The Apple Of God's Eye

June 27, 2011

White Lies, Black Truth – Where Do You Stand?

Many things in today’s world just aren’t what they seem. It’s the era of the “sophisticated lie.” Who can you truly believe? What is behind all this lying and duplicity?

The Founder of true Christianity said: “He that is faithful [honest] in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

He who would steal a postage stamp would likely steal money or other valuables also — if he got the chance!

A lie often has to be covered by several other lies, which have to be covered by yet more lies. Such an intricate web of duplicity is woven that it becomes almost impossible to discover the real truth.

Lying and stealing often go hand in hand. A person who steals will often need to lie to cover up his crime. Perhaps this is why the eighth commandment — “Thou shalt not steal” — is followed immediately by the commandment against bearing false witness (Deut. 5:19, 20). Elsewhere in the Pentateuch we read: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another” (Lev. 19:11). (more…)

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October 21, 2009

Where Did God Come From?

apod.nasa.gov/apod

apod.nasa.gov/apod

We are used to living in a limited world. Everything around us has limitations-beginnings and endings. We are aware of infants being born. We are aware of grandparents dying. We observe animals, plants and insects beginning life. We see their lives come to an end. We speak of the birth and the death of civilizations, of storms, volcanoes and comets. We are accustomed to seeing things get old. Clothing and furniture wear out. Automobiles fall apart. Buildings deteriorate. Our bodies become wrinkled and slow. To mortal man everything has a beginning, a period of usefulness and an end. We mark this progression of events on our clocks and calendars.

To us, only what is measurable by hours, days and years seems to have real significance. So when we hear that God is eternal, that He always has been and always will be, our minds balk. The words tend to be meaningless because we have nothing familiar to relate them to. And that is just the problem: we are trying to relate what cannot be related in physical terms. We are trying to apply the limitations of the physical existence we know to the unlimited spiritual plane on which God lives. The two cannot be compared. Our minds can encompass an hour, a century, a millennium, but we cannot grasp past eternity. They are not big enough to fully comprehend spiritual existence. We can’t even fully comprehend the physical universe! As an illustration, let’s consider for a moment what God has created.

Astronomers estimate that 100,000 million galaxies each with 100,000 million stars dot the universe. And who knows how many planets and moons? God says He counts and names them all (Ps. 147:4). Now if we allow God one full second by our reckoning of time to count and name each star in the heavens, do you know how long it would take Him to name them all? Working nonstop, by our clocks and calendars, it would take more than 300,000 billion years just to count and name them. How long must it have taken Him to design and create all those stars?

To us these figures are inconceivable. But not to God. God is eternal. One of His names in Hebrew is Yahweh-the “Everliving One.” The Creator is not bound by the laws of space and time as we are. While men are able to theorize about time warps and the relation of energy to the speed of light, God masters it all. To Him, according to His wishes, “one day … is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). God “inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15). That is to say He comfortably dwells in what we might think of as beginningless and endless time. Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 show that at whatever point in the past we wish to consider as the beginning-no matter how far back we try to stretch our finite minds-God already existed. “In the beginning God…” Where did God come from? He didn’t “come from” anywhere. He was always there!

October 17, 2009

Sabbath Questions: How To Keep God's Sabbath Day Holy!

Do you keep God’s Sabbath holy? Do you find the Sabbath a real delight and joy? Or is it a day of “bondage” or question to you? How often have you wondered if you have broken the Sabbath by a particular act or thought? How many times have you felt condemned about the Sabbath?

Should you attend a funeral, a wedding, a movie on the Sabbath? How do you take care of unconverted relatives who drop in unexpectedly on the Sabbath? Is it okay to have a family outing on the Sabbath? How many dishes should you wash? This is just a sampling of some of the many questions asked regularly about the Sabbath.

Since God’s Sabbath is special HOLY time set aside by God, you need to understand it, know its purpose and meaning to you as a true Christian. Too often, the tendency is to the two extremes — either treating the Sabbath too lightly as the world does, or becoming completely Pharisaical — afraid to move on the Sabbath.

