The Apple Of God's Eye

August 9, 2009

The Three Resurrections Explained!

Resurrection - From Mortal To Immortal

The 1st Resurrection - From Mortal To Immortal

Throughout history, man has had a fascination with death and the afterlife. Will you and your loved ones live again? Do you have an immortal soul, as so many professing “Christians” believe?

The biblical teachings on life and death have been primary targets of Satan the devil from the beginning. The first recorded lie was that man would not die, (Gen. 3:4) and man has believed the “immortal soul” lie ever since.

Consider the domino effect of this one lie. If man has an immortal soul, he cannot die; if he cannot die, he cannot be resurrected! Furthermore, the Apostle Paul wrote that if we deny the resurrection of the dead, we deny the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, leaving us totally without hope (I Cor. 15:13-14, 19).

The Immortal Soul Lie

When Satan told Eve that she “would not surely die,” she was deceived. Both Eve and Adam subsequently chose to reject the revelation that God had given them. Mankind refuses to accept God’s revelation about death and resurrection to this day, relying instead on his own human reasoning. Modern “Christianity” commonly accepts the immortal soul lie without a shred of evidence and with plenty of proof to the contrary!

Gen. 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This word soul in no way implies immortal life. The word is nephesh in Hebrew and is translated “a breathing animal.” It is used throughout the Old Testament to describe creatures such as cattle, fowl, whales — and man. Ecclesiastes 3:19 shows that man dies just as the animals do.

The soul is physical, composed of matter and it can die. We see this point emphasized throughout the Bible. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Our temporary physical existences are also compared to withering grass that is blown away by a gust of wind (I Pet. 1:24; Ps. 103:13-16).

The Bible shows that all who die — which is everyone –, will eventually be resurrected. The question is not if a person will be resurrected, but when.  “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order” (I Cor. 15:22-23).

Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected. He is the “firstborn among many brethren,” (Rom. 8:29) and has made the resurrection of everyone who ever lived possible. A careful study of God’s word reveals that there are three resurrections yet to come.

What follows is a brief overview of the biblical teachings concerning the resurrections.

The First Resurrection

The first resurrection is reserved specially for a) the dead in Christ and b) those that are Christ’s at His coming. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then 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” (I Thess. 4:16-17). These are those that belong to Jesus Christ; those who have repented and received the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). These people will live forever and reign with Christ throughout the Millennium, as shown in Revelation 20:5-6.

The Second Resurrection

Revelation 20:5 shows when the next resurrection will take place: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” As we can see, at the end of the 1000 years, two things will happen. Firstly, Satan, who will have been imprisoned throughout the Millennium, (v.3) will be released from his prison and, secondly, everyone else who has ever died will be resurrected. Most of humanity will be brought back to life in this resurrection, as described in Ezekiel 37:1-14. They will then finally have God’s truth revealed to them and be given their chance to become a part of God’s Kingdom. This period of time is called the Great White Throne Judgment.

Only one passage reveals the duration of the Great White Throne Judgment: Isaiah 65:17-25. In verse 20, we read, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” From this point on, no more infants will be born. There will then be two classes of people: “the child” and “the sinner.”

“The child,” in this instance, refers to a person who is righteous. We are to enter the Kingdom of God as a little child (Luke 18:17). Why, then, does the prophet Isaiah say that the child will die?

Because it is given to all men to die once. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). The temporal, physical existence of the righteous will end. Those that fall into the category of “the child” will become the spirit-born sons of God, just as those that were Christ’s at His coming did in the First Resurrection. They also will be “changed in the twinkling of an eye” (I Cor. 15:51-52).

The Third Resurrection

The Third Resurrection is a resurrection to the second death. The prophet Daniel spoke of this resurrection: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus Christ calls it the resurrection of “condemnation” (John 5:29).

Everyone will be given the opportunity to repent and become a part of God’s family, but not everyone will accept it. Those that are not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, ending their existence forever (Rev. 14:10). Malachi 4:3 adds that in the end the ashes of the wicked will be under the feet of the righteous. The incorrigibly wicked will have died the second death, from which there will never be a resurrection (Rev. 20:14-15). This is a merciful act on the part of their Creator. These people would be miserable eternally if they had immortal life, so God mercifully end their lives, leaving only the “smoke of their torment” to ascend forever (Rev.14:11).

Incredible Human Potential

When the resurrections have finally taken place, those left alive will have an immortal soul — one composed of God’s Holy Spirit rather than dust. The resurrections are, in fact, the fulfillment of our incredible human potential. In his book, The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong wrote about that awesome future:

“When born of God, we shall be Spirit, no longer human flesh and blood. We shall be given power! As Daniel revealed, the saints then shall take the kingdoms of earth’s nations and rule them for the first thousand years — establishing world peace and Divine government under Christ.

“And after that? The passage in Hebrews 2 shows that then, again under Christ, we shall be given power to rule over the entire vast universe — literally all things. For that is the power that has been given to Christ and will be ours as joint inheritors with Him!

“Yes, there is a life after death for those obedient to God — a Spirit life of incredible potential beyond our wildest dreams! Can we humans grasp the awesome portent of these astounding truths? Attaining immortal life should be our all-encompassing goal. For that is the gift and desire of our merciful Father and His Son Jesus Christ.”

What a glorious vision of the future!

