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Adult - Bible Introduction Course November 27, 2007 7:59 AM

Lesson One: Is This the End?

      The Holy Bible—Foundation of All Knowledge

Only God’s Word reveals the right foundation of all knowledge. Only here do we find the answers to life’s big questions: Why is the world in such a miserable condition? What is the purpose of human life? Is there life after death? The Bible answers all these questions and many more.

Many followers of Christianity, who seriously seek a deeper understanding into their own religion, would normally expect to turn to the Bible. This would be the logical place to look, if one’s religion is based upon the Bible.

This world’s Christianity professes to be based on the Bible, but is not! In later lessons, we shall see why. Those who allow the Bible to teach them will benefit from this instruction, to the extent that “the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17).

As the Creator of mankind, God clearly shows us the absolute necessity of drawing upon His Word for spiritual nourishment: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; also see Luke 4:4). Here, Christ was quoting what He had inspired Moses to record in Deuteronomy 8:3. This is the core of why we should study the Bible—it provides essential food for a right way of life!

But, do the different denominations of Christianity actually allow the Bible to guide them? Consider the largest Christian denomination. For centuries, this church forbade (even punished by death) anyone possessing a copy of the Bible.

The many Christian denominations claiming to follow the teachings of the Bible may be sincere, but are utterly oblivious to the countless contradictions between Scripture and their interpretation of it.

There is an obvious reason that people reject the Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). People resent being reproved and corrected—even from God! They will twist and distort the meaning of corrective scripture, rather than accept it at face value.

This tendency to refuse correction is compounded by the fact that mankind does not fear or even acknowledge God—they are not concerned with what He says. However, they are concerned with the opinions of men.

The condition of humanity today is the same as it was at the time of Christ: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

The Goals of this Course

Our goal is to guide you toward self-motivated, exciting Bible study. Foundational understanding will be provided through personal Bible study, upon which one can build a lifetime relationship with God.

Many will became well versed in the study of their Bibles by applying the understanding gained from that course. Experience has shown that the course worked!

Our course follows a basic plan of having the students write out certain key scriptures. This process drove the point home then, and will do the same now for you. Although we will have fewer scriptures to write out, it is important that you diligently write them out, in full. This is crucial to internalizing the vital principles and concepts within them.

Tapping a Vast Reservoir

In addition to Bible, we can draw upon a growing number of threads that have been posted. We intend to streamline by continually referring to literature already in place, rather than duplicating this valuable material. This will allow the Bible Introduction Course to be greatly condensed in size. Our vast amount of literature reinforces and expounds on the doctrines covered in this course.

We will cover basic doctrines, guiding you through God’s truth in a systematic and exciting way. You will find this far more interesting and beneficial than reading various threads in a random order. We ask that the student diligently follow up on each of the referenced threads with careful reading, as this is foundational to a thorough understanding. There is no time limit or deadline in proceeding through the lessons. The excitement generated within each student should be the prime motivator to press on in the lessons. Sometimes, it will be difficult to put the lesson down. If so, then the course has served its purpose.

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 November 27, 2007 9:27 AM

Where to Begin?

One obvious starting point for the course would be at the Creation, proceeding through the book of Genesis. Another option would be to discuss the design and development of the Bible. After having explained the development process, then the best method of study could be discussed in detail. A final alternate method would be to focus on present turbulent world conditions.

Today’s world is, by far, the most dangerous in history, given the availability of astonishingly lethal weapons now in the hands of madmen and terrorists. Major world powers are still in possession of hydrogen bombs, while smaller atomic weapons, capable of destroying major cities, are reportedly now in the hands of terrorists.

We have chosen to begin by examining scriptures reflecting the overriding issues on people’s minds in this most turbulent and perilous time in history.

LESSON 1: The End of the Age

Christ’s disciples understood from His direct teachings that the end of the age would occur at the end of the 6,000 years that God had allowed for Satan to sway and influence mankind. The end of this age would mark the beginning of 1,000 years of peace and rest.

God’s servants understood that “the world that then was” (2 Pet. 3:6), speaking of the world before the Flood, and “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4), together comprise the 6,000 years of man’s rule under Satan’s influence. They well understood that the kingdom of God would be established in the future—at the millennial reign of Christ.

Remember: In answering the following questions, read each scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Do not rush through the questions. Be sure to write out each scripture. You will want to occasionally review your notes.

(1) Are the fallen angels (demons) to continue to hold the world in subjection in the World to Come? Hebrews 2:5.

(2) When the disciples questioned Jesus about the “end of the world,” in Matthew 24:3, did they already correctly understand that this meant the end of an era or the end of an age?

Comment: The Greek word translated as the English word “world” in Matthew 24:3 was aion, meaning “age.” The disciples correctly understood this. Many people, under the false teachings of this world’s religions, incorrectly believe that the end of the world means the destruction of this physical earth. Christ had taught His disciples that the millennium would be a new age, with the government of God in control, rather than mankind under the sway of Satan and his demons. Our thread Which is the TRUE GOSPEL? proves that the kingdom of God was the central theme of Christ’s message.

(3) What would happen to this world if Christ did not return? Matthew 24:22.

Comment: This verse is not referring to spiritual salvation, but rather the condition of world suicide—by man’s inhumanity to man—given his unlimited weapons of mass destruction. The verse reads plainly, “there should no flesh be saved.” The Moffatt translation more strongly clarifies this: “not a soul would be saved alive”!

(4) What is the meaning of “those days shall be shortened,” in Matthew 24:22?

Comment: Within God’s overall timetable, He has made allowances for short seasons of time to be added or taken away in order to fulfill His purpose. God shows that, unless those days were shortened, there would be total cosmocideall humanity would die! Therefore, He will intervene and cut time short for the elect’s sake—those still alive on the earth obeying God. God will cut time short by bringing about events to hasten the end of the age. This will deprive wicked leaders of the time and opportunity to erase all human life from the earth.

(5) Does the shortening of time at the end of this age relate to a work that is to be cut short? Romans 9:28. Whose work? Verse 28. Will the final Work be large? See end of verse 27.

Comment: We will see how this work plays a vital role of announcing the Ezekiel Warning to the modern-day descendants of Israel and the entire world, just before the night descends upon the world in the form of the Great Tribulation.

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 November 27, 2007 9:34 AM

(6) What is the Ezekiel Warning? Ezekiel 33:2-3. Are those who hear the Ezekiel Warning expected to take action? Verses 4-5. What happens to those charged to deliver this Warning if they fail to deliver it? Verse 6.

Comment: In verse 7, God charged Ezekiel to deliver this warning, yet it was written to Israel in the last days—the end time. Ezekiel is long since dead, but God’s true servants, those who would understand the identity of modern Israel and end-time prophecy, would inherit that commission.

The world is oblivious to the true identity of Israel and the correct understanding of end-time prophetic events. Only those who love the truth and hold fast to the teachings of the Bible qualify to deliver the Ezekiel Warning message. (A future lesson will focus more on this topic.)

The Last Days

(1) Does the Bible speak of a period called “the last days”? 2 Timothy 3:1.

Comment: Verse 1 establishes the timeframe—the last days. Carefully note verses 2-5, which describe the character traits that would dominate society when this time arrived.

(2) What other attributes will society have in these times? 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

(3) What does Jude tell us about mankind “in the last time”? Jude 18.

(4) Is this a time for God’s justified fierce anger “in the latter days”? Jeremiah 30:24.

Comment: In chapter 12 of the book of Daniel, we find such terms used in reference to the finality of time: “the time of the end” (vs. 4), “how long shall it be to the end…” (vs. 6), “all these things shall be finished” (vs. 7), “the end of these things” (vs. 8), “till the time of the end” (vs. 9), “till the end…” (vs. 13) and “the end of the days” (vs. 13).

Unprecedented Time of Trouble

(1) How severe is the “time of trouble” to descend upon this world in the near future? Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19.

(2) What does the prophet Jeremiah have to say about this unprecedented time of trouble? Jeremiah 30:5, 7.

Comment: Note the end of verse 6, “all faces are turned into paleness.”

(3) What does the prophet Daniel tell us about this same time of trouble? Daniel 12:1.

Comment: Since this time had no equal prior to it, and no equal would follow, the above scriptures have to be describing the same terrible time of trouble to strike the world.

(4) Does the Bible give any indicators or clues as to when this time will befall the world? Matthew 24:14.

Comment: This shows that the good news of the soon-coming kingdom of God would first be announced, and only then would the terrible events begin. The ne  [ send green star]

 
 November 27, 2007 9:39 AM

Time to Awake

(1) Are God’s servants admonished to awake to the reality of the times? Romans 13:11-12.

Comment: This admonition was addressed to the Roman congregation in about A.D. 56. That young congregation was decimated by severe persecution just eight years later, in A.D. 64, in the wake of the fire of Rome. As Scripture, this is addressed to those living now, just prior to the unprecedented, greatest time of world upheaval. Read also verses 13-14 within the same context. The deep realization that “the night is far spent” should motivate anyone who has ears to hear, to reconsider his priorities in life, and to “make not provision for the flesh” toward fulfillment of pleasure. We live in truly sobering and dangerous times!

(2) Do most people tend to regard prophetic warnings as an issue pertaining to events far into the future, not directly relating to the “here and now”? Ezekiel 12:27.

(3) How did God, through His prophets, answer this attitude? Ezekiel 12:28; Habakkuk 2:3.

(4) In the sobering times at the end of the age, would people change their priorities in the shadow of approaching events? Matthew 24:37-39.

(5) Would some ridicule the Return of Christ in the last days? 2 Peter 3:3-4.

Comment: Whether people acknowledge the fulfillment of prophetic events or not, those events will still proceed on schedule. Whether met with ridicule or with fear and dread, it will occur after the announcements and warnings are made. Regardless of humanity’s acceptance, “in the end it shall speak.” The crashing events will reverberate with such a deafening roar, that the everyday lives of all will be completely disrupted. A terrifying series of events will shock and re-shock the earth. Only those who have prepared will be capable of understanding that terrible course of events—because they woke up and took action!

(6) In light of these coming earthshaking events, what final warnings did Christ direct to those who would seek to follow Him? Luke 21:34-36.

In Summary

The verses you have just studied explain the perilous times in which we now live. The urgency of the times and the warning from God’s Word must strike home as never before! This level of urgency must be maintained, since every passing week brings the world closer to this time of reckoning.

Be sure to write out the scriptures presented in each segment of the lesson. This greatly helps internalize what each of these crucial scriptures reveals.

Next, to greatly enhance the understanding presented in this first lesson, we recommend that you carefully read the following thread: Which is the TRUE GOSPEL? This thread will expand upon what we have introduced in this short lesson. Our threads are not intended to replace one’s personal Bible study, but rather to aid you. They will open your mind to a deeper understanding of the Bible—if you truly seek and pursue it!

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Lesson Two: Where Are We Going? December 04, 2007 7:08 AM

                            INTRODUCTION

Christ’s Gospel and His Intervention in World Affairs.

The world does not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its churches teach what they think the gospel represents.

Christ was a Messenger sent directly from God. The gospel He brought was not a syrupy, sentimental message about how “Christ is love,” or that “Christ is the answer.” His message was a direct, powerful announcement of the kingdom of God—the government that will soon rule over earth!

In this lesson, we will further solidify the gospel (meaning “good news”) of the soon-coming kingdom of God. We will examine the general sequence of events leading up to the Return of Christ—as the King of kings—to rule over the entire earth. In short, this lesson shows the world’s unexpected destination and how we will get there!

Literature Essential to This Lesson

If you have not yet read our thread Which is the TRUE GOSPEL? you should make a sincere effort do so before proceeding.

The literature referenced in each lesson establishes a foundation upon which following lessons build. It is not merely supplemental reading. It is critical that you read this literature in sequence with each lesson you study.

Take the time to write down the indicated scriptures in the same order as the numbered questions are presented under each separate heading. This will help you to internalize God’s Word. Those who followed this practice over 30 years ago still testify to the value of writing down scriptures and how periodic review has greatly etched these key verses into their minds.

The Gospel—Not for the First Century Only

In Lesson One, we read Matthew 24:14, which gives indications of when the end of the age would come: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The very sign of the end of the age would be that the gospel would be taught—the same gospel Christ taught!

This single verse contains more information than meets the eye. It shows that the true gospel had not been preached to the whole world prior to this end time. If it had been preached in all nations for a witness, then it could not have been a unique sign that the end was at hand, because it would have been commonplace through the ages. However, it had not gone out except during the ministry of the end-time apostle, who fulfilled the role of the final Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Luke 1:17).

This is not to diminish the efforts of such groups as the Paulicians (A.D. 600s-800s), especially the Waldensians (1100s-1500s), and others of God’s Church throughout history. These peoples went to great lengths to spread the true gospel locally, in different locations, most often at the risk of their own lives. Their efforts were indeed commendable, and yielded fruit. Due to continual persecution and the lack of modern technology, they were unable to preach the gospel to all the world. Their Work was confined to local areas or a general region, at best.

Only in these last days did God open the doors to reach all nations, through the printed word, radio and television. Through these means, the Work of God reached the world in the relatively short-lived Philadelphian Era of the Church. Church eras will be discussed in detail in a future lesson.

This same message is now being echoed by the remnant of that Philadelphian Work. The Internet allows God’s Church to powerfully witness to the world. This Work fulfills a crucial role in announcing the coming kingdom of God.

The gospel to go out to all nations in these latter times is the same message delivered by Christ. Note the first reference to Christ’s gospel: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).

The Kingdom of God

The word “kingdom” denotes government. Hence, the kingdom of God is the government of God. Shortly before Christ’s final Passover, He spoke a certain parable “because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). Those converts who lived during the time of Christ looked for, hoped for, talked about and greatly anticipated the coming kingdom of God. It was very real to them. Luke 23:51 shows that Joseph of Arimathaea “waited for the kingdom of God.”



This post was modified from its original form on 04 Dec, 7:10  [ send green star]
 
 December 04, 2007 7:14 AM

The belief in the kingdom of God was so prominent that it could not have been easily ignored by secular historians who wrote of the first century. We find this belief reflected in the writings of early scholars and theologians. Eusebius records from the writings of Papias of Hierapolis that “…there would be a millennium after the resurrection and that there would be a corporeal [a literal, physical manifestation] reign of Christ on this very earth” (Ecclesiastical History, Cruse Translation, Bk. 3, ch. 39, p. 105).

Eusebius, a Catholic scholar compiling his work in the fourth century, labeled the above-quoted belief by Papias of the second century, as being “unwritten tradition” and “too incredible” (Ibid.). This should come as no surprise, because the doctrine of the millennium as part of the true gospel was one of the first truths to be dismissed and counterfeited. As to the charge of “unwritten tradition,” we will see later in this lesson what the Bible has to say about such matters.

There are many more indications that the first-century Church readily believed in a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth. This belief was most accurately recorded in the writings of historian Edward Gibbon: “The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to six thousand years. By the same analogy it was inferred, that this long period of labor and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death [by divine protection; Rev. 3:10], or who had been miraculously revived [resurrected from the dead], would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection” (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1858, vol. 1, ch. 15, pp. 533-534).

This fascinating quote reflects the understanding of the apostolic Church, in regard to: (1) The millennium, (2) the 7,000-year timeframe of God’s plan of salvation, patterned after the seven-day week, and (3) the general order of future resurrections. This knowledge was widely understood by the apostolic Church. It was gradually lost and replaced by counterfeit doctrines introduced by the Roman Catholic Church.

Prophetic Events Between Now and Christ’s Return

After covering the gospel and what God’s kingdom represents, we will turn to the events prophesied to occur before the Return of Christ. Many Bible prophesies address events that are to occur shortly before the Second Coming. Let’s now review these events to understand where we are in Bible prophecy.

The Coming Kingdom of God

(1) Did the prophet Micah prophesy that the kingdom of God would be established on the earth? Micah 4:1-3.

Comment: This crucial scripture is almost identical to Isaiah 2:1-4. It appears twice in God’s Word for emphasis, establishing that God will re-educate the world—and all nations will ultimately be willing and eager to learn His truth.

(2) What will the peoples of the different nations exclaim when they learn the truth of God’s Way for the first time? Jeremiah 16:19.

Comment: The term “in the day of affliction” is not referring to the time of the kingdom. The context shows that this refers to the tumultuous time of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

(3) What role will Christ have in the kingdom? Luke 1:32-33.

Comment: Christ will reign as Ruler and King. He is the personage known as the God of the Old Testament. We will prove His identity in an upcoming lesson.

(4) Does the reign of the “Lord” (meaning the “Eternal” or the “Ever Living One”) extend just over Israel, or over all the earth? Psalms 96:10, 13; Psalms 97:1; Psalms 98:9.

Comment: Writing out these verses should help reinforce not only the extent of Christ’s reign, but the enthusiasm with which the world will rejoice.

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 December 04, 2007 7:22 AM

(5) What does the prophet Daniel tell us about the coming kingdom of God? Daniel 2:44.

Comment: To better understand this verse, begin reading Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (vs. 36-44). Notice that God sets up this kingdom, which will smash and replace all of man’s kingdoms and governments.

(6) As Daniel shows the rise and fall of world empires, by whose authority is Christ coronated as King over all peoples and nations? Daniel 7:13-14.

(7) Who else reigns or possesses that kingdom under the authority of the new King? Daniel 7:18, 22, 27.

Comment: The “saints of the Most High” are those who qualify to rule in the kingdom of God by overcoming sin. They are either part of the first resurrection or changed into spirit beings at Christ’s Return.

(8) Does the New Testament reference rulership in God’s kingdom? Matthew 25:31; Revelation 5:10; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.

Comment: There are many more references in the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament, answering this matter. Notice that man, when changed to spirit beings in the God Family, will rule over and judge angels!

The Gospel Announced by Christ and the Apostles

The fact that the real gospel is the good news of the coming kingdom of God is lost to the world.

Notice that the terms “gospel of the kingdom,” “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” appear over 40 times just in Matthew. The same terms appear about 30 times in Luke. Many Old Testament prophets also discuss various aspects of the coming kingdom of God.

(1) Would Christ allow the preaching of a different gospel that focuses on “how love surpasses obedience,” or “how Christ loves us just as we are,” instead of the gospel He taught? Galatians 1:8 (read verses 6-7 before writing out verse 8).

(2) Was this Paul’s personal opinion? Galatians 1:9.

Events Preceding the Return of Christ

(1) Can anyone know when Christ will return? Luke 12:40; Matthew 25:13.

Comment: Although one might understand the 6,000 years allotted to man, he would not know the exact elapsed year within that plan nor the precise time of Christ’s Return. Add to this equation the fact that time is to be cut short (Matt. 24:22; Rom. 9:28).

(2) Could someone discern by certain signs that Christ’s Return is near? Matthew 24:32-33.

(3) Will some feel that there is no urgency—that much time still remains? Matthew 24:48.

(4) What signs did Christ mention when His disciples asked Him, “what shall be the sign of Your Coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:4-7.

Comment: In verses 4-5, Christ defined the first sign as religious deception. This began as early as the first century, and has gained momentum ever since. In verses 6-7, Christ spoke of warfare—a proliferation of wars. Later in verse 7, He cited famine and then pestilence. Finally, He mentioned earthquakes. In a future lesson, we will show how these signs are the keys to understanding a sequence of events recorded in Revelation.

For now, we should regard them as signs that, as they intensify, show that Christ’s Return is near. The going forth of the gospel of the kingdom is the primary benchmark, and “then shall the end come” (vs. 14). After the gospel has gone forth, the abomination of desolation appears, which signals the beginning of the Tribulation.

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 December 04, 2007 7:26 AM

(5) How severe is this time of tribulation? Matthew 24:21.

(6) Does this event represent God’s wrath upon humanity? Revelation 12:17 (also see verse 9).

Comment: This event is clearly Satan’s wrath upon the final era of God’s Church and the modern-day descendants of Israel. Christians who have grown lukewarm and un-governable are in danger of suffering martyrdom, which will be brought upon many thousands. Those who are faithful unto death, without denying God, will be in the resurrection. But Scripture shows that half (Matt. 25:1-12) will break down and accept the “mark of the beast.”

Meanwhile, 90% of the population of the nations of modern Israel will lose their lives in this most terrible of all times (Rev. 6:8; 9:15), which will continue for 2½ years. Next comes the Day of the Lord, which lasts one year. Thus, the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord together comprise 3½ years.

(7) Does all of the end-time Church of God suffer this martyrdom? Revelation 3:10.

Comment: Clearly, there is a group who will be protected through the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord until Christ’s Return.

(8) What event follows the Tribulation? Matthew 24:29.

Comment: These signs in the heavens signal the end of the tribulation and the beginning of the Day of the Lord. (Other events are concurrent with these major events, but, at this stage, we are focusing only on the major trend of events.) The Day of the Lord consists of a series of miraculous events from God to punish the beast power and rebellious mankind. Christ returns at the “last trump,” after a series of plagues called the Trumpet Plagues.

(9) To what do we compare this time known as the Day of the Lord? Joel 2:31; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-16.

Comment: Contrary to professing Christianity’s popular belief, the Day of the Lord has nothing to do with Sunday. As the Bible clearly shows, it is a year of severe retribution against those who rebel against God.

(10) Is a powerful, reverberating trumpet blast to accompany Christ’s Return? Matthew 24:30-31.

(11) What else occurs at the blast of this seventh and last trumpet? 1 Corinthians 15:521 Thessalonians 4:16-17.

(12) Is this the time when the world’s governments become subject to Christ? Revelation 11:15.

(13) During these turbulent times, in the face of such ominous events soon to come, what should be the focus of the true servants of God? How should they prepare? Luke 21:36; Matthew 24:45-46.

Comment: Some professing Christians regard Matthew 24:45-46 as a mandate to involve themselves in social activism as “do-gooders.” Rather, this mandates that all true Christians become and remain faithful servants, within God’s Church, wherein are found “little ones”—and to be found busily doing God’s Work. Each servant must be serving God as a way of life—growing and overcoming—even up to the time when “His Lord, when He comes, shall find so doing.”

Summary

We have covered the gospel and a general introduction of what that kingdom represents. We also covered some of the major events prophesied to occur before that critical juncture—the Return of Christ, which ushers in the kingdom of God. To internalize the crucial sequence of end-time events, carefully read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

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Lesson Three - WHO and WHAT IS GOD? December 14, 2007 6:11 PM

                       INTRODUCTION                   

                 Who or What is God?

The first lesson focused on the end of the age and what it means for all mankind. Then we learned about the true gospel of Christ and His intervention in world affairs. We learned that God’s message is not a doomsday message, but one of good news—the only source of hope for mankind.

At this point, we need to establish the right concept of exactly what God is and what He is not. Of all biblical doctrines, this is the most foundational. If someone understands every other possible doctrine correctly, but begins to follow a false god, then all his understanding becomes completely vain. We have to understand the true God of the Bible.

Every other scriptural truth is based upon this knowledge. Once it is understood, it is easier to grow in knowledge and understanding of the truth. But we also have to become aware of false concepts. The Bible student need not study advanced textbooks on the false doctrine of the trinity to be able to refute it. But he should be familiar with such beliefs and be able to disprove them from Scripture. Knowledge of Scripture is the key to growing in truth and rejecting every false way.

Mankind’s Limited Understanding

Man simply does not want to acknowledge God’s authority over his life. Likewise, he does not want to acknowledge the Bible as His authoritative revelation to mankind. By establishing his own moral principles, each man becomes an authority to himself, leaving God out of the picture.

Although this world is mostly ignorant of the reality of God, the entire creation stands as a witness to the existence of the Supreme Creator of the universe. As man’s Creator, He has inspired the Bible as His instruction book for mankind. Yet physical man is only aware of the material world around him. He naturally assumes that anything his physical senses cannot detect does not exist.

How ironic that man has often asked, “Why does God hide Himself?” Yet, on such occasions when God did reveal Himself, this is how man responded: “And they said unto Moses, Speak you with us and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex. 20:19). None of the people present at that event doubted God’s existence. Since God is composed of invisible spirit, it is necessary that He manifest Himself in such a way that man can perceive His presence. Would God then expect us to believe something that is unreasonable and unprovable?

Prove All Things

God charges us to prove all things (1 Thes. 5:21). This includes His existence! He has provided ample evidence to do this. One needs only a sound and unprejudiced mind to be convinced by the overwhelming proof found in the creation, and in God’s Word through fulfilled prophecy. Archeological and historical evidence further verifies God’s written Word. But there are more explicit and unprecedented ways that God will reveal Himself in the immediate future as He brings His wrath upon rebellious mankind in the “Day of the Lord.”

In one form or another, God is going to play a definite role in everyone’s life from this point forward. Those who are called in this age will be moved with fear and act upon God’s instruction in seeking to qualify to fulfill their purpose in His plan of salvation. The vast majority of mankind will be stunned upon seeing and feeling God’s astonishing power. When He shakes this earth in the coming Day of the Lord, no one will wonder whether He exists.

What Comes to Mind?

When the term “God” is mentioned, what comes to mind? Do you think of God as Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe? Do you ponder His relationship with the Holy Spirit that flows out from Him?—or Christ’s relationship with the Father? What about the time when God came into being or where He resides at this time? Exactly what does God look like? What are His plans for the future? We will address all these issues and more in this lesson!

As with prior lessons, be sure to write out the scriptures covered. Pray for understanding when studying so important a topic as addressed in this lesson. Ask God to help you appreciate the deeply profound concept of who He is. So much rests upon how we fear God, how we approach Him, worship Him and seek His ways, and our willingness to truly say, “Your will be done.”

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 December 14, 2007 6:21 PM

One God—Two Personages

(1) Who created the heavens and the earth? Genesis 1:1.

Comment: God created the entire universe, from the countless millions of galaxies down to the tiniest sub-atomic particles, and all life forms, including human life.

(2) God spoke of Himself in the following way: “Let Us make man in Our image…” Why were plural pronouns used to refer to one God? Genesis 1:26.

Comment: The Hebrew term for God in Genesis 1 is “Elohim.” Elohim is a uniplural noun, like the terms “church” or “family.” The uniplural concept pertains to a common class of two or more constituents. Elohim refers to the “God Family” or the “God Kingdom.” Thus, God is a Family—not just one individual!

(3) What does God’s Word [the Bible] tell us about the Personage in the God Family known as the Word? John 1:1. Is this Personage also God? Same verse. Who did the creating? Verse 3. Who was the Spokesman of the God Family who became a human in the flesh? Verse 14.

Comment: The Greek term Logos, translated “Word” in John 1, could also be translated “Spokesman.”

(4) Is Jesus Christ the “Word” referred to in John 1? Colossians 1:16-17; Ephesians 3:9.

(5) Who was the other member of the God Family? 1 Corinthians 8:6. Are both members of the God Family of equal authority? John 14:28.

Comment: God’s Family now consists of two members—The Father, who is greater, reigning supreme in the government or kingdom of God. The Word or Spokesman, who became Jesus Christ, is in complete harmony with the Father and submits to Him.

(6) What did Christ say about He and His Father being “one”? John 10:30.

Comment: Advocates of the false doctrine of the trinity attempt to use this verse and others to prove that Christ and the Father, along with the Holy Spirit, comprise one being of three entities or persons. The following question shows how Scripture refutes this heresy.

(7) What analogy did Christ use to describe how He and His Father are “one”? John 17:11, 22.

Comment: Christ and the Father are “one,” in that they are in perfect harmony and unity of purpose, as are those whom the Father has called out and given to Christ. The brethren could never “fit into” the framework of the false doctrine of the trinity, anymore than that heresy could apply to Christ and the Father. You should also write down 1 Corinthians 12:12 as part of question 7. It portrays the body, the Church, as many members, but “one” in unity and purpose.

The Father and Son

(1) Does the understanding of two distinct Personages of the one God Family help to clarify a vitally important scripture, in which the Son (Christ) appears before the Ancient of Days (the Father), who presents to Christ dominion, glory and a kingdom? Daniel 7:13-14.

(2) How did the Word, or Logos, become a mortal human? Luke 1:30-33. Was the child conceived by the Holy Spirit? Matthew 1:20.

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(3) Was the child conceived by the Holy Spirit actually begotten of the Father? Matthew 11:27; John 8:19.

Comment: The same Personage as the Ancient of days (Dan. 7:13) became the Father, who through the Holy Spirit begat the same Personage, the Logos (John 1:14), known as Christ in human form (Heb. 2:9). The Father-Son relationship began at that time.

(4) Was the Son restored to His former greatness after suffering death and being resurrected? John 17:5; Matthew 28:18.

The God of the Old Testament

(1) What did the apostle Paul reveal about Christ’s role in Old Testament times? 1 Corinthians 10:4.

(2) Was this Rock also known as the Lord in the Old Covenant? Psalm 18:1-2.

Comment: In the King James Authorized Version of the Bible, the term “Lord” (all letters capitalized) is translated from the Hebrew “YHVH,” meaning the “ETERNAL” or “EVERLIVING ONE,” rather than “Lord.” Thus, the Lord of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New Testament.

Within this context, it is correct to pronounce the term “Lord” as “Lord,” as well as “Eternal.” There are small church groups whose main focus and reason for existence consist primarily of the proper pronunciation of the name or names of God, as they deem fit. Some even prohibit the use of the term “God.” Most of them allow only the term “YHVH” to be used for God, according to their interpretation of how that term should be pronounced. Although reverence should be observed in the use of God’s names, He does not expect us to become obsessed with fanatic, strict practices as to how we should pronounce them, missing the spiritual intent of the Scriptures.

(3) How did Christ reveal Himself to Israel in Old Testament times? Isaiah 48:17; 54:5.

(4) Was Christ the same Personage whose voice thundered at Sinai as He gave the Ten Commandments? Deuteronomy 5:4-6.

(5) What part will Christ fulfill in restoring Israel in the Millennium? Jeremiah 31:16-17.

Comment: Clearly, the Lord God of the Old Testament is the same Personage who became the Son—Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

(6) Did the Father actively work with mankind as well? John 1:18; 5:37.

Comment: Although the Father was not the Mediator working directly with mankind, He has been active in setting up the overall Plan, and is now executing it.

(7) What are some of the many things that God the Father does? John 6:44, 65; 5:17.

Comment: The many prayers of the saints are all directed to the Father, who hears them. He also receives the intercession on behalf of the saints from Christ, who is now their High Priest. The Father and Christ both work (John 5:17).

As we use the term “saints” in these Bible Lessons, realize that this refers to those “called-out ones,” who comprise the true Church, as opposed to the Catholic belief that saints have to be approved and conferred to sainthood by human clerics.

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 December 14, 2007 6:34 PM

The Countenance of God

(1) Did Moses and the elders of Israel see God on Mount Sinai? Exodus 24:10.