Petty Arguments

Because of the many supposed complications in keeping the Sabbath, men have excused themselves from keeping it — saying it is too difficult. Of course, these are only their puny excuses to keep from obeying God, but many of the questions which come up are derived from these petty arguments. You need to understand them. Once they are cleared up completely in your mind, you will be ready to understand how to keep the Sabbath as God intended!

Fire on the Sabbath

They say you cannot build a fire on the Sabbath according to Exodus 35:2. Then what about people who live in cold climates? Won’t they freeze to death? If this is true, then God made the Sabbath too harsh, and it should not be kept — according to the rebellious, carnal mind!

Notice Exodus 35:2 with the context around it. Verse three says, “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.” From the original Hebrew, this word, “kindle,” means a consuming flame, a flame that would devour — that is, a great, roaring fire! The question is why would you need such a fire on the Sabbath? Read the rest of Chapter 35 and you will see. They were building the tabernacle and needed a fire large enough to work metal!

Haven’t you ever looked out on the Sabbath day and noticed some trimming you would like to get done on your lawn, or have a job you would like to get finished — and catch yourself wanting to get it done in spite of the Sabbath? This is exactly what the Israelites were doing. They were so zealous for the tabernacle that Moses even had to tell them to stop bringing materials. God knew that if He did not stop them, they would work right through the Sabbath on the Tabernacle.

This was not a cooking or household heating fire! It was an industrial fire. The same principle holds true today. There should be no industrial fires kindled on the Sabbath. On the other hand, fires of the proper type were commanded by God to be kept burning! Notice Leviticus 6:13: “The fire shall be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” Hence a sacrificial fire (from which the Israelites cooked their meat and grain) remained burning on the Sabbath! God was not even discussing a cooking, sacrificial or personal heating fire — but a fire which is used for work that should be done only on one of the other six days provided for that purpose.

Sabbath Day’s Journey

The Sabbath day’s journey question seems to stipulate that a true believer should travel no more than the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12) about 2,000 cubits or approximately seven-eighths of a mile. But yet almost all the Sabbath keeping people who attend church around the world travel many times that distance each Sabbath! Does this mean they are breaking the Sabbath each week by attending church?

If you will check carefully, you will find that this reference is the only place in the entire Bible a “Sabbath day’s journey” is mentioned. This was a common expression of the Jews at that time, but was never employed by Christ and his disciples. It was derived as a custom by the legalistic Jews from Exodus 16:29: “…let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”

The explanation of this is found in Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, page 573, under “Sabbath day’s journey”: Acts 1:12. The law as regards travel on the Sabbath is found in Ex. 16:29. As some departure from a man’s own place was unavoidable, it was thought necessary to determine the allowable amount, which was fixed at 2,000 cubits or about 1,000 yards, from the wall of the city. The permitted distance seems to have been grounded on the space to be kept between the ark and the people, Joshua 3:4, in the wilderness, which tradition said was that between the ark and the tents. We find the same distance given as the circumference outside the walls of the Levitical cities to be counted as their suburbs. Num. 35:5. The terminus a quo was thus not a man’s own house, but the wall of the city where he dwelt.

Notice it is not a law of God, but simply a tradition of the Jews! Since God required attendance at Sabbath services, they had to leave their homes or tents and travel to the tent of meeting. It just happened that the distance from the fringe tents to the center of the encampment where the tent of meeting was, measured about 2,000 cubits. Rather than strive to understand and obey the principle of the Sabbath, they punctiliously set about on their own to draw up definite physical limits for Sabbath observance.

God has never set on his people a “Sabbath day’s journey”!

Ox in the Ditch

Christ said, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?”  (Luke 14:5.) From this, many have argued that their job was an ox in the ditch because it requires them to work, or they work at a job which has “regular emergencies” requiring work on the Sabbath.

They reason that God surely would not want the men to lose their jobs which provides for their families and also enables them to continue to give offerings to God’s Work. Some have gone so far as to work on the Sabbath, then give that whole day’s pay as an offering, to avoid losing their jobs. But these persons have not known that God says, “Hath the Eternal as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Eternal? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Sam. 15:22).

God is not interested in sacrifices or offerings at the expense of disobedience to His laws!

But what about the ox or ass in the ditch? How often should you expect it to happen, and what does it really mean and how does it apply today to people who don’t own oxen and asses?