July 25, 2009

The Plain Truth About Speaking In Tongues

Editors Comment: I was going to write on this subject, but this article from TheTrumpet.com is so insightful, I would have a hard time covering more bases. Therefore I have posted it in its entirety, with a live link back. Happy reading!

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002520_id2520w360h240_ju2t0oA little over 100 years ago, the modern Pentecostal Movement began in the American Midwest and gained popularity a short while later during the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California. The new religious movement soon spread across the country and even overseas. Today, the Pentecostal Movement claims over 500 million adherents worldwide, nearly half as many as Roman Catholicism. Pentecostal churches comprise the second most powerful denomination among all professing Christians.

Many Pentecostal groups claim that their religion is of God, and that the “latter rain” of the Holy Spirit is now falling on the souls of men. Some believe that “speaking in tongues”—i.e. the intense shouts, babbling and utterances of members of certain of their congregations—are modern demonstrations of the New Testament “gift of tongues.”

But is the presence of “speaking in tongues”—or glossolalia, as it is termed technically—evidence of God’s Holy Spirit? Or are these outlandish manifestations of emotional shouts, dancing, speaking gibberish, and fainting spells a ridiculous and dangerous counterfeit?

This question is of no small importance. Many feel such “speaking in tongues” is proof that one has the Holy Spirit, or at least evidence that one has achieved some superior level of spiritualism. Is this true? You need to know.

The Basic Doctrine

The late Herbert W. Armstrong made it plain that “the gift of ‘tongues’ spoken of in the Bible is the ability to speak of God in other languages—languages that are foreign and previously unknown to the speaker” (Tomorrow’s World, February 1972).

In other words, the gift of tongues is the God-given, miraculous ability to speak in a human language that one has not learned in any normal manner. But it is certainly not those demonstrations of emotional and indecipherable gibberish that some religious groups today call “speaking in tongues.”

Usual Teachings of This World

The 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica states that the “gift of tongues, also called glossolalia (from [the] Greek glossa, ‘tongue,’ and lalia, ‘talking’), [includes] utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious excitement. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected, the tongue moves without the conscious control of the speaker, and unintelligible speech pours forth. According to religious interpretations of the phenomenon, the speaker is considered to be possessed by a supernatural spirit, is in conversation with divine beings, or is the channel of a divine proclamation ….

“In addition to the religious interpretations of glossolalia as a supernatural occurrence, various psychological interpretations have attempted to explain it as a natural occurrence. It has been suggested that it is a charlatan’s technique, a neurotic or psychotic symptom, a form of epilepsy, or, most commonly, a hypnotic phenomenon resulting from religious excitement.”

Often, the so-called “tongues experience” occurs at an intense, emotionally charged religious revival called a “tarry meeting,” where the “spirit” is said to be “called down” or “worked up.” Generally such “working up” consists of frenetic repeating of certain phrases like “Glory, hallelujah!” or “Sweet Jesus!” With jazzy hymn-singing and the rhythmic, ecstatic chant of these repetitious utterances, the congregation is gradually whipped into an emotional frenzy.

Suddenly one or two or more in the group are “overcome with the spirit” and begin shouting gibberish. Usually this includes waving of the arms, jumping around, shouting or even writhing on the floor. One or another of the congregation may rise to “interpret” what a speaker is saying, usually attributing to the person great praises for God and other spiritual insights.

Some groups view this experience as absolute proof one has the Spirit of God. Others allow that Christians who do not speak in tongues in this manner may have the Spirit, but that those who do speak in tongues have obtained a higher degree of the Spirit with such “inspired” speaking. Glossolalia is a greatly prized spiritual goal in all tongues-speaking circles.

Some believe that such tongues-speaking is related to the episode of the “tongues of fire” in Acts 2:3. Others believe it to be the “baptism of the Spirit” predicted by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). Beliefs differ, too, as to whether the utterances mean anything in any language. Some believe the utterances to be the “tongues of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Others say the languages are unknown and cannot be known. Still others believe such utterances to indeed be known foreign languages spoken today, or at least previously known languages such as ancient Hebrew.

Most all who do such speaking take the greatest pride in the fact that they “spoke in tongues”—not in what they babbled that might have been meaningful. Few, it seems, stop and ask themselves whether their “gift” agrees with the biblical definition of tongues.

Let us “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and see what the Holy Bible reveals about the tongues question.

The Bible Teaching

The place to begin is in Acts 2. The first 21 verses of this chapter form the crux of the Bible doctrine of tongues. Here, written nearly 2,000 years ago, is a record of the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a multitude.

Prior to the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, and shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ promised the original 12 disciples—who later became apostles—that they would receive miraculous spiritual strength after the Holy Spirit had come into their minds following His resurrection (John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 1:8-9).

While Christ was with His disciples in the flesh, He was their actual, physical “Comforter.” For about three and a half years, the Holy Spirit had been dwelling with the disciples in the person of Christ. Jesus told them that after His death and ascension they would receive “another Comforter”—the gift of the Holy Spirit; and it would dwell within them even as it had been evident in Him.

Notice that the receipt of this Holy Spirit was conditional upon the disciples’ obedience. Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4 show us that they were instructed to wait (or “tarry,” as it states in the King James Version) in Jerusalem until the appointed time. (The word tarry comes from the Middle English tarien, meaning “wait.” It does not imply a “tarry meeting” or modern “revival.”) The disciples would not have been given the gift of God’s Holy Spirit had they ignored or disregarded this specific command. After all, God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32).