(2) Were these humans allowed to see God’s face? Exodus 33:20, 23.

(3) Man was able to look upon the general form of the God of the Old Testament, but what about the form of the Father? John 5:37; 6:46.

(4) Had Christ seen the Father prior to the time that He was born as the Son of God? John 6:46; 8:38.

(5) Did Christ indicate how the Father appeared? John 14:9.

Comment: Many misinterpret this verse by assuming that Christ said that He was the Father. If Christ was the Father, then how could he say “for My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28)? The statement in verse 9 plainly shows that Christ was referring to a close resemblance that Christ had of His Father, just as most humans closely resemble their parents. Hence, God the Father has the form and stature of a man, yet appears much like Christ did.

(6) Was the human family made in the image of God? Genesis 1:26.

(7) Since Christ resembles the Father, how do their glorified bodies now appear? Revelation 1:13-16.

Where Does God Reside?

(1) Where did Christ say the Father was located? Matthew 5:16.

Comment: When Christ gave His sample prayer in Matthew 6:9, He indicated that we are to address the prayer to the Father. He further indicated where the Father resided by adding “which are in heaven.”

(2) Does the Bible refer to a number of heavens? Genesis 2:4.

Comment: A better translation of this verse is: “Here is a summary of events in the time when God made the heavens and earth.”

(3) Was Paul taken to the third heaven in vision? 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.

Comment: This shows that the third heaven is where both the Father and Christ rule from at this time (Rev. 3:21).

(4) Has any human ever ascended to this third heaven? John 3:13.

Comment: The second heaven includes the galaxies and vast expanse of outer space beyond Earth. The first heaven includes the atmosphere of earth reaching up to the stratosphere, beyond which physical life cannot exist.

Other Attributes of God

(1) Did the member of the God Family who became Christ come into existence at some point in time or has He always existed? Revelation 10:6; Hebrews 7:3; Psalm 41:13; 90:2.

Comment: The explanation of Christ being the High Priest after the order of Melchisedec will be covered in a future lesson.

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 December 14, 2007 6:40 PM

(2) If God is not composed of physical and material substance, then of what is He composed? John 4:24.

Comment: The first part of this verse correctly reads, “God is Spirit…” (NKJ).

(3) Is the Holy Spirit that emanates from God a Spirit of power? Jeremiah 27:5; Psalm 104:30.

(4) Does God’s Holy Spirit permeate the entire universe? Psalm 139:7; Jeremiah 23:24.

(5) How are we to compare God’s rule with human rulers of this day? Isaiah 40:13-31.

God Does Exist

We have covered some of the basic understanding of who and what God is. This foundational understanding will be built upon in many following lessons. Although much remains to be covered on this expansive subject, you now have a solid starting point. Certain aspects of the future kingdom of God, to be established on earth, cannot be understood without first understanding what this lesson has covered. We will focus more clearly on related doctrines in upcoming lessons.

From what has already been covered, you can better appreciate the fact that God’s plan of salvation spells out exactly how He will expand His Family. This profound understanding addresses the very purpose for human existence!

God reveals Himself through His intricate creation. This fact is beautifully illustrated in our thread Does God Exist? Understanding this thread reinforces the existence of an all-wise Creator God. It should be read upon concluding this lesson. It disproves the false argument that life evolved by random chance, without a Designer or Creator.

Remember, these lessons are written with the intent that the student look up the scriptures in each question and write them down. By doing so, you will develop the habit of using Scripture to “prove all things.” Thus, we establish in the early lessons that God exists and who and what He is. Later, we will establish more details of the proof of the Bible with a record of irrefutable prophecies already fulfilled. Subjects on these themes will provide a solid foundation from which to continue this Bible course.

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Lesson Four - PROOF OF THE BIBLE December 18, 2007 8:29 AM

                    INTRODUCTION

                  Proof of the Bible

After covering the vital subject of who and what God is, the next vital step is proving the authority of the Bible. These subjects go hand-in-hand—whatever evidence proves the validity of the Bible also proves the existence of an all-wise Creator God! In this lesson, we will prove the Bible from the aspects of fulfilled prophecy, history and archaeology.

Our thread Does God Exist? presents some of the major proofs of God’s existence. This lesson will reinforce that thread. With the understanding that fulfilled prophecy, history and archaeology are proofs of God and the Bible—His Word—we push forward into these fascinating subjects.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 states, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Proving issues through hard physical evidence does not nullify the faith that later comes through the Holy Spirit—the faith of Christ. That is why the Bible endorses proving all things—not passive acceptance, which does not generate deep conviction. God can only work with people who are capable of being deeply convicted. This state of mind is receptive to acquiring the fear of God and is capable of serving Him wholeheartedly. Those whom God calls like to see things proven, and become excited at how the various proofs fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, forming a much bigger picture.

The most important pursuit in your life should be proving God’s existence and the validity of the Bible. We will examine some key prophecies and find out whether they were fulfilled. We will then prove from sources outside the Bible that patriarchs such as Abraham really existed—as well as Joseph, King David and other key Bible figures. Then we will examine the geological record for proof of the great Flood of Noah’s time.

Defying the Skeptics

(1) Does God challenge the skeptics concerning His ability to exercise His will over the entire creation? Isaiah 45:21-23.

(2) Does God claim the power to declare what will happen in the future and then bring it to pass? Isaiah 46:9-10.

Comment: Now notice God’s statement at the end of verse 11: “Yes, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have proposed it, I will also do it.”

(3) Does God challenge the skeptics to declare the future and bring it to pass, as He is able to do? Isaiah 41:21-22.

Comment: Here, God openly taunts skeptics, just as He knew they would taunt His Word.

Specific Prophecies and Their Fulfillment

(1) What did God declare to be the fate of the ancient city of Babylon? Isaiah 13:19-22.

Comment: Babylon became a waste and desolation—never to be inhabited. It is interesting that after 2,520 years, a modern Babylon is forming, as described in Revelation chapters 13, 17 and 18, and many other prophecies.

Concurrent with this restoration has been the restoration of ancient Babylon as a religious shrine, as well as a museum attraction. Yet for 2,520 years, it did remain desolate. The current site of Babylon, though now greatly restored, remains uninhabited. The subject of this 2,520-year period (“seven prophetic times”) will be addressed in a future lesson.

(2) Was ancient Egypt—so exalted for many centuries—prophesied to become the basest of kingdoms, a diminished people never again to rule nations? Ezekiel 29:14-16.

Comment: This prophecy has been in effect since Ezekiel recorded it. Egypt has been brought low and ruled by non-Egyptians from the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, about the year 600 B.C. Afterward, they were ruled by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and British.

This prophecy still stands. Today, the Egyptians are ruled by Arabs (Ishmael and Esau). The current population of Egypt is overwhelmingly Arab. The actual Egyptian people have truly diminished, just as this prophecy indicates!

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(3) Would ancient Tyre experience the same fate as Egypt, or would it be utterly destroyed? Ezekiel 26:3, 14, 20.

Comment: Today, at the site of ancient Tyre, there is no village, city or other enterprise. Just as Ezekiel prophesied, the site is a complete desolation. God decreed that ancient Tyre (also called Phoenicia) would remain a desolation, never to be rebuilt or inhabited. This stands as another testimony that whatever God declares, He is able to bring to pass.

(4) What was to happen to Sidon (Zidon), the sister city of Tyre? Ezekiel 28:20-23.

Comment: Here, God foretold constant trouble, and bloodshed from warfare, which has been the fate of this city for centuries. God did not say this city would become desolate, but rather that it would suffer exactly such trouble as it has!

(5) What was prophesied to become of Ashkelon, a city in the region of Gaza? Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5.

Comment: Just as prophesied, Ashkelon became desolate, and has remained so for many centuries. By now, we have seen a pattern—the Bible’s prophecies stand proven! Skeptics would love to find just one exception, but there are none!

(6) What did Jesus say would be Jerusalem’s fate? Luke 21:24.

Comment: Although the Jews now control Jerusalem, the old city and surrounding territory are occupied mostly by Arabs erroneously calling themselves Palestinians. Since the Jews’ defeat in A.D. 70 and A.D. 135, Jerusalem has been primarily populated and ruled by Gentiles.

(7) Why have the Jews been so hated and derided by much of the world? Jeremiah 24:9; Matthew 27:25.

Comment: This condition of the Jews being a reproach, a proverb and a taunt, has existed since Jeremiah recorded this prophecy. But the willingness of the Jewish authorities answering Pilate that Christ’s blood be on them has amounted to much more serious consequences. The suffering of the Jews in A.D. 70 was tremendous. Many tragedies—including the Holocaust of the 1940s—have since befallen them.

(8) Were the Jews to re-establish themselves in their homeland of Judah as an independent nation in the latter days (for the first time in 2,520 years)? Zephaniah 2:7.

Comment: This prophecy was never fulfilled in ancient times. Judah never laid claim to the ancient city of Ashkelon. Only recently has the small country of Israel (given back this land by the British in 1917 and declared a nation in 1948) laid claim to coastland in the region of Ashkelon. This “remnant of the house of Judah” was prophesied to be given this land over 2,520 years before they received it.

Also in regard to the modern remnant of Judah, Zechariah 12:2-9 prophesies the power and might that this small nation would have to wield in order to survive amidst the vengeful hate of her neighbors. This prophecy is fulfilled partially, as pertaining to the current remnant of Judah, but the main fulfillment will be during the kingdom of God.

The small nation of Israel currently possesses what some experts regard as one of the three most powerful military forces in the world, along with the United States and Britain. However, prophecy also shows that they will be eclipsed militarily by the coming beast power.

The above examples constitute only a sampling of the many hundreds of Bible prophecies. They were selected because they could be covered in a condensed way, with minimum explanation. The fact that the Bible is one-third prophecy shows how prominent this issue becomes. Many prophecies deal with the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They give great detail about the birthright promises to ancient Israel—Ephraim and Manasseh.

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 December 18, 2007 8:39 AM

Many prophecies deal with Israel and Judah’s captivity, and the four great world-ruling empires (Daniel 2; 7; 8). The majority of Bible prophecies deal with events just before and during the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth and beyond.

To true Christians, prophecy—God’s declaration of future events (Isaiah 46:9-10)—is fascinating and compelling. Those who reject the truth discount and despise prophecy, calling it mere speculation and fanaticism.

Proofs from History and Archaeology

(1) Does the Bible indicate that a worldwide flood during the time of Noah killed all humanity and land animals except those preserved in the ark? Genesis 6:7, 13, 17; 7:6, 21-22.

Comment: If all the different peoples on earth came from Noah, then we would expect to find many accounts of this flood in ancient legends handed down over the millennia, with the common thread of a worldwide flood and an ark in which only one family survived. This is precisely what we find.

Consider this quote from Halley’s Bible Handbook, concerning the universality of the Flood tradition: “Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Hindus, Greeks, Chinese, Phrygians, Fiji Islanders, Esquimaux, Aboriginal Americans, Indians, Brazilians, Peruvians, and indeed every branch of the whole human race, Semitic, Aryan, Turanian—have traditions of a Great Deluge that destroyed all mankind, except one family, and which impressed itself indelibly on the memory of the ancestors of all these races before they separated. ‘All these myths are intelligible only on the supposition that some such event did actually occur. Such a universal belief…must be based on an Historical Fact’” (pp. 75-76).

Archaeological evidence is equally overwhelming: “George Smith, of the British Museum, found…in tablets from the library of Assur-banipal at Nineveh, accounts of the Flood curiously parallel to the Bible account, which had been copied from tablets dating back to the first dynasty of Ur, a period about midway between the Flood and Abraham…In these tablets the expressions repeatedly appear: ‘The Flood,’ ‘the age before the Flood,’ ‘inscriptions of the time before the Flood’” (Ibid., p.76).

(2) Is there outside evidence that the tower of Babel existed? Genesis 11:3-4, 7-8.

Comment: In the center of Babylon, George Smith (cited above) found an ancient tablet reading: “The building of this illustrious tower offended the gods. In a night they threw down what they had built. They scattered them abroad, and made strange their speech” (Ibid., p. 84). To this day, the remains of a number of ancient ziggurat structures exist, the largest attributed as possible sites of the tower of Babel.

Another ancient tablet quotes Marduk (Nimrod) declaring, “Let us build a shrine…Construct Babylon, whose building you have requested. Let its brickwork be fashioned. You shall name it ‘The Sanctuary’…Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu [the gods]” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, James Pritchard, 1969, pp. 68-69).

(3) Although many scholars traditionally regard the Biblical patriarchs listed in Genesis 11 as legendary heroes, is there any proof that they existed? Genesis 11:18-25.

Comment: Unger’s Archaeology and the Old Testament shows that ancient cities and towns in Mesopotamia were named after Abraham’s forefathers: Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah. Genesis 24:10 directly refers to one of these cities named after Nahor.

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(4) Is there any way to verify the Bible’s claim that Joseph ruled Egypt, directly under Pharaoh? Genesis 41:39-41.

Comment: The following is attributed to Djoser (Joseph) during Egypt’s seven-year famine: “I was in distress on the Great Throne, and those who are in the palace were in heart’s affliction…since the Nile had not come in my time for a space of seven years. Grain was scant, fruits were dried up, and everything which they eat was short. Every man robbed his companion…The infant was wailing; the youth was waiting; the heart of the old men was in sorrow…The courtiers were in need. The temples were shut up…Every[thing] was found empty” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 31).

There are numerous other archaeological references to Joseph and the Hebrews in Egypt. In fact, no reliable archaeological evidence exists that contradicts the biblical record.

(5) Did any of the leaders of the major world empires ever look into the Bible and acknowledge its description of his particular empire? Daniel 8:20-22, 5-8.

Comment: As an extension of the description of the four major world empires in Daniel 7, chapter 8 is a more detailed account of the Medo-Persian and Grecian empires, leading up to the break-up of the Grecian empire into four divisions.

Pertaining to the time that Alexander the Great traveled through Jerusalem before confronting the Persians in a decisive battle, Josephus records, “…and when he [Alexander] went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians [Daniel 8:5-8], he supposed that himself [Alexander] was the person intended…” (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. XI, ch. viii, sec. 5).

Just as Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged the supremacy of God (Daniel 4:34-37), Alexander also respectfully honored God according to his understanding. Thus, here again, military leaders of empires more readily acknowledge the supremacy of God and His written Word than do scholars, skeptics and theologians who claim to be experts on the Book they discredit and doubt.

In the fields of history and archaeology, there are hundreds of other verifications of the Bible record. (What we have covered is only a brief sampling to stimulate the reader’s interest.)

Proofs from the Geological Record

When God renewed the face of the earth, He adjusted the orbit of the earth with respect to the sun, and the moon with respect to the earth. He then put the flora and fauna on the earth after first modifying the land masses and oceans, as well as the atmosphere. This renewal of the earth took place about 6,000 years ago. But many millions of years before this re-creation, a great destruction occurred, resulting from Satan’s rebellion and God casting him back down to the earth with one-third of the angels (now demons) under his command.

This great destruction has correctly been termed the “Pre-Adamic Destruction.” While many Bible scholars have attributed this awesome devastation to the Noachian Flood, the geological record reveals that it occurred many millions of years ago. The destruction that preserved ancient dinosaur remains was a powerful and sudden catastrophe of colossal proportions.

Fossilized fishes and other sea life are found in the highest state of preservation—further evidence of the sudden pre-Adamic destruction. The rigid fins and open mouths of these fossil fishes show their stark terror. Unprecedented shock waves must have killed all animal life. Sharks over five feet long were pressed to a thickness of only one-fourth of an inch. Evidently, they were trying to swim in water suddenly saturated with sediment. The action of this sediment-laden water actually produced most of the earth’s strata as we know it today. These sediment layers then hardened into rock. The strata containing plant and animal life on the surface became compressed and stratified, as well. The coal deposits in the earth resulted from this great catastrophe.

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The Pre-Adamic strata were deposited in quick succession. Vast numbers of fossilized trees and plants are often found in upright positions, extending across successive layers of strata. So sudden was the destruction that delicate plants and rushes have been found in perfect condition, preserved in sandstone. These strata of the pre-Adamic destruction are much harder and thicker than strata caused by the Flood. The animals preserved in that destruction were huge reptiles. Animal and plant life was unlike that of the earth today, in size and scope. The fossil remains of dinosaurs weighing up to 40 tons stand as stark testimony of this alien world.

The Flood also left evidence such as vast erosion of the Grand Canyon and other similar traces. But the evidence in the strata was not as prominent as the pre-Adamic destruction.

Isaiah 14:12, 15, Ezekiel 28:16-17 and Revelation 12:7-9 record the casting down of Satan as a result of this titanic battle. The point here is that the physical evidence of the pre-Adamic destruction is lost upon religionists who suppose that life has only existed for 6,000 years. Evolutionists also grossly misinterpret the evidence in the earth’s strata. But the key to this truth is found in Scripture.

After the earth’s renewal, mammals appeared for the first time. The geological record is perfectly compatible with the biblical record. Certainly, the fossils of plants and animals are billions of years old, but, as we see, this does not contradict the Bible. The creation of Genesis 1 was indeed a re-creation. Psalm 104:30 states, “You send forth Your spirit, they are created: and You RENEW the face of the earth.”

All of the evidence, whether geological strata, history and archaeology, or fulfilled prophecy, fits together in perfect harmony in light of the truth of the Bible. Our thread BIBLE AUTHORITY…can it be proven? looks at some of this in greater detail and should be carefully read in conjunction with this lesson to fully appreciate the proof of the bible.

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Lesson Five - WHO WILL RULE THE EARTH? December 29, 2007 8:35 AM

                    INTRODUCTION

      Looking Ahead To the Millennium

In Lesson 2, we addressed the gospel—“good news”—of the soon-coming kingdom of God and the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth. We examined the importance placed on this understanding by the first-century Church.

Yet, in the centuries that followed, this doctrine was distorted, counterfeited and hidden by the powerful false church that came to dominance in the Roman Empire.

To fully understand and appreciate what will take place during the millennium, it was necessary to first clarify the concept of who and what is God, addressed in Lesson 3. Lesson 4 dealt with proving the Bible’s authority—how historical, archaeological and geological records actually reinforce God’s Word.

This lesson will cover more about the millennial reign of Christ and the soon-coming kingdom of God, described as “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19-21).

Bible prophecy focuses more on that pivotal time than on any other event. However, this very focal point of prophecy is overlooked by professing Christianity.

Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has attempted to spiritualize away this prophetic reality. Protestants, on the other hand, ignore the plain language of the Bible concerning the kingdom of God.

Their continual repeating of “thy kingdom come” in what is called the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13) has virtually no meaning to them, since they never consider that it pertains to an actual government over this physical earth to be established in the very near future.

We will closely examine God’s Word to see what He reveals about this time of mankind’s rescue from his hopeless dilemma—and the utopian time of peace to follow.

The Coronation and Reign of Christ

(1) Before whom does Christ appear to be crowned for kingship—rulership—over the entire earth? Daniel 7:13-14.

Comment: People who believe the false idea of the trinity cannot properly understand this scripture. “The Ancient of Days” described here is the Father. The other Personage, “the Son of man,” is Christ. The fact that Christ was brought before the Father shows that they are two separate and independent beings—contrary to the false trinity doctrine.

The title “Father” was not used at the time of Daniel, since it was recorded before Jesus was begotten as His Son. The term, “like the Son of man,” was used for Jesus Christ in this case because, in this vision, Christ gave honor unto the Ancient of Days as the Son was expected to give to His Father. This prophetic vision pertains to a future time—yet to be fulfilled—when the Son will be crowned to reign over the earth.

Scriptures like Daniel 7:13-14, and the role of the Father and of Christ in the coming kingdom, cannot be fully appreciated without first understanding the true concept of who and what God is.

(2) Do other scriptures provide more insight into this coronation? Luke 19:12.

Comment: Note that Luke 19:11 states, “He…spoke a parable…because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” Beginning in verse 12, Christ explained the parable. Carefully read this entire parable, which continues through verse 27. It truly shows the overview of how Christ’s servants are to develop and grow during their lives in order to qualify to rule under Christ in the kingdom of God.

(3) Where does the authority or power of anyone holding office over humanity originate? John 19:11; Daniel 2:20-21.

(4) Since Christ has not yet been crowned as King over the earth, what office is He now occupying? Hebrews 3:1.

Comment: Since His ascension back to the throne of God, Christ has been fulfilling the role of High Priest. He has been interceding on behalf of those called out in this present evil age. He has also been closely monitoring, testing and developing them in preparation for their incredible positions of rulership in the soon-coming kingdom.

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(5) When does Christ’s coronation, as King over the earth, take place? Revelation 11:15, 18.

Comment: Plainly, we see that the sound of the seventh trumpet is when Christ takes control over the kingdoms of this world at this time of His Return. His coronation in heaven immediately precedes His Return and assumption of power over all nations—the most crucial juncture in history. At that point, Christ becomes King of kings.

(6) Who are these other kings serving under Christ? Daniel 7:18, 27; Revelation 5:10; 20:6.

Comment: The saints who will rule include those called out of the world—and comprise the true Church of God. These qualify for positions of rulership as they hold fast, endure, suffer (2 Tim. 2:12), overcome sin and develop godly character.

(7) What did Christ say would be the reward of the 12 apostles at the time when He would be sitting on the throne of glory in God’s kingdom? Matthew 19:27-28; Luke 22:29-30.

(8) During Christ’s future reign over all nations, who will be the king under Him, ruling over all the tribes of Israel (each being ruled by one of the original apostles)? Jeremiah 30:9 (Jacob’s name had been changed to Israel—thus, “they” means all of Israel). Hosea 3:5; Ezekiel 37:24.

Comment: Besides David and the 12 apostles, God will resurrect His faithful people, such as Abel, Noah, Abraham and other patriarchs, prophets and servants, to fulfill positions of rulership in the coming kingdom of God.

World Under Righteous Rule

(1) When Christ—the Eternal, or Lord—comes to rule and judge the earth, what will be the nature of His government? Psalm 98:9.

(2) Will people fear His rule, much in the same way they now fear tyrants? Psalm 72:4, 12-14; Isaiah 35:3-4.

(3) Upon seeing the benefits of obedience to His laws, will the nations seek to learn of His ways? Isaiah 2:2-4.

(4) How will the nations compare His ways and laws to what they had been taught by their predecessors in the philosophy and religion of this present evil world? Jeremiah 16:19.

(5) Will the reeducation of the world be universal—eventually encompassing all nations and peoples? Isaiah 11:9.

(6) Besides the presence of the resurrected Christ and His saints ruling this world, why will Israel (and eventually the rest of the world) begin to be more receptive to His laws and way of life? Jeremiah 31:33-34.

(7) Will these resurrected saints, serving as priests and rulers, be more accessible than mere human teachers? Isaiah 30:20-21.

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 December 29, 2007 8:45 AM

8) Will the Satanic nature of deceitfulness or hypocrisy be utilized any longer by those few who reject God’s Spirit? Isaiah 32:5-6.

Comment: The word “liberal” in verse 5 actually means noble. In the millennium, people will only be able to express exactly what they sincerely think. Deceit will no longer prevail—bad news for false religion. In a later lesson, we will see how the spirits that motivate false religion will actively mobilize forces to resist the Return of Christ.

The Earth Physically Refreshed

(1) Upon Christ’s triumphant Return to earth, where is His destination? What will happen to that geographical area? Zechariah 14:4.

Comment: There will be a series of great earthquakes during the time of the Day of the Lord, which is to last for one year. Taken together, these quakes are not only for punishment and destruction of areas of this present evil world, but also to contribute to changing the topography of the surface of the earth.

(2) What develops in the east-west ravine caused by that earthquake? Zechariah 14:8.

Comment: We will see in the following scriptures that the headwaters of this river press upward at Mount Zion, actually flowing out from under the temple to be built on this site at the outset of the millennium.

(3) What effect do the waters of these two rivers have upon the areas to which they flow? Ezekiel 47:8-9.

Comment: Also, carefully read Ezekiel 47:1-12 to get the full context of the east and west rivers. Isaiah 2:2, noted above, stated, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.”

The topography will have been changed to vastly increase the amount of arable land and living areas to sustain a far greater population on the earth than ever before. This great mountain, at the location of the temple, was raised for the site of the Temple (Zech. 8:3).

A few other mountains and numerous hill country areas will be preserved for grazing ranges, watershed management and other reasons, including recreation and aesthetic beauty.

The scriptures plainly indicate that both the physical and spiritual renewal will come from God’s miraculous intervention. Acts 3:19-21 references these “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” These most sought-after and glorious times refer to none other than the time of the millennium, when God’s kingdom will reign on earth.

(4) Will the weather in the millennium be favorable? Isaiah 35:1-2; 41:18; Deuteronomy 28:12.

Comment: Imagine such giant land masses as the Sahara, Mongolian and Arabian Deserts and numerous other areas of parched desolation becoming arable, with plentiful vegetation and reforestation. Although some desert areas are the result of deficient rainfall due to mountain ranges, most such desolation is primarily the result of man’s greed and gross mismanagement of natural resources through the centuries.

(5) How will agriculture become more abundant in the millennium? Amos 9:13; Ezekiel 34:26-27.

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 December 29, 2007 8:50 AM

Time of Rebuilding and Rejoicing

(1) Will the cities and towns destroyed during the end-time wars and disasters be reconstructed in the millennium? Isaiah 61:4; Amos 9:14-15.

(2) Upon returning from what seemed to be a hopeless captivity, will there again be rejoicing in the cities of Judah, including Jerusalem? Jeremiah 33:10-11; Zechariah 8:5.

(3) Will some be weeping for joy? Jeremiah 31:8-9.

(4) What about families owning and enjoying their own property? Micah 4:4.

(5) Will wealth be gathered to adorn Israel and especially Jerusalem, as the capital of the world? Zechariah 14:14; Isaiah 60:5, 11.

Comment: The word “forces” in Isaiah 60 means wealth. Precious metals, minerals and other resources will flow into Israel for the building of the magnificent Temple and other beautiful buildings in that region. Extensive reforestation will be required to supply thriving building programs, to keep pace with the steadily growing demand for housing.

(6) What relative population will exist at the outset of the millennium compared to today’s population? Isaiah 6:11-13; Amos 5:3; Ezekiel 5:12, 6:8.

Comment: These scriptures show that only a tenth of Israel will survive into the millennium. This is representative of the other nations of the earth, as well. Most of Israel will be destroyed in the Tribulation while most of the other nations will fall during the wars and calamities of the Day of the Lord.

Just the fourth seal and the second woe alone kill one half of all humanity, and this does not include the other trumpet plagues, earthquakes or the seven last plagues.

As the millennium begins, truly it will be only a remnant of humanity—only one-tenth—who survive the end-time horrors. If Christ were not to intervene at that time, no flesh would survive the carnage of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare.

The remnant population, together with the destructive calamities that will have virtually destroyed the last vestiges of man’s civilization, will make the process of introducing this new civilization a gradual and systematic process of reeducation. The Return of Christ with His resurrected saints, and the putting away of Satan and his demons for the duration of the millennium, make this giant task workable.

At a certain time, God’s Spirit will be made available to all who seek to receive it. Peace, prosperity, happiness, productivity and accomplishment will finally be attainable for a humanity equipped with a sound mind—through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

The Nature of Animals and Man

(1) How will the natures of dangerous animals and reptiles change during the millennium? Isaiah 11:6-8; Hosea 2:18.

(2) Does God, in effect make a covenant of peace with the wild beasts? Hosea 2:18; Ezekiel 34:25.

(3) Is the nature of man altered as much as that of wild beasts? Ezekiel 36:26-27.

(4) Can people finally enjoy a sense of security and safety, instead of fear and apprehension? Ezekiel 34:28.

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 December 29, 2007 8:53 AM

Other Millennial Blessings—Physical and Spiritual

(1) Will people be healed of all afflictions at the outset of this glorious time? Isaiah 35:5-6.

(2) Does God at this time remove the blindness or the veil that is cast over all people? Isaiah 25:7.

Comment: Most all will become converted in the millennium, as we have already read in Jeremiah 31:33-34 and in Ezekiel 36:26-27.

(3) Will there ever be any occasion for weeping except from tears of joy? Isaiah 25:8.

Comment: During the millennium, when the kingdom of God is reeducating and transforming humanity to God’s standards, premature or unexpected death will no longer be a threat. Satan and his demons are put away, the ferocious nature of animals will have been changed, and human beings will no longer be committing crimes. Threats from invading armies or terrorist acts will no longer exist.

Death will be swallowed up in victory as physical humans reach the end of their physical lives in the millennium, and are changed to spirit beings—born into the God Family.

Summary

Overcoming and enduring to the end is incredibly vital for all those who are called out of this present evil world. The battle God’s people face is infinitely more difficult than those who will live under the government of the kingdom of God during the millennium. But our reward will be infinitely greater than those who live during that time. To be counted among those who attain the First Resurrection is the greatest goal for any human to attain. Can you fully grasp this?

Yet, we need to focus on the kingdom of God as much as the first century Church did. For us it is at the doorsteps. For our brethren of the first century it was as far as the distant future—yet as near as the next conscious thought at the resurrection. We will cover this subject again when studying the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. The goal of the kingdom of God should never grow dim! We must stay focused on that subject and that time (Matt. 6:33). Doing so helps us to dwell more intently on our purpose for being, and keeps us from being distracted by the physical, material concerns of this life.

Isaiah 40:10 describes the time of the kingdom of God on earth: “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” There will be much to be done and to set in order at the outset of the millennium. Those who have endured to the end without giving up or “caving in” will receive eternal life and the honor of serving under the glorified Jesus Christ. These are just the beginning of what He has in store for those who hold fast and weather the storms of this present age.

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CHRIST OPENS THE SEALS - Lesson Six January 07, 2008 6:56 PM

                         INTRODUCTION         

    The Seals of the Book of Revelation

Having examined the good news of the kingdom of God and the millennial reign of Jesus Christ in Lesson 5, this lesson focuses on the troublesome times that lie between now and that time. The increasingly turbulent state of the world is symptomatic of the storm that is gathering as we approach the more intense fulfillment of the first four seals of Revelation.

It is vital to recap some crucial scriptures that define the severity of those unprecedented times of trouble. The following verses refer to the time of the Great Tribulation—the fifth seal of Revelation.

Of these times, Christ stated, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21).

Also notice Mark 13:19: “For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.”