First, you need to understand literally what an “ox in the ditch” means. Since the ox and the ass are rather sure-footed creatures, the odds against them regularly being stuck in a ditch are quite high. When you add the fact that the Sabbath is only one day out of a total of seven, the odds go even higher. Normally, in order to have an ox in the ditch, you have to have the following factors: It must be Sabbath, you must have some kind of severely inclement weather (snowstorm, rainstorm, etc.), and you need a clumsy ox!

Rest assured that if the ox is in the ditch on the Sabbath, Christ makes it very clear you should pull it out. But an ox in the ditch on the Sabbath is a very rare occurrence — that is, a genuine emergency.  Normally, a farmer can go through a whole lifetime and be able to count on one hand the number of oxen (cattle) or asses he has pulled out of a bog or ditch — and the odds are seven to one against it being on the Sabbath.

The principle of the ox in the ditch obviously includes such genuine emergencies as personal injuries, burning houses, power failures, accidents and other occurrences which would entail injury, loss of life or personal property.

The principle does not include, however, the person who “pushes his own ox into the ditch” by acquiring or keeping a job where he knows he will be required to work on the Sabbath each week, or by “putting off” work which should have been done during the week. Nor does it include harvesting or plowing on the Sabbath — even if there has been bad weather or machinery breakdowns during the week. God says, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing [better translated, “plowing” — see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance #2758} time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Exodus 34:21).

Jewish Ritualism — Pagan Permissiveness

By their strict adherence to certain physical limitations they (not God) placed on the law, the Jews consistently broke the spirit of the law. One story is told of how the Pharisees, to prohibit a profit from milking on the Sabbath, decreed that the cows should be milked on a rock so the milk would not be gathered in a bucket and sold. This apparently worked fine until one enterprising person began milking his cow on a rock — which had been placed in the bottom of a bucket!

Christ scorched them with the truth, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers”  (Mat. 23:4). They were totally carnal and could not see nor understand the principles behind the law.

On the other hand, the pagans have rejected completely God’s laws, thinking they could make up for it with self-flagellation, pilgrimages, enforced fasts, assuming that is what God wants. They have completely forgotten what God is like.

Our so-called “Judeo-Christian” society has inherited a strange mixture of this ill-conceived “marriage.” This is what the people of God must come out of! We have grown up being too lax in some things — thinking we had to be punished for nonsensical things — and too strict and legalistic in others. We must come out of this and strive to learn the right balance of living and keeping the Sabbath from God!

From the Beginning

God ordered the Israelites at Mount Sinai to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy! (Ex. 20:8.) They were to remember how the Sabbath began and what it was all about from the beginning. Genesis 2 describes the Sabbath as the day God hallowed by resting. He rested the seventh day after working six — thereby setting the perfect example.

It was done for man — for his well-being and benefit. It is not nearly as complicated as some think!  “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” states Christ (Mark 2:27). It was created after man for his good and physical and spiritual health — not before man with a long list of stringent requirements and harsh bondage!

FIRST a Day of Rest and a SIGN!

It is a day of rest for God and man! God set us a positive example by taking extra pains to set aside this special space of time — holy to Him — as His time, belonging to Him, It was so important to Him that He set it up as a special sign to man, to be observed throughout his generations.

Notice Exodus 31:12-17: “… Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations…. Ye shall keep the Sabbath…for it is holy unto you… It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel FOREVER: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

A sign is an identifying mark, or brand. God’s people were to have been identified throughout their generations by the keeping of God’s Sabbath. A mark or brand shows ownership. God “bought” the children of Israel out of the bondage of abject slavery to the Egyptians. His token of ownership became the Sabbath Day! “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual COVENANT” (Ex. 31:16).

Why would His people be different, strange and even “peculiar”? Because of this covenant! “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine,” says God! (Ex. 19:5.) He continues, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:2).

In an evil world fraught with wretchedness, misunderstanding, and separation from God the Almighty Creator, only His people, Israel, would have His sign, His identifying mark or brand of the Sabbath day. The world lost sight of the Creation and the True God because they did not have His sign of Creation, the Sabbath!