The day God established for this special bestowing of His Spirit was on His annual festival of Pentecost—also known as the feast of weeks or feast of firstfruits—which was observed 50 days after the day on which Christ was resurrected. The word pentekoste is a Greek word meaning “50th [day],” or “count fifty.” Leviticus 23:15-21 tells us that Pentecost is an annual holy day which true Christians are commanded to observe every year in the late spring. Strangely, and significantly, the modern Pentecostal groups of this world do not even keep this biblically commanded day!

After Christ’s ascension, Acts 2:1 shows that 120 of His own disciples were faithfully and harmoniously gathered “in one accord” at church services in Jerusalem, as they had been directed, on that day of Pentecost in a.d. 31. Also assembled in Jerusalem on that special holy day, besides the disciples, were other devout men—Jews from all over the Roman Empire. Some were Parthians, some Medes and Elamites; others were from Mesopotamia, Rome and Arabia. Though they were not yet disciples of Christ’s, all of them understood that if they had not obeyed Jesus’ specific command to meet there in Jerusalem on that particular day, they would not have been eligible to receive the Spirit of God.

Pentecost, A.D. 31

At last, when the day of Pentecost had “fully come,” something truly amazing happened. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit arrived with a great display of power! (Acts 2:2-4, 8, 11).

With a loud sound, as of a mighty windstorm, the Spirit of God entered the room wherein the disciples were seated! It also came with the appearance of divided tongues of fire!

Have you ever seen anything even remotely like this in your life? I certainly haven’t. Yet, in this instance, this supernatural event happened—so says your Bible!

Imagine the excitement that ensued. Word of this momentous experience must have spread over the city. A multitude of Jews, amazed, came hurrying to the place. They wondered, for something mind-dazzling began to happen: God’s Spirit filled all 120 of Jesus’ disciples and enabled every one of the Jews—though they hailed from many different regions and spoke diverse dialects—to understand what was said! (Acts 2:6).

Every man, woman and child who came near heard the disciples speak in his or her own language! Those of the Parthian dialect heard the disciples, all of them, speak the Parthian language. The Medes, on the other hand, heard the same disciples speak the language of the Medes. Of course, what the disciples were saying was actually “all Greek” to those who had traveled in from Greece!

Then Peter, the chief apostle, stood and delivered a sermon (Acts 2:14-21). Again, the tongues he spoke in were known languages of the day that were clearly understood by those listening. The listeners marveled because Peter, to their ears, seemed to be speaking in their native, local dialects, although he obviously hadn’t learned all these languages by going to school or through some other normal method of study.

Obviously, Peter was not speaking incomprehensible, meaningless clack. He did not work up the crowd with rhythmically chanted, vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Further, we see no descriptions of wildly gyrating bodies, waving hands or people rolling around on the ground.

Concerning this utterly unique and amazing account of the gift of tongues, Mr. Armstrong concluded that “the miracle was in the hearing as well as the speaking” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Other Biblical Accounts

Besides the account in Acts 2, other instances of speaking in tongues are recorded in the Bible. One such time was on the occasion of the first outpouring of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48). The account is brief, but verse 46 clearly states that those listening heard those speaking in tongues “magnify God.” In telling the apostles of it, Peter said, “The Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning,” and, “God gave them the like gift as He did unto us” (Acts 11:15, 17).

On this occasion, the Gentiles received the power of the Holy Spirit by the ceremony of baptism and the laying on of hands by an ordained minister—in the same manner God gives the Holy Spirit to His begotten saints today. Peter did not say that the Holy Spirit came unto them with the same manifestations as it did on Pentecost in a.d. 31.

The gift of God’s Spirit to the Gentiles did not come suddenly from heaven, as the sound of a mighty wind, appearing as cloven tongues of fire. Aside from being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, the nature of which is not here described, there is no similarity between these two experiences. The only reasonable conclusion is that these tongues again were known languages of the day.

In one other recorded case, men spoke with tongues upon being filled with the Holy Spirit. That was after Paul had baptized the Ephesian believers and laid his hands on them (Acts 19:1-6). Again, these tongues were known languages of the day; there is nothing to indicate the other accompanying manifestations as upon the original day of Pentecost.

Some modern tongues-speakers quote Matthew 3:11, contending that glossolalia is evidence of the “baptism of the Spirit.” John the Baptist’s reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit however, does not refer to tongues as some separate baptism in addition to one’s initial receipt of the Holy Spirit. It is, instead, a reference to that very act of receiving God’s Spirit after repentance, which baptizes us into the true Church of God (1 Corinthians 12:13).

The Gift of Tongues

The book of 1 Corinthians has much to say about the subject of tongues. The gift is mentioned in verses 1 and 10 of 1 Corinthians 12, but verses 27-31 are the most critical.

In verse 28, Paul lists the governmental offices of the church, including the ranks of apostle and prophet. Then, beginning in verse 29, through a series of rhetorical questions, Paul decidedly proves that not all have the gift of tongues (or any of a number of other gifts for that matter). Clearly, having the gift of tongues cannot be the only proof one has God’s Spirit. Nor is it proof of superior righteousness, for verse 31, along with 1 Corinthians 13, declares absolutely that love is a greater gift of the Spirit than speaking in tongues! 1 Corinthians 13:1 says that even if one has the power to speak in the “tongues of … angels,” he is spiritually worthless unless he has love.