In Daniel 12:1, we read about the coming Tribulation: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”

Finally, in Jeremiah 30:5, 7: “For thus says the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace…Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble…”

This lesson focuses on these times of unparalleled trouble, suffering and destruction described in Revelation 6. Chapter 1 shows that the revelation is not that of “St. John the Divine,” but rather, as verse 1 plainly reads, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The word “Revelation” derives from the Greek word apokalupsis (the Anglicized version is apocalypse), which means “a clear manifestation” or—more precisely—“revelation.” This scripture further shows that God the Father gave this revelation “unto [Christ], to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (vs. 1). An angel delivered this vision to the apostle John, who recorded what he saw.

John addressed this message to the seven churches in Asia Minor, typified by seven cities on a mail route, which represented the seven eras of the Church of God from its inception in A.D. 31 until the end of this age. In these visions, John witnessed events at the end of the age, including the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. John saw the glorified Christ, who commanded him to record what he witnessed. Chapters 2 and 3 included the seven messages to the seven eras of the Church of God. (A later lesson will cover these chapters in great detail.)

The setting of chapters 4 and 5 is God’s throne in heaven. Here, John discusses the countenance of God the Father, the twenty-four elders, the sea of glass and the powerful angelic beings present at God’s throne. Then, chapter 5 introduces the subject of the seals. In His right hand, God had a scroll sealed with seven seals. None were found worthy to open the seals except the one described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David and the Lamb—Jesus Christ. He is the only one worthy to open these seals and interpret their meaning. He alone shows the meaning of the book of Revelation. As the lesson proceeds, we will find that He interprets the meaning of each of these seals.

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 January 07, 2008 7:02 PM

The First Four Seals—The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

(1) What was revealed when Christ—the Lamb—opened the First Seal? Revelation 6:1-2.

Comment: Most of professing Christianity believes that the rider of this white horse is Jesus Christ. Their confusion of this rider’s identity typifies their confusion concerning most every aspect of the truth. Jesus Christ, as the rider of the white horse of Revelation 19 was not wielding a bow, as was the rider in Revelation 6:2. In contrast, Christ had a sharp sword proceeding out of His mouth (Rev. 19:15). The rider in Revelation 6:2 wore a crown, whereas Christ wore many crowns (19:12)—symbolizing many lesser offices He held in addition to kingship over the earth.

Upon closer inspection, we find that the rider of the First Seal in Revelation 6:2 represents a counterfeit of Christ that has subtly deceived professing Christianity. Even writers of most Bible commentaries think that this counterfeit represents the real Christ!

(2) Does Christ interpret the meaning of the First Seal? Matthew 24:4-5.

Comment: The prophetic overview Christ gave in Matthew 24 covered all the seals listed in the book of Revelation, and in the same order as in Revelation 6.

The First Seal was deception from false Christs. It is vital to understand that the rider of this white horse does not represent all false religion, but specifically counterfeit Christianity—a counterfeit Christ. Since the rider in the First Seal is a counterfeit, there have to be close similarities. For example, both ride white horses and go forth to conquer.

Only at His Return, will Christ conquer the nations in a quick and decisive way. Yet the counterfeit Christ has been conquering nations since the first century A.D. Closer examination shows that the rider of Revelation 6:2 and the rider of Revelation 19:11 are significantly different in a number of ways—they ride two different horses, at separate times in history.

(3) What was revealed when Christ opened the Second Seal? Revelation 6:3-4.

Comment: All of the first four seals represent trends that were to intensify from the first century, until the time of the end. The Second Seal, representing warfare—the absence of peace—certainly has intensified for the last nearly 2,000 years. Technology has contributed to make modern weaponry more lethal than ever.

(4) How is the interpretation of this seal expanded? Matthew 24:6-7 (only the first part of verse 7).

Comment: Not since World War I—the “war to end all wars”—has the specter of “wars and rumors of wars” played so prominent a role in world events. After a short interlude of two decades, World War II reflected quantum leaps in new weaponry in such a short time. Since then, the dynamics of world politics has been in turmoil. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 did not bring about the “new world order” of peace and advancement that many predicted. The Soviet nuclear arsenal and advanced missile delivery systems are still in place and still aimed at the U.S. in particular, along with other targets in the western world. These problems are compounded by the threat of terrorism.

The traditional alliance of non-communist western Europe with the Anglo-Saxon countries (U.S., Britain and former British Commonwealth nations) has diminished with the emergence of the European Union, led by Germany. At best, relations with her Anglo-Saxon allies have become neutral and increasingly competitive and hostile.

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 January 07, 2008 7:08 PM

5) How is the Third Seal represented? Revelation 6:5-6.

Comment: Just as the case with the red horse, the description of this seal is so explicit that even professing Christianity dares not to alter the meaning. Thus, it is commonly understood that this prophetic trend of famine is to worsen as we approach the ultimate fulfillment of this seal.

World population has exploded within the last century. Mankind’s ability to support such demand has become more tenuous. The threat of famine has always existed, but it has quietly been expanding, although rarely making headlines. Most often, famine follows in the wake of war, just as given by the order of the second and third seals. But sometimes, the burden of overpopulation reaches such levels that drought, flooding and other adverse weather conditions can precipitate famine. These times are unprecedented, with such problems increasing in number and complexity.

(6) Did Christ indicate that famines would follow after war? Matthew 24:7 (first part).

Comment: Christ’s words, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines,” clearly show famines following in the wake of war.

(7) How is the Fourth Seal (the fourth horseman) represented? Revelation 6:7-8.

Comment: The name of the rider of the fourth horse, this pale horse, is personified as “Death, and Hell followed with him.” The Greek word translated “hell” is hades, which means “the grave.” (The confusion that prevails about the false concept of hell will be addressed in a future lesson.) This verse continues by showing that 25 percent of humanity will die from them—the personification of death (the rider) and hell (the grave). It shows that this fourth part of humanity would die by the “sword” (warfare), with “hunger” (famine), with “death” (Greek: thanatos, meaning “death or deadly influences,” such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, West Nile virus, etc.) and by the beasts of the earth (wild animal attacks).

(8) What is the specific meaning of this pale horse, since Revelation 6:8 seemed to recap elements of the two previous seals? Matthew 24:7.

Comment: Here, Christ said, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.” This seal focuses upon pestilences. The Greek word here is loimos, which means “plague from diseases or pestilence.” One definition of pestilence is a “fatal epidemic disease,” such as the Bubonic Plague.

The Fourth Seal follows in the wake of famine, which follows in the wake of warfare as we saw reiterated in Revelation 6:8. The order of the first four seals (Rev. 6:1-8) agrees fully with the order given in Matthew 24:4-7.

(Some may ponder Matthew 24:7 and ask, “Then why are earthquakes not the Fifth Seal?” Earthquakes are not classified as a particular seal, or trumpet plague. However, earthquakes are very prominent in the final trumpet plague and on certain occasions as the demarcation between separate seals and trumpet plagues, as we will see in the next lesson.)

The Fifth Seal—The Great Tribulation

(1) How is the Fifth Seal described, and what does it represent? Revelation 6:9-11.

Comment: This end-time event will erupt suddenly with such resounding shock and intensity that it is described as the worst time of trouble to ever befall mankind! In fact, the first four seals began to be fulfilled at the beginning of the Christian era and have steadily worsened, building toward this most horrible time in man’s history.

Verse 9 portrays martyred saints awaiting the First Resurrection. Actually, those saints are “asleep in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:18) at this time, but personified in this vision as asking how long it would be before their blood was avenged (vs. 10). They were told to wait until their fellow servants and brethren were killed (vs. 11). This portrayal clearly points to a time of martyrdom of the saints.

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 January 07, 2008 7:15 PM

(2) How does Christ describe the Fifth Seal in Matthew 24? Matthew 24:8-9.

Comment: After describing the first four seals and increasing earthquakes, He states that all these things were merely the “beginning of sorrows.” Verse 9 shows that they shall deliver “you” up to be afflicted and shall kill “you,” being “hated of all nations for My name’s sake.”

Those addressed as “you” in verse 9 are spiritual Israel—those God has called in this age—and also the descendants of physical Israel, especially, the modern recipients of the birthright passed from Abraham to the tribes of Joseph—Ephraim and Manasseh. Those of spiritual Israel who are destined to go through this time of tribulation will be required to endure martyrdom, while only one-tenth of physical Israel will survive this unparalleled time of trouble. (See Lesson 5.)

(3) How intense is this time of persecution and trouble? Matthew 24:21-22; Mark 13:19.

Comment: The Moffatt translation correctly renders the term “no flesh be saved,” in Matthew 24:22, as “not a soul would be saved alive.”

(4) Who is the one “behind the scenes” seeking the destruction of Israel during the time of tribulation? Revelation 12:13, 17.

(5) What does “the testimony of Jesus Christ” mean? Revelation 19:10.

Comment: Those who keep God’s commandments and understand the spirit of prophecy understand God’s truth. Those whom Satan persecutes (referenced in Revelation 12:17) are those not zealously holding fast to the truth.

(6) Does God allow this persecution upon spiritual Israel for His own purposes? Revelation 3:18-19.

Comment: In His mercy, God will require those in the final era of His Church to lose their physical lives through martyrdom, to redeem their spiritual lives—receiving eternal life.

(7) Are others of God’s Church to be protected during this time of tribulation and martyrdom? Revelation 3:10; Isaiah 26:20; Luke 21:35-36.

(8) How can we tell that these end-time events are near? Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10.

(9) Does God provide a signal for the time of flight from the impending tribulation? Matthew 24:15-16.

Comment: Read verses 17 to 20. This is a time of extreme urgency! After the sign of the abomination of desolation, the military assault upon physical Israel will quickly follow.

(10) Will Israel’s modern-day descendants be held accountable for the witness given to them? Amos 3:7, 1-2.

(11) Will it become necessary for God to execute vengeance upon these peoples by allowing their destruction during this time? Ezekiel 7:1-3, 10-11.

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 January 07, 2008 7:20 PM

(12) Does God later show mercy to the remnant of the descendants of ancient Israel who survive the Tribulation? Isaiah 14:1; Jeremiah 46:28; Ezekiel 39:25.

(13) How long will the Great Tribulation last? Hosea 6:2.

Comment: The entire time of protection from the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will be three and a half years according to Revelation 12:14. The Day of the Lord lasts for one full year, using the day-for-a-year principle of Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. This leaves two and a half years for the Tribulation, which agrees with Hosea 6:2: “after two days [years] will He revive us.” Being raised up in the “third day,” at the end of two and a half days (years), pertains to the remnant of physical Israelites being protected during the Day of the Lord.

The Sixth Seal—Signs in the Heavens

(1) What happens immediately after the Great Tribulation? Revelation 6:12-14; Matthew 24:29.

Comment: At the opening of the Sixth Seal, a great earthquake occurs, signaling the end of the Tribulation. At this time, thousands of saints will have been redeemed through martyrdom and the vast majority of Israel will have been killed. The earthquake, followed by an unprecedented display of signs in heaven, will strike fear into many. The sun becoming dark, the moon becoming red, and thousands of falling meteors will indicate the arrival of the time of God’s wrath upon the earth—the Day of the Lord.

Revelation 6:15-17 details this account. As the world’s inhabitants realize that the time of God’s wrath has arrived, many will wish that the mountains and rocks fall upon them to hide them.

Summary

Finally, to better understand all that has been presented in this condensed lesson, read our thread REVELATION Explained at last!

The next lesson will continue with the Seventh Seal, which ushers in the Day of the Lord.

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THE DAY OF THE LORD - Lesson Seven January 14, 2008 9:06 AM

                    INTRODUCTION

The Seventh and Final Seal—The Day of the Lord

In Lesson 6, we saw the point marking the end of the Great Tribulation (Satan’s wrath on God’s Church and the nations of physical Israel), and the beginning of the Day of the Lord (God’s intervention, and His justified wrath on the gentile nations).

This intervention begins with heavenly signs fulfilling the Sixth Seal. Thousands of meteors will fall from the heavens, preceded by a great earthquake of unprecedented magnitude and intensity. This will be accompanied by numerous volcanic eruptions spewing great columns of ash, darkening the sun and causing the moon to appear blood red. These effects will be experienced worldwide.

As horrific as the meteor bombardments and earthquake will be, they will signal a time of relief for those of physical Israel who survived the Tribulation. At this point, God intervenes, cutting short this time of great suffering by destroying those who would otherwise destroy all life on earth (Rev. 11:18).

Ushered in by the seven trumpets, each event in this series (eclipsed by each succeeding event) will last for weeks or even months. In this lesson, we will cover each of the trumpet plagues, through the completion of the seven last plagues.

These events fulfill the wrath of God and the crushing of human rebellion during this age—after 6,000 years under the influence of Satan and his demons.

The Time of God’s Wrath

(1) Does Scripture tell us of a time period described as a “day” of God’s wrath? Revelation 6:16-17.

(2) Does the Day of the Lord (or Lord’s Day) typify a specific period of time as opposed to a specific day of the week? Revelation 1:10.

Comment: We have already covered the “day-for-a-year” principle in Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. This principle clearly applies to the Day of the Lord. The “Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10) is not referring to a particular day of the week in which the apostle John received this revelation from Christ. Those who attribute the “Lord’s day” to the first day of the week cloud the real message pointing to the incredible time of God’s wrath. Most theologians have blindly accepted this perversion of the true meaning of the Day of the Lord.

(3) What other scriptures shed light on the true meaning of the Day of the Lord? Joel 2:30-31; Amos 5:18; Isaiah 13:6-10; Zephaniah 1:14-16; 2:2-3.

Comment: This event is mentioned in over thirty different prophecies, mainly from the Old Testament. This is the time of God’s wrath against the inhabitants of the earth, particularly the leaders who rebel against God. This period precedes Christ’s Return—truly the most monumental event in history.

Concurrent with these events (at the Seventh Trumpet) will be a time defined as “terrible” (Joel 2:31) and “darkness” (Amos 5:18). During the time of God’s wrath, “every man’s heart shall melt” (Isa. 13:7) and even “the mighty man shall cry there bitterly” (Zeph. 1:14). While many scriptures elaborate on different aspects of the Day of the Lord, the few referenced here illustrate that it is the time of God’s wrath.

(4) Why will God be angry with the nations of this world? Isaiah 26:21; Zephaniah 1:17.

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 January 14, 2008 9:10 AM

(5) Will God destroy the wicked, allowing only those who are more teachable to live on into the millennium? Revelation 11:18 (Notice the last phrase: “…and should destroy them which destroy the earth.”); Ezekiel 20:38 (Though directed to Israel, this is applicable to all nations who survive to that time.); Ezekiel 35:1-3, 14; Isaiah 2:12; Psalm 104:35.

Comment: All people have sinned and come short of pleasing God. They will have to repent and change their direction in life. Those who are still rebellious will be destroyed during the time of God’s wrath. They will be given their opportunity for salvation later. Scripture indicates that those who survive this period will be more receptive to God’s instruction and more teachable.

(6) What will happen to those faithful individuals who constitute the true Church of God during these end-time calamities—both the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? Revelation 3:10; 12:13-14; Isaiah 2:10-11; 26:20; Luke 21:36.

Comment: Revelation 12:17 mentions the “remnant” that keeps the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus Christ (the spirit and understanding of prophecy). This remnant vastly outnumbers those faithful who are protected.

Those not protected are the majority of brethren in this final Church era who, because of being spiritually lukewarm, are admonished to “buy…gold tried in the fire” (Rev. 3:18)—martyrdom in the Great Tribulation.

The Seventh Seal Opened—The First Four Trumpets

(1) Upon the opening of the Seventh Seal, what did John see in vision? Revelation 8:1-2.

(2) What events announce the beginning of the trumpet plagues? Verse 5.

Comment: Just as the outset of the Sixth Seal (the heavenly signs) will be accompanied by a great earthquake, an earthquake will also accompany the beginning of the trumpet plagues. The seven trumpet plagues together comprise not only the Seventh Seal, but the entire time of the Day of the Lord.

(3) What happens to trees and vegetation when the first angel sounds the trumpet? Verse 7.

(4) What happens to one-third of the seas and oceans when the second angel sounds? Verses 8-9.

(5) How will the fresh waters be affected when the third angel sounds the trumpet? Verses 10-11.

(6) When the fourth angel sounds, what will happen to the sun, moon and stars? Verse 12.

Comment: The four initial trumpet plagues will affect one-third of: All trees and vegetation; oceans and seas; freshwater streams and lakes; and natural light.

Why will each of these elements be destroyed or diminished by one-third? Certainly, God could diminish all of these elements as much as He determined necessary. The reason these initial trumpet plagues are of measured intensity, short of what God could easily carry out, has to do with His giving various peoples and nations the opportunity to repent upon seeing God’s restrained punishment on mankind.

According to what was revealed to John, the vast majority will not repent at this time, or even later (when things become even more intense). Remember, only one-tenth of humanity are to survive, as pointed out in previous lessons.

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 January 14, 2008 9:15 AM

The Fifth and Sixth Trumpet Plagues

(1) Although God will control the intensity of the initial trumpet plagues, how are the remaining plagues described? Revelation 8:13.

Comment: The three remaining trumpet plagues are described as the “three woes” because of the devastating intensity with which they will be carried out.

The first two woes—the fifth and sixth trumpet plagues—involve all-out warfare between the European Beast power and a large confederation of “the men of the east” (Russia and China and various bordering nations).

(2) What is the nature of the weaponry described as the fifth angel sounds the trumpet? Revelation 9:3-5.

Comment: To better understand this fifth trumpet plague of war, known as the First Woe, carefully read Revelation 9:1-12. For people to be painfully afflicted for five months could point to some form of chemical or biological warfare.

Note from verse 4 that the weaponry referred to has no damaging effects on vegetation. This verse also shows that those who have the seal of God in their foreheads (those having God’s Spirit) are protected from this woe.

The “king” over the Beast power orchestrating these attacks is the “angel of the bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:11), known in Hebrew as Abaddon (“a destroying angel”) and in Greek as Apollyon (“a destroyer”). Both names unmistakably point to Satan the devil.

(3) When the sixth angel sounds the trumpet beginning the Second Woe, how intense is this continued battle? Revelation 9:18.

Comment: This Sixth Trumpet Plague is essentially a counterattack by the hordes of the east against the Beast power of Europe.

Much of the symbolism of the first and second woes describes some of the weaponry of modern warfare. John portrayed what he saw using the language and analogies of his day (e.g., attack helicopters could resemble scorpions).

To better understand this counterattack, carefully read Revelation 9:13-19. This appears to be a full-scale nuclear attack against the Beast power of Europe and her allies, killing one-third of mankind.

God will allow the enemies that destroyed modern Israel to turn on each other. Yet, a significant number will survive this onslaught and unite to oppose Christ at His Return.

(4) Will such devastating warfare bring the survivors to repentance? Revelation 9:20-21.

The Seventh Trumpet

(1) Just before the Seventh Trumpet sounded, what did John see in vision? Revelation 15:1, 6-7.

Comment: Remember that the first four trumpet plagues will be only one-third as intense and devastating as they could be—giving many an opportunity to repent. This final trumpet plague and final woe represents the full wrath of God against those who refuse to repent!

(2) Before the last seven plagues are poured out, what events coincide with the Seventh Trumpet? Revelation 11:13-14.

Comment: Revelation 11:13 indicates that within the same hour that the two witnesses are resurrected, a great earthquake will strike, changing the topography of the region near Jerusalem. The two witnesses’ resurrection occurs just before the Seventh Trumpet (1 Thes. 4:16-171 Cor. 15:52).

(3) What else occurs as the Seventh Trumpet sounds? Revelation 11:15, 19.

Comment: This marks the most crucial juncture in the history of mankind—the Return of Christ, and the First Resurrection. Verse 19 shows that another earthquake occurs, accompanied by a great hailstorm.

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 January 14, 2008 9:21 AM

(4) How does Christ make His triumphant entry, before conquering those who resist His Return? Revelation 19:11-16.

(5) Where will Christ arrive on earth and who will accompany Him? Zechariah 14:4-5.

The Seven Last Plagues

(1) Who will be punished by the seven last plagues? Revelation 16:1-2.

(2) How is the second of the seven last plagues different from the Second Trumpet Plague? Revelation 16:3. (Compare with Revelation 8:8.)

(3) What is the third of the seven last plagues—or “the vials of the wrath of God”? Revelation 16:4.

Comment: At this point, God turns all of the rivers and fresh waters to blood (vs. 5-7).

(4) What happens when the fourth angel pours out his vial? Revelation 16:8-9.

(5) As the fifth angel pours out his vial, will people begin to repent? Verses 10-11.

(6) When the sixth angel pours out his vial upon the Euphrates River, how will the armies gather to fight Christ at His Return? Verses 12-14, 16.

Comment: Many confuse the Sixth Trumpet Plage (Rev. 9:14-16), in which an army of 200 million gathers at the Euphrates River—with the sixth of the seven last plagues (Rev. 16:12), in which they actually cross the Euphrates River. These two separate but related events should not be confused. They occur at two distinctly separate times.

Revelation 16:13-14 clearly shows that evil spirits will go out to the kings of the earth to gather their armies in opposition to Christ’s Return. The armies gather at Armageddon (vs. 16), but the name of the battle is “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (vs. 14).

(7) What will be the outcome of this battle to oppose Christ’s Return? Revelation 19:19-21.

(8) In whose presence is the last of the seven last plagues poured out? Revelation 14:9-10.

Comment: The sixth of the seven last plagues pertains to military opposition to Christ’s Return. However, He will easily prevail over them. The seventh and final plague will then be poured out in Christ’s presence.

(9) What is the seventh and final plague? Revelation 16:17-21.

Comment: The intensity of this great earthquake will surpass that of any that preceded it in human history (vs. 18). In its wake, islands and mountains will vanish. The great hail that accompanies it is the final major catastrophic event to occur during that time—completing the Day of the Lord. Taken together, the seven last plagues “fill up” the wrath of God (Rev. 15:1). The term “filled up” means “fulfilled,” “consummated” or “completed.”

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 January 14, 2008 9:23 AM

Summary

The events covered in this lesson take us up to the time of Christ’s Return and His victory over those who resist Him. Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1-3) and the kingdom of God will be established to rule over the earth. The saints will rule with Christ for a thousand years.

This lesson was primarily intended to cover the basic story flow of Revelation. To more fully understand the events prophesied in Revelation, read our thread REVELATION Explained at last!

Also, be sure you continue to write the scriptures listed and carefully review the literature referenced in each lesson. Upon completing the entire course, you will find the individual lessons to be a great asset in internalizing this precious truth as you periodically review them.

Future lessons on such topics as the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day will cover more detailed information pertaining to prophecy relevant to each of these Holy Days. These lessons will contain more information (in respective order) pertaining to the Return of Christ, the putting away of Satan, the millennium and the kingdom of God, and the events which follow the millennium. The lesson on the Last Great Day will cover a wide array of prophetic events, such as Satan being “loosed a little season,” the time of the Great White Throne Judgment (the second resurrection), the purification of the earth by fire (concurrent with the third resurrection), and the New Heavens and the New Earth.

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IS HEAVEN the Reward of the Saved? - Lesson Eight January 21, 2008 7:52 AM

                     Introduction

Millions of professing Christians believe that those who were nominally obedient or, at least, had good intentions in their physical lifetimes, go to heaven when they die. This belief is closely tied to the idea that human beings possess an immortal soul, which will be addressed in detail in the next lesson. The vast majority of professing Christians have accepted, without question, the belief of going to heaven.

Does the Bible conclusively prove this belief to be true or false? This lesson will cover the major issues of this long-held tradition, and will show how to prove, directly from the Bible, what God says about this matter. A pivotal promise, made to the patriarch Abraham, is central to the reward of the saved—to converted Christians who are to inherit this promise. We will focus upon exactly what Abraham is to inherit, as well as what those who are his “seed”—true Christians (Gal. 3:29)—inherit.

Since professing Christianity considers heaven as the reward of the saved, it would be helpful to define the term “heaven” as presented in the Bible. The Bible speaks of three heavens: The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere; the second heaven is the vast area of “outer space” where the solar system and countless stars and galaxies exist; the third heaven is the location of God’s throne.

The first heaven is mentioned in Psalm 104:12: “By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.” The second heaven is described in Psalm 8:3: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained…” The third heaven is referenced in John 3:13: “And no man has ascended up to heaven,” and is specifically mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:2: “…such an one caught up to the third heaven.” The Bible reveals that the reward of the saved is a very different “destination” than that charted by this world’s religions.

The Promise to Abraham and the Fathers

(1) What were God’s instructions to Abram (his original name) when God started dealing directly with him? Genesis 12:1.

Comment: Likewise, when God calls someone (John 6:44), one of the first courses of action to be taken is to “come out” of the world.

(2) Was Abram’s response to ask for more time or request an alternate destination—or did he simply obey God’s instruction? Genesis 12:4; Hebrews 11:8.

(3) Where did God lead Abram, and what did God promise him in regard to this land? Genesis 12:5, 7.

Comment: Canaan is the same territory later occupied by the nation of Israel—the 12 tribes that emerged from the sons of Jacob. This land has been properly called the “Promised Land,” as well as the “Holy Land.” In verse 7, the term “seed” refers to Abraham’s descendants, to whom this promise pertained.

(4) Did God further reiterate this promise to Abram and his descendants? Genesis 13:14-16.

Comment: Verse 15 shows that this promise was to continue forever. Also, verse 16 shows the extent to which Abram’s seed—his descendants—would multiply.

(5) Who were Abram’s immediate descendants to whom those promises pertained? Exodus 3:16.

Comment: Throughout Scripture, terms such as “the promises made unto the fathers” and “the God of our fathers” refer to the same fathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This came to apply to the descendants of Israel, as mentioned.

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 January 21, 2008 7:56 AM

(6) What was the extent of this land given to Abram and his seed? Genesis 15:18.

Comment: The territory extending from the Nile River to the Euphrates River was never attained by the nation of Israel, although it was almost acquired late in the reign of King David—a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). This promise of a specific territory on earth is everlasting.

(7) Why did God change Abram’s name to Abraham? Genesis 17:4-5.

(8) Was Abraham’s inheritance destined to include far more territory than just the land occupied by ancient Israel? Romans 4:13.

Comment: To be “heir of the world” was promised to Abraham and those who were to become his spiritual seed “through the righteousness of faith.”

God Tests Abraham

(1) Although Abraham had already proven his obedience to God by departing from his homeland, did God test him even further? Genesis 22:1-2.

Comment: The Hebrew word nasah is translated “tempt” (King James Version). A more accurate meaning of that Hebrew term is “to test, try or to prove.” God sought to test Abraham further in order for him to qualify for greater things.

(2) How willing was Abraham to obey God? Genesis 22:3.

Comment: As before, Abraham obeyed God. He readily departed, fully trusting God.

(3) Did God prove the extent of Abraham’s obedience in this ultimate test? Genesis 22:10-12.

Comment: God the Father would one day sacrifice His Son to redeem humanity from sin, according to His plan of salvation. As the father of the faithful, Abraham was tested as to his willingness to give up his son.

(4) How did Abraham pass this test? Hebrews 11:17-19.

Comment: He had full faith and confidence that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if the sacrifice were carried out—which he intended to do in faith.

(5) After this test was fulfilled, was Abraham’s obedience acceptable to God? Genesis 22:15-18.

Comment: Notice God’s words beginning in verse 16: “Because you have done this thing…That in blessing I will bless you…And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice.” The promises made to Abraham were now unconditional, since he had proven himself faithful. These blessings were now to be passed on to Abraham and his descendants according to God’s timing.

(6) Did God repeat this unconditional promise to Isaac, Abraham’s son? Genesis 26:3-5.

Comment: In verse 4, the birthright promise was passed on to Isaac, including his seed being multiplied as the stars of heaven, and that God would give many countries (including the territory of ancient Israel) to Isaac’s seed. The remaining part of this verse refers to a different promise—“and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

(7) Where else, besides Genesis 26:4, do we find this statement “in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”? Genesis 12:3; 22:18.

(8) What is the meaning of the “Seed through which all the nations would be blessed”? Galatians 3:16, 29.

Comment: The fact that the one separate Seed was Christ adds far more meaning to Abraham being called “the father of the faithful.” Before focusing on this aspect of the promise to Abraham, we should consider other aspects of it.

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 January 21, 2008 8:03 AM

(9) Did the promises that were passed on to Jacob and his descendants also consist partly of the birthright, as well as the “scepter”? Genesis 35:9-12; Genesis 48:19.

Comment: Genesis 35:10 records that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Verses 11 and 12 cover the birthright blessings. They involved physical blessings of wealth and greatness that were passed on to Joseph’s two sons—Ephraim (a company of nations—the British Commonwealth) and Manasseh (a great nation—the U.S.).

The scepter involved the kingly line of rulership, which was passed on to the tribe of Judah. The scepter was to culminate with the reign of Christ in the coming kingdom of God. The core of the Scepter Promise is the promise to Christians through the One Seed, which ties directly to what we read in Galatians 3:16. We now move on to the important aspect of the promises given to Abraham and his spiritual descendants.

Heirs to the Promises

(1) How did the promises God made to Abraham lead to all nations being blessed? Galatians 3:8.

Comment: Galatians 3:16 showed how the One Seed refers to Christ and that those who are called in Christ become Abraham’s seed in the spiritual sense (vs. 29). The blessings given to Abraham’s physical seed were to be of physical wealth. However, the ultimate, lasting inheritance pertained to far greater spiritual blessings, which would last forever. Here was how Gentile nations would truly be blessed.

(2) Was Christ of the tribe of Judah, which descended from Abraham? Hebrews 7:14.

Comment: Christ’s genealogy through his mother went back to Judah and on to Abraham (Luke 3:34). In verse 23, note that Mary was Heli’s daughter and Joseph was actually Heli’s son-in-law—only males were listed in certain genealogies.

(3) Did the Jews possess the knowledge of true worship leading to ultimate salvation? John 4:22.

(4) How then were Gentiles to share in the promises given to Abraham? Galatians 3:28-29.

Comment: It is through conversion, made possible through Christ, that Gentiles become spiritual Israelites, and heirs of eternal blessings.

(5) Did Gentiles experience greater fulfillment in their lives after conversion? Ephesians 2:11-12.

Comment: Once converted, these brethren recognized their former, hopeless condition in a world cut off from God.

(6) Do these Gentile converts grow near to the Household—Family—of God? Ephesians 2:13, 19.

(7) How are Israelites and Gentiles partakers of a common inheritance? Romans 8:14.

Earth—The Inheritance of the Saved

(1) Were Abraham and his seed to become heirs of the world—the entire earth? Romans 4:13.

(2) Did Christ state that the meek would inherit the earth? Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5.

(3) What is the inheritance of those who wait upon the Lord? Psalm 37:9.

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 January 21, 2008 8:19 AM

(4) What is the inheritance of those who are blessed of God? Psalm 37:22.