God worked six days creating physical masterpieces on earth, and rested the seventh,  creating the spiritual masterpiece — the everlasting sign and symbol of creation with Him as Master of creation! When rebellious man lost sight of that sign of creation, he lost sight of God!

When Israel later lost sight of the Sabbath, they too lost sight of God with disastrous results! Notice Jer. 17:27, “But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched!” The result was the sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (See Jer. 52:12-30). God’s people lost His protection!

Type of the Millennium

God’s people today still are to have this sign and covenant with their Creator! “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). The original Greek word for “rest” here is “Sabbatismos” which means a literal Sabbath observance! It denotes a literal cessation from labor as a type of the far more important meaning of the Sabbath.

But notice Heb. 4:5: “… As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest [Gr. “Katapausin“]” — and again, “And God did rest [“Kata­pausin”] the seventh day from all His works” (verse 4). In addition to a Sabbath observance, “Katapausin” literally means “the act of giving rest; a state of settled or final rest” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon by Bagster). It can also mean a place of rest, place of abode, dwelling, habitation.

“For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest [i.e., final rest or habitation], then would he not afterward have spoken of another day?” This is the millennial rest, a time of final settling down, cessation from the 6,000-year struggle of man in a sin sick world. “For he that is entered into His [God’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (verse 10). A day with God is as a thousand years (II Pet. 3:8), and this represents that final SEVENTH-thousand-year rule of peace and rest under Jesus Christ!

The Personal Application

Theologists have for years argued the technical “meanings” of the Sabbath, but how does it apply to you, personally? How does it affect your weekly life? You cannot understand the ultimate meaning of the Sabbath without first knowing and applying the Sabbath properly in your own life!

It is a time of relief and relaxation from your regular daily work and cares. God did not intend man to slave his life away seven days a week. He made man to need a day of rest and recuperation from a vigorous, work-filled week. Far from a day of bondage, it is a day of freedom — freedom from daily cares and problems; freedom from the stress and frustration you have already endured for six long days.

Notice God’s positive instruction on the Sabbath: “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:13-14). Here are three important facets to keeping the Sabbath.

Let’s analyze them:

1. YOUR ways. This means course of life, mode of action — that is, your employment, enterprises, finances, the more serious business of making a livelihood. You should not involve yourself in doing what you normally do during the week — those things by which you feed, clothe and care for yourself physically. This includes working at your job or business, working around the house, sewing, cleaning, washing the car — all the things that pertain to your physical maintenance during the normal course of the week.

This is the day to be about God’s ways! You rest from doing your ways. Devote this time to God’s business of eternal life. The Sabbath gives you extra time to study and meditate about God’s course of eternal life, His principles and mode of action. You will need all the knowledge about God’s business you can acquire if you hope to be an active and living part of it one day!

2. YOUR pleasure. Your desire, delight, that which you take extra pleasure in doing — hunting, fishing, golfing, swimming, cards, movies, boating — those things which take up the majority of your “leisure” time. This would also include the many time-consuming hobbies such as the “ham” radio operator, woodworking shop, stamp collecting, etc. Of course, it would be impossible to list all the hobbies and activities available, but you know what yours is. Whatever your pleasure, or leisure-time activity is, you should not engage in it on the Sabbath.

You should engage in God’s pleasure on the Sabbath. What is God’s pleasure? It is His creation — planning, working and building for the future of eternity! “… for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Just as you have or may have had an absorbing interest in your hobby or leisure-time interest and all of its interesting facets and details, God has an absolutely absorbing interest in His creation and all its myriad facets! He gives us the Sabbath to learn to have an interest and pleasure in His creation. His pleasure — the true and lasting pleasure — is to become our pleasure!

3. YOUR words. This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” We talk about what we are thinking. Our words show what is going on in our minds and hearts. This is obviously the most difficult of all! We may cease our ways and our pleasures, but it is much more difficult to cease thinking or talking about them!

Really, it is no problem just to rest and do no physical exertion on the Sabbath. Some people regularly do this seven days a week! You must serve God with your mind. Those who can’t or don’t control their minds call the Sabbath bondage, because they can’t wait ’til sunset to be about their ways and pleasures which they have been thinking about all day anyway!