It is important to note that these verses do not imply that the Corinthians spoke in angelic language. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-2, Paul lists a number of incredible feats, all of them beyond human capability (i.e., moving mountains with faith, and understanding every single mystery of life). He wanted the Corinthians to see that even if they could do certain things far beyond their normal abilities, it still wouldn’t make them righteous unless they were filled with and expressing godly love—which is an unselfish, outgoing concern for others (agape in the Greek). It is clear that Paul spoke of the tongues of angels also as something beyond the Corinthians’ natural abilities, just like moving mountains.

Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is devoted entirely to the tongues topic. Numerous verses defeat the arguments of modern tongues-speakers, proving that Paul wrote these words to downplay and control the gift of tongues, not to exalt it.

Verse 1 encourages normal, inspired preaching over the gift of tongues. The following verses stress that the purpose of speaking in tongues is to edify and benefit the audience, not the speaker. This, of course, is vastly different from modern tarry meetings and revivals, where the one who speaks in tongues is in the limelight while the rest of the congregation just sits back and watches the strange goings-on. These modern acts of glossolalia are generally more like freakish circus sideshows than a proper church service. No real educating takes place.

Verses 10-17 stress the need for the audience to understand the words, and thus make plain that the words should be capable of being understood. Paul is clearly writing of common human languages of the day.

Verse 23 makes the same point a different way. Paul warns against speaking in a language the audience doesn’t understand, saying that to do so would make one who is an unbeliever or unlearned think the believers were crazy. It wouldn’t make sense for a minister of God to speak Spanish to an audience if they didn’t understand the Spanish language!

The remaining verses clear up any modern misunderstandings on this question.

Verse 27 limits the number who may speak in tongues at any one time to two or three who must take turns. (This is what must have occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-11.) It demands calm order in the service—all things being done “decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40), in a godly manner and with proper decorum—which is the very opposite of the emotionally charged atmosphere of a tarry meeting.

Verse 31 says that tongues should be used one by one in turn—not at the same time in devilish confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). God is not the author of confusion and disorder.

Verse 32 states that the one who speaks in tongues is in control of his faculties at all times. This is the very opposite of certain Pentecostals, who give themselves over to tongues-speaking and are for a while controlled by the phenomenon, so much so that they may not remember or even know what they said “while under the influence”!

Finally, verse 34 states that women are forbidden to preach in the church at all. Such is not the case today as many “tongues-speakers” are women.

In summary, we’ve looked at the commonly accepted beliefs about modern “speaking in tongues,” examined the pertinent Bible verses and extracted the key points. Obviously, modern tongues and biblical tongues are not only different, they are in fact opposite.

The biblical gift of tongues is given for instruction; the modern display of “tongues” is enacted for display and vainglory. One is at a preaching service where people are to be edified by the content of the speech; the other at an emotional tarry meeting. One is vocal only; the other is linked with wild physical movement and uncontrolled shouts. One is considered a lesser gift; the other a badge of “righteousness” to brag about. The Bible tongues are real languages; modern tongues are not. One is always under control; the other is worked up to uncontrolled frenzy. One is done in turn by two or three men at the most; the other usually degenerates to disorderly confusion.

What About Today?

Have you ever wondered why God ever gave the gift of tongues, and whether the genuine gift still exists today?

Evidently the gift of tongues was given for the same reasons as other miraculous manifestations in early Church history. It was to call attention to the initial outpouring of God’s power, to attract attention to the gospel message—not to the speaker—and to aid in the spreading of the gospel in a part of the world peppered with people who spoke many different languages (Acts 2:5).

Despite claims to the contrary, people today are not seen to speak miraculously in languages they did not learn through formal instruction. However, the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, cited by Peter in Acts 2:16-21, may indicate God’s servants will again exercise that gift at a future time of God’s own choosing.

Key Verses

The main Bible verses about this subject of tongues are contained in a few easily remembered sections of Scripture. Acts 2:1-21 shows the first outpouring of tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost. Acts 10:44-48 describes the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentile Christians.

1 Corinthians 12 contains various scattered statements about tongues, while chapter 14 records the Apostle Paul’s instructions about and limitations regarding tongues.

Undoubtedly people can be led astray from the truth if they allow their own thoughts and emotions and evil spiritual influences to dictate their beliefs, rather than God’s precious word. Though these modern “tongues-speakers” may be sincere, they are sincerely deceived.

As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We have no word of condemnation for these ‘Pentecostal’ people, as they call themselves, because they are unable to repeat the same accompanying manifestations as described for the day of Pentecost in a.d. 31″ (ibid.). Modern tongues-speakers are utterly incapable of reproducing the incredible miracles which occurred that day. At best, all they can do is pretend to imitate, or counterfeit, the gift of tongues.

From the beginning, Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), has blinded most of mankind to God’s truth. The devil has led many astray through counterfeit spiritual experiences. In fact, Satan has deceived the entire world (Revelation 12:9). But true Christians are told to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the true litmus test. God’s word is the standard by which we should judge all things (John 17:17). “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19-20). The “law” and “the testimony” are the Old and New Testaments—the Bible!

Those who search for deeper spiritual experiences by trying to “call down another Pentecost” or “work up the spirit” in their tarry meetings today are simply deceived by Satan.

