Manasseh from his son Joseph. Once again, God’s will deemed that the birthright is passed to the younger sibling (Ephraim). Notice Jacob’s response to Joseph being displeased, “I know, my son, I know. He (Manasseh) also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he” (Genesis 48:19). Had the descendants of Abraham kept the covenant that they made with God the birthright promises would be theirs forever (Genesis 13:15, Leviticus 26).

Deuteronomy 21:15-17 describes the law of marriage given by God. Except for a few circumstances described in the Bible, this law stands true!