(5) Of the righteous who inherit the land, how long will they dwell there? Psalm 37:29.

(6) After God has appointed the saints to rule as kings and priests, from where will they rule? Revelation 5:10.

Heaven—Nowhere Promised as the Reward

(1) What did Christ say pertaining to people going to heaven? John 3:13.

Comment: Christ plainly stated that no one other than Himself had ascended into heaven.

(2) Did Christ also plainly state that where He was to go, man could not go there? John 7:34; John 13:33.

(3) What about David, a man after God’s own heart, whom God says He will raise up (resurrect) to be king over Israel (Jer. 30:9)—has David ever ascended to heaven? Acts 2:29, 34.

(4) Does Christ indicate where He will be after He returns and who will be with Him? John 14:2-3.

Comment: The term translated “mansions” means “rooms, abode or residence.” The Temple during the times of ancient Israel provided rooms for the various priests who served at the Temple. The different rooms signified different positions of authority. Thus, the word “mansions,” as used here, refers to positions of authority. These verses show that, upon Christ’s return, His faithful servants will work under His direction as kings and priests.

These events take place on the earth—not in heaven. We see that, at Christ’s Return, “…we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:17). We are also shown, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with [Him]” (Zech. 14:4-5). Once again, Revelation 5:10 clearly states, “And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

Abraham Yet to Receive His Inheritance

(1) Had Abraham already gone to his reward and received eternal life by the time of Christ? John 8:52-53.

Comment: Since Abraham was dead at that time, and the First Resurrection is yet to occur, he is still dead and in his grave. Since Abraham has not yet received his inheritance, he, like us, remains an heir.

(2) Does the Bible indicate that Abraham is yet to receive the inheritance he was unconditionally promised? Acts 7:2-5.

(3) Were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob considered only as “sojourners” on the earth, though having been promised the land in which to dwell? Hebrews 11:8-10.

Comment: The city “whose builder and maker is God” refers to the New Jerusalem, which descends from heaven (Rev. 21). God revealed such prophetic understanding to the patriarchs long before He inspired the book of Revelation to be written.

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 January 21, 2008 8:25 AM

4) Did these great patriarchs and servants of God receive their reward immediately upon death? Hebrews 11:13.

Comment: These all died in faith, not having received the promises! Nothing in the Bible supports the belief about “going to heaven.” Such ideas emerge from ancient false religion, especially the Babylonian Mystery religion—the core of modern professing Christianity.

(5) Have any other servants of God received their reward, even though Abraham and the other patriarchs have yet to receive theirs? Hebrews 11:39-40.

Comment: In verse 39, the term “these all” refers to the patriarchs as well as the many servants listed from verses 32 and the following verses, which describe the persecution that these servants suffered. Notice the key phrase in verse 40, “…they without us should not be made perfect.” The First Resurrection, at the time of the Seventh (last) Trumpet, will be when all the saints are raised as spirit beings.

The Kingdom of God—The Inheritance of God’s Servants

(1) Who will not inherit God’s kingdom? 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Comment: The apostle Paul listed various categories of sin, which would disqualify anyone from the kingdom of God.

(2) Should those whom God calls seek to enter heaven, or to enter the kingdom of God? Matthew 6:33.

(3) When Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have attained their reward, where will they be? Luke 13:28.

(4) In the kingdom, will many others come to counsel with these patriarchs? Matthew 8:11.

Comment: In Scripture, God’s kingdom is sometimes referred to as the “kingdom of heaven,” but the kingdom is not located in heaven—it represents the government based on God’s laws and precepts emanating from heaven. The term “kingdom of heaven” is interchangeable with “kingdom of God,” which is to be established on earth. It means heaven’s kingdom. The term “kingdom” implies a territory, a ruling government and subjects. The Bible never uses the term “kingdom of heaven” to define the location of God’s throne. It often refers to this location as “heaven,” or the “third heaven.”

(5) What are true Christians to work toward or to press into in this life? Luke 16:16.

(6) Can physical human beings inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.

Comment: God’s kingdom will be comprised of spirit beings, ruling over the earth in the millennium, during which physical people will live in peace, abundance and joy.

(7) Since the change to incorruption and immortality occurs at the Seventh Trumpet, is this when the saints receive their reward? Revelation 11:15, 18.

Summary

The New Jerusalem, in which God the Father will dwell, will come down to earth—the Headquarters over all the universe. At this point, the inheritance of Abraham and his descendants—true Christians—expands well beyond our limited ability to grasp. The truth is far more fascinating than the fable of “retirement in heaven,” as presented by professing Christianity.

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WHO and WHAT IS MAN? - Lesson Nine January 30, 2008 12:14 PM

                  INTRODUCTION

      Do You Have an Immortal Soul?

The world’s religions have one major belief in common: At the time of death, the soul separates from the physical body and departs to the hereafter—purgatory, nirvana, heaven or hell. This promotes the idea of an immortal soul that lives on, independent of one’s physical body.

Death is a mystery to humanity, and religion capitalizes on this. When dealing with death, many seek religion for reassurance and comfort. Professing Christianity—which claims to teach from the Bible—teaches the very opposite.

Before beginning this lesson, we need to understand the origin of the “immortal soul” doctrine. We will see that it does not come from the Bible. We will also look at facts so amazing as to shock those who have assumed such beliefs originated from the Bible. What the Bible teaches pertaining to what is man and what is his ultimate destiny is truly fascinating.

To accept doctrines contradicting the Bible—such as the immortality of the soul—requires a denial of what the Bible teaches. Notice this short, pointed statement: “Many reform Jews, while rejecting the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, accept the doctrine of the immortality of the soul” (“Resurrection,” The New Jewish Encyclopedia).

The Jewish Encyclopedia addresses the core of this issue: “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body [death] is a matter of philosophical and theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere taught in the Holy Scripture…The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principle exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended” (“Immortality of the Soul”).

Plato drew upon Babylonian and Egyptian speculations. His ideals were further developed by Aristotle. This school of thought, termed “Platonism,” was later revisited and adopted by philosophers and theologians of the second and third centuries. These philosophers developed the theological ideas adopted by the Catholic Church, making their modified gospel more acceptable to the elite intellectuals of that day—Gnostics and others with different schools of thought.

Some of the most influential philosophers contributing to Catholic theology were scholars such as Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-167), a Platonist (a follower of Plato). He strongly opposed Jewish practices and beliefs. Thus, he opposed the Law of God—including the Sabbath, which he termed “Judaizing.”

Tertullian (A.D. 150-220), a philosopher and lawyer from Carthage, Tunisia, was another Platonist. Also an advocate of Stoicism and Asceticism, he was instrumental in the development of monastic orders. Tertullian wrote extensively on doctrines such as the trinity and the immortal soul.

More than those preceding him, Origen (A.D. 185-254) of Alexandria, Egypt, blended Platonism with Catholic theology. His philosophy became known as neo-Platonism, which strongly advocated the belief in the immortal soul.

Despite total lack of biblical foundation, a number of other philosophers, writers and theologians contributed to this belief. Even today, professing Christianity vainly attempts to use the Bible to prove and explain these pagan theories.

But what does the Bible really teach?

Man—A Mortal Soul

(1) Upon being created and God imparting to him “the breath of life,” did Adam become a living soul? Genesis 2:7.

Comment: The word “soul” is translated from the Hebrew term nephesh, meaning a breathing creature or animal. Throughout Genesis, nephesh is translated “creature” when referring to animals. Nephesh is even found in the book of Numbers on a number of occasions to represent a dead body. This word pertains to a physical body—animal or human. Adam became a living soul and, upon death, he was a soul that had ceased living!

(2) What would happen to Adam if he failed to obey God’s instructions? Genesis 2:17.

Comment: This did happen. Adam and Eve did eventually die.

(3) Who told Eve that she would not die if she disobeyed God’s instructions? Genesis 3:4.

Comment: Read Genesis 3:1-6 for the full context. The serpent—Satan—first exposed human beings to the doctrine of immortality.

(4) What happens to the soul that sins? Ezekiel 18:4, 20.

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 January 30, 2008 12:19 PM

(5) What is the end result, or wages, of sin? Romans 6:23.

(6) What event befalls both humans and beasts at the end of their lives? Ecclesiastes 3:19.

(7) Where does man go after he dies? Ecclesiastes 3:20-21; 12:7.

Comment: The Hebrew word translated “spirit” in Ecclesiastes 3:21 is ruwach. The correct translation of ruwach is “air, breath or wind” and occasionally, “spirit.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 clearly answers the question in Ecclesiastes 3:21.

(8) Are there any other verses that support Ecclesiastes 3? Psalm 49:12, 20.

(9) Does God’s Word refer to physical man as mortal or immortal? Romans 6:12; Job 4:17.

(10) What happens to people and animals when their breath is removed? Psalm 104:29; 146:4.

(11) Does God clearly differentiate between flesh and spirit? John 3:6.

(12) What is wrong with the physical, carnal mind? Romans 7:18; 8:7.

Blood—The Wellspring of Physical Life

(1) What did God instruct the Israelites regarding the blood of animals? Deuteronomy 12:23.

Comment: In verse 23, “life” is translated from nephesh. Just as the breath sustains life, the blood, providing oxygen to the cells, is the wellspring of physical life for animals and man.

(2) Does God emphasize abstaining from ingesting animal blood? Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11, 14.

Comment: God clearly shows a certain sanctity of life, typified by the blood—showing that the shedding of blood atones (pays the price) for sin by reason of the life within it. In verse 11, nephesh is translated “soul,” where the context clearly means “life”—life within the blood.

(3) Isaiah 53:10 shows that Christ was to become an offering for sin (as the Father and the Word [Christ] had previously determined). How was this to happen? Verse 12.

Comment: Christ became a sacrifice for sin by offering His soul—His physical life. Christ’s own lifeblood was poured out unto death as the ultimate atonement for sin.

(4) Are the dead conscious and able to think? Psalm 146:4; 115:17; 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.

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 January 30, 2008 12:26 PM

Comment: These verses show that all thoughts cease at death.

The Spirit in Man

(1) Although mankind suffers the same fate as animals—death—does man have a far greater purpose? Genesis 1:26-27.

Comment: Not only was man given dominion over all the physical creation, he was also created in God’s image. This entails not only a physical resemblance, but also mental attributes on a far higher plane than animals. God placed a certain element inside the human brain that raised it to a higher level—a human mind.

(2) While man is a soul, what has God placed within the human brain, giving man the ability to think and reason? 1 Corinthians 2:11.

Comment: Man himself is not a spirit. The human spirit is an element added to the human brain. This dimension added to his brain is what sets him apart from all other living creatures.

(3) Did God form the spirit of man to be placed within him? Zechariah 12:1.

Comment: This spirit that God placed within man does not have a separate consciousness of itself. It cannot function apart from the sensory organs that provide input to the mind—through the physical senses. Although this human spirit is not a separate entity, it is spirit essence, which expands the human brain into the human mind. It is this element within the mind that Satan led the ancient philosophers to perceive as an immortal soul. But the human spirit is limited to knowledge of physical things—not spiritual.

(4) In addition to imparting the ability of creative forethought and reasoning, does the spirit in man also motivate him to achieve physical accomplishments? Proverbs 18:14.

Comment: The human spirit can help one aspire to higher levels of accomplishment, but it is still limited to the physical plane.

(5) How then, can man, limited to physical knowledge, come to understand spiritual things? 1 Corinthians 2:9-14.

Comment: The Spirit of God far exceeds the human spirit. The gulf that exists between the understanding that is possible through God’s Spirit and that which is possible by the spirit of man, is far greater than the gulf existing between the human mind and the animal brain. Only when the Spirit of God—the holy spirit—enters the human mind and guides the spirit in man, can one come to understand spiritual matters.

A Spiritual Dimension Opened for Man

(1) Although now only mortal, can man acquire immortality? 1 Corinthians 15:53-54; Romans 6:23.

(2) Who is the only Being that has existed as a physical human, but is now immortal? 1 Timothy 1:16-17.

Comment: Christ set the pattern to follow for those who believe Him to attain eternal life.

(3) How did Christ answer the man who asked how he could attain eternal life? Matthew 19:17.

(4) Is obedience a requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit? Acts 5:32.

(5) Who will be changed to immortal spirit beings at the time appointed by God? Romans 8:11.

(6) Has King David, whom God will raise up (resurrect) to be king over Israel (Jer. 30:9), already ascended into heaven as an immortal soul, or is he still dead? Acts 2:29, 34.

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 January 30, 2008 12:31 PM

The Resurrection—The Hope of True Christians

(1) Did David prophesy of the resurrection of Christ? Psalm 16:10.

Comment: Acts 2:27 quotes this same scripture.

(2) How can we be certain that this prophecy refers to Christ? Acts 2:30-31.

Comment: The Greek word in Acts 2:27, 31 translated “soul” is psuche. This word could be translated as “breath” and “life,” just as the Hebrew word nephesh. Hence, the body of Christ was not left in the grave to deteriorate—He was resurrected.

(3) Does the Bible show that the unrepentant—who lack God’s Holy Spirit—are destined to perish? Luke 13:3-5.

Comment: If all humanity had immortal souls, they would not die or perish. But death is the natural course of mortal mankind.

(4) Why was Adam, after he had sinned, not allowed to eat of the Tree of Life? Genesis 3:22-24.

Comment: In verse 22, we read, “…least he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” Adam and Eve did not have immortal souls—only by eating of the Tree of Life would they have received the Holy Spirit, thus imparting them with eternal life.

As mentioned earlier, Satan’s statement to Eve, “you shall not surely die,” is the same lie he has fostered by way of false religion—that mankind has an immortal soul. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, but rather chosen to obey God and eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have received the Holy Spirit.

(5) If Christ had not risen from the dead, would our faith be in vain? 1 Corinthians 15:14-18.

(6) What does 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 assert as to Christ’s Resurrection?

Comment: Not only did Paul personally witness the resurrected Christ after being called, he was also trained and tutored directly by Christ (Gal. 1:15-18). The apostles also saw Christ a number of times after His Resurrection, and even spoke directly with Him (John 20-21; Luke 24; Mark 16; Matt. 28). The apostles would have never been willing to be martyred for what they would have known to be a hoax.

(7) How did Job answer his own question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” Job 14:14-15.

(8) Where are some other verses in the Old Testament in which the resurrection—so central to the belief of God’s true servants—is referenced? Psalm 17:15; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2.

(9) Are the dead soon to hear the voice of Christ and be raised up in the resurrection? John 5:25; Ephesians 5:14.

Comment: Note that it is the dead who instantaneously awake to a new life at the resurrection. No mention is made of immortal souls, standing by, awaiting the resurrection.

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 January 30, 2008 12:38 PM

(10) At Christ’s Return, will the dead be raised up and changed before the living are changed? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-171 Corinthians 15:52.

Comment: These scriptures refer to the First Resurrection. In later lessons, we will explain the three resurrections. As a brief preview, the First Resurrection is referenced in Revelation 20:6; the Second Resurrection in Revelation 20:11-12 and Isaiah 65:20-25; the Third Resurrection in Revelation 20:13-15 and Matthew 25:41. A number of other scriptures elaborate on each of the three resurrections.

Final Issues

(1) Many read verses such as 1 Thessalonians 4:17 or Philippians 1:23, and assume that phrases such as “to be with the Lord” or “to be with Christ” mean that souls have gone to heaven. What do these phrases really mean?

Comment: The first phrase deals with the time of the First Resurrection. Those resurrected will be with Christ, reigning on earth as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10; 20:6).

The second phrase (Phil. 1:23) has to do with Paul’s desiring to be with Christ, as every convert would desire. But heaven is not mentioned in this context. Neither is the timeframe mentioned as to when he would be with Christ. The answer is clearly given in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. Verse 8 shows the timeframe Paul had in mind. The phrase “at that day” meant the time of the Return of Christ and of the First Resurrection, when Paul—along with others—would receive his crowns.

(2) If souls were immortal, they would be indestructible. Can souls actually be killed or destroyed? Matthew 10:28.

Comment: In the above scripture, the meaning of “soul” applies to life rather than the physical breathing creature. This life certainly refers to the spirit-begotten life that begins once someone receives the Holy Spirit. Yet this embryonic stage of life is not immortal—not until one is changed to a spirit being does he “put on” immortality (1 Cor. 15:52-54).

(3) What does “earnest of the Spirit” mean? 2 Corinthians 5:5.

Comment: The term “earnest” means a small portion of the Holy Spirit that God gives in order to demonstrate His agreement to give eternal life to the recipient who remains faithful. The recipient must allow the Spirit to lead him toward spiritual growth and maturity. The small portion of the Spirit is given in advance as a pledge of the full Spirit body—changed at the First Resurrection.

Summary

The hope of true Christians is to be in the First Resurrection—not the false hope of an immortal soul separating from the body at death.

You can now better appreciate verses such as Psalm 8:4-6: “What is man, that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things [including the entire universe] under his feet.”

Having completed this lesson, you should have clearer insight into who and what man is. Human beings are far more transitory than most have thought, yet with far greater potential for glory and honor than we could ever imagine!

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THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL - Lesson Ten February 08, 2008 7:38 AM

                   INTRODUCTION

The Bible Reveals the Truth about Hell

Most professing Christians’ concept of hell does not come from the Bible. Accepting the distorted ideas from this world, cut off from God, their beliefs originated from pagan philosophy. However, proper understanding must be based on the sound truths of the Bible. Before proving the truth about hell from God’s Word, we need to take note of the world’s traditional beliefs.

The New Jewish Encyclopedia comments on the subject of hell in a very definitive manner: “Judaism does not teach a specific concept of hell. It is assumed that evildoers will be punished, but the manner and place of chastisement are left to the justice of God.”

Other religions, also not based on the teachings of the Bible, exercise much more imagination to fit their concept of eternal punishment. One of the best summaries of man’s traditional concept of hell is found in the Encyclopedia Americana:

“As generally understood, hell is…whither lost or condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishment…It is the place of divine revenge, untempered, never ending. This has been the idea most generally held by Christians, Catholics, and Protestants alike.” As to the similarity of the concept of hell among various religions, the article continues, “The main features of hell as conceived by Hindu, Persian, Egyptian, Grecian, and Christian theologians are essentially the same.”

The writings of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) made a strong impression on Catholics during the later Middle Ages. His work The Divine Comedy provided vivid detail of sufferings in the dismal setting he described as hell or “Inferno.” His influential writings describing this inferno were inspired by the philosophers Plato and Virgil, to whom he looked with reverence and attributed divine inspiration. Since this inspiration led these famous philosophers to envision ideas contrary to the Bible, it had to come from a source other than God.

After having seen in Lesson 8 that the saved do not go to heaven and, in Lesson 9, that man does not possess an immortal soul, you are now ready to learn the truth about hell. This lesson rounds off some very important understanding to which the world is oblivious. The goal of this course is to help you unlearn error and replace it with truth.

Definition of Hell

In the Authorized Version of the English Bible, there are three Greek terms and one Hebrew term translated “hell”: (1) sheol from the Hebrew and hades from the Greek—both terms clearly mean “the grave”; (2) tartaros from the Greek, meaning “a place of restraint”; and (3) gehenna, the Greek term for the “Valley of Hinnom,” a location just outside ancient Jerusalem. Gehenna can mean “hell” or “hell fire.”

As indicated, the Hebrew word translated “hell” in the Old Testament is sheol. It has a New Testament counterpart, hades. The term sheol, in a concordance, most always references the Greek word hades. They both mean “the grave, pit, world of the dead.”

The word hades is the most commonly used word in the New Testament for “hell.” Some translations have exchanged the word hell for hades. In the 1600s, people in England commonly spoke of planting or putting their potatoes “in hell” through the winter. They understood that hell was a dark, cold, quiet place that was a hole in the ground. This word held no mystery for them. Virtually all sources agree that sheol and hades are the same and that both refer to the grave. It was only with the passing of time that the pagan view of hell—as a blazing underground inferno—came to replace this original intent of the word.

The second Greek word translated “hell” is found only once in the New Testament. Notice 2 Peter 2:4: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” The word used here is tartaros and refers to angels, not people. It means “a prison, incarceration, place of restraint or a dark abyss.” This verse describes the imprisoning of the fallen angels (demons) on earth—their “place of restraint” or “prison” after their rebellion.

The third and final Greek word translated “hell” is found twelve times in the New Testament. Notice Christ’s words in Mark 9:43-48. These verses repeatedly refer to “hell” and “fire unquenched.” They also speak of “worms that die not.” (These terms are explained in our thread The truth about HELL.)

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 February 08, 2008 7:46 AM

In Matthew 5:22, Christ spoke of those who could be “in danger of hell fire.” In Matthew 10:28, He warned to “fear Him which is able to destroy both soul [Spirit-begotten life as explained in Lesson 9] and body in hell.” Christ describes destruction in this verse, not ongoing punishing. The Greek word gehenna can be translated as either “hell” or “hell fire.” Grasping its meaning will explain the quote from Mark 9.

The State of Man after Death

(1) Is it appointed unto all mankind once to die? Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

(2) When Christ became human, was He subject to death as was all mankind? Hebrews 2:14.

(3) Was Christ assured that His soul (being or body) would not be left in hell? Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27.

Comment: In Psalm 16:10, the term “hell” comes from the Hebrew word sheol, meaning “grave.” Likewise, the term “hell” in Acts 2:27 comes from hades in the Greek, also meaning “grave.”

(4) What is the destiny of every mortal body upon death? Genesis 3:19.

(5) Does a common event befall both man and beast upon death? Ecclesiastes 3:19-20.

(6) Does a common event befall both the righteous and wicked upon death? Ecclesiastes 9:2.

(7) Are the dead conscious or able to think? Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Psalm 115:17; 146:4.

Comment: If man is not able to consciously think after he dies, then neither is he able to feel pain or suffering. Therefore, the concept of eternal suffering in hell is contrary to what Scripture indicates about man’s fate.

Resurrection and Judgment

(1) Is judgment a certainty for all men, just as the certainty of death? Hebrews 9:27.

(2) How did Christ defeat death? Acts 2:31.

(3) Does the way one lives his life determine which resurrection awaits him? John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2; 2 Peter 2:9.

Comment: Also read the following scriptures: Prov. 24:12; Jer. 25:14; Matt. 16:272 Cor. 11:152 Tim. 4:14; Rev. 2:23, especially noting “according to…works.”

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 February 08, 2008 7:51 AM

4) Does the Bible refer to a first resurrection? Revelation 20:61 Corinthians 15:51-521 Thessalonians 4:16.

Comment: The dead in Christ come up in the first resurrection, which occurs at the seventh and final trumpet of the seven trumpet plagues. (Future lessons will cover the three resurrections in detail.)

(5) How much time elapses between the first and the second resurrection? Revelation 20:5.

Comment: The first sentence in verse 5 states, “But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished.” This sentence is a parenthetical thought, discussing a resurrection following the first one. The next sentence states, “This is the first resurrection.” This short statement applies to verse 4, which discusses the first resurrection. It also ties in with verse 6, but is not related with the parenthetical expression, which breaks the flow of thought.

(6) Are those who are qualifying for the first resurrection being judged now? 1 Peter 4:17.

(7) Where is the reference to the second resurrection? Revelation 20:11-12.

Comment: Verse 12 is discussing the billions of people coming up in this resurrection standing before the judgment seat. They are not being sentenced. Rather, the people in this general resurrection live one hundred years (Isa. 65:20) and are judged as to how they live their lives. The “books” that are opened to them are the books of the Bible, which are opened to their understanding. These billions of people will then learn God’s truth for the first time, and most will overcome sins that plagued them throughout their lives. Yet, their reward will not approach that of those in the first resurrection.

(8)What does it mean to be in the third resurrection? Revelation 20:13-15; Matthew 25:41, 46 (first part).

Comment: This is the resurrection in which people are destroyed in the lake of fire. This is the second death, mentioned in Revelation 20:6.

(9) Is it God’s will that anyone suffer the fate of the lake of fire? 2 Peter 3:91 Timothy 2:4.

Sin Leads to Death—Not Everlasting Punishing

(1) What happens to the soul (person or being) that sins? Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Hebrews 10:26-27.

(2) What does the act of committing sin earn such a person? Romans 6:23 (first part); James 1:15.

(3) What did Christ say would be the fate of anyone who did not repent? Luke 13:5.

Comment: “Death” means the cessation of life. “Perish” means to suffer death or destruction.

Neither term implies a type of existence in a state of perpetual torment or torture.

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 February 08, 2008 7:57 AM

The Real Hell Fire

(1) When the wicked perish, will they be tormented forever, or will they be consumed by the flames? Psalm 37:20.

(2) What happens to anyone subjected to the flames reserved for the wicked? Malachi 4:1.

(3) What remains of the wicked who suffer this fate? Malachi 4:3.

Comment: The flames that consume the wicked will leave nothing but ashes. The theologians and pagan philosophers who invented their versions of hell never demonstrated much understanding of Scripture, which describes a fire that quickly consumes virtually everything in its path. The state of those in the third resurrection will be physical; they are resurrected in order to suffer this second—and final—death. Remember, those in the first resurrection are no longer subject to the second death (Rev. 20:6), because they are spirit beings (Luke 20:36).

(4) What is Christ’s warning to those who continue in disobedience? Matthew 23:33; Mark 9:43-45.

(5) Will this hell fire consume and purify the entire surface of the earth? 2 Peter 3:10, 12.

Comment: Many are confused by verse 10, which states, “But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away…” The term, “the day of the Lord” (and the “day of God” in verse 12), as used by the apostle Peter, is not specifically referring to the one-year period of God’s wrath, when the seven trumpet plagues will be unleashed just prior to Christ’s Return and millennial reign on earth. The frame of reference that Peter is using begins with the Day of the Lord, but also includes all the end-time events that follow, including all three resurrections and especially the description of events during the third and final resurrection. It is at this time that the earth and the atmosphere will be changed or purified with fire (Heb. 1:10-12). Thus, Peter was speaking of all the major end-time events leading up to the time of this flame, which devours all the wicked.

This fire is not quenched until it consumes all physical material and melts and purifies all metals.

The walls of flames that will engulf the entire earth will be so massive, it will be comparable to a “lake of fire.” Hence, this term is found in a number of places in Revelation.

(6) At Christ’s Return, where are the Beast and False Prophet cast? Revelation 19:20.

Comment: The timeframe of Christ’s Return is well in advance of the time when the lake of fire will engulf the earth during the third resurrection. However, the fire that will be burning in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) is a small prototype of the colossal future lake of fire. The Beast and False Prophet only experience physical death, not the second death.

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 February 08, 2008 8:03 AM

(7) Will Satan be cast into the lake of fire? Revelation 20:10.

Comment: Satan will be cast into “a” lake of fire—the same one referred to in Revelation 19:20, which indicates that the Beast and False Prophet “were cast alive into ‘a’ lake of fire burning with brimstone.” This clearly precedes the ultimate lake of fire that is to engulf the entire earth. The phrase in Revelation 20:10, “where the beast and false prophet are,” is misleading. Translators erroneously added the term “are.” It should read, “where the beast and false prophet were cast.” Satan will not be harmed by this fire, since he is a spirit being (Luke 20:36). Yet, the Beast and False Prophet will have long since perished in the flames before Satan is cast into the lake of fire. Satan will be tormented by seeing all his efforts to thwart God go up in flames, especially in the final lake of fire to occur later. The indication is that Satan is cast into this final, everlasting fire (age-lasting or unquenchable until it has run its course), as shown in Matthew 25:41. Yet, he does not remain in this fire forever. The New Heavens and the New Earth then come down after the earth’s surface has been purified (Rev. 21:1).

(8) In summary, what types of people will be quickly consumed by the final lake of fire, at the time of the third resurrection? Revelation 21:8.

(9) Where does the Bible discuss unquenchable fire? Matthew 3:11-12.

Comment: Here, John the Baptist was speaking of Christ, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and would later baptize the earth with fire. John referred to this fire as unquenchable. Also, Mark 9:43-48 makes five separate references to a fire that is not quenched, with reference to the Gehenna fire. “Not quenched” does not imply that that fire burns forever. It simply means that as long as there is fuel from plant or animal remains or other combustibles, the fire will continue to rage.

In recent years, there have been wildfires raging in the Western United States, in which the continuous walls of flames have extended for 10 or 20 miles, some reaching over 100 feet into the air. Virtually uncontrollable, these fires create their own wind drafts with numerous tornado funnels. How much more unquenchable would a fire be that covered all the earth’s surface? Yet, when the fuel has been consumed, the fire will burn out. Hence, as Malachi 4:3 shows, the wicked shall be ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous.

Such a fire that was not quenched did occur in Jerusalem, as noted in Jeremiah 17:27. Yet that fire is not burning today. It consumed its fuel and burned out. This also applies to the eternal fire which devoured the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24). Yet this fire is not still raging today. Shortly after it was sent from God, it consumed its fuel and then went out.

Summary

In God’s Plan of Salvation, He intends for mankind to fulfill the great purpose for being by seeking to grow in righteous character. A comparative few will be in the first resurrection, and be honored with great responsibility as kings and priest. Next will be billions who live in the time of the millennium without the deception of Satan, except for a little season after the end of the thousand years. Then comes the opportunity for the many billions who lived since the time of the creation of man down through the course of history without the true knowledge of God. They too will be given their chance for salvation—this time without Satan’s deception.

Yet, in all the stages of opportunities for salvation, there will be those who willfully reject God’s Way (Heb. 10:26-27).

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 February 08, 2008 8:04 AM

In order to develop His character in mankind, God had to create them as free moral agents, who could potentially choose or reject His way. This possibility has always existed. Those who reject His Way would be forever miserable as spirit beings, remaining unteachable and unhappy with God’s Way. God would not allow additional rebellious beings to live forever, as will Satan and his demons.

Therefore, out of mercy and justice, God will eliminate such people quickly, rather than have them exist forever in a miserable state. These people will not be tormented and tortured for all eternity—they will quickly perish in the fire, which will erase their existence.

To understand, in much greater detail, the concepts presented in this lesson, read our threads Who is the DEVIL? and The truth about HELL, which explains the important parable of Lazarus and the rich man and other valuable details that space does not permit in this lesson.

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Lesson Eleven - When Is One “Born Again”? February 18, 2008 10:03 AM

Many believe that being “born again” means having a “religious experience” or “accepting Christ.” Also, this is believed to constitute the process of conversion. Anyone having “experienced” this is said to be “saved.” Yet, is this what the Bible says?