Satan the devil has been cast down to this Earth (Revelation 12:10). True Christians cannot be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18), and must be wise enough to discern that the “tongues” experience witnessed on the day of Pentecost, a.d. 31, is not being repeated today.

June 18, 2009

Mystery Of The Ages: Free Book Clarifies Life's Unanswered Questions!

1One of the best books I have ever read is called, “Mystery Of The Ages,” by Herbert W. Armstrong. It really clarifies the most important knowledge ever revealed from the supreme Source of understanding—about man, his origins, his identity, the world around him—knowledge that has mystified humans since mankind first appeared on Earth.

I highly recommend this book as it is written in a straightforward manner, with no twisted scriptures, no private interpretations – nothing but factual truth, straight out of the word of God.

If you have an open mind, then you are ready for the true biblical answers to seven of life’s most puzzling mysteries:

1. WHO AND WHAT IS GOD?

God reveals himself in his Word, the Holy Bible, yet almost no one has understood it. The Bible, as author Bruce Barton said, is “the book that nobody knows.” The Bible itself is the basic mystery that reveals all other mysteries.

2. THE MYSTERY OF ANGELS AND EVIL SPIRITS

Is the existence of spirit beings fact or myth? Is there a devil? Did God create a devil? If there are holy angels, what is their purpose? Do evil spirits influence humans and even governments today? Do they affect your own life?

3. THE MYSTERY OF MAN

What and why is humanity? Is man an immortal soul? Do the dead know what the living are doing? Is man flesh and blood being with an immortal soul within? Is there meaning and purpose to human life?

4. THE MYSTERY OF CIVILIZATION

How did civilization develop? Why does our world of awesome advancement and progress also have such appalling evils? Why can’t the minds that develop marvels of science and technology solve the problems of human helplessness?

5. THE MYSTERY OF ISRAEL

Are the Jews the ancient nation of Israel? Why did God raise up one special nation? Are they God’s favorites? Does God discriminate against other nations? Is God a respecter of persons? What is Israel’s purpose in the divine order of things?

6. THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH

Why should there be the institution of the Church in the world? Is it one Christ-originated Church, or does it consist of many differing denominations? Does it have government and authority? How could one recognize the true Church today?

7. THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Jesus’s gospel message was “the kingdom of God.” Is the kingdom of God something within each person? Is it something that may be set up in men’s hearts? Is it the institution of the Church? Or is it something else altogether?

These are the seven great mysteries that concern the very lives of every human being on earth. The plain truth of all these mysteries is revealed in this eye-opening book, and it is yours FREE for the asking! It is given away here.

April 30, 2009

Worldwide Church Of God Morphs Into Grace Communion International

32Herbert W. Armstrong was the Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Those studying the Bible with a critical eye recognized him as restoring long lost biblical truths. He stood against traditional Christianity’s error and taught the plain truth of the Bible. Now he’s dead and his successors have effectively dismantled any semblance to what was originally, and correctly, taught.

The final separation of the new WCG from “all things Armstrong” occurred recently with their official announcement that the church’s name will now become “Grace Communion International.” I’m not sure how much closer they could get it to sounding like the Amway of Evangelical Churches. 

The change was also picked up by another religious news source:

Worldwide Church of God Changes Name to Signal Inner Change: Religion News Service reports that the Worldwide Church of God, which re-examined and later rebuked the teachings of founder Herbert W. Armstrong after his death in 1986, has changed its name to Grace Communion International. “We are a church that God radically transformed,” said church president Joseph W. Tkach, who is a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals. “Our new name is consistent with the transformation and aptly describes what God has made of our fellowship.” Armstrong denied the Christian belief in the Trinity and took Old Testament law to heart and encouraged works of righteousness to earn salvation. The church lost half its members, 95 percent of its 1,000-person staff, millions of magazine readers and its college in Pasadena, Calif., when it officially repudiated Armstrong’s teachings and “prophetic speculation” in the mid 1990s.  http://www.crosswalk.com/news/religiontoday/11602619/

Changes in the WCG/GCI

WCG membership peaked in 1986, with about 150,000 members worldwide. However, the new leadership began systematically rejecting and destroying every teaching and tradition Mr. Armstrong established. Immediately, massive doctrinal changes swept the Church, initially concealed from the membership. 

In 1989, Gerrald Flurry and John Amos were disfellowshipped for adhering to the original doctrines of the WCG. The Philadelphia Church of God was then established to most accurately, among all WCG offshoots, preserve the teachings and legacy of its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.

By 1990, numbers dropped to about 133,000, and in 1992, as income continued to decrease, a prominent minister and 3,000 members left to form the Global Church of God.

Perhaps the most traumatic change came in December 1994: Tkach announced that Christians do not have to keep old covenant laws. Many members did not accept these changes and in early 1995, hundreds of ministers and 12,000 members left to form the United Church of God

By 1996, attendance was approximately half  of 1990 numbers (67,000).  In the US, membership slid from 89,000 to 49,000. Thousands more stopped attending any church, and many congregations were left with only half the members they used to have. Church income dropped another 50 percent, and hundreds of employees were laid off. Now, the Worldwide Church of God is about half the size it used to be.