Once you are able to get your mind and thoughts on God’s pleasure and God’s ways on the Sabbath, you will find out what real delight and joy in the Sabbath is! “Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isa. 58:14).

How do you accomplish this? Devote your Sabbath time to Sabbath service, extra Bible study,  extra prayer and especially extra meditation! This is your one time in the week when you don’t have to worry about getting to the job, making payments, working out schedules, cleaning house and all the other things you find that takes away from your study, prayer and meditation during the week. This is free time — free from all your daily cares and worries — free to be completely absorbed in God and His word.

However, there is one more basic element necessary to make all this possible — that is preparation.

Preparation for the Sabbath

Many do not or cannot properly observe the Sabbath because they have not understood when or how to prepare for it. On the Sixth Day of the week— Friday to us—God said, “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe (boil) that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.” (Ex. 16:23).

The preparation day is the time to get everything ready for the Sabbath so you won’t even be tempted to do it on the Sabbath. Specifically mentioned are baking and boiling — or, the heavier cooking and household duties. The principle here includes everything which can be done before the Sabbath begins such as cooking a roast, baking a cake or pie, cleaning house, getting chores done, etc.

Obviously, there are some things which cannot be done before the appointed time on the Sabbath. Common sense will tell you which would be easier, to fry an egg on Friday, store it in the deep freeze, thaw it out the next morning and eat it, or to simply wait until Sabbath morning to cook and eat. But the items which will keep for a period of time such as roasts, bread, etc. should be prepared ahead of time.

Keep a Checklist

Many find themselves run “ragged” on Friday trying to frantically get everything done only to collapse in a heap Friday night to discover something they forgot to get done! This can all easily be avoided if each member of the family will make a checklist of everything he must get done to prepare for the Sabbath. Then, each week, all he has to do is run down the list in a rapid, organized manner to get everything done.

But remember, the preparation day is only one day. Don’t make the mistake of leaving everything — house-cleaning,  baking,  cooking,  grocery shopping, car washing, etc. — until that day! Do this and you will find the Sabbath a day of total collapse rather than a peaceful day of rest and relaxation with enough energy to communicate with God! It is to be a day to prepare for the Sabbath, not a day to catch up on what you should have been doing all week.

Plan to have everything in readiness to truly greet God’s Sabbath — making sure there are no other things pressing on your mind or schedule. Only when you have everything done and out of the way can you really become absorbed in the Sabbath as you should. Plan it this way and you will be amazed at how much more you delight in the Sabbath. You don’t have to go to work, nor worry about the endless trivia which clutters up every normal week. This is the day to completely put all that away from you!

A good checklist will help you accomplish this. Just sit down and think it over carefully. Then prepare a list you can use every Friday, and you will be amazed at how much easier and more simple your preparation becomes.

What About the Many Questions ?

The main reason God has never “listed” in the Bible any “do’s and don’ts” for the Sabbath is that He wants us, as individuals, to learn to think, be personally responsible and use the principles He has given us. It is too easy to lose sight of the goal when you have a myriad of legalistic lines drawn up for you. But once you know and can apply the principles, you will be able to almost automatically answer your own questions.

Just remember some very basic questions to ask yourself: “Is this in God’s service? Is this a genuine emergency, or can I put it off till tomorrow? Should I have already done this as a part of preparation? Have I prayed about this and thoroughly gone over the principles in my mind?” If you find there is some question which still bothers you after thoroughly studying it out, you should seek advice from one who should know more about the principles of Sabbath-keeping — your local minister.

Apply these principles and you will soon find that God’s Sabbath is one of His greatest gifts to mankind — a gift for rest, peace, knowledge and true delight!

Source: The Good News, 1968

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!

August 4, 2009

Does The Bible Mention 6000 Years Of Rule For Man Only?

7000Does the Bible mention God’s 7000 year master plan for mankind? Does it also mention 6000 years of rule for man only? Yes it does, though most people, including mainstream religions, have never heard about it. And there is a crucial reason why!