Christ’s Explanation to Nicodemus

Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus, acknowledging that he and other rulers knew that Jesus had to be of God because of the miracles He had performed. Jesus replied with an unexpected statement that Nicodemus did not grasp: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The Greek word used, translated as “born,” is gennao. Unlike modern theologians, Nicodemus knew precisely what Christ meant by gennao—that He was referring to a birth, just as a physical birth. This is why he responded, “How can a man be born when he is old…” (John 3:4).

Christ replied, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (vs. 5). The mention of water in this statement applies to baptism—being immersed in water—symbolizing the watery grave after having deeply repented. The mention of the Spirit applies to the receiving of the Holy Spirit and developing and maturing in spiritual growth, just as a fetus grows in its mother’s womb after conception.

The physical-spiritual analogy here is evident. This is confirmed by Jesus’ statement, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it lists, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8). This refers to those who are “reborn” as spirit beings at the resurrection—who will be invisible, just as the wind is invisible to physical beings. There is a clear distinction between “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.”

In marvel of Christ statements, Nicodemus responded, “How can these things be?”

Jesus answered, “Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:10-12).

When He said, “…you receive not our witness,” Christ was referring to the Pharisees in general. Nicodemus and the Pharisees were “masters in Israel,” yet they did not understand this basic truth about the lifelong process of spiritual rebirth.

Christ was proclaiming that the kingdom of God was coming to earth and that people could be born into it. Nicodemus marveled at this for a number of reasons—one being that Christ demonstrated that even the established rulers in Israel (Judea) did not understand the Plan of Salvation, regardless of their exposure to the scriptures. Although they knew Jesus was sent from God, these rulers never submitted to His authority.

Another reason Nicodemus marveled at Christ’s words was that Jesus spoke in terms the Pharisees could not perceive. Christ explained this to His disciples: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [all others, including the religious rulers of His time] it is not given” (Matt. 13:11). Yet, John recorded the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus to expound Christ’s point to those called in following ages. In verses 11 to 17, He explains why the world is in such confusion over this basic understanding.

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 February 18, 2008 10:08 AM

In John 3, the term “born” appeared in verses 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. In each instance, the original Greek word was gennao. All major lexicons define this term as begettal by the father (begotten) or birth by the mother (born). Thus, gennao can be translated either “born” or “begotten,” depending on the context. We will refer to these definitions later.

Spiritual Birth by Resurrection

(1) In what order are God’s servants changed by spiritual rebirth? 1 Corinthians 15:23.

Comment: The phrase “Christ the firstfruits” is better explained by reviewing verse 20: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” In verse 23, “afterward, they that are Christ’s at His coming” pertains to those in the first resurrection.

(2) Then who was the first person to experience spiritual rebirth, having been born physically and then having died physically? Colossians 1:15, 18.

Comment: Christ was the firstborn “from the dead.” When Christ was born again, He did not just go through a “religious experience.” Nor did He “accept Himself as Savior.” What He experienced was a literal rebirth from death. He was the first to experience spiritual rebirth (to be “born again”)—the hope of all Christians.

(3) Are many others to follow what Christ was first to accomplish? Romans 8:29.

Comment: Christ was to be “firstborn among many brethren,” meaning that other brethren were to follow after Him. Christ was simply the first of many to be born again.

(4) Is Christ’s statement, “that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit,” further elaborated upon in context with the resurrection? 1 Corinthians 15:50-52.

Comment: This well summarizes the hope of the resurrection—the change of human beings to spirit beings.

The Holy Spirit Imparts Life

Let’s now compare the physical analogy of an unborn child developing in the mother’s womb to the spiritual development of a Christian. Conversion is a lifelong process of growing to spiritual maturity in order to be “born again” at the resurrection.

(1) Are true Christians admonished to grow to maturity during this time of spiritual training and development? 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15.

(2) Must Christians become skillful in the Scriptures and in spiritual discernment through experience and growth? Hebrews 5:13-14.

(3) Can any person decide for himself to seek God’s Way and become converted simply by the momentum of his own willpower? Romans 8:7-8.

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 February 18, 2008 10:13 AM

(4) What begins the process of spiritual development? John 6:44, 65.

Comment: Some ask, “How can I tell whether God is calling me?” The answer is that unless God calls someone, that person’s mind will not become opened to His truth. To begin to seek God’s ways—to begin to understand them and desire to grow in this understanding—is evidence of one’s calling.

(5) Is repentance the next requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit? Acts 2:38; 26:20.

Comment: Repentance is a deep, profound sorrow for having lived contrary to God’s Way, after having come to realize the supremacy and authority of God and His Word. True repentance is not a generated human emotion—it is a gift from God!

(6) What other vital condition is required in order to receive the Holy Spirit? Acts 5:32.

Comment: To say that obedience is a requirement means that the person sincerely strives to obey God’s laws with all his heart. This does not mean that through obedience, one could earn the Holy Spirit. It is a gift that God gives to those He calls, after they have responded to that calling with obedience.

(7) Does Scripture explicitly call the Holy Spirit a gift from God? Acts 10:45; Luke 11:13.

(8) Is God’s Spirit actually imparted into the mind? 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.

Comment: Just as the physical sperm cell from the father impregnates the human egg cell and initiates the growing process of a human fetus, the Holy Spirit enters the mind and starts the process of spiritual development.

(9) In what other ways does the Holy Spirit lead? John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13.

(10) How much of God’s Spirit is initially imparted into the mind? 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5.

Comment: An earnest portion is a small deposit, given in advance, to show what is to follow. This amount might be only a tiny portion of the Holy Spirit, which increases as the individual matures spiritually.

Begotten in This Life—Born in the Future

We have already seen that gennao can be translated either “born” or “begotten,” depending upon the context. Begettal can refer to human conception by the father, as recorded in Matthew 1:20: “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take unto you Mary your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

In this case, Jesus was conceived or begotten by God’s Spirit. The term translated “conceived” in this verse is gennao, and could have been better translated as “begotten.” In a few places, the translators used the word “born” when “begotten” would have been more accurate, and vice-versa. One of the best known examples of this mistranslation is in 1 John 5:1.

Once we are begotten by God’s Spirit entering our minds, God considers us His Sons: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14 ). Likewise, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not” (1 John 3:1).

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 February 18, 2008 10:18 AM

(1) As sons of God in this life, we are heirs to the promises of God. Since we are still flesh and blood, why do we remain only as heirs of the promise and not inheritors? Titus 3:7; Hebrews 1:14; Romans 8:17.

Comment: We would have to be changed from flesh and blood in order to receive “salvation”—“eternal life”—and to be “glorified together with Christ.”

(2) What is the change that must be made to become inheritors of the promises? 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.

(3) After that change from corruptible to incorruptible, how will these spirit beings appear? 1 Corinthians 15:541 John 3:2.

(4) Were the terms “Firstborn from the dead” and “Firstborn of many brethren” merely titles given to Christ—or did they define a sequence that Christ fulfilled? 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Hebrews 5:9; 6:20; 12:2; Revelation 1:4-5; 3:21.

Comment: The fact that Christ has led the way for those whom God calls is clearly established throughout Scripture. This was referred to earlier in the lesson where Romans 8:29 and Colossians 1:15, 18 were cited. Many scriptures show that Christians will be changed at the resurrection. Yet, the verses explaining how Christ led the way, by referring to Him as the “Firstborn from the dead” or “Firstborn of many brethren,” proved to be a difficult stumbling block to those who believe we are born again in this life. That is why they attempted to diminish Christ’s role of leading the way, reducing it to a mere title. Christ pioneered the way for many brethren to follow. (Revelation 1:5 in the King James Version of the Bible reads, “first begotten,” but should have been translated as “firstborn.”)

(5) Are Christians also called the children of God, even in this life? Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5.

Comment: The terms “adoption of sons” in Galatians 4:5, and “adoption of children” in Ephesians 1:5, are incorrect translations. The Greek term huiothesia means “sonship,” not adoption. Likewise, Romans 8:15 should read “Spirit of sonship,” instead of “Spirit of adoption.” Galatians 3:26 clearly states, “For you are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.”

(6) Are the children of God also called (in advance) the children of the resurrection? Luke 20:36.

Comment: Verse 35 clearly shows that the children of God are those who are accounted worthy to obtain the kingdom of God and will become the children of the resurrection—born at the resurrection of the just. This verse clearly confirms that the resurrection is when spiritual birth takes place!

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 February 18, 2008 10:23 AM

Misapplied Verses

(1) 1 John 3:9 reads, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for his seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Does this refer to this life or to the future?

Comment: There are two criteria that can be used here. First, in this present life, Christians are indeed capable of sinning. Romans 3:23 states that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Speaking of himself and other Christians, John states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8; continue reading verses 9-10). Thus, 1 John 3:9 cannot be referring to Christians in this life. Secondly, when one is born of God at the resurrection, he will be like God (1 John 3:2). The following verses are tied to this context of “when He shall appear” (the Return of Christ).

Verses 4 through 8 show that “sin is the transgression of the law”; “in [Christ] was no sin”; and “whosoever abides in Him sins not.”

Verse 9 ties back to verse 2 in discussing being born of God. To express “cannot sin” (conveying the impossibility of sinning) is very different than “sins not” (as a way of life), as found in verse 6. One who is born of God will be like Him—incapable of sin! This applies to the future—not to this present life!

Finally, 1 John 5:18 provides more valuable insight. In this verse are two contrasting phrases, each using gennao and each requiring a different translation of that term, because of the comparative structure of the verse. The translators recognized this and proceeded to translate as the context correctly dictated. This verse reads, “We know that whosoever is born of God sins not. But he that is begotten of God keeps himself, that the wicked one touches him not.” This unmistakably confirms that 1 John 3:9 refers to the resurrection in the future.

(2) Why do many professing Christians believe that one is born of God by merely believing “that Jesus is the Christ”? 1 John 5:1.

Comment: A casual reading of this verse has led many to falsely believe that the only requirement for salvation is to simply “believe that Jesus is the Christ.” There, the Greek term gennao appears 3 times. The translators of the KJV chose to translate gennao as the respective terms “born,” “begat,” and “begotten.” This verse should actually read, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God: and every one that loves Him that begat [Moffatt correctly uses the phrase ‘that loves the Father’] loves him also that is begotten of Him”—referring to other brethren.

Those who accept the traditional “born again” fallacy essentially deny the change to occur at the resurrection, and counterfeit it with a watered-down version of real conversion—a lifelong process rather than an instantaneous change. The real instantaneous change is at the resurrection, which they reject.

Once again, 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 describes the resurrection in which true Christians are changed—born into the kingdom of God. Since flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, this could only happen by being changed into a form that is incorruptible—into spirit!

Recall that Christ told Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Yet, many have been deceived by subtle explanations that equate conversion with being born “from above.”

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 February 18, 2008 10:26 AM

It is true that the Greek term used in John 3:3, anothen, can mean “from above,” as well as “again” or “anew.” But notice that Nicodemus responded by asking how he could “enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born.” He never mentioned any hazy religious platitudes about being “born from above.” Becoming born again—the second time—was clearly the context!

The only other place in the Bible where “born again” appears (besides John 3:3, 7) is 1 Peter 1:23, in which the term is translated from anagennao. This can only mean “born again” or “begotten again.” Here, the Greek term gennao has an attached prefix (ana) that means “again”—not “from above.” This verse shows that anagennao is correctly translated “begotten again.”

Another variation of the false “born again” teaching is what appears to many millions to be a scriptural teaching, but is actually a deception to lure “believers” to accept the traditional “born again” fallacy under a new label—“born from above.” Any variation that tries to deny the clear meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:50-52, with a counterfeit definition of conversion, is wrong!

In order to cover this broad subject in greater detail, there will be a thread in the very near future called What Does “BORN AGAIN” Mean? This  publication will be extremely thorough, addressing in detail (among others) the scriptures covered in this lesson.

The truth of the “born again” doctrine encompasses true conversion in this life and the change that will take place at the resurrection.

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Lesson Twelve - Are The TEN COMMANDMENTS In Effect Today? February 29, 2008 6:28 AM

The Ten Commandments form the core of God’s Law. We will begin our study of this subject by reviewing some of the main reasons professing Christianity gives in an attempt to justify disobedience to the Ten Commandments.

Mainstream Christianity believes that God’s Law “has been done away and nailed to the cross” by Jesus Christ. They insist that the Old Covenant was based upon “the strict, merciless Ten Commandments imposed by that harsh God of the Old Testament.” They believe that the New Covenant, introduced by Jesus Christ, rescinded those laws and replaced them with “grace” and “love.” They stress that people now have “liberty”—license to do whatever they please—under grace.

Other erroneous teachings include the belief that the Ten Commandments did not exist before Moses and were only in effect until Christ. These purport that the Ten Commandments were part of the ritualistic laws of Moses and were annulled by Christ’s sacrifice. In opposition to God’s laws, these same people refuse to obey the Ten Commandments, instead using human reasoning to defend their religious traditions.

Notice what Christ says to such people: “Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…And He said unto them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9). Although these verses record Christ’s words in rebuking the scribes and Pharisees of His day, they also apply to all people today. Yet, many who could profit from this correction apply it only to the scribes and Pharisees, never suspecting they themselves could be at fault.

Consider the following question presented to Christ: “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Notice His answer: “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-17). How do we know that Jesus really meant the Ten Commandments?

The following verses answer this issue: “He said unto Him, Which [commandments]? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (vs. 18-19). Christ began by citing the fifth through the ninth commandments, which He then summarized by stating, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christ summarized several commandments as representative of all of them. The rich young ruler knew exactly what was meant and responded immediately by saying that he had kept them since childhood.

Modern theologians ignore this direct statement from Christ that to receive eternal life, one must keep all the Ten Commandments. They choose instead to accept humanly devised reasons that the commandments are “done away.”

The Ten Commandments reflect spiritual laws, which, if obeyed, would insure peace, harmony and fulfillment among humanity. But God has allowed mankind to exercise free moral agency. Man has chosen to go the way that seems right to him, rather than submitting to God. Man will ultimately be forced to realize and appreciate that God’s ways infinitely exceed his own. Six thousand years of agony stand in stark testimony to man’s track record of living contrary to God’s laws.

God’s Laws: Categorized and Based Upon Love

Believing that the concept of love was generally unknown until Christ introduced it, followers of modern Christianity wrongly assume that the Old Testament makes little or no mention of it. This assumption is wrong. The God of the Old Testament was the very One who later became Jesus Christ (1 John 1:2-4; John 8:56-581 Cor.10:4).

The Books of the Law—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—are built on the principle of love: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). This is the original “great commandment” (Matt. 22:37). The first step is love toward God, summarizing the first four commandments:

Forbidding false gods before the True God (Ex. 20:1-3)

Forbidding idolatry (Ex. 20:4-6)

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 February 29, 2008 6:33 AM

Forbidding taking the name of God in vain (Ex. 20:7)

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8-11)

Love toward neighbor is the second step. Leviticus 19:18 states, “You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” This admonition—the original golden rule—came from Leviticus 19. It was not an innovation in the New Testament, as many wrongly believe. The last six commandments, expressing love toward neighbor, are these:

Honor your father and your mother (Ex. 20:12)

You shall not kill (Ex. 20:13)

You shall not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14)

You shall not steal (Ex. 20:15)

You shall not bear false witness (Ex. 20:16)

You shall not covet (Ex. 20:17)

In studying the subject of the Ten Commandments, remember that these lessons are intended to direct you to the Bible, and that the same verse or verses will sometimes be used more than once to answer different questions. This is not an oversight, but is used when certain verses apply to multiple issues. In such cases, it is helpful to rewrite the verses.

The Bible Defines Sin

(1) What is the biblical definition of sin? 1 John 3:4.

(2) Since sin is defined as the transgression of the law, to what law does this refer? Matthew 22:36-40.

Comment: We have just seen that “love toward God” is expounded by the first four of the Ten Commandments and “love toward neighbor” is expounded by the last six. That is why Matthew 22:40 states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The Ten Commandments are truly the centerpiece of not only the overall Law of God, but also the Old Testament [known as “the law and the prophets”]. Neither of these is repealed or repudiated in the New Testament.

(3) What are some other scriptures in which “the Law” points to the Ten Commandments? Romans 7:7; 13:8-10.

Comment: Remember, the Ten Commandments are the core upon which the rest of God’s laws, statutes, judgments, ordinances and precepts are based. The Old Covenant also was based upon Israel’s obedience to the Ten Commandments, as well as the other laws of God. Certain scriptures refer to the law of Moses. This involved many detailed laws pertaining to the sanctuary, the Levitical priesthood or the laws pertaining to sacrifices. It also covered the laws and judgments pertaining to the treatment of servants, acts of violence, the responsibility of owners, the laws of restitution, the statutes concerning the Holy Days and a wide array of issues.

(4) What is the ultimate outcome of sin—breaking the Ten Commandments? Romans 6:23.

Comment: The outcome of sin during one’s physical life is misery for having violated these laws—which are as real as the physical law of gravity. If you break them, they break you! Unless repented of, the spiritual outcome of sin is eternal death.

(5) What is the purpose of the Law of God? Romans 3:20.

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 February 29, 2008 6:41 AM

Comment: The purpose of the Law is to tell us what sin is. The Law identifies sin so that we can turn from it.

The Law of Love

(1) Many people believe the Ten Commandments are the very antithesis of love. Is love directly tied to obedience to the Ten Commandments? 1 John 5:2-3.

(2) Does carnal man have the natural capacity to obey God’s laws? Romans 8:7.

(3) Then how does man become able to obey the laws of God? Romans 5:5.

(4) Are there conditions to receiving the Holy Spirit? Acts 2:38; 5:32.

Comment: The Holy Spirit enables one to obey God’s laws, yet obedience is required to receive the Holy Spirit. This is not a contradiction. One must repent and turn away from sin—disobedience to God’s laws—and strive to obey them. Then, upon baptism, one becomes empowered by that Spirit to obey God.

(5) How does love help one to fulfill the Law? Romans 13:10.

(6) Was the Old Testament based upon the “golden rule”? Matthew 7:12.

Comment: We repeatedly see that the law and the prophets was based upon love toward God and love toward neighbor—summary principles from the Ten Commandments. Often, we will find the principle of love toward neighbor repeated in the New Testament, pointing directly to the Ten Commandments.

(7) How much emphasis does the New Testament place upon love toward neighbor? James 2:8; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:14.

Comment: In a parallel account of Matthew 22:36-40, we find an interesting summary statement in Mark 12:31. At the end of this verse, summarizing love toward God and love toward neighbor, we find this statement: “There is none other commandment greater than these.”

The Law Not “Done Away”

Professing Christianity promotes the idea that Christ did away with the Ten Commandments. One scripture they cite is Galatians 3:19. It begins by asking, “Wherefore then serves the law?” The answer includes the comment “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…” They try to use this to  prove  that the Law was done away at the time of Christ.



This post was modified from its original form on 29 Feb, 6:43  [ send green star]
 
 February 29, 2008 6:48 AM

The true context of Galatians 3 points to the “works of the law” in contrast to the faith of Christ. This is established in Galatians 2:16 and in Galatians 3:2, 5 and 10. The word translated “works” is derived from the Greek term ergon, meaning the law of works or sacrificial rituals, while “law” is derived from nomos, which can mean the Law of Moses or a principle of law. This term for “law” is established by the context. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians addressed the matter of false Jewish converts trying to impose physical rituals upon the Gentile converts in Galatia. The context of “law” in Galatians 3:19 and 3:24 points to the “law of works” [“nomos ergon”]. The Ten Commandments were never part of the law of rituals.

The next part of verse 19 shows that “It [the law of works] was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made…” The sacrificial law was not added until over a year after the Ten Commandments had been given.

Notice Jeremiah 7:22-24: “For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people: and walk you in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”

Then, in verse 24: “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”

This verse shows that the law of works—the “schoolmaster” (Gal. 3:24)—was added because of transgressions. These sacrifices impressed upon Israel the consequences of sin. Sacrifices taught the habit of obedience and pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

The Law of God Exalted

(1) Did Paul have a high regard for God’s Law? Romans 7:12.

Comment: The context shows (Rom. 7:7) that Paul was referring to the Ten Commandments.

(2) Do we find this high praise for the Law of God also expressed in the Old Testament? Psalm 119:172; 19:7-8, 10-11.

(3) Does God’s Word—which embodies the Law of God — provide light for those who seek to follow it? Psalm 119:9, 105.

(4) Is the world attracted to that light, as of yet? John 3:19.



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 February 29, 2008 6:57 AM

The Law of God to Be Obeyed

(1) Did Christ “do away” with the Law or did He obey and observe it? Matthew 5:17-19.

Comment: The word “destroy” in verse 17 comes from the Greek word kataluo, which can also mean to “demolish, dissolve or overthrow.” Christ specifically said that He came not to do any of these things to the Law, or the prophets. The word “fulfill” at the end of verse 17 comes from the Greek word pleroo and can mean to “satisfy, accomplish or complete.” Note closely that to satisfy, accomplish or complete the Law means to comply with and keep it. It does not mean to do away with it or to keep it in our stead so that we have license to disobey as we please.

In these verses, Christ was countering, in advance, what He knew Satan’s counterfeit religion would proclaim: That Christ had come to repeal the Old Testament and everything it stood for, including the Ten Commandments.

(2) What does it mean that Christ was to magnify the Law? Isaiah 42:21.

Comment: In contrast to what the majority of professing Christianity declares, Christ actually made the Law more binding. He magnified the intent of the Law as found in a number of places in Matthew chapter 5. In verse 21, He explains that “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not kill…” In verse 22, He continues, “But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” Later in this same chapter, Christ magnified and made more binding the laws pertaining to adultery (vs. 27-28), divorce (vs. 31-32), oaths (vs. 33-37) and even love of enemies (vs. 38-48). In this chapter and throughout His teachings, Christ magnified the Law according to its overall intent and made it even more binding.

(3) Is it sufficient that we read, hear and discuss the Law instead of putting it into practice? Romans 2:13; James 1:25.

(4) Is it true that we are not justified by the deeds of the Law? Romans 3:20, 28, 31.

Comment: The purpose of the Law is to define what sin is, so that we will avoid it. A person’s faith in the sacrifice of Christ is what justifies him. Such a one would be in a repentant state and would strive to turn away from sin as a way of life, in order to be under grace (unmerited pardon) and become justified (made right with God). That is why God gives the Holy Spirit to those who strive to, in the human sense, obey Him (Acts 5:32). Now, if one were theoretically capable of perfect obedience to the Law, that person would not be justified without faith in the sacrifice of Christ. With this understanding, we can see why Romans 2:13 [“the doers of the law are justified”] does not contradict Romans 3:28

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 February 29, 2008 7:02 AM

(5) Does being “under the Law” mean to strive to obey the Law? Romans 6:14.

Comment: The term “under the law,” in this case, and as a general principle, means “under the penalty of the Law.” That is why it is contrasted with being under grace (unmerited pardon).

(6) Are there principles behind the Law that are not perceived by most? Matthew 23:23.

Comment: The first lesson from this verse is that the scribes and Pharisees were correct in paying tithes on detailed matters. We know this by Christ’s statement, “these [things] ought you to have done.”

The second lesson is that in their obsession with details, the scribes and Pharisees ignored the most important matters of the Law—judgment, mercy and faith. Just as the Ten Commandments point to love toward God and love toward neighbor, there exist overarching principles and lessons behind all aspects of God’s Law. Remember that Galatians 3:24 shows that even the sacrificial rituals were the “schoolmaster” to teach obedience and ultimately point to Christ’s sacrifice.

Had the scribes and Pharisees been able to perceive the intent of God’s laws, which they supposedly practiced, they would have seen beyond mere physical regulations. Their observance became an end in itself, featuring self-righteous compliance—but not beyond this level. (Also note Proverbs 21:3 and Psalm 51:16-17.)

Summary

To fully grasp and appreciate the many issues pertaining to this crucial subject, please study our thread Should You Obey THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

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Does God Require Tithing Today? - Lesson Thirteen March 18, 2008 6:15 AM

Virtually all modern Western nations have come to possess more wealth during the past few decades than ever before in history. Yet, these nations are plagued with staggering public debt and other fiscal problems, partly because of the cost of military defense and combating crime. Why this dilemma? Are there principles that would keep people and nations on a sound financial basis, if observed and carefully followed? This lesson answers these questions.

As Creator, God has set laws in motion for our own good. Obeying these laws brings stability in all facets of life—including financial stability. God created all human beings, and He holds prior claim over us and all that we possess (Psa. 89:11).

God allows us to be in partnership with Him. Although He is Creator and sustainer of all that exists, He turns over to us not just 10% or even 50%, but rather 90% of what is entirely His. Even the 10% He reserves for Himself comes back to us, as He uses it for the benefit of humanity—teaching mankind His truth, which will make it free (John 8:32). His truth frees us from financial worries and gives peace of mind, fulfillment and eventually eternal life.

Just as obeying the Ten Commandments brings us into harmony with God’s spiritual laws, leading to true fulfillment in all aspects of life, we likewise benefit from being in harmony with God’s financial laws. In His concern for humanity, God uses the 10% that is due Him to improve our lives spiritually and materially. The 90% He allows us to keep extends much further than the original 100%, considering the spiritual and material blessings that come from being in harmony with His laws.

When we live contrary to God’s laws, we bring curses upon ourselves instead of blessings. Notice what God says in regard to complying with His financial laws: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:8-9). Most people today fall into this category. Few have sought to obey God’s laws, including those regarding tithes and offerings.

God tells us to prove Him, as to whether He will fulfill the following promise: “Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

If this were not enough, God extends His promise further. Notice what else He promises: “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for you shall be a delightful land, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:11-12).

The promises in these verses were not limited to ancient Israel. They are living promises, still in effect today, for those who will take God at His word and actually PROVE HIM!

Doing the Work

 

(1) Who created all that exists? Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 1:2; John 1:3; Ephesians 3:9.

Comment: The Scriptures emphatically show that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the One by whom God [the Father] made the worlds.

(2) Are God the Father and Christ still working? John 5:17.

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 March 18, 2008 6:19 AM

(3) Was Christ, in His physical lifetime, working under the constraints of time with a sense of urgency? John 9:4.

(4) Were the original apostles told by the resurrected Christ to take His gospel message to the world? Acts 1:8.

(5) Did Christ command His faithful servants even in our day to do the work of carrying His gospel—good news of the soon-coming kingdom of God—to modern Israel and all the world? Matthew 24:14; 10:23.

Comment: These verses refer to our time, just before the end of this age. All the cities of modern Israel will not be reached before Christ returns. This could only apply to our age.

(6) Is the gospel announcement to contain a warning message as well? Ezekiel 33:7-9.

(7) What are the timeframe and contexts of Ezekiel’s prophecies? Ezekiel 6:8-10; 7:6.

Comment: This warning is part of the First Commission, mentioned later in this lesson.

(8) As people are given the news about future events and the true gospel, should they be expected to pay for this precious truth? Matthew 10:7-8.

Comment: Doing the Work of God is indeed real work! And God has provided a means to support this Work just before end-time calamities befall this world.

Tithes Paid to Melchizedek

 

(1) What great office does Christ hold today? Hebrews 4:14.

(2) What is the order of the high priesthood that Christ holds? Hebrews 5:6, 10.

Comment: The Hebrew spelling for this order is “Melchizedek,” while the Greek spelling is “Melchisedec.” Both refer to the same Personage.

(3) To whom did Abram pay tithes after God gave him victory over his enemies? Genesis 14:18-20.

(4) Exactly how much is a tithe according to Scripture? Leviticus 27:32; Hebrews 7:1-2.

Comment: Whether counting cattle or determining a portion of income, a tithe means one tenth.

(5) How do we know that Melchizedek was of the God Family? Hebrews 7:3.

(6) How do we know He was not the Father? John 5:37.

Comment: The Member of the God Family who became Christ had existed as Melchizedek, as well as the God of the Old Testament, who instructed the patriarchs of ancient times and later gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and all Israel.

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 March 18, 2008 6:30 AM

(7) When Abram paid his tithes to Melchizedek, what did God do as a result of his faithfulness? Genesis 14:19-20.

Comment: God knew of Abram’s intent to honor Him with his tithes even before he delivered them, and blessed him accordingly. God delivered the enemy into Abram’s hands as a result of his obedience and faithfulness.

(8) Did Abraham faithfully keep all of God’s laws, included tithing? Genesis 18:19; 22:17-18; 26:5.

(9) Did Jacob also pay tithes to God? Genesis 28:22.

Comment: As Abraham’s grandson, and Isaac’s son , Jacob was well acquainted with God’s laws, which were in effect before mankind was created. Well before the time of Moses and the giving of the Ten Commandments, God’s true servants were faithfully observing God’s laws, which included tithing.

Tithing to the Levitical Priesthood

 

(1) Why does God hold claim to the first tenth of whatever is earned or produced? Deuteronomy 10:141 Corinthians 10:26; Job 41:11.

(2) Does everything we achieve or hope to achieve come from God, who gives us life, breath and the means to attain those things? James 1:17.

Comment: Whatever resources we command, God has given them to us, and we owe Him, as it were, a token “rent” of the first tenth. When people comply, God gives them back—many times over—blessings that far outweigh this rent for the resources He has given us. This happens because of being in harmony with God’s laws, which are living forces that apply to all people of all times. Blessings result from obedience.

(3) What change did God command during the time of Moses, with regard to whom tithes were paid? Numbers 18:21.

Comment: During the time of the patriarchs, tithes were paid to Melchizedek. Now God had the tithes directed to the Levites for their service in the tabernacle. The Levitical priesthood began at this time and their work benefited all Israel. Thus, God directed the tithe to the Levites, who, in turn, dedicated themselves to the duties that God defined.

(4) Did God set aside one entire tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel to devote their services to the various responsibilities associated with the priesthood? Numbers 3:6-8.

Comment: Of the entire tribe of Levi, only the sons of Aaron were to serve as priests (Ex. 28:1). The other duties were divided among the sons of Gershon, Kohath and Merari. They served by transporting, setting up, taking down and maintaining various parts of the tabernacle, as explained in Numbers 3.

(5) What were the Levites, who received the tithes, commanded to do with them? Numbers 18:26.

 

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 March 18, 2008 6:35 AM

(6) To whom did the Levites pays their tithes? Numbers 18:28.

Comment: After the Levites received their tithes, they paid a tenth of that tithe to Aaron, the high priest. In this way, the lineage of Aaron was supported for the hard work they rendered in the tasks of daily sacrificial rituals.

(7) Exactly who in the nation of Israel were required to pay tithes? Numbers 18:21.