The television ministry, once one of the largest in America, is gone. Circulation of The Plain Truth fell from a peak of 8,000,000 down to less than 100,000. And as stated before, the number of employees in Pasadena fell from 1,000 to about 50, as reduced income forced them to remove some pastors from the payroll, and lay pastors were appointed for small congregations. Ambassador College/University was forced to close because the church could no longer subsidize it, and its properties have been sold. The church’s properties in Pasadena were also sold in 2004. An office building in Glendora was purchased, and all offices were relocated there in 2005. 

Grace Communion International now claims 42,000 members in 900 congregations worldwide, though those numbers are suspect.

April 2, 2009

Christianity Ignores God The Father – Do You?

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There are two basic common and universal errors in the preaching of the “Gospel” by this world’s “Christianity.” What are the two most universal errors in the proclaiming of the “Gospel” by the various sects and denominations of traditional Christianity today? 

1. They ignore God the Father and they proclaim a false gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that Jesus Christ, as God’s Messenger, brought. In other words, the message God the Father sent to mankind by His Son and Messenger (Malachi 3:1) to mankind. 

Jesus said plainly, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father . . . for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me” (John 8:38, 42). Again, Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10). 

In the first sermon Peter spoke to gentiles, he said, “The word [Gospel] which God sent. . . preaching peace by Jesus Christ. . .” (Acts 10:36). 

What has been proclaimed? MAN’S “gospel” about the Person of the Messenger, but omitting His MESSAGE, which came from God the Father. 

Now how else do they ignore God the Father? 

2. They preach Christ—but Him only. 

Let me explain something here. There are two ways of life: 1) the way of getting, receiving, acquiring—the way of self-centeredness; and 2) the way of giving, of helping, cooperating, sharing, of outflowing love—which is the way of GOD-centeredness. 

Now how do they of traditional Christianity preach? 

Assuming that this is the only time of salvation, they plead with people, “receive Christ”—in other words, “get,” not “give.”  They believe the blood of Jesus—Christ’s death, gives life. But life cannot come from death! Notice Romans 5:10: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God [the Father] by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” We are not saved—given eternal life—by Christ’s shed blood—by His death. We are only reconciled to God the Father by Christ’s death. 

How is that? The penalty of sin is death. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). There is one Lawgiver. Not Jesus, but God the Father! When we sin we are cut off from God the Father! That is what modern “Christianity” ignores. All have sinned. All have put an impassable wall between themselves and God the Father. We must be reconciled to God first, for it is He who has eternal life to give! 

How may we be reconciled to God the Father? By real repentance. Repentance is toward God the Father, and faith is toward Jesus (Acts 20:21). 

Once we truly repent, which means a complete change of attitude, way of life and purpose, then our faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood for payment of the penalty of our sins, destroys that impassable wall between us and God the Father—and we then may receive His Holy Spirit—after we have given our life, through repentance and faith, to Christ, who bought and paid for it by His death. Then our salvation—gift of eternal life—is made possible by Christ’s resurrection—by His life! 

But this world’s Christianity thinks it may receive eternal life from Jesus’ death, and from Jesus alone—leaving out the Father. 

And once converted—changed—what then? We must keep reconciled to God by obedience to His Law. If we make a slip, or fall down along the way, then if we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (I John 1:9). 

Of course, traditional Christianity has lost sight of God’s law and of what constitutes sin. They ignore the fact we must be first reconciled to God the Father! 

None can come to Jesus for eternal salvation, except God the Father first draws him! Jesus said plainly in John 6:44: “NO MAN can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” 

It is God the Father who decides whom He shall call. It is God the Father from whom we have cut ourselves off by transgressing His Law. It is the Father who has the Holy Spirit to give. The sinner must first of all, upon being called, repent—change his mind and attitude in regard to sin, and obedience to God’s way of life! 

How does God call one? He draws one (John 6:44) by the power of His Holy Spirit, working externally from outside one. Through His Spirit, God convicts one. On the very day Christ founded the Church, Peter had preached a Spirit-inspired sermon. Three thousand there were “pricked in their heart”—”they were cut to the heart” (Revised Standard Version); “it went straight to their hearts” (Moffatt translation). In other words their whole minds and attitudes were convicted of guilt and changed, ready for repentance—a complete change to God’s way of life. This led them to repentance toward God the Father. Then they believed on Jesus Christ, were baptized, and God the Father then gave them His Holy Spirit! 

Now what gospel did Jesus bring from God the Father? What was the message the Father sent to mankind by Jesus? In Mark 1:1, 14, 15, we read: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . 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 ye, and believe the Gospel.” 

Jesus proclaimed the GOVERNMENT OF GOD, based on the LAW OF GOD, to rule the whole earth, at Christ’s Second Coming—now SOON! 

The Kingdom of God is the divine born family of God, of which God the FATHER is Father of the entire Family. 

Today, by leaving God the Father out of their message, the churches of traditional Christianity do not know that a real and true Christian may be, in this life, only begotten by receiving the Holy Spirit—which is the begettal of God-life—and may be born a full God being, immortal, composed of Spirit, at the resurrection of the just—at Christ’s coming! 

In a word, by ignoring God the Father, they make the life, Gospel, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ utterly meaningless! 

Let’s be sure we have God the Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ both in the picture, as they, themselves, have placed themselves! 