God’s plan for mankind is pictured by the seven-day week. God refashioned the earth and created all life forms in six days and then rested on the Sabbath (the seventh day). Out of these seven days, six were set aside by God for man to work, followed by a day of rest (Ex. 20:9-11). On the seventh day, man is to put aside his normal routine of daily activities (work, play, socialize, etc), and worship the true God (Isa. 58:13-14).

The seven-day week is a pattern that applies to time on a far wider scale. The Biblical justification of a 7,000-year plan of God is based on the principal that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day:

“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8).

God’s perspective on time is additionally outlined in the Psalms:

“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night (Ps. 90:4).

Paul explained that the seventh day of the week pictures the peaceful time of rest that will follow this present age of human activity (Heb. 4:3-11). And the apostle John tells us that this period will occur after Christ’s intervention in world affairs and that it will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-4).

Since the seventh day of the week symbolizes 1000 years of peace under the rule of Jesus Christ, the first six days of the week represent 6000 years in which man has been allowed to govern himself and work out his own ideas and plans. In other words, each day of the week represents 1000 years of human existence.

Where are we now in this great plan? Charts which list biblical events in time order (as found in some Bibles) are accurate enough to show that HUMAN LIFE was created about 4000 years before the birth of Christ. History makes it clear that almost another 2000 years have elapsed since then — making a total of nearly 6000 years of human civilization to date. In short, there will be 6000 years of labor and toil for man, under the sentence of sin and death, followed by a 1000 year “day” of rest for mankind. Man’s “week” is nearly over, and God’s great millennial rest will soon be here.

July 28, 2009

Why Will Satan Be Loosed At The End Of The Millennium?

transatlantica.wordpress.com/

transatlantica.wordpress.com/

Why will Satan be loosed at the end of the 1000 years of Christ’s rule on earth? God is working out a great purpose here on this planet. And He is doing so according to His master plan!

For 6000 years God has allowed man to work things out for himself. He is permitting human beings to try every conceivable way to solve world problems in their desperate attempt to find peace and happiness. Men have chosen to follow the way of Satan, the god of this world.

When men finally come to their wits’ end and are facing utter annihilation, God will intervene to save them from
themselves. Then Satan will be restrained from deceiving the world, and there will be 1000 years of utopia on earth. All people will be taught to follow God’s law — the only way to true happiness.

But familiarity breeds contempt. After 1000 years of real happiness, some will forget or will ignore the lessons of history and the record of how miserable it was when Satan ruled. Some few just won’t agree with God — they will insist on having their own way.

Satan will be released from his prison for a very short time to demonstrate to those minds the fact that God rules supreme — that His way alone brings true happiness.

Satan will be allowed to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. The nations Gog and Magog are a type of all rebellious peoples who have not yielded themselves to the Government of God (Rev. 20:8).

Those who choose to follow Satan and knowingly refuse eternal life can’t be allowed to be around when the next part of God’s plan occurs.

July 23, 2009

The Destruction Of Satan?

gonelental.blogspot.com

gonelental.blogspot.com

Satan and his demons are spirit beings, created with inherent immortality (see Luke 20:36). They cannot die.

So why did Paul write that Jesus Christ would “destroy” the devil through His sacrifice? (Heb. 2:14) Paul was not saying that Christ will kill Satan or completely blot him out of existence. According to “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary,” the word “destroy” can also mean “neutralize” or make “subject to a crushing defeat.” The original Greek word, “katargeo,” translated as “destroy” in this verse, means “to render inactive” or “idle.” Notice I John 3:8: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the WORKS (evil effort or occupation) of the devil.”

Revelation 20:10 reveals that God will condemn Satan to the lake of fire after the Millennium. Many cite this as proof the Bible contrdicts itself, since it also says spirit beings cannot die. But notice that this verse does not say that Satan will remain there forever. It says only that his torment will last forever. The lake of fire will end when the new heavens and new earth are established (Rev. 21:1). But, the punishing of Satan and his demons will continue through eternity.

The Bible gives us only a clue as to the nature of Satan’s punishment. Jude describes some as being “wandering stars [stars are symbols of angels], to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (verse 13). Apparently, God will banish Satan and his demons from the universe into a place of restraint that would be likened to solitary confinement in a darkened room (though bigger), with no availability of any stimulus. They will never again associate with or influence the glorified inhabitants of God’s realm.