Comment: The entirety of Israel paid tithes. (Even the tribe of Levi tithed on the tithes they received.) Remember that in the time of the patriarchs, tithes went directly to Melchizedek for the purpose of ministering to individuals He had called. Melchizedek (the God of the Old Testament) then changed the priesthood to the Levites, who were now His representatives. Thus, the tithes went to the Levites who performed ritualistic sacrifices, which served as a schoolmaster to Israel, teaching them obedience (Galatians 3:24).

We see that God first worked with individuals whom He called. Then, through the Levitical priesthood, He worked with a nation—Israel. In this end-time ministry, which began with Herbert W. Armstrong, and continues with His true Church to this day, the message is being presented to the whole world through the power of technology. God’s Work, which will continue until the end of this age (Matt. 24:14), is supported by tithes, which God has always used to underwrite His ministry.

(8) What is the result of negligence in paying God’s tithes? Malachi 3:8-9.

Comment: God says that anyone who withholds His tithes is guilty of robbing Him and will be cursed with a curse. God is the owner of all that exists, and He requires those who serve Him to obey His laws so that they may develop character and reap blessings instead of curses.

Offerings

 

(1) Does God require more than tithes alone? Malachi 3:8.

Comment: God expects His servants to go beyond the minimum 10% with occasional freewill offerings to express appreciation to Him.

(2) Did Israel give freewill offerings on various occasions? 2 Chronicles 31:14.

(3) During Christ’s millennial reign, will offerings be expected and even required of everyone? Ezekiel 20:40.

Comment: Require means “To authoritatively order or enjoin someone to do something; to demand; to impose need or make necessary; to place under an obligation or necessity.”

(4) On what special occasions is it mandatory to bring an offering? Deuteronomy 16:16.

Comment: This verse discusses the three times [seasons] that God’s people are to come before Him on the Holy Days. The final season includes four separate Holy Days—the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. On all seven of these Holy Days, God’s people are to appear before Him and present an offering.

Other Tithes

Many are confused about the issue of tithing partly because of misunderstanding about two other tithes that God required ancient Israel to pay. The tithe that we have discussed thus far is the “first” tithe. This is the 10% that belongs to God, which we are to turn over to His Work and His representatives. People who practice tithing do not “give” the first tithe to God. They merely present to God what already belongs to Him.

 

 

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 March 18, 2008 6:40 AM

(1) In addition to the first tithe, what was the second tithe that God commanded Israel to set aside? Deuteronomy 14:22-26.

Comment: This tithe was not paid to the Levites or priests, but put back for use by the person saving this “second” tithe. God instructed His people to save this tithe for use during His Feasts and Holy Days. He was essentially commanding His people to budget their own resources so that they could appear before Him—especially at the Feast of Tabernacles—and rejoice in a way that is more rewarding and fulfilling than those unfamiliar with this experience could ever realize. [Note: “Whatsoever your soul lusts after” [vs. 26] is better translated “whatsoever your heart desires.”]

(2) Where are the Feast of Tabernacles and the other Holy Days to be observed? Deuteronomy 14:23.

(3) Did the command to observe these Feast days apply only to ancient Israel while under the Levitical priesthood—or was it forever? Exodus 12:17; Leviticus 23:21, 31, 41.

Comment: The Feast Days and Holy Days stand or fall together. The scriptures above point to the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, Atonement, and the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. They are to be kept forever! That extends well beyond the time of the Levitical priesthood. Thus, the second tithe associated with keeping these Feast days is very much applicable today and even in the coming millennial reign of Christ (Zech. 14:16).

(4) In addition to the first and second tithes, what else was Israel commanded to set aside? Deuteronomy 14:28-29.

Comment: This tithe was not paid annually, but only twice in a seven-year period. The purpose of this tithe is thoroughly covered in the scripture cited. It is a far superior “social security” plan than those provided by any modern nation. Yet, the amount paid in is far less than what the average worker is required to remit to his government. God’s ways are more equitable than anything devised by man. This will be practiced on a global basis during Christ’s millennial reign.

The Melchizedek Ministry Returns

(1) In the Old Testament, Melchizedek was High Priest. In what capacity is the resurrected Jesus Christ serving in this New Testament era? Hebrews 3:1; 4:14.

Comment: After having qualified to replace Satan to rule the earth, and having trained His Church in warning this world, Christ serves as High Priest to intercede on behalf of those He has called to qualify to rule with Him in the kingdom of God.

(2) Did Christ command His servants to deliver the message of the soon-coming kingdom of God to all the world? Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10.

Comment: Delivering the gospel of the kingdom of God to all the world is the First Commission of God’s Church. The “Ezekiel Warning” is also part of this commission.

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 March 18, 2008 6:45 AM

(3) Was another commission given to God’s Church? 1 Peter 5:2.

Comment: The Second Commission was clearly to provide spiritual nourishment for those God would call into His Church.

(4) As High Priest, does Christ empower the Church of God? Romans 15:19; Acts 1:8, 2:4.

(5) How can one identify the true Church of God, as opposed to others merely claiming this title? Isaiah 8:20; Galatians 1:6-91 Timothy 3:152 Timothy 3:14.

Comment: God’s true Church is grounded in the truth, and continues in that truth, having proven the foundational understandings, and remembering from whom they learned them.

(6) Since Christ directs His Church, would He direct tithes to support the Work of the first and second commissions, just as tithes were directed to the Levites? Hebrews 7:5, 12, 17.

Comment: Hebrews chapter 7 begins by showing that tithes were originally presented to the Melchizedek (or Melchisedec) priesthood. It shows the temporary change as Christ worked with Israel under the Levitical priesthood—for about 1,500 years. This chapter also explains that the Melchizedek priesthood reappeared with Christ as High Priest, greatly superceding the Levitical priesthood of ancient Israel. Christ, as the Melchizedek High Priest, is using His Church for a crucial commission of warning the world of terrible end-time events that precede the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

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What Is The Old Covenant? - Lesson Fourteen April 05, 2008 5:54 AM

Many believe that the Old Covenant refers to a harsh Ten Commandments law, while the New Covenant pertains only to grace and promises not based on law or obedience. Although popular, such traditional concepts are completely wrong. Professing Christianity has never understood the significance of the two divisions of God’s Word.

Yet, the Bible reveals the true meaning and significance of these divisions, known as the Old Testament and the New Testament.

When God created man, He made him to appear as a physical image of Himself. Man was physically complete, but spiritually incomplete. God’s overall plan of salvation calls for all (at some point in the order He has predetermined) to receive the Holy Spirit in order to grow to become spiritually complete. This Plan is being implemented in carefully planned stages, with the vast majority of humanity not being called in this age.

Ancient Israel’s track record well illustrates that they stumbled spiritually without God’s Holy Spirit. Their spiritual blindness is expressed in Deuteronomy 5:29:

“O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” The reason that ancient Israel was not inclined to obey is that the natural, normal carnal mind is hostile against God, not subject to His laws (Rom. 8:7).

Yet, the overall experience of Israel demonstrates that it is impossible for mankind to obey God’s laws without His Holy Spirit. Nothing short of God’s miraculous divine intervention is required to open the mind and grant the willpower to begin keeping God’s laws—to deeply desire to be in harmony with every aspect of His will.

The Old Covenant documented the instructions given to all of Israel and their failure to live up to what they had promised to do. They had been instructed by God’s servants and had witnessed numerous divine miracles from God. However, without His Holy Spirit leading and guiding them from within, they could not obey God, much less overcome weaknesses of the flesh. Their experience demonstrates that man cannot obey or please God with his natural carnal mind.

Such a lesson could not be condensed into one proverb or even one episode. It required the experiences of many thousands of people, over many centuries, to make such an all-encompassing point. The lesson had to be written in blood, so to speak, requiring many books of the Bible, with the experiences of many generations interwoven with God’s commands and counsel.

We will find that in all those recorded experiences, Israel failed to live up to the covenant they had made with God—the Old Covenant. The problem was not the laws of God—as many professing Christians declare—but rather the failure of carnal people with natural minds.

In studying this lesson, be sure to write down each of the verses from your own Bible. Upon finishing the lesson, it is helpful to review it from time to time. This helps to put into better perspective the understanding gained.

“Covenant” vs. “Testament”

(1) Using a dictionary, write down the definition of “covenant.”

Comment: The following general definition should be similar to that in any given dictionary: “An agreement between two or more persons to do or refrain from doing some act; a compact.”

(2) What was the covenant God made with Noah? Genesis 9:11.

Comment: The covenant mentioned in Genesis 9:11 is somewhat of an extension of the same covenant mentioned in Genesis 6:18, in which Noah was to enter the ark God had him build (Gen. 6:14). The part of the covenant in which God promised never to destroy the earth again in this manner was accompanied by a token—a rainbow (Gen. 9:12-13).

 



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 April 05, 2008 6:02 AM

(3) Did God also make a covenant with Abraham? Genesis 17:2.

Comment: Because Abraham obeyed God, the covenant God made with him promised blessings in return. We find that Abraham’s descendants were to become a great nation (Gen. 12:2), and that he was to be the father of many nations (17:4). This covenant agreement was basically, “You do your part and I will do mine.” Notice also that this covenant was accompanied by a token, as explained in Genesis 17:10-11.

(4) Using the dictionary again, write down the definition of “testament.”

Comment: The general definition that follows should also be similar to the one in your dictionary: “A will; a formal declaration, usually in writing, of a person’s wishes as to the disposition of his property after his death.” Note that the definition of testament hinges upon death, whereas a covenant is a mutual agreement in which death is not necessarily a factor.

(5) Are those who follow Christ to be inheritors of a testament that He made? Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16, 29; Hebrews 9:15-17.

Comment: It was God’s will to make eternal inheritance in His kingdom available to all who would desire it. The will or testament that Christ made is spelled out in the last fourth of the Bible—the New Testament. It teaches how to become an heir to the promises of eternal inheritance in God’s kingdom, soon to be established on the earth. One of the purposes of Christ’s death was to make this inheritance possible.

The Covenant Made with Ancient Israel

(1) Before the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai, what did God first propose to Israel? Exodus 19:4-6.

(2) After God had proposed this covenant to Moses, Moses came down from the mountain and presented it to the leaders and elders of Israel. What was the response of the elders of Israel? Exodus 19:8.

Comment: After Israel had promised to abide by the covenant proposed by God, the Ten Commands were given—being the central basis for all of the lesser and more detailed civil laws, judgments, statutes and precepts. The first five books of the Bible—the books of the law—deal primarily with the instructions for Israel pertaining to the covenant made with God. The majority of what is called the Old Testament pertains to the historical accounts of Israel, as well as other writings and prophecies pertaining to Israel, past and future. These books pertain primarily to Israel and their track record with respect to the covenant previously made to God.

The major part of the Bible has been misnamed the “Old Testament” when the proper name is the “Old Covenant.” Here is how it came to be misnamed:

When Catholic scholars translated the Bible into Latin in the fourth century, the word testamentum was the term used, which could have meant either “covenant” or “testament.” When the term was later translated into English, testamentum was retained as “testament.” This is why the part of the Bible containing the Old Covenant is misnamed unto this day in English Bibles.

It is interesting that the only place the term “Old Testament” is found in the Bible is in 2 Corinthians 3:14. Even here, the Greek term diatheke was translated as “testament,” to coincide with the misnomer already erroneously accepted. The term could have (and should have) been translated as “covenant.” The Old Covenant section of the Bible contains the same books (although not in the correct order) as they were referred to in the New Testament as “the law and the prophets,” and sometimes “the law, the prophets and the psalms (or writings).”

 

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 April 05, 2008 6:06 AM

In light of this information, recall the dictionary definition already discussed in which the term, “testament” applies only to the death of the primary party in order to be in effect. Death was not mentioned with respect to the covenant God made with Israel in order for it to be in effect. Basically, the covenant called upon Israel to obey God’s laws, which would result in material blessings—while disobedience would bring curses. It is quite obvious how the term “Old Covenant” is most appropriate and that “Old Testament” is a misnomer.

(3) Does the Bible explicitly tell us whether the ancient Israelites had access to God’s Spirit? John 7:37-39.

Comment: As verse 39 indicated, the Holy Spirit was not given until Jesus had been glorified (after His death, burial and resurrection). Those of ancient Israel were not given God’s Spirit except for the very few, such as the patriarchs, and later Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David and others—the prophets in particular. Although God left mankind to learn lessons through bitter experience in the ways of carnality, He reserved the right to call a selected few specific people across time according to His own purpose.

(4) Did the people of Israel feel they were capable of fulfilling their part of the covenant God made with them? Exodus 24:7-8.

Comment: After the people affirmed that they would perform “all the Eternal had said” and would be obedient to him, the covenant was ratified with blood as written in verse 8. The people somehow equated that being in the proximity of God—as His power and presence were manifested at Mount Sinai—would give them the inspiration and power to obey Him. Yet, they were incapable of living up to their promise of obeying God, as experience would clearly show. Just as people today, they were crippled by the absence of the Holy Spirit, although oblivious to that fact. Remember, the Holy Spirit was not yet available to all humanity, including Israel.

(5) What verses best summarize the experiences of Israel recorded in the Old Covenant? 1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4.

Comment: The experiences of ancient Israel serve as lessons for true Christians today.

The Administration of Death

The Old Covenant consisted of distinct parts, the central part being the Ten Commandments. They preceded the Old Covenant and also transcend it. Other distinct parts of the Old Covenant were the civil laws and judgments, which gave detailed applications of the Ten Commandments.

(1) What was the meaning of the set of judgments that called for “life for life, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” Exodus 21:23-24.

Comment: Although the context of these verses pertained to the protection of pregnant women (as in verse 22), the judgment applied to many other situations, in principle. A sentence was a certainty for any infraction. The offender paid a penalty that was equivalent to the damage he had caused.

(2) What was the penalty for someone committing murder? Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 21:12.

Comment: Immediately after the Flood, God instituted the administration of death as punishment for murder (Gen. 9:5-6). As one of the Ten Commandments in force since the creation of man, it was spelled out in detail in the civil judgments (Ex. 21:12).

(3) Was this administration of death called glorious? 2 Corinthians 3:7-8.

Comment: The administration of death was the civil execution of punishment for violation of laws of the civil code that expanded on the Ten Commandments. Such laws requiring the death penalty usually involved such violations as murder, kidnapping or adultery.

 

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 April 05, 2008 6:11 AM

The Israelites sinned on a regular basis and were continually reminded of it. Their example serves to make us realize our weaknesses and limitations, as well. It underlines our need for help through God’s Spirit to overcome our own human nature. The administration of the death penalty served to emphasize this valuable lesson.

If the Israelites had been able to fulfill their part of the covenant by keeping the letter of the law, they would have received only material blessings. Eternal life was never a promise associated with the Old Covenant.

The “ministration of death” (2 Cor. 3:7) was temporary until the time of the “ministration of the spirit” (2 Cor. 3:8), to be permanent. The new administration of the same laws is to be implemented by those who, with the help of the Holy Spirit, overcome and qualify in this life. They will rule in the government of God as spirit beings—a spiritual administration!

The Old Covenant—a Marriage Covenant

Many have never heard that the Lord—the Eternal, the God of the Old Covenant—who later became Jesus Christ—had actually entered a marriage covenant with Israel. Jesus Christ, who had created all things (John 1:3) and thundered the Ten Commandments and led Israel through the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:4), had married ancient Israel.

(1) Did the Lord who later became Jesus Christ explicitly state that He was married to Israel? Jeremiah 3:14.

(2) Was Christ the husband of Israel? Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32; Isaiah 54:5.

(3) Did Christ enter into a covenant of marriage with Israel? Ezekiel 16:8.

(4) What were to be the blessings upon Israel for remaining faithful to their covenant with God? Leviticus 26:1-3.

Comment: To get an overview of these promised blessings, read verses 4-13. This is equivalent to Deuteronomy 28: 1-14. You should become acquainted with these two chapters (Lev. 26 and Deut. 28), since they spell out the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience to God’s laws, upon which the Covenant with Israel was based.

(5) What were to be the curses upon Israel for being unfaithful to their covenant with God? Leviticus 26:14-16.

Comment: Read verses 17-39 for more insight and overview of the curses for disobedience. These verses are being fulfilled to this very day concerning the nations of modern Israel.

(6) Did the apostle Paul indicate that the marriage covenant is based upon law—God’s Law? Romans 7:1-3.

Comment: These verses plainly indicate that neither party of a marriage is bound to the law. Rather, each party is bound to the other mate by the law. Notice that the law does not cease to exist when one of the parties dies. Only the marriage covenant, which was based upon the law, becomes dissolved by the death of one party.

 

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 April 05, 2008 6:15 AM

Likewise, Christ’s marriage with ancient Israel was dissolved, yet the law upon which it was based still continues. Rather than Christ doing away with the law, it was the sins of humanity in breaking God’s perfect law that did away with His life. He had to give His life in order to redeem all humanity since, as Creator, His life was of greater value than all the cumulative lives of those who have ever lived.

(7) Is it the destiny of all who overcome and become spirit beings at the First Resurrection to enter into a marriage covenant with the glorified Christ? Romans 7:4.

Comment: This marriage covenant, based upon God’s spiritual Law, will be under the terms of the New Covenant, to be discussed in the next lesson.

Summary

It should be reinforced here that the law of works—the sacrificial system—was not inaugurated at the time the Ten Commandments were given, but began nearly a year later as a separate and distinct part of the Old Covenant. In order to better remember this pivotal scripture, write out Jeremiah 7:22-24, as well. The sacrificial rituals became a distinct part of the Old Covenant, yet separate from the Ten Commandments.

The Old Covenant, usually misnamed as the Old Testament, was based upon material blessings for Israel keeping the letter of the Law—which Israel miserably failed to do. Remember that the Old Covenant was made with Israel only. The Old Covenant was not only material, but also only temporal. Yet the spiritual law upon which it was based is eternal.

While Israel never lived up to their terms of their Covenant with God, there were certain revivals in the kingdom of Israel in which certain kings were righteous, resulting in blessings for Israel in the short term as they followed their examples. This occurred during (and shortly after) the reign of David, and in the reigns of Hezekiah, Josiah, and a few others to a lesser extent. Such revivals were the exception to Israel’s usual track record.

Various other aspects of the Old Covenant will be further covered in the next lesson, which will also introduce the terms of the New Covenant.

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Preparing to Become the Bride of Christ - Lesson Fifteen April 16, 2008 4:52 AM

In Lesson 14, we discussed that God made man as a physical image of Himself. Man was physically complete—but spiritually, he was woefully incomplete. God’s overall plan of salvation called for man—in the order He has predetermined—to receive the Holy Spirit in order to become spiritually complete.

 

 

 

Professing Christianity fails to recognize that both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are based on the same central theme—obedience to God’s laws, set in motion for the benefit of mankind. The record of ancient Israel bears testimony that mankind, using the best of his own abilities and initiative, falls miserably short of obeying God’s laws. The New Covenant proposes just how mankind can harmonize with God’s laws, as they become written in our hearts, causing our very nature to undergo a dramatic change.

 

 

 

When the following events have been fulfilled, we will know that the New Covenant is in effect: “Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, says the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34).

 

 

 

In short, people today do not have the Law of God written in their hearts. Neither do they know God. Yet, the time when the New Covenant will be in force is fast approaching. Meanwhile, we read, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). We see the Old Covenant phasing out, to be replaced by the New Covenant—a marriage between the glorified Christ and His bride.

 

Why a New Covenant?

 

 

(1) What was wrong with the Old Covenant, that it needed to be replaced by a New Covenant? Hebrews 8:6-7.

 

 

 

Comment: A better covenant (whose Mediator was Christ—see also Heb. 12:24) was referenced in contrast to the first covenant—the first not being “faultless,” signaling the need for the second.

 

 

 

(2) Hebrews 8:7 shows that a fault existed with the Old Covenant. What was that fault? Hebrews 8:8.

 

 

 

Comment: Verse 8 begins, “For finding fault with them…” The fault was with Israel for failing to obey. The fault was never with the law upon which the Covenant was based.

 

 

Concerning the Law of God, Psalm 119:172 states, “My tongue shall speak of Your word: for all Your commandments are righteousness.” Also, the apostle Paul wrote that “…the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12).

 

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 April 16, 2008 4:57 AM

(3) In Hebrews 8:8, God proposed a New Covenant with Israel and Judah. How was this Covenant defined? Hebrews 8: 9-10.

 

Comment: This covenant was not to be on the same terms as the covenant with ancient Israel, who “continued not in the covenant.” Rather, God proposed to put His laws into their minds and write them in their hearts. Hebrews 8:8-10 is clearly a reference to Jeremiah 31:31-34.

 

The New Covenant, or marriage agreement, applies to those qualifying for the First Resurrection by internalizing the principles of God’s Law into their minds and hearts in this physical life through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

 

The life of a true Christian—one of growing and overcoming—is merely a preparation phase to enter into the New Covenant with Christ at His Return. Unlike ancient Israel, with whom God ratified the Old Covenant quickly, we are to first qualify through many years of overcoming—having been thoroughly tried and tested before even coming under the New Covenant. Only then will anyone be accepted as part of the collective bride to take part in the Marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7).

 

The New Covenant and Testament

 

(1) What was the will or testament that Christ left at the time of His death? Hebrews 9:15-17.

 

Comment: In Lesson 14, we learned that a testament is “a will; a formal declaration, usually in writing, of a person’s wishes as to the disposition of his property after his death.” In verse 15, “testament” first appeared in context with Christ being the “Mediator of the New Testament.” The fact that this pertains to the definition of a will or testament is verified by verses 16-17, which shows that the death of the testator is necessary for the will to be in force. This testament reflects back to the promise of an eternal inheritance.

 

The second mention of “testament” in verse 15 is in context with “the redemptions of transgressions that were under the first testament.” Both references derive from the Greek term diatheke, which can be translated as “testament” or “covenant,” depending upon the context. Although the first reference in verse 15 most decidedly means “testament,” the second reference should have been translated as “covenant.” The later part of the verse refers to “…transgressions that were under the first covenant.” As pointed out in Lesson 14, the Old Covenant was not a testament, as the death of anyone was not at issue.

 

In fact, the references to “covenant” in Hebrews 8 all derive from the same Greek term diatheke.

 

(2) Is the promise of an eternal inheritance through Christ tied to the promise that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through the seed (singular) of Abraham? Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29.

 

 

 

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 April 16, 2008 5:06 AM

(3) Did not the New Testament come into force at the time of Christ’s death? Hebrews 9:17.

 

 

 

Comment: Although the will or testament is now in force, Christians must meet certain conditions named in the testament in order to inherit the promises made. This also fulfills the definition of a covenant. These conditions must be met in order for one to receive the inheritance—being born again into the God Family.

 

 

 

In Lesson 14, we also learned that the most accurate name for the first part of the Bible is the “Old Covenant,” rather than the misapplied name of “Old Testament.” It was a covenant in which Israel agreed to obey God’s laws in return for material blessings. By extension, the second part of the Bible would naturally be called the New Covenant, since it reveals the terms and conditions of this better covenant as referred to in Hebrews 8:6. Yet this second section of the Bible explicitly addresses the testament that Christ left at His death. Thus, the most accurate name for the second part of the Bible should be “The New Covenant and Testament.”

 

 

 

 

Who is Included in the New Covenant?

 

 

 

(1) Was Jesus Christ prophesied to bring the message of the New Covenant first to Israel? Hebrews 8:10; Malachi 3:1.

 

 

 

Comment: The first part of Malachi 3:1 pertains to John the Baptist, who prepared the way before Christ. Then it discusses the appearance of the Lord, the Messenger of the covenant. We have already seen that Christ was the Messenger or Mediator of the New and better Covenant with Israel. Christ’s physical, 3 ½-year ministry was confined to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 15:24). But that ministry later expanded well beyond Israel. (The context of Malachi 3:1-3 mainly addresses the Return of Christ.)

 

 

(2) Does the New Covenant include Gentiles as well as Israel? Ephesians 2:11-13; Galatians 3:27-29; Romans 9:24.

 

 

 

Comment: The New Covenant is open not just to Israel, as was the Old Covenant, but to those whom God calls from all nations. At this stage, only a small number are being called to rule with Christ in the kingdom of God. The vast majority (including the masses of Israel) will be offered salvation in the millennium, as well as in the general (second) resurrection. The New Covenant will ultimately include all humanity, whose minds will be opened at that time to understand and accept God’s truth.

 

 

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 April 16, 2008 5:18 AM

New Covenant Ministry Yet to be Completed

 

 

 

(1) Do the Scriptures indicate that Christ will (future tense) make a covenant with Israel? Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:10.

(2) Was Christ prophesied to confirm the Covenant for one week? Daniel 9:26-27.

Comment: Verse 27 also indicates that Christ was cut off “in the midst of the week.” Detailed historical facts prove that His ministry on earth lasted for 3 ½ years and that He was crucified on Passover A.D. 31, in the midst of the literal week (on a Wednesday) and also in the midst of the prophetic week of seven years. Yet, at His Return, He will confirm the covenant for an additional 3 ½ years, completing the prophetic week. In this case, each day represents a year prophetically (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:3-6). Then Jeremiah 31:31 will come to pass: “Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” This covenant will extend to all nations, beginning with those already called.

Christ Free to Marry Again

 

 

(1) Was the Lord’s marriage to ancient Israel undermined by their treachery? Jeremiah 3:20.

(2) Did the Lord (who later became Jesus Christ) have to put Israel away for this treachery? Jeremiah 3:8, 14; Isaiah 50:1.

Comment: Israel committed spiritual adultery by following the customs of the nations around them. They worshipped their idols and adopted their pagan practices instead of what God instituted.

 

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 April 17, 2008 5:14 AM

(3) Did the putting away of Israel lead to the dissolution of the marriage or was the marriage terminated by another event? I Corinthians 7:39; Romans 7:2.

 

 

Comment: As the death of the husband or the wife ends a marriage covenant, so did the death of Christ free Him from the marriage contract with ancient Israel. His death also served to establish the testament of eternal inheritance for those whom God would call.

 

 

(4) Will the marriage of Christ (the Lamb of God) take place shortly after His Return? Revelation 19:7-9.

 

  The Old and New Covenants Based on God’s Law

 

 

(1) What should we learn from the experiences of ancient Israel? I Corinthians 10:6, 11.

 

 

Comment: True fulfillment can only come as mankind gets into harmony with the Ten Commandments and all of God’s laws. Yet, the saga of Israel’s experience shows that, of and by themselves, human beings are incapable of keeping God’s laws.

 

 

(2) Did Christ come to enlarge or expand upon the law? Isaiah 42:21.

 

 

Comment: Ancient Israel was only required—and only able—to keep the Law in the letter. Christ raised the standard by requiring the Law to be kept also in the spirit, according to the spiritual intent. To review, consider Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Christ made the law more binding according to the spirit and intent of the law.

 

(3) Did Christ come to confirm that God’s Law can be obeyed? Matthew 5:17.

 

 

Comment: God’s Ten Commandments were in effect before the creation of man. Christ made it clear that He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. By fulfilling the Law, Christ demonstrated that by the power of God’s Spirit, the Law could be obeyed. Although He had God’s Spirit in full measure and we have much less, we are expected to grow with time and experience.

 

 

(4) Are true Christians to aspire to the standard that Christ set? I John 2:4-6.

 

 

Comment: As each of us who are now called by God to grow and overcome, it is the Holy Spirit that sets in motion the changes that must take place in our lives before we are ready to be resurrected as spirit beings. Only then can we enter into the New Covenant with Christ.

 

 

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 April 17, 2008 5:20 AM

Future lessons will cover the topic of the Holy Spirit, as well as the requirements to receiving it:

Repentance, belief in Christ, and baptism.

First, repentance involves being sorrowful for having lived contrary to God’s laws, with vehement desire to change—to obey and live in harmony with God’s laws from that time forward. Secondly, one must believe that Christ’s blood will cleanse his past sins and that Christ will put His Holy Spirit into the mind as promised. Finally, baptism is the symbolic burial of the old self in water and the emergence into a new life of overcoming with the power of God’s Spirit—received by the laying on of hands after baptism.

Where to Look for Guidance

In order to inherit eternal life, one must strive to enter into the New Covenant relationship with Christ. After having learned about this truth, from these lessons and other literature, one must decide where to look for guidance. Christ does reveal that His true Church does exist.

(1) If one sincerely seeks God’s true Church, can it be found? Matthew 7:7.

Comment: In order for one’s mind to be opened to truly seeking God’s truth and the Church teaching it, God has to call the individual (John 6:44).

(2) Is everyone called by God destined to succeed in this calling? Matthew 22:14.

(3) What is one of the most vital attributes of those who succeed in their calling? Jude 3.

Comment: In order to seek the teachings that Christ gave the original apostles, one must “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Otherwise, accepting what the world believes makes error inevitable. Even during the time of the original apostles, the mystery of iniquity was already at work (II Thes. 2:7) and false apostles were counterfeiting themselves as the apostles of Christ (II Cor. 11:13).

(4) But did Christ say that He would establish His own Church? Matthew 16:18.

Comment: When Christ stated, “upon this Rock,” He was referring to Himself. The word “Rock” derives from the Greek term petra, which means a mass of rock or massive rock. The name “Peter” is derived from the Greek term petros, which means a piece of rock, considered much smaller than a massive rock, though larger than an ordinary stone (lithos).

Christ clearly showed that He, not Peter, was the foundation of His true Church (I Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:19-20). The true Church of God traces its roots back to the apostolic Church and the small, scattered, persecuted “called out ones” for nearly 2,000 years—never part of the great false church that has reigned over nations.

Christ clearly states that “the gates of hell (the grave) shall never prevail against” His true Church. Since Christ does not lie, His true Church is still in existence today, doing the work of preaching the gospel.

 

 

 

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 April 17, 2008 5:34 AM

Summary

 

It is from the true Church that one will come to understand the true meaning of the New Covenant and how it pictures the Holy Spirit as the missing element through which mankind can have the laws of God written in his heart.

It is critically important to understand the meaning of the New Covenant and how to enter into it. Understanding such truths and seeing the result of being in harmony with God’s perfect laws constitute the very keys to the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:19).

To better understand the identity of the true Church through which God is now working, read our thread Where is God’s TRUE CHURCH?

We have seen how the marriage of Christ to spiritual Israel is central to the meaning of the New Covenant.

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What is the HOLY SPIRIT? - Lesson Sixteen May 20, 2008 6:47 AM

God’s Holy Spirit is the crucial element that makes the New Covenant workable, in contrast to the Old Covenant that failed because of Israel’s disobedience. Hebrews 8:10 (which quotes Jeremiah 31:33) states, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.”


Receiving God’s Spirit begins the process of having His laws in the mind and written in one’s heart. The absence of this vital element is why ancient Israel continually disobeyed God, as does modernDeut. 5:29). The reason Israel failed to fear and obey God was 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). Spiritual survival depends on the following conditions: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). Israel today. God inspired Moses to record, “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever”.