Source: Plain Truth May 1980, Page 33,  by Herbert W. Armstrong 

March 29, 2009

Milestones In The Life of Herbert W. Armstrong

Filed under: Herbert W Armstrong — melchia @ 9:51 pm
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143I include this post because I use and believe the writings of Herbert W. Armstrong, as based on the Bible. He was a man strongly used by God, as was shown by the fruits in his life.

Herbert W. Armstrong (July 31, 1892 – January 16, 1986) was the founder of the Radio Church of God / Worldwide Church of God; Chancellor of Ambassador Colleges and Ambassador University; Publisher of The Plain Truth magazine in several languages; Presenter of The World Tomorrow radio and television programs and director of several programs in other languages.

He was also President of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation; self- styled as Ambassador for World Peace and Patron of the Ambassador Auditorium concert series

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July 31, 1892 — Herbert W. Armstrong is born in Des Moines, Iowa, the eldest son of Horace and Eva Armstrong.

Summer, 1908 — An employer’s encouragement stimulates ambition and the will to succeed in 16-year-old Herbert W. Armstrong.

July 31,1917 — Mr. Armstrong and Loma Dillon are married in Chicago, Ill.

August, 1917 — In a dream during their first week of marriage, Loma Armstrong sees an angel descend from heaven, put his arms around the Armstrongs and announce that Jesus Christ will return in this generation, saying that Christ has work for them to do.

Fall, 1920 — A flash depression wipes out Mr. Armstrong’s advertising business.

Fall, 1926 — Mr. Armstrong is challenged into a diligent study of the Bible.

May or June, 1927 — Mr. Armstrong is baptized.

August, 1927 — Mrs. Armstrong recovers from a combination of quinsy, blood poisoning, a dog bite and several other ailments, proving God’s promise to heal is sure.

Summer, 1928 — Mr. Armstrong gives his first sermon, in a vacant country store building south of Salem, Ore.

June, 1931 — Mr. Armstrong is ordained to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

July, 1933 — Mr. Armstrong gives a series of lectures in Eugene, Ore., that leads to the formation of God’s worldwide Work. (more…)

March 28, 2009

Pagan Holidays Or God’s Holy Days – Which?

Editors Note: This article is the introduction to the above mentioned booklet. I will keep sections short, for brevity, and include other parts of the booklet in different articles and subjects.

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From The Booklet: Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days— Which?
by Herbert W. Armstrong

Does it make any difference which days we observe or whether we keep them? Does the Bible establish whether we are to keep certain days holy to God? Were these days given to ancient Israel only? Are they binding today only on the Jewish people, while Christians are commanded to keep holidays such as Christmas?

In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel is an amazing prophecy picturing, for twenty-five hundred years into future, from the day it was written, the course of the Gentile kingdoms. Starting with the ancient Chaldean Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, this prophecy foretells the successive world rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian kingdom with its four divisions, and finally, of the mighty Roman Empire.

Out of the original Roman Empire, symbolized by “horns” growing out of the head of a “beast,” are pictured the ten resurrections of the Roman Empire that have continued since its fall to the present, and are scheduled to continue until the coming of Christ.

Among these ten kingdoms, which have ruled in the Western world since the fall of Rome to the present, appeared another “little horn,” whose “look was more stout than fellows.” In other words, another government, actually smaller, yet dominating over all the others. Students of prophecy recognize this “little horn” as a great religious hierarchy. And in the 25th verse of this prophecy, it is stated that this hierarchy shall “think to change times and laws.”

How Time Was Changed

This same power is mentioned again in the 17th chapter of Revelation, here pictured as ruling over the kings and kingdoms of the earth, persecuting the true saints.

In every possible manner, this power has changed TIME.

  1. God begins the days at sunset, but “the little horn” has changed it so the world now begins the day in the middle of the night by a man-made watch.
  2. God begins the week with the ending of the true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, but the world begins the working week in the middle of the night, the second day of the week.
  3. God begins the months with the new moons, but this “little horn” has induced the world to begin the months according to a clumsy man-made calendar of heathen origin.
  4. God begins the year in the early spring, when new life is budding in nature everywhere, but ancient heathen Rome caused the world to begin the year in the middle of dead winter.
  5. God gave His children a true rest day, designed to keep them continually in the knowledge and true worship of the true God, a memorial of God’s Creation, the seventh day of the week. But the “little horn” has fastened upon a deluded world the observance of the days on which the pagans worshipped the Sun, the first day of the week, called SUNday.

Pagan Origins

Ancient Rome’s pagan holidays have been chained upon a heedless and deceived world. These include certain annual holidays Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, as well as many more, every one a pagan day, every one used to stimulate the sale of merchandise in the commercial markets. Upon honest investigation, the earnest seeker-after-truth learns that these days are all of heathen origin and pagan significance. He learns that he can have no part in them.

But is the Christian of today left without any annual holy days? Did God never give to His people annual holy days, as well as the weekly Sabbath? Are not ancient Rome’s annual holidays mere counterfeits of God’s true holy days, exactly as Sunday is a counterfeit of the true Sabbath?

Banishing Prejudice

We are told to study, not argue, not to refute, but to show ourselves approved unto God to learn God’s will. We are commanded, as Christians, to grow in knowledge as well as in grace (II Peter 3:18). All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable to correct and to reprove us, where we have, through assumption, false teaching, or prejudice, been in error.