June 24, 2009

Could The Earth Contain All The Resurrected People Of History?

researchpark.arc.nasa.gov

researchpark.arc.nasa.gov

This world in its present state could hold few more people. Many areas are terribly overcrowded. Tillable land is becoming more scarce in many countries, and much of the world is covered with gigantic mountain ranges which are too high to be of use. Deserts or polar regions monopolize each continent at this time, and pollution, wars, and many other problems have lessened the earth’s capacity to support additional people.

It is unlikely, then, that the world could now contain all those who will ever have lived. What we need to keep in mind, however, is that they will not live in this world, this age, this society. They will be resurrected after a thousand years of renovation by God’s Government (Rev. 20:4-5). Here are some of the physical changes that will be made.

Mountains will be miraculously lowered to a tillable height, and valleys below sea level will be elevated (Isa. 40:4). The deserts will blossom abundantly (Isa. 35:1-2). God will restore a right climate to the earth and will provide rain when needed (Isa. 30:23; 35:7; Zech. 10:1). These changes will take time, but Christ and the saints will have a thousand years to prepare the entire earth for the multitudes that will be resurrected after the millennium.

Suppose that at the time the events of Revelation 20:11-12 occur, 40 billion people will have lived. Could the earth possibly support this number? Simple mathematics — fifty million square miles of land surface shared by forty billion people — tell us that there would be about five acres of land available for each four-to six-member household. This would be large enough to feed the household and leave plenty of space for other purposes. This fits perfectly with Micah 4:4: “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”

The Bible clearly shows the logic of God’s plan for mankind.

June 4, 2009

Life after Death: It's Not What You Think!

yinvsyang.com

yinvsyang.com

Few things have intrigued mankind as much as the concept of an afterlife. After about 75-80 years, death is the surest thing in anyone’s life. Eventually, everyone has to face that fact, but what follows death? The popular belief is that an immortal soul continues to live on, either in heaven or hell. Yet is that what the Bible teaches?

Return from the afterlife?

Let’s review what happens when a man dies. First, some people claim that they have experienced “life” after they had supposedly died and returned to tell about their unusual experience.

Though many of these happenings are understandably astounding and seem to contradict what the Bible says about
death, the whole idea of this so-called “life after life” experience is based on the premise that these people died.

According to the medical profession, these individuals were clinically dead. However, medical science has not yet agreed on what constitutes actual death in a human being. Real death, according to the Bible, is total and complete unconsciousness — without memory, feeling, knowledge, or perception (Eccl. 9:5, 10; Ps. 6:5). Therefore, it is evident that those who were revived to relate their experiences were not actually dead, but simply in an unconscious state.

Furthermore, science has discovered that the human brain and nervous system are actuated by electrical signals and impulses. The brain is dependent on a steady supply of blood and oxygen to function properly. When circulation and respiration are impaired or interrupted for even a few minutes, the brain begins to malfunction, and will eventually cease functioning altogether.

It is thought by some researchers that the strange lights, sensations, perceptions, and the like, associated with “coming
back from death” may be attributable to the electrical malfunctions of the brain and nervous system associated with the
trauma of nearly dying.

The fact is: we don’t really know, but there is one undeniable truth – these people did not come back from the dead.

The truth about death

In Romans 6:23, we read that “the wages of sin is DEATH,” not everlasting life in either heaven or hell. Real death, as we have already seen from the Biblical account, is a total and complete unconsciousness — without memory, feeling, knowledge, or perception. Why does it say this? Because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the doctrine of going to heaven after you die is complete and utter nonsense:

  1. “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
  2. “For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.” So we see that David also, a “man after God’s own heart” is still in the grave. Surely, he deserves a place in heaven if there was such a place to go after death?

The commentaries (as well as critics), get all convoluted about this verse. Because of the inherent belief of heaven for the saved, they cannot come up with a unified conclusion. They reason that this verse merely means t is the body that is in the grave, but not the soul. But they reason around the plain language of the Bible.

No immortal soul

Death is the effect, or “wages” earned, for living the way of sin. The reason man has to die is sin. Sin causes death. Every man is subject to death because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Thus every man is destined to die.