This lesson focuses on this most central element. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is the power that emanates from God. The resurrected Christ promised His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Christ had a full measure of that Spirit during His physical life, with which He healed the sick, crippled and blind. He also stilled a violent storm and even raised the dead, yet He explained, “I can of mine own self do nothing…” (John 5:30). Christ performed miracles after acknowledging that this power never came from within: “… the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works” (John 14:10). The Holy Spirit is the means through which the Father transmitted power to Christ. An earnest amount of this Spirit of power is made available to each true Christian in this age.


The Holy Spirit—Essence of Power


Upon seeing, hearing and feeling the thunderous roar of a wonder such as Niagara Falls at close range, one can sense the impact of tremendous power. Scriptures actually compare the Holy Spirit to flowing water—even, “rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We begin this lesson by focusing on the power emanating from God, by which He sustains His creation.


(1) Where does all power in the universe originate? I Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 62:11.


(2) Does the creation demonstrate the power of God? Hebrews 11:3; Job 26:7; Jeremiah 32:17.


 

 

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 May 20, 2008 6:57 AM

(3) Was the Holy Spirit sent forth to create at God’s command? Psalm 104:30; 33:9.

 

Comment: It is clear that the Holy Spirit is the very power of God by which He created all things. The Holy Spirit is definitely not a member of a mystical trinity, on an equal basis with the Father and Christ. The fact that the Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28) nullifies that false concept.

 

The miraculous acts of creation show the unfathomable power of the Holy Spirit. It was by this power that Christ was able to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly. What is most fascinating of all is that a measure of this very power can enter our minds, and even this measure can grow and expand.

 

(4) Does God also sustain the creation by the power of the Holy Spirit? Nehemiah 9:6.

 

Comment: The Holy Spirit sustains the entire creation. It emanates from God, permeating everything. It is present everywhere (Psa. 139:7-9).

 

All the myriads of galaxies have required a level of sustenance in order to be preserved in tact across billions of years. The relatively recent delicate ecosystem of plant and animal life upon the earth has been preserved for thousands of years. Yet, mankind, under Satan’s influence and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has put the earth in a state of turmoil. We will see how this condition has developed, and how it will later be rectified.

 

Adam and Eve Rejected the Holy Spirit

 

(1) Did God offer Adam access to His Holy Spirit? Genesis 2:9.

 

Comment: The Tree of Life offered access to the Holy Spirit and to eternal life. The Scriptures show elsewhere that the Spirit gives life (II Cor. 3:6); “he that sows to the Spirit shall reap lifeGal. 6:8); and “to him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). everlasting”

 

(2) What other choice was Adam given besides the Tree of Life? Genesis 2: 15-17.

 

Comment: God’s instructions to Adam were to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree represented man’s determination of what is good and what is evil, and what is right in his own eyes, independent of God’s instructions.

 

(3) What tree did Adam and Eve choose when put to the test? Genesis 3:6.

 

Comment: Under the sway of Satan, Eve chose to eat of the wrong tree, and so did Adam, shortly thereafter. Satan contradicted God by his assertion in verse 4, “you shall not surely die.” Satan was saying in effect, “you can’t rely on God’s word.”

 

Besides the influence of Satan, Adam and Eve’s own human reasoning also led them to make the wrong choice. In the ecstasy of intellectual vanity, they used human reason in choosing the forbidden tree. They rejected the Tree of Life, by which they would have received God’s Spirit and eternal life. Instead, since they chose to follow Satan’s lie, they eventually died. Since that time, mankind has followed the same path.

 

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 May 20, 2008 7:02 AM

The Holy Spirit Made Available Again

 

(1) Under the Old Covenant, Israel showed that with the best of intentions, the human spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. Why was the Old Covenant at fault? Romans 8:7; Hebrews 8:7-8.

 

Comment: Ancient Israel proved that human “steam” is not enough. Their example was recorded for our admonition, “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).

 

(2) Can natural carnal minds without God’s Spirit remain submissive to God even while beholding His continual miracles and interventions? Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 32:30.

 

(3) Did God give His Spirit to various prophets and individuals with whom He was working during the time of the patriarchs and of ancient Israel? II Peter 1:21; I Samuel 16:13; Daniel 4:18; Micah 3:8.

 

Comment: These scriptures are just a few of many showing that God gave His Spirit to a select few according to His Plan. Daniel 4:18 comes from the words of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who only had limited understanding of the true God, and would expectedly use such a term as “the spirit of the gods” in describing God’s Spirit in Daniel.

 

(4) In Acts 1:8, Christ promised, “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you…” What series of events had to precede the Holy Spirit being made available to Christ’s disciples? John 7:37-39; 16:7.

 

Comment: These scriptures show that Christ had to “go away” and be glorified before God’s Spirit could be given. Only after His death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven could the Holy Spirit be made available. The term “belly” in John 7:38 comes from the Greek word koilia, which means “abdomen,” usually figuratively translated “heart.” Also, the term “ghost”(vs. 39), from the Greed word pneuma, should have been translated “Spirit.”

 

(5) What new element enters the picture by the New Covenant so that man can obey God’s laws? Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:26-27.

 

Comment: Although the New Covenant has not yet officially begun, this will occur in the soon-coming millennium, as the Holy Spirit is made available to all humanity. To have the Law of God written in one’s heart is to live the meaning of I John 5:3: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments…” To become perfected in love is to be perfect in obedience to God’s Law.

 

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 May 20, 2008 7:06 AM

(6) Will God’s Spirit become available for all who desire to receive it? Joel 2:28-29.

 

Comment: These verses reflect the time when those who live into the millennium will experience truly abundant and fulfilled lives.

Note that verse 28 begins, “And it shall come to pass afterward…” This shows that only after these people receive a certain level of preliminary knowledge and understanding of God’s truth can they receive the Holy Spirit. Also, after they have their basic physical necessities restored, they can begin to focus more clearly on the spiritual level.

 

Christ—With Full Measure of the Holy Spirit

 

(1) Was Christ begotten by the Holy Spirit? Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:20.

 

Comment: From the beginning of His physical life, Christ was strong in God’s Spirit because He was not only begotten physically by the Spirit, but begotten spiritually, as well.

 

(2) As a youth, did Christ show unusual insight and zeal for the Scriptures? Luke 2:40, 46-48.

 

Comment: To be strengthened and inspired by God’s Spirit caused the youth to learn the truths of God and history of mankind at an unprecedented rate. His knowledge and understanding of Scripture stunned the Jewish religious leaders.

 

(3) To what extent did Christ have the Holy Spirit? John 3:34.

 

Comment: Christ possessed the full measure of the Holy Spirit, through which He was able to perform unprecedented miracles and healings. His discernment of the thoughts and intents of others was keen and precise. He spoke with resounding authority, for He was the God of the Old Covenant, by whom God the Father had created the worlds.

 

(4) Did Christ set the example for true Christians to emulate? John 13:15; I Peter 2:21; I John 2:5-6.

 

Comment: Christ set the standard we are to follow. By the mouths of false accusers, He endured injustice (suffering wrongly), as we must do. When suffering, He did not threaten, but rather submitted to “not My will, but the Father’s will be done.”

 

(5) Does Christ live His life over again through true Christians? Galatians 2:20.

 

Comment: By continuing to seek God’s way throughout life, one can gradually take on the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) through the infusion of God’s Spirit.

 

(6) In what role is Christ serving at this time in helping true Christians to overcome? Hebrews 6:20; 7:26.

 

Comment: As our High Priest, Christ has been interceding on behalf of true Christians—for their forgiveness upon repentance, their healing, and their spiritual strength and wisdom. Since Christ lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25; 4:14-16), He understands our limitations, having suffered while in the flesh. We have every reason to succeed and overcome with such an advocate, who is ever willing for us to succeed with the spiritual power He makes available to us.

 

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 May 20, 2008 7:16 AM

Church Empowered by Holy Spirit

 

(1) Did Christ instruct His disciples to await the arrival of the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:8.

 

(2) When gathered together for Pentecost in Jerusalem in A.D. 31, amidst many Jews also gathered there, what happened to the 120 disciples? Acts 2:1-4.

 

(3) What was the Jews’ response to those unusual events? Acts 2:5-7, 12-13.

 

(4) Besides the miracle of speaking in unknown languages, and Peter’s bold testimony before thousands, what other events transpired that day? Acts 2:41-42.

 

(5) By what power was Peter able to speak so boldly and assuredly as never before? Acts 4:8.

 

(6) After being threatened by Jewish authorities shortly after Pentecost, the disciples later came together to pray for strength. What signs did God give that He heard their prayer? Acts 4:31.

 

Comment: “The place was shaken” actually meant that God sent forth earthquake tremors. Besides this physical sign, the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” They were given an additional measure of the Holy Spirit besides the initial amount given on the Day of Pentecost. God is no respecter of persons. If we pray as fervently as these disciples, we too can receive more of God’s Spirit.

 

Source of Spiritual Strength

 

(1) Does the Holy Spirit inspire an attitude of love, power and sound-mindedness? II Timothy 1:6-7.

 

(2) Are God’s servants to focus on their own talents and skills to accomplish His Work? Zechariah 4:6.

 

(3) Can God’s Spirit bring to mind what Christ has instructed from our study of Scripture? John 14:26; I Corinthians 2:10.

 

(4) What characterized the ministry of Paul as he preached the gospel? Romans 15:19.

 

(5) What is another of the many attributes the Holy Spirit imparts to one’s mind? Philippians 4:7; Romans 8:6.

 

Comment: Because of the prevailing characteristic of peace the Spirit brings to the mind, Christ referred to it as the “Comforter.” He told the disciples, “And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that it may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).

 

The term “another Comforter” meant that the Holy Spirit would bring them peace and assurance just as Christ had done during His time with them. The Comforter is also called “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26).

 

(6) Were there some things that Christ could not communicate to the disciples until they had the Holy Spirit within them? John 16:12-13.

 

(7) Does the Holy Spirit compensate for the inability of the natural human intellect, communicating directly to God what we are otherwise incapable of expressing? Romans 8:26-27.

 

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 May 20, 2008 7:25 AM

Christian Growth

 

(1) Is the Holy Spirit freely available in this age to all who desire it? John 6:44, 65.

 

Comment: The Holy Spirit will not be offered freely to everyone until the millennium, at which time it will be poured out upon “all flesh.” In this age, only those called by God to fulfill a particular purpose are given the Holy Spirit. These are the firstfruits called to help rule in the soon-coming kingdom of God.

 

Unlike those in the millennium and those in the general resurrection to occur later, those called in this age will have a much more difficult path—having to resist Satan, his world and the flesh—but they will be given a far greater reward for all eternity.

 

(2) What must those called in this age do to receive more of the Holy Spirit? Luke 11:9-13.

 

Comment: Some have erroneously looked upon the process of receiving the Holy Spirit as an end in itself, giving them an inside track to seek God on their own terms. Those who are called and who seek and ask God from a motive of sincerity and purity because they want to get into harmony with God’s will for all eternity are the ones who will thrive and grow upon receiving His Spirit.

 

(3) What initial—earlier—steps are required to receive God’s Spirit? Acts 2:38; 5:32.

 

Comment: Upon baptism and the laying on of hands (Acts 8:16-17), one is given an earnest (downpayment) measure of God’s Spirit (II Cor. 1:22).

 

(4) How are we to be changed or transformed through the use of God’s Spirit? II Corinthians 4:16; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:1, 11-15.

Comment: Besides the inward man being renewed on a daily basis, and being transformed by a renewing of the mind, we must seek God on a personal basis.

 

Summary

 

To study more into the subject of the Holy Spirit, please read our threads What do you mean WATER BAPTISM? and What is true CONVERSION? These threads give a thorough and systematic study of the subject of conversion and the central role of the Holy Spirit in that process.

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Who Rules EARTH’S AIRWAVES? - Lesson Seventeen June 05, 2008 6:03 AM

Satan—The God of this World

Professing Christianity teaches that the modern world is essentially God’s world and that the duty of all Christians is to make it a better place. If this were God’s world, then we would have to conclude that Satan is vastly more powerful than God, since civilization is apparently won over by Satan. Society—with its religions, governments, educational institutions, commercial establishments, cultures, customs, traditions and trends—represents the antithesis of what God would author.


Misapplying scriptures such as Psalm 24:1, which states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” some conclude that this must be God’s world. Although God created the earth, He is allowing Satan to rule over it for a purpose. Consider this astounding statement: “And the devil said unto Him [Christ], All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If You therefore will worship me, all shall be Yours” (Luke 4:6-7). This shows that God had delivered to the devil all the world’s kingdoms and the “glory” of them and that they are his to give as he chooses. This lesson will explain why Satan is allowed control of this present world.


Much about Satan remains mysterious and terribly distorted: Was Satan always evil? Has he always lived? Can he die? Why does he oppose God’s will? These questions and many more will be answered in this lesson.


The Extent of Satan’s Influence


(1) How effective has Satan been in deceiving mankind? Revelation 12:9.

Comment: Satan has not just deceived most of the world or even almost all of the world, but rather the whole world—with the exception of a very few whom God has called out of this world. Note the four different names given to Satan in verse 9: “the great dragon,” “old serpent,” “devil,” “Satan who deceives the whole world,” and the additional title given him in verse 10, “the accuser of the brethren.”


(2) By what title did the apostle Paul refer to Satan, implying his universal influence? II Corinthians 4:4.


Comment: This verse not only establishes that Satan is the god of this world, but also shows how he carries out much of his deception—through blinding the eyes of mankind.


(3) What other title did Paul attribute to Satan? Ephesians 2:2.


Comment: Before being called, Christians have walked according to the course of this world. The fact that Satan is the prince of the power of the air reveals more than meets the eye. Radio, television and other modes of communication are broadcast through the air. Similarly, Satan influences humanity by broadcasting attitudes into their minds. He can control people’s moods, influencing their outlook or general behavior. Since our minds are naturally tuned to his wavelength, only by awareness of this manipulation can we resist this influence.


(4) By what other title is Satan referred to? John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.


(5) Is Satan’s influence confined mainly to delinquents and criminals, or does he also influence leaders at the highest levels in the governments of this world? Ephesians 6:12.

 



This post was modified from its original form on 05 Jun, 6:06  [ send green star]
 
 June 05, 2008 6:15 AM

Comment: The context of this verse makes clear that “high places” are within the governments of this world. Demented dictators stand ready to emerge today and draw upon the same inspiration that has motivated dictators through the ages, such as Hitler and Stalin.


(6) How did Christ respond when He was accused of casting out demons through the power of the devil? Matthew 12:25-26.


Comment: Here, Christ was showing that Satan would never cast out his own demons. To do so would be to oppose himself and divide his own kingdom. Since his kingdom does stand, then it must not be divided. Not only does Satan lead the darkened demoniac kingdom of this world, but he does this in a unified and organized way. He leads hundreds of millions of demons, or fallen angels.


It is evident that Satan leads his own realm of fallen spirits and together they confuse, deceive and exert much influence over all nations in a carefully planned manner.

 

The Origin of Satan

 

(1) What was the original name of the archangel who later became Satan? Isaiah 14:12.


Comment: Lucifer was one of three archangels who were present at God’s throne. Scripture indicates that he was one of the two archangels that covered the throne of God. Each angel stood on one side of the throne, their wings touching and overlapping so as to cover the throne. We will later see how the two remaining loyal archangels—Michael and Gabriel—have had to continually strive with the former Lucifer ( meaning “the light bringer” ), who had become Satan ( meaning “adversary” ).


At the end of Isaiah 14:12, the phrase “weaken the nations” was used. Satan brought this about by inciting internal dissention, factionalism, international wars and civil wars.


(2) What was Lucifer’s motive for rebelling against God? Isaiah 14:13-15.


Comment: He intended to take over God’s throne and sit in the place of God. Verse 14 (KJV) reads, “I will be like the Most High.” The verse should more correctly read, “I will be the Most High.”


(3) What were some of Lucifer’s attributes when he served at the very throne of God that led to his rebellion? Ezekiel 28:12-17.


 

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 June 05, 2008 6:25 AM

Comment: To summarize these crucially important verses: Verse 12 begins by addressing the king of Tyrus [Tyre] and switches over to Lucifer, showing that he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. This could never have applied to the human king (“ prince ” – vs. 2) of Tyre or any other human. Verse 13 shows that Lucifer (after becoming Satan) had been in Eden and the end of this verse shows that he had been created. Verse 14 shows that Lucifer was one of the angels who covered the throne of God. Verse 15 shows that he was perfect at the time he was created until iniquity was found in him. Verse 16 shows that he was so greatly impressed by his own ability and attributes that this led to sin. Verse 17 shows that his heart was lifted up because of his beauty and perfection. (The archangels are traditionally referred to in the masculine gender, though not male in the sense that humans and animal were created.)

 

At the end of verse 16 (KJV), the phrase “I will destroy you, O covering cherub” should be properly rendered, “I will remove you, O covering cherub.”


(4) Did the warfare that followed Satan’s rebellion result in the devastation of the surface of the earth? Genesis 1:1-2.

 

Comment: When God created the heavens and the earth, they were not created in vain or “tohu” (Isa. 45:18). Yet, in Genesis 1:2, we read, “the earth was [Hebrew:became] without form and void”—it became “tohu and bohu,” the Hebrew terms for desolation or confusion. It became. desolate as the result of the rebellion of Satan and his demons. Later, God sent forth his Spirit at the time of the “re-creation” and renewed the face of the earth (Psa. 104:30).


In summary, Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation of the entire universe that scientists date at approximately 17 billion years ago. Satan’s rebellion took place at some point between the accounts of verses 1 and 2. Genesis 1:2 describes the re-creation of the earth about 6,000 years ago.


We have seen that Lucifer was a created being, one of the archangels who covered the throne of God. His heart was lifted up because of his beauty and perfection, and he rebelled. His attempt to take over God’s throne was unsuccessful and he became a perpetual adversary of God known as Satan.


 

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 June 05, 2008 6:32 AM

Satan—The Adversary of The Brethren

 

In this age, Satan has been granted rulership of this earth. He is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air who has deceived the whole world. Yet, God in His wisdom is using this present hostile environment to train and test those few He has called. Historically, those in God’s Church have had to suffer enormously at the hands of Satan and his fallen angels. God will not allow any more “Satans” to be granted eternal life. He requires those who are born into the very family of God to have first proven that they will obey God no matter what consequences obedience brings in this life.


(1) Should true Christians always be in a high state of alert concerning the threat from Satan? I Peter 5:8.


(2) What are some of the benefits of suffering, enduring and bearing up under the onslaughts of Satan and his fallen angels? I Peter 5:9-10.


Comment: The fact that Satan seeks prey to devour should be sobering. If we remain steadfast in the faith, then God will establish, strengthen and settle us for having suffered and having developed character in the process. God uses this suffering to perfect His saints.


(3) For an overview of how Satan has sought to destroy the true Church, we focus on Revelation chapter 12. How is the Church of God portrayed here in its beginning stages? Revelation 12:1-2.


Comment: Throughout this entire chapter, spanning the entire history of the true Church, God’s Church is portrayed as a woman.


(4) How is Satan represented in this prophetic overview? Revelation 12:3-4.


Comment: Here, Satan is pictured as the great red dragon who is in control of governments and major world empires as depicted by the 7 heads described in Revelation 13. Note that his tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven. Stars are symbolic of angels (Rev. 1:20), and this further confirms that each of the 3 archangels controls a third of the angels.

 

The fact that the dragon attempted to devour the Son born of the woman had its clear parallel in history. The Son was Christ (vs.5) and King Herod killed many thousands of infants under the age of two in his attempt to destroy Christ.


(5) Why did the woman flee to the wilderness? Revelation 12:6.


Comment: While in the wilderness, away from the direct presence of the dragon, the woman was fed — provided for — throughout a 1,260-year period. In this case, the timeframe of 1,260 days actually means 1,260 years. Here, the Greek term hemera ( translated as “ days ” ) means a period of time that is defined by the context. Hemera can mean a while, a year or many years. For instance, the span of time from the Nicean Council of A.D. 325, when the Church had to flee until 1585 (when the Catholic influence began to wane, especially in England), fulfilled this span of 1,260 years. The miraculous destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 further weakened Catholic persecution of the true Church.


(6) What loyal archangel will directly oppose Satan in a prophesied war soon to occur? Revelation 12:7.


 

 

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 June 05, 2008 6:38 AM

(7) What will happen to Satan as a result of this war? Revelation 12:8-9.


Comment: Michael is one of the two archangels who remained faithful to God. As already mentioned, Gabriel is the other. Due to Satan’s unpredictable nature and the power he wields, it became necessary for Michael and Gabriel to combine forces as they usually did when opposing Satan. (See Daniel 9:21-23; 10:12-13).


(8) What unique title is given to Satan because of his constant attacks on God’s people? Revelation 12:10.


(9) Are the inhabitants of the earth and the true Church in greater peril after Satan is cast down? Revelation 12:11-13.


Comment: Verse 11 strongly implies an intense persecution prior to the tribulation, including a degree of martyrdom of certain lukewarm Christians. Verse 12 shows that the devil is cast down to earth and has great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time. Verse 13 ties in with verse 11, showing persecution upon the true Church.


Many have speculated as to whether this war has already occurred. If it is yet to occur, then we are now closer to this event than ever before.


(10) How will the true Church survive this direct onslaught from Satan? Revelation 12:14-16.


Comment: The true Church is miraculously protected for 3½ years. When Satan sends an army to destroy the Church, the army itself is swallowed by the earth. It is during this timeframe that Philadelphia is protected as recorded in Revelation 3:10 while Satan makes war with those not counted worthy of this protection (Rev. 12:17; Luke 21:36).

 

 

 

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 June 05, 2008 6:46 AM

Satan’s Ultimate Fate


(1) Does Ezekiel 28:18 indicate that Satan will be destroyed in a fire and brought to ashes?


Comment: We previously noted that the subject of Ezekiel 28 shifted to the king of Tyre [Lucifer] from the middle of verse 12 through verse17. Some think that verse 18 reveals that Satan is to be destroyed by fire. However, verse 18 actually shifts back to the discussion about the “ prince ” (human king) of Tyre. We know this because the context of verse 18 clearly ties back in with verse 5 of this same chapter, where this reference in both verses pertained to the prosperous sea traffic that brought much of the wealth and power to the human king of Tyre. The focus, which shifted away from the prince, starting in verse 12, shifts back to him in verses 18 to 19.

 

Note that the Prince of Tyre referred to a human prince who is a type or forerunner of an end-time fulfillment yet to occur. From Ezekiel 28:2, we read of the Prince of Tyre: “…Because your heart is lifted up, and you have said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God.” We read of this same prophecy in II Thessalonians 2:4 concerning the prophesied man of sin or son of perdition: “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” These verses clearly identify the same prophetic figure—the future false prophet discussed also in Revelation 13:13-18.


(2) Is Satan, as an angelic being, already immortal—or can he and other angels or demons die? Luke 20:34-36.


Comment: This clear, explicit scripture needs no further commentary.


(3) What will be Satan’s fate? Jude 13.


Comment: The fact that the context here pertains to Satan and his demons is confirmed by the term “wandering stars” (see Rev. 1:20). For them is reserved “the blackness of darkness forever.” The very one known as “light bringer” chose darkness and God will reward him with complete darkness for eternity.


(4) Does the Bible show that Satan and his angels will be cast down to hell? II Peter 2:4.


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 June 05, 2008 6:50 AM

Comment: The word used here is tartaros, mistakenly translated as “hell.” It means “a prison, incarceration, place of restraint or a dark abyss.” This verse describes the imprisoning of the angels on earth as their “ place of restraint ” or “ prison ” after their rebellion during the pre-Adamic age.


(5) Did the ritual that was acted out by the Levitical priests on the day of Atonement provide even more evidence as to Satan’s fate? Leviticus 16:7-10.


Comment: The Lord’s goat—which represented Christ—was killed as a sin offering. The other goat was mistakenly called the “scapegoat,” while the correct translation is the “Azazel goat.” Gesenius’ and other Hebrew lexicons derive the word from “azal” which means “he removed or separated.”


This is exactly what Lucifer did when he turned against God and became Satan—God’s adversary. Azazel undoubtedly refers to Satan. The Azazel goat was taken away and released in the wilderness. That goat was not sacrificed or killed, but was simply put away—out of contact with Israel. This pictured Satan first being restrained for a thousand years (as shown in Revelation 20:1-3) in the bottomless pit—a future tartaros or place of restraint—and later sent to outer darkness for all time.


(6) Will the angels be judged at some future time? I Corinthians 6:2-3.

Comment: Certain details of the fate of Satan and his demons might be awaiting this future judgment.

 

Summary

 

We have covered much of the information recorded in the Bible about Satan. Yet there is much more that the student should review on this crucial subject. Our thread  Who is the DEVIL? provide more vital information on this subject.

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What is HUMAN NATURE? - Lesson Eighteen June 23, 2008 6:22 AM

The previous lesson focused on the fact that Satan holds sway over the nations. As prince of the power of the air, he broadcasts moods, feelings and attitudes such as hostility, lust and greed around the  globe, affecting and influencing all people.


But, can all the world’s evils be attributed solely to the direct actions of Satan?


Although Satan is the catalyst who stirs up violence, crime, wars  and insolvable dilemmas, we also find his very nature operating in a  place that has traditionally been overlooked by mankind. Inside every  human being we find what is called human nature. Human nature is  somewhat of a misnomer, for it is Satan’s very nature operating in the mind of every human.


The Bible reveals precisely when and how human nature first manifested  its presence. We now begin this lesson by showing the origin of human  nature.



The Origin of Human Nature


(1) Did God give Adam a choice as to which tree—the Tree of Life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—he could eat from? Genesis 2:8-9.


(2) Did God specifically warn Adam which tree not to eat from, and of the consequences of eating from it? Genesis 2:16-17.


(3) Later, when Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a serpent, did she understand the instructions that God had originally given  concerning which tree was forbidden? Genesis 3:2-3.


Comment: The fact that Adam and Eve were not to touch this tree was revealing.


(4) Should God’s warnings as to what we are to avoid be regarded with the same seriousness as avoiding the forbidden tree? Proverbs 4:14-15; II Timothy 2:23; 3:5; Romans 16:17.


Comment: Anything that God specifically forbids should be avoided with extra caution.


(5) What did the serpent say to Eve? Genesis 3:4-5. When put to the test, what tree did Adam and Eve choose? Verse 6.

 

Comment: Satan directly contradicted God by his assertion in verse 4, “you shall not surely die.” Satan was saying in effect, “you can’t rely  on God’s word.” Influenced by Satan’s convincing argument, Eve was  persuaded to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


(6) After eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, what change came over Adam and Eve? Genesis 3:7.


Comment: The statement “the eyes of them both were opened” pertained  to a new awareness that they did not have before eating from the  forbidden tree. Even Satan told Eve, “your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (vs. 5). God alone has the prerogative to determine what is good and what is evil. Mankind has the choice as to whether or not to comply with God’s will. Satan’s goal is to pervert man’s perception of his duty to keep God’s laws.


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 June 23, 2008 6:42 AM

Adam and Eve’s awareness went far beyond their realization of being naked. Genesis 2:25 indicated that before this event, they were naked and were not ashamed. This new mindset brought with it a sense of shame.


When Adam took of the tree that God had forbidden, he took it upon  himself to decide between what was right and what was wrong—between  good and evil. His decision did “open his eyes,” and the spirit of  Satan’s influence did enter the minds of Adam and Eve at this time. Their decision precluded the opportunity to acquire spiritual knowledge  and understanding that they could have had by eating from the Tree of  Life. Their understanding was now limited to what they could learn  through the five physical senses, and human nature came into being for the first time.


(7) Was the sin that Adam and Eve committed the “original sin”? Ezekiel 28:15-16.


Comment: The verses cited in Ezekiel 28 pertain to Satan’s sin, which predated the sin of Adam and Eve by many  millions — possibly billions — of years. The one who committed the original  sin was Satan.


(8) Besides the physical curses brought upon Adam and Eve and their  descendants, what was the immediate, as well as long-term, consequence  of their sin? Genesis 3:22-24.


Comment: Their sin resulted in their being cut off from the Tree of Life—along with all mankind.


(9) What other consequence resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve? Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:27.


Comment: Through their actions, Adam and Eve brought the death penalty upon themselves and all mankind.

 


The Spirit in Man

 

(1)  Did God create a spirit in man—a dimension of innate capability  empowering the mind to acquire intelligence—making mankind different  from animals? Job 32:8; Zechariah 12:1.


Comment: This  spirit in man does not refer to the  Spirit of God; neither does it refer to what some mistakenly consider a “soul.” The spirit in man is what gives him the ability to reason, dream, hope, and  think. The personality of every human being is unique.


(2) Since the spirit in man is limited to the five senses, can he understand spiritual matters? I Corinthians 2:9-11, 14.


(3) Is the spirit in man subject to God’s laws? Romans 8:7.


Comment: Here, we see that because human beings are influenced by Satan, human nature is hostile to God.


(4) Were Adam and Eve hostile toward God from the moment they were created? Compare Genesis 2:25 to Genesis 3:7.


 

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 June 23, 2008 7:01 AM

Comment: As we have already seen, they were not immediately  disobedient or hostile to God. Rather, their minds were neutral until  corrupted by Satan. The change in their awareness and their acquisition  of human nature did not occur until after they had disobeyed God.


(5) Is every child immediately hostile toward God? Matthew 18:1-4; 19:13-14.


Comment: As children are subjected to the influence of Satan’s broadcast, they eventually take on the spirit of this world. At some point in every youth, the imagination of the heart becomes evil (Gen. 8:21). From such time forward, they become more firmly under the influence of the god of this world. But, as little children, their minds are mostly  neutral and more open, honest and humble—representative of the mindset  that those called out of this world must acquire.


In summary, the spirit in man gives one the capacity for thought, intelligence and personality. Mankind is physical and carnal, though  made in the image of God. After the initial years of childhood in  mostly a neutral state of mind, everyone’s human nature is  significantly molded and influenced by Satan. God allows these  circumstances to continue, as they provide fertile ground for the  development of character within those whom He chooses to call.


The Pull of Human Nature


(1) Is the heart (the innermost mind) of man deceitful and wicked? Jeremiah 17:9.


Comment: God uses strong language in describing the heart of man as “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”


(2) What did Christ say defiles a man? Matthew 15:18-20; Mark 7:20-23.