Most people have supposed that all the annual Sabbaths and feast days of Israel were done away. And yet Church history shows that the early true Church did, for more than four hundred long years at least, perhaps much longer after Christ’s resurrection, continued to keep and observe these annual holy days given by God!

And just as the Sunday observer is inclined to look, at first, upon any argument for the weekly Sabbath with prejudice, as a heresy, and to examine every argument only in an attitude of attempting to refute it— so it will be only human, only natural for us, if we are not on our guard against it, to look upon any presentation of these annual Sabbaths in the same spirit of prejudice. But remember that, “he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Study This Twice

Certain objections will be sure to come to the mind all of which, will be dealt with and explained later on. But unless the reader is careful to guard against it, the mere presence of this objection in his mind will, to him, overthrow each point as it’s presented— and then, when the objections are later explained, the points made will not come back to the mind, unless the whole exposition of the subject is carefully studied again from the first.

And in each case, the objection will be one of the very arguments used by Sunday preachers in attempting to overthrow the truth of the weekly Sabbath! For the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths stand or fall together. The arguments used against the annual Sabbaths will be the identical arguments used to overthrow the Sabbath and if these arguments could hold, then they would abolish the weekly Sabbath!

Such arguments as “the annual Sabbaths are part of the law of Moses,” or “they offered sacrifices on the annual Sabbaths,” or “Colossians 2:16 does away with the annual Sabbaths,” are not scriptural.

For the annual Sabbaths were not part of the law of Moses, but were observed before the ritualistic ordinances contained in the law of Moses were given. Sacrifices were offered on the weekly Sabbath, but this does not do away with the Sabbath. In fact, sacrifices were offered on every day of the year (Numbers 28:3).

Colossians 2:16 refers, not alone to the annual Sabbaths, but to the annual days, the monthly new moons, and the weekly Sabbath. Whenever the Bible uses the expression “Sabbath days,” with new moons and holy days, it is referring to the weekly Sabbath days, the new moons and the annual holy days or feast days. The “Sabbath days” of Colossians 2:16 refers to the weekly Sabbath. Compare I Chronicles 23:31 with II Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Ezekiel 46:3. If Colossians does away with the one, it also abolishes the other.

The Old Testament Church

When did the true Church begin? In Acts 7:38 we learn that the congregation of Israel was called the church in the wilderness, in the days of Moses. The English word “congregation” used throughout the Old Testament is only another rendering, having the same identical meaning, as the word “church” in the New Testament. The word translated “congregation” in the Old Testament is ekklesia in the Septuagint the same identical Greek word that is always translated CHURCH in the New Testament.

Israel was both church and state. As a kingdom, it was for years ruled by a system of judges, over 50s, 100s, thousands, etc., later having a king. But as a congregation, or church, Israel was organized with a leader Moses, Joshua, etc. and the priests of the tribe of Levi. The law of Moses contained those ritualistic or ceremonial laws which were ADDED, because of transgressions, to the Old Covenant— added until Christ— to teach and instill into them the habit of obedience. These consisted of meat and drink offerings, various washings, and physical ordinances. Also they had the sacrifices, as a substitute for the sacrifice of Christ.

Prior to the Law of Moses

In the 12th chapter of Exodus, while the Children of Israel were still in Egypt, long before any of the Law of Moses had been given, prior to the time when God revealed to Moses and the Israelites He would make the Old Covenant with them, we find God’s annual holy days being observed. And in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus we find a summary of these annual holy days or set feasts.

Now when God made the Sabbath for man, He gave man a rest day carrying great significance and purpose. To His Church in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant sign between Him and His people. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which we know that He is God. How does it prove that to us? “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” It is a memorial of creation.

And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us, keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day, but the seventh day of the week, could have that great significance and meaning. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.

The Purpose of Holy Days

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God’s children in the true memory and worship of God, by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God’s great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation, mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning.

The whole story of spiritual regeneration was, in these feast days, to be reenacted year after year continually. They have vitally important symbolism and meaning.

It is an historic fact that any nation which ever profaned God’s holy Sabbath (weekly), has lost contact with and knowledge of the true God, and gone into idolatry. The only nation which ever did keep God’s Sabbath is the only one that was kept in the true memory and worship of the true God— and only when they kept the Sabbath. When ancient Israel began to profane God’s Sabbath, they began to worship idols!

And in the same way, when in these New Testament times we have failed to observe God’s annual Sabbaths we, as a nation and people, are without knowledge of God’s true plan of reproducing Himself.

The so-called Christian churches today do not understand or teach what sin is— they do not teach that sin must be put away— they do not understand what man is, the purpose of life, the meaning of being born again, and of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit— they do not understand that God’s Church, today, is not to convert the world, but to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness— to live a life of overcoming sin, enduring unto the end, and that the over-comers shall reign with Christ, being kings, and priests, in His Kingdom.

They do not understand that Christ is coming again, and those who preach the second coming fail to understand its meaning and purpose. They have no knowledge or conception of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God— the only true New Testament Bible gospel.

Not understanding these vital steps in the true plan of regeneration, the Christian churches teach that the Law is abolished. They teach the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul, going immediately to heaven or hell at death and they teach that death is only life.

And all is confusion!

God’s feasts, or holy days, or Sabbaths, were commanded to be kept year after year, and forever! Thus God purposed to impress the truths these “high” Sabbaths picture upon all the minds of His children through all time, keeping His Church in the true understanding of His plan!

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