Comment: In this account, the Pharisees first asked why Christ’s  disciples never followed the tradition of their elders by washing their  hands in the manner prescribed by Pharisaical tradition. Christ pointed  out that they put their manmade traditions ahead of the Commandments of  God. He proceeded to show that it is a man’s thoughts that defile him. All of the attributes mentioned in the above verses are ingrained into  human nature.


(3) How did the apostle Paul define the pulls of the flesh—human nature? Galatians 5:19-21.


Comment: Paul listed 17 distinct (though partially overlapping) attributes of human nature. Since these various aspects of human nature  are acquired and developed over time from exposure to Satan’s  wavelength, the cumulative effect is that human nature reflects satan’s nature. After these characteristics of Satan’s nature are acquired, they become natural to people—accepted as their own human nature.


(4) How do we know that human nature is acquired and not inherited? II Corinthians 11:2-3.


Comment: Before the serpent beguiled Eve, her mind was neutral. Once  she sinned, her mind became corrupted. Paul mentioned that the minds of  others could likewise become corrupted by Satan. Thus, we see that  human nature is acquired, not inherited.

 


 

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 June 23, 2008 7:14 AM

  The World Corrupted

 

(1) What conditions in the pre-Flood world brought about the necessity of its destruction? Genesis 6:5-6, 12-13.


Comment: The wickedness of mankind was so prominent that all of civilization was corrupted. The definition of corrupt includes: “debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil; putrid; infected; tainted.” Since wickedness so dominated civilization, God knew that man had to be destroyed.


(2) Will society approach this same condition just before the Return of Christ? Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26.


(3) Did society take Noah’s warning seriously or did they continue with life as usual? Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 17:27.


Comment: Although Scripture does not explicitly state that Noah  preached a warning to the world for 120 years, the timeframe is implied  in Genesis 6:3: “…yet his [man’s] days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Josephus  refers to this time as “the 120 years of God’s patience (perhaps while  the ark was preparing) till the Deluge…” (Antiquities, Bk. 1, ch. 3). I Peter 3:20 also shows that “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” It is unthinkable that Noah would have  remained silent during this time before such a calamity to strike the  world, especially since he was “a preacher of righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5). The very construction of the ark was a powerful witness, although the  pre-Flood world perceived it as fanatical or laughable—until the Flood struck.


From Josephus, we find more about the depravity of the people of this  time and of Noah’s response: “But Noah was very uneasy at what  they did; and, being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to  change their dispositions and their acts for the better; but, seeing  they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land” (Ibid., text)


(4) Will society at the end of the age mirror the conditions that Lot faced during his time?

Luke 17:28-30; II Peter 2:5-8.


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 June 23, 2008 7:22 AM

Comment: The depravity and perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah are also  representative of the state to which the world will degenerate by the  time of Christ’s Return. We find that Lot was “vexed with the filthy [conduct] of the wicked” (II Pet. 2:7). Those who seek God’s way should be vexed by such conduct. We find that those in  the prophecy of Ezekiel 9 who are given an identifying mark, and therefore spared, are shown in verse 4 to be those that “sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst [of Jerusalem, typifying all of modern Israel, vs. 9] thereof.” God’s people must be sorely grieved and repulsed by the wickedness of this present world.


(5) What are some of the characteristics of mankind in the last days? II Timothy 3:1-5.


Comment: The inclinations of human nature have culminated in civilization being essentially corrupted, just as we read in Genesis 6:12.


(6) What instructions does God give His people as to how they should receive this world? John 15:19; I John 2:15-17; James 4:4.


Comment: In I John 2:16, the apostle John wrote, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.”

 

These lusts appeal to human nature, but are all temporal and will  pass away along with this temporal world—“but he that does the will of  God abides forever” (vs. 17).


(7) By what means can one avoid being corrupted along with the world? II Peter 1:4; James 1:27; Romans 12:2.


Comment: Partaking of the divine nature means to be molded by God’s Spirit, becoming more like Christ. There is no other way!


(8) How does the world affect God’s people in the last days? Matthew 24:10, 12.


Comment: Due to the pressures and influences of the world, many will  become offended, and will betray one another and will hate one another. Their motive will be self-preservation, as opposed to being willing to  die for other brethren or those of the world at large.


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 June 23, 2008 7:33 AM

The reason for this is given in verse 12: “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Many  will lose the love of God when they tire of swimming against the  current of this world, and choose to conform to modern society, with its spirit of lawlessness, self-will and self-preservation. Those who  accept such worldly standards become corrupted.


Society Under Satan’s Influence


(1) Where does the influence that inspires human nature come from? Ephesians 2:2-3.


Comment: Before responding to the truth, everyone has walked  according to the course of this world, responding to Satan’s broadcast.


Verse 3 discloses the usual pattern of carnal tendency of the lust of the flesh  and being “by nature the children of wrath,” even as others—all society.


(2) But is society not a source of enlightenment that heralds the truth wherever it is found? John 3:19.


Comment: Society and public opinion are molded by Satan’s  wavelength. Therefore, the general public could never accept or delight in the truth, since the truth would only serve to reprove them (vs. 20).


(3) Though society is corrupt, does the world as a whole aspire to higher levels of morality? I John 5:19.


(4) Does the world perceive the true servants of God as misrepresenting the world? Acts 17:6.


Comment: The whole world has long been upside down. From their inverted perspective, the way of truth appears to be downside up.

 


In Summary

 

Satan and his angels manifested their influence upon mankind in the pre-Flood world—“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (II Pet. 3:6). Satan and his angels still dominate this current world, referred to as “this present evil world” in Galatians 1:4. However, all this will change in the near future. Notice: “For unto the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (Heb. 2:5). It is the WORLD TO COME that is the hope of every true Christian. Humanity will learn the way of truth and willingly change with God’s help.


Human nature, within each individual and in all society, works against  God’s purpose. Everyone called to the truth has to overcome his own  human nature and swim against the current of a hostile society. This is  why it can be said that every Christian has three enemies to  overcome—Satan, self, and society.


 

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REPENTANCE – Turning Your Life Around - Lesson Nineteen July 11, 2008 7:44 AM

The previous lesson showed how this present world is controlled by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). We saw that Satan influences the moods and outlook of human beings individually and collectively. Every individual has human nature, which is essentially Satan’s nature acquired throughout one’s entire lifespan.

Overcoming human nature is a process that begins by realizing the futility of the world with its satanic influences, and the futility of one’s own conduct and tendencies. This is the first step toward genuine, true repentance. This opens the door to real and lasting change. This transition is always accompanied by an opening of the mind to the truth to which the world has been blinded.

Upon learning of the soon-coming kingdom of God, which will rule earth in peace and equity, one begins to grasp the reality of this promise and grows in excitement. The very words of Christ that encompass this change are reflected by the admonition: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). As stated in earlier lessons, the gospel is the good news of the coming kingdom of God.

The world has come to accept a form of penitence—usually a form of self-denial accompanied by temporary remorse. However, genuine repentance is far different. It encompasses a comprehensive change in the outlook, values and direction in one’s life. This lesson will cover many of these vital aspects.


The Meaning of Repentance

(1) Notice the dictionary definition of penitent: “contrite; sorry for sin or fault and disposed to making amends.” The Roman Catholic Church defines it this way: “one who confesses sin and submits to a penance—disciplinary punishment imposed by Church authority.”

Comment: Penitence originates from the proscribed practice of the Catholic Church and most dictionary definitions reveal this association. The words penance, penitent or penitence do not appear anywhere in the Bible.

(2) The dictionary defined repent this way: “to feel self-reproach, compunction, or contrition for past conduct; change of one’s mind with regard to past action in consequence of dissatisfaction with it; to feel such sorry for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better.”

Comment: This definition is much closer to the meaning of the term used in the Bible. The terms “repent” and “repentance” occur a combined total of 72 times in the Bible.

The Hastings Dictionary of the Bible also contains helpful insights into the subject:

“Repentance for sin is commonly expressed by ‘turn’ or ‘return’ [in the OT]. Repentance [in the NT] is also considered as ‘an indispensable condition of salvation.’ The [Greek] word ordinarily used (metanoia) means literally ‘change of mind.’ The change, however, is one in which not the intellect only, but the whole nature (understanding, affections, will), is involved. It is such an altered view of God and sin as carries with it heartfelt sorrow for sin, confession of it, and decisive turning from it to God and righteousness.”

Repentance—A Gift from God

(1) Is repentance a state of mind that one chooses to adopt or is it a gift from God? Acts 5:31.

Comment: Note the term “to give repentance to Israel.” This shows that God has given this to Israel—not that the Israelites had worked it up by their own initiative.

(2) When the apostle Peter was relating how it was shown to him that God had opened salvation to the Gentiles, did they initiate their own repentance? Acts 11:18.

Comment: As with Israel, repentance was granted by God.

(3) When the apostle Paul was instructing Timothy that the servant of God must not strive, but be apt to teach and patient when instructing those that oppose themselves, to what end was this precaution taken? II Timothy 2:25.

Comment: Here, we find the same condition in which God gives repentance as opposed to the individuals working it up on their own. Something given is a gift. Repentance is a gift from God. Yet, we see another connection, which was mentioned earlier—repentance being accompanied with the acknowledging of the truth or the opening of the mind. God often grants these gifts at the same time.

4) Does God ever grant repentance to people as a result of their own goodness in seeking the truth? Romans 2:4.

(5) How do God and the angels react when someone responds to the repentance that God offers? Luke 15:7.

Comment: This is cause for joy and rejoicing. The phrase at the end of verse 7, “just persons which need no repentance,” could only refer to those who have already repented.



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 July 11, 2008 8:01 AM

Recognizing the Need to Repent

(1) When God opens one’s mind and grants repentance, why is it so often a struggle to stop clinging to the ways of this world? Romans 8:7; Jeremiah 17:9.

Comment: Human nature, which is Satan’s nature, resists the ways of God-the natural, carnal mind is enmity with God. This struggle is compounded by the fact that the human mind is exceptionally deceitful and desperately wicked.

(2) Although Job defended his own righteousness at first, what was his view of himself once he came to a repentant state of mind? Job 42:6.

Comment: It is crucial to recognize that although Job was attacked by the devil, wrongly accused by his friends and abased by God, not until he humbled himself before God and recognized the futility of his existence was his mind able to exalt God rather than justify himself. Repentance truly is a miracle granted by God so one can begin to see himself in the way that God does.

(3) Why should someone being granted repentance come to detest his own carnal nature? Psalm 14:3; 39:5; Romans 7:18; 8:7.

(4) When the Jews gathered for Pentecost in A.D. 31, many saw the manifestation of God’s Holy Spirit and heard Peter’s inspired message. Some were deeply moved and asked what they should do. What were they told to do? Acts 2:38.

Comment: Thousands were baptized at that time. These Jews already understood the Sabbath and Holy Days, the law of clean and unclean meats and the basic ways of conducting themselves, yet they had to repent of their carnal sinful natures as everyone must do.

(5) Is repentance from dead works a foundational doctrine of Christ? Hebrews 6:1-2.

Comment: Hebrews 6:1-2 names six foundational doctrines, listed in chronological sequence as an overview of the process of salvation. They consist of (1) repentance from dead works, (2) faith toward God (this includes the understanding of the existence of the true God and that His promises are sure), (3) baptism, (4) laying on of hands (to receive the Holy Spirit), (5) the resurrection of the dead (the future hope of every Christian) and (6) eternal judgment (eternal life for those who overcome).

Repentance Involves Turning from Sin

(1) When one repents, from whose way does he turn? Ezekiel 33:9; 14:6; Proverbs 16:25.

Comment: Repentance means turning from our own way—the way that we are naturally inclined to follow.

(2) Why did Esau find no place of repentance though he sought it carefully with tears? Hebrews 12:17.

Comment: Repentance means change, and this always involves a change in one’s mind. Esau was sorry for having committed the action of trading away his birthright. His repentance was only sorrow over a past mistake—not a change in direction in life to turn from sin and follow God.

(3) Is God willing to offer mercy and forgiveness to those who turn from their former sins? Ezekiel 18:21-22.

(4) Why does God express His desire to grant repentance both to Israel and to all mankind? Ezekiel 18:30.

Comment: The last part of verse 30 reads, “so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” This shows God’s concern for all mankind.

(5) What did John the Baptist tell the multitudes who came to him to be baptized? Luke 3:8.

Comment: To “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” means to show evidence that one is in the process of changing for the better. This is done by conscientious effort to turn from sin to righteousness.




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 July 11, 2008 8:13 AM

(6) What are some of the examples that John the Baptist provided to explain his point of “fruits worthy of repentance” or evidence of a change in direction? Luke 3:10-14.

Comment: When the people asked John what they should do, he charged them to be ready and willing to share such necessities as clothing and food with those in need. Here, he was pointing out their responsibility to focus on the needs of others as opposed to selfish concerns. He charged the publicans or tax collectors to be scrupulously honest in their collection of taxes. Likewise, he charged the soldiers not to use violence or to bring false charges against the people and to be content with their wages. He was proposing a radical turnaround from the usual conduct of those to whom he was addressing. The people were, by nature, selfish and inward; the publicans were extremely partial in how they exacted and collected taxes; the soldiers intimidated the citizens with violence and false charges while unhappy with their own wages. John never demanded that the people just “repent,” as some vague theological term calling for temporary remorse. He charged them to change the way they conducted their business and the way they lived their lives.

(7) Besides repenting and turning from sinful nature, can we continue to set our affection upon the world? I John 2:15-17.

(8) Where is one to set his affection after having repented? Colossians 3:1-4.

(9) Did Israel always listen and heed God’s warning to repent and turn from their ways? Zechariah 1:4.

(10) What do the nations of modern Israel bring upon themselves for not repenting and turning from their own ways? Amos 4:11-12; 5:1-3.

Comment: These verses apply to prophecy yet to be fulfilled. Because of Israel’s refusal to turn from their own way, their penalty will involve chastisement from God, in which only one-tenth of the population will survive to see the arrival of God’s kingdom. The vast majority will have succumbed to famine, disease, natural disasters, warfare and captivity. Their iniquity will have turned out to be their ruin (Ezek. 18:30). Much of the rest of the world will also suffer during the coming end-time disasters. Yet, repentance is still an option, and those who seek to turn to God’s way with all their being will be protected from the hour of sore trial to come upon all the world (Rev. 3:10).

Repentance as a Way of Life

(1) When someone has come to detest his own carnal nature and seeks to follow God’s way, what does the Bible instruct him to do? Acts 2:38.

Comment: As stated earlier, this is the sequence that God has established in order for one to receive the Holy Spirit and become a true Christian. Repentance must precede baptism, which is followed by the receiving of the Holy Spirit.

(2) Is this process of repentance a one-time event preceding baptism or is it something that a true Christian should practice as a way of life? Ephesians 4:31-32.

Comment: Paul admonished Christians to put away (turn from) all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speech. Verse 32 shows that Christians are to turn from (to change or repent of) certain conduct. Repentance is not complete upon baptism—it must continue throughout one’s life.

(3) Do converted Christians occasionally slip and sin without willful intent? I John 2:1-3.

Comment: Even though one “sins not” and keeps God’s Ten Commandments as a way of life, it is possible to slip and sin.

(4) Are there some converted people who never slip and stumble in sin? I John 1:7-10.

Comment: The answer here is a resounding NO. Every true Christian sometimes sins.

(5) Since God is willing to pardon those who repent and seek forgiveness, should this approach not deserve greater fear than if God was closely “keeping score” of every infraction that man committed? Psalm 130:3-4.

Comment: This principle shows much about how God expects us to appreciate His forgiveness. The repentance we show toward God (Acts 20:21) must lead us to grow in gratitude and fear.

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 July 11, 2008 8:30 AM

Repentance Begetting Forgiveness

(1) What attitude does God honor when one seeks forgiveness? Psalm 51:16-17.

Comment: God desires for one to come before Him grieving and very sorry for having sinned.

(2) Is God responsive to someone’s contrite state of mind as when one is repentant, to the point that this commands His personal attention? Isaiah 66:1-2.

Comment: God declares that the things of His creation, including His throne in heaven and the earth, do not command His attention as much as a man with a poor and contrite spirit who trembles at His word. A truly repentant and humble attitude commands God’s special attention.

(3) Is God more willing to forgive someone with a contrite spirit than one who maintains his own righteousness? Luke 18:9-14.

Comment: The Pharisee in this parable was commending his own achievement of righteousness, while condemning those he felt he surpassed. The publican, by contrast, felt only shame and unworthiness before God. This man was the one to whom God granted forgiveness. Genuine repentance and humility go hand and hand, just as do self-righteousness and self-exaltation.

(4) What did Christ mean when He said that He came to call sinners to repentance rather than the righteous? Mark 2:17.

Comment: Just as someone who is sick could use the services of a physician, someone who is aware of his sins is receptive to true repentance. These are the ones receptive to the calling of God. However, just as those who are well do not need the services of a physician, those who (think they) are righteous feel they have no reason to repent. Truly, there are none righteous (Rom. 3:10), and the righteousness mentioned in Mark 2:17 actually means self-righteousness.

Since all have sinned, Christ came to call those capable of repenting as opposed to those who feel they have nothing of which to repent.

(5) Are there times when God corrects His people in order to impress upon them the extent of their negligence and sin so that they are moved to genuine repentance? II Corinthians 7:8-11.

Comment: In this case, Paul wrote a corrective letter to the Corinthians that moved many of them to a state of sorrow and repentance. Note this important phrase: “godly sorrow works repentance to salvation.” Repentance is so crucial in God’s sight that salvation is not possible without it. Sorrow was necessary to drive home the seriousness of the matter and to seek forgiveness. The Corinthians were properly indignant against themselves and moved with fear (as we observed in Psalm 130:3-4). They were moved with vehement desire and zeal to “get it right” from that time forward—not to make excuses or blame someone else, but to hold themselves accountable to make amends for their thoughtlessness and iniquity.

In Summary

As quoted earlier, repentance is “an indispensable condition of salvation.” It serves not only as a transitional state of mind for those who come to God’s way, but must be internalized and practiced throughout the Christian life. Our thread Just what is SALVATION? explains this crucial step of repentance in the process of salvation.

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About Water Baptism - Lesson Twenty August 28, 2008 9:21 AM

Professing Christians are in confusion as to what constitutes the biblical method of baptism. Some feel that sprinkling or pouring of water is sufficient. In spite of the fact that repentance is a prerequisite for baptism, some denominations “ baptize ” infants and assume that this is valid. In this lesson, we will investigate what the Bible says about baptism, including the correct form and the proper age.

We will first lay the foundation by pointing to events in the Old Testament (Old Covenant), which contains clearly represented “ types ” of baptism foreshadowing the New Testament (New Covenant and Testament) practice of water baptism.

The Flood—A Type of Baptism

(1) Did Noah’s deliverance from the Flood—a watery grave for the sinful world—represent our deliverance from the penalty of sin through baptism? I Peter 3:20-21.

Comment: Noah was provided a way of escape from the penalty that sin had brought. Noah believed God and demonstrated his faith by obeying God and building the ark. God requires the same kind of active faith today. The focus of verses 20 to 21 is the deliverance of Noah’s family from the watery grave and our deliverance likewise by such a baptism by which we are brought up from the water.

(2) What was the predominant behavior of the earth’s population before the time of the flood? Genesis 6:5-6, 11-12.

(3) What did God indicate He would have to do as a result of the course that mankind had taken? Genesis 6:7, 13, 17.

(4) Why was Noah spared from the fate awaiting the entire world’s population at that time? Genesis 6:8-9; II Peter 2:5.

Comment: We read that Noah walked with God and that he was a preacher of righteousness. We also find that all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psa. 119:172). The rest of mankind, outside of Noah’s immediate family, were destined for destruction because “ the wages of sin [was and] is death ” (Rom. 6:23). Noah’s preaching of righteousness—obedience to God’s commandments—fell on deaf ears.

(5) Does the fact that the universal Flood did occur and that the ark is preserved to this day in the mountains of Ararat as a testimony to God’s deliverance of Noah and his family reveal that God does not tolerate the vile corruption of humanity indefinitely—that civilization will reap the consequences of sin in due course as prophecy warns? Ezekiel 12:22-25, 28.

(6) Did Noah demonstrate his faith in God by his determined action over a course of building the ark in a world hostile to God and to him? Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:14-16, 22. How long did the construction of the ark take? Genesis 5:32; 7:11.

Comment: Noah’s belief and obedience to God stand as an example to those who seek to escape the corruption of sin and be delivered by God. We can see how the analogy of baptism with the Flood was referred to in I Peter 3:21, in that deliverance from destruction resulted from faith and obedience to God.

Crossing the Red Sea—Another Type of Baptism

(1) Were the Israelites slaves to Pharaoh—a type of Satan? Exodus 2:23; 4:21; Romans 6:16.

Comment: The servitude to Pharaoh typified one being in sinful servitude to Satan.

(2) What was the significance of the lamb’s blood, which Israel applied to the doorposts to protect them from the death angel? Exodus 12:6, 12-13; I Corinthians 5:7.

Comment: The death angel “ passed over ” Israel where the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorposts. Likewise, the sacrifice of Christ—the Passover Lamb—delivers those from the death penalty who are covered by His blood.

(3) Did Israel leave Egypt in a joyful mood of celebration? Exodus 14:8.

(4) While still rejoicing over their freedom, did they discover that Pharaoh was pursuing them to either take them back into slavery or destroy them? Exodus 14:7-10.

Comment: Josephus recorded that Pharaoh not only had 600 chariots, but also 50,000 horsemen and 200,000 footmen in pursuit of Israel (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. II, ch. 15, sec. 3).

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 August 28, 2008 9:36 AM

(5) While the Israelites were stunned with fear at the sight of the oncoming Egyptians, what was Moses inspired to instruct them? Exodus 14:13-14.

(6) What did God further instruct Moses to do at this crucial point when the Egyptians were drawing dangerously close? Exodus 14:15-16.

(7) Did Moses fully obey? Exodus 14:21. Did Israel go forward as directed? Verse 22. What happened to the Egyptians? Exodus 14:23-25; Hebrews 11:29.

Comment: Exodus 14:27 states, “ and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. ” Israel was then free from Pharaoh and his army.

(8) Was Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage through the Red Sea considered a type of Christian baptism in the New Testament? I Corinthians 10:1-2.

Comment: The parallel of the deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea with water baptism is clearly established here. The phrase, “ and they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea ” (I Cor. 10:2), clearly shows that Moses was typifying Christ by his role in this event. Acts 7:37 and Acts 3:22 .

In both events, at the Flood of Noah’s time and at the Red Sea, God miraculously delivered His people who looked to and trusted in His deliverance. Water baptism also requires faith in Christ—faith in His sacrifice, which wipes clear the past sins of the repentant believer. Noah acted on his faith in managing the giant project of building the ark. Moses instructed Israel to move forward to the sea and obeyed God’s instruction to lift up his rod in order to cause the sea to divide. The truly repentant believer must also act in faith, trusting in the deliverance of Christ to cover his sins and lift him up to a new life led by the Holy Spirit. An active living faith is required.

The Baptism of John the Baptist

Shortly before Christ began His ministry, John the Baptist was given a special commission to carry out the baptism of repentance. His commission was a crucial step preparing for the ministry of Christ, as we shall see.

(1) Was John the Baptist sent to administer a special water baptism? John 1:32-33; Luke 1:77.

Comment: John the Baptist was told how he was to recognize the Christ when he would baptize Him at a future time. John also shows that Christ (who was before him as stated in John 1:30) had sent him and authorized him to baptize with water. The baptism of John symbolized the outward expression of sincere genuine repentance of those who would be convicted by the message he preached. Luke 1:77 states that John the Baptist came “ to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins. ”

(2) Was John the Baptist one who came in the spirit of Elijah just before the first coming of Christ? Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:10, 12-13.

Comment: As one who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, John the Baptist fulfilled a three-fold commission of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and to make ready a people prepared for the Lord—for the First Coming of Christ.

(3) Was John the Baptist a prophet from God? Luke 1:76.

Comment: This closely ties in with the role of John the Baptist in making ready a people prepared for the Lord and introducing the people to the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins—as symbolized through the baptism of repentance.

(4) What was the central message that John preached? Mark 1:2-5; Matthew 3:3-4, 11.

Comment: John baptized those who had deeply repented and these were forgiven by God. He focused on the first step of salvation pertaining to repentance and the remission of sins (Luke 1:77). Yet, they did not receive the Holy Spirit, because Christ was not yet resurrected and glorified in order to send forth the Spirit according to God’s Plan (John 7:39).

Baptism Commanded in Scripture

(1) What was the response of John the Baptist when Jesus came to him to be baptized? Matthew 3:13-16.

Comment: Unlike all others, Christ, having committed no sin, did not stand in need of repentance. Yet, as He explained to John the Baptist, “ this is how we should fulfill all our duty to God ” (Moffatt). The purpose of His baptism was clearly to set an example for us to follow. All who would yield to God and become led by the Holy Spirit would need to follow this example.

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 August 28, 2008 9:49 AM

(2) Are true Christians to emulate the example of Christ? I John 2:6; Matthew 16:24; I Peter 2:21.

(3) What did the apostle Peter tell repentant believers to do on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 31? Acts 2:37-38, 41.

(4) Were all other repentant believers who came into the early Church instructed to become baptized? Acts 8:5-6, 12; 18:8; I Corinthians 12:13.

(5) What were Christ’s final instructions to His apostles just before He ascended into heaven? Matthew 28:19-20.

Comment: It is evident from Scripture that baptism was an explicit, clear command for all those called into the true Church.

(6) When the time came for Christ to show that Gentiles would be called into His Church, He sent Peter to the house of a devout Italian named Cornelius. Did Cornelius and his family receive the Holy Spirit even before being baptized, as a special sign to the apostles that God was now calling Gentiles, as well? Acts 11:15-18.

Comment: Although repentant believers are to be baptized first before receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), an exception occurred in this situation as a sign that God had opened up the way for Gentiles to be called.

(7) Were these Gentiles—Cornelius and his family—exempted from being baptized, since they were given the Holy Spirit before baptism? Acts 10:47-48.

Comment: Peter commanded them to be baptized and apparently conducted the baptisms himself for Cornelius and his family almost immediately.

(8) Does the Bible show that baptism is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection from the grave of the repentant individual who is showing his faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ? Colossians 2:12-13; Romans 6:2-6.

(9) To whom is repentance and faith directed upon turning to God and seeking baptism? Acts 20:21.

Comment: Repentance is toward God for breaking His spiritual Law. This means to stop sinning and to live in obedience to God’s commandments. Faith is toward Christ. This pertains to our conviction and belief in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as covering our past sins and looking to Him as our personal Savior and soon-coming King in the kingdom of God.

The Correct Form of Baptism

The term baptize is a Greek term not translated into English. Had the term been translated into English, the word “ immerse ” would have been used. To immerse means to be put completely under water. This shows that the trends of pouring and sprinkling of water—that began about the fourteenth century by counterfeit Christianity—never met the requirements of immersion as defined by baptism. The Bible is clear as to the correct and proper form of baptism.

(1) Why did John the Baptist baptize in rivers if only sprinkling and pouring were necessary? Mark 1:5; John 3:23.

Comment: Since baptism meant immersion, this required a location where there was much water.

(2) How can we tell that Christ had been immersed as opposed to having been sprinkled? Matthew 3:16.

Comment: One does not come up out of the water when being sprinkled. It was clear that Christ had been immersed—the only correct form of baptism.

(3) Is there another example in which baptism took place within water? Acts 8:38.

(4) Does God allow people to come up with various alternatives to fulfill ordinances such as baptism? Ephesians 4:4-6.

Comment: The fact that there is one baptism does not leave room for any novel ideas of man.

True Christians Baptized Into What?

(1) Did Jesus baptize more disciples than did John the Baptist? John 4:1-2.

Comment: As verse 2 shows, the disciples of Christ baptized on His behalf and by His authority.

(2) Did the apostles continue to baptize in Christ’s name after His death and resurrection? Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5; Galatians 3:27.

Comment: To baptize in the name of Christ meant to do this by His authority. The Greek term translated “ in the name of ” means “ by the authority of. ” To do anything in someone’s name means to do it on his behalf, in his place, or by his authority.

(3) What further instruction did Christ give with respect to what one is baptized into? Matthew 28:19.

Comment: The more correct translation of Matthew 28:19 would reflect the term “ in ” as “ into ” according to the original Greek meaning. Thus, the verse should read, “ Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and [through the power] of the Holy Spirit. ” One who is baptized becomes a begotten son of God—one upon whom God has placed His name. He is a begotten member of the God Family and now belongs to God. At present, this Family only consists of the Father and the Son.

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 August 28, 2008 9:57 AM

(4) Are true Christians referred to as “ sons of God ” in Scripture? John 1:12; Romans 8:14; I John 3:1-2.

(5) Does Scripture speak of God’s true Church as being the “ body ” of Christ? Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:12, 27; Ephesians 4:11-12; Colossians 1:18.

Comment: When one is baptized into the name of the Father and the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit, they are inducted as being begotten sons of God and become part of the body of Christ—His true Church. One does not “ join ” the Church, but rather is baptized into it.

Final Points

(1) Are we saved by the specific act of baptism? Romans 5:10.

Comment: Baptism is not what saves us, even though it is one of the commanded symbolic steps in God’s plan of salvation. It pictures our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, understanding that it is His life that ultimately saves us.

(2) When the thief on the cross asked Christ to remember him when He came into His kingdom, how did Christ answer him? Luke 23:43.

Comment: The translators punctuated the text as they felt necessary. Here, their attempt at punctuation changed the entire meaning. The correct translation of verse 43 is: “ Truly I say unto you today, you shall be with Me in paradise. ” Some works, such as the Lamsa translation, have this punctuation correct. So we see that this is not a promise to be taken to heaven instantly—that day—at death.

The thief was unable to be baptized and this was taken into account. Rare situations have occurred in which someone could not be baptized, yet God has made allowances in such cases. This does not, however, validate “ deathbed repentances. ” The Bible shows that one must evidence “ fruit ” in his life and stay the course, over an entire lifetime, with the attitude of always seeking to grow and overcome. Christ was pointing out the thief’s wonderful attitude.

(3) At what point in life should someone be baptized? Acts 2:37; 8:35-38.

Comment: From Scripture, we see that when one becomes moved with conviction to count the cost and seek God’s will with no “ escape clauses, ” then preparation for baptism should begin. The one seeking baptism must understand the seriousness of this step. This fact alone shows why infant baptism makes a mockery of the required condition of repentance. One should never assume that he is too old or too infirm to pursue baptism. God wants those with courage to press forward to do His will and not to fall back on excuses. The ministry of the true Church is trained to help those in need of discussing such details and to help in reaching viable solutions.

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