But when he is dead, God informs us: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Note that there is no work, no device, no knowledge and no wisdom in the grave. The dead know nothing — they are simply dead! Solomon was also inspired to write, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing…” (verse 5, Revised Standard Version).

Those in the grave cannot do anything and their souls don’t praise God, as many believe. That is reserved for those living (Isaiah 38:18-19). The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, which simply means a living, breathing creature. When God created mankind, man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). He didn’t possess an immortal soul, but became a living, breathing creature. The same Hebrew word is used to describe the life of animals — “every living creature” — in Genesis 1:21, 24 and 2:19. Like the animals, man does not possess an immortal soul.

When an individual dies, his body simply returns to dust (Genesis 3:19) — just as an animal does when it dies (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20). When God created man, He created him in His own image and likeness. In the Creator’s great wisdom, He created man with a temporary physical existence — subject to decay and death — so that, should he reject God’s way of life, man would mercifully cease to exist for all eternity.

At the re-creation, recorded in Genesis, God created two physical trees — symbolic of two ways of life — two choices (Genesis 2:9). God then clearly instructed man regarding which choice he should make (verses 16-17). He told him that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death! But man did not believe his Creator. Instead, Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan’s lie that they would not die — that man is an immortal soul — that they already had eternal life (Genesis 3:4-6). Disobeying God, they incurred the death penalty. Twice God records in the book of Ezekiel that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

A change after death

But there is an actual life after death. No, I’m not contradicting myself. The patriarch Job posed the question: “If a man die, shall he live again?….” He then answers his own question by stating, “…all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (Job 14:14). Job was expecting a change — a change to what?

The Bible reveals that, ultimately, everyone dies physically. The Apostle Paul stated: “[l]t is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). All men die physically — all suffer the first death. As all die physically, all will, at some time, be judged. God will judge all humans according to a plan — a time order — at different periods of time. Each of God’s judgment periods is followed by a resurrection. The Bible shows that all mankind will be resurrected in one of three resurrections.

The first resurrection

God records in 1 Corinthians 15, also known as the resurrection chapter, that “as in Adam all DIE, even so in Christ shall ALL [the same “all”] BE MADE ALIVE. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (verses 22-23). At this time only God’s people are being judged (I Peter 4:17). Following this present period of judgment, all “they that are Christ’s at his coming” will be resurrected or changed (1 Corinthians 15:23, 52). These verses refer to the first resurrection, that of the saints, or firstfruits, called out of the world now, to be changed to spirit life at the return of Christ. This is the change Job awaited.

The second resurrection

But what about the rest of humanity — those not called and being judged now? I Corinthians 15:24 focuses on another resurrection — the second resurrection — that will occur at “the end” of Christ’s millennial rule on Earth. In contrast to the first resurrection, this is a resurrection to physical life and a 100-year period of judgment (Isaiah 65:20) for all those cut off from a relationship with God during Satan’s 6,000-year reign on Earth.

We find a more detailed description of the nature of this resurrection in Ezekiel 37. God is not a respecter of persons and will provide every human with the opportunity to get to know Him, choose to and learn to live by His laws, and — after a period of growth and overcoming — be born into the Family of God. This will be the greatest resurrection in terms of numbers. At this time, the billions who have lived cut off from God during Satan’s dominion will be given their opportunity to learn and become a part of God’s awesome plan for mankind.

The third resurrection

Following the second resurrection and judgment of those in it, is another resurrection — the third resurrection, also to physical life. This resurrection is reserved for the willfully disobedient who cling to the way of sin. They are resurrected to be condemned to death. Only a loving God would devise such a merciful plan that prevents man from living in eternal misery and causing misery to those around him.

All three resurrections are described in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation.

Born again produces change

So the change spoken of in the bible can only be undergone if we are born again. What does it really mean to be born again? Christ made it very plain: “That which is born of the flesh IS flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit” (John 3:6). And physical flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). We must be born again, or changed to immortal spirit.

May 31, 2009

Is Suicide The "Unpardonable Sin?"

incredimazing.com

incredimazing.com

The Bible gives no specific command regarding suicide, nor does the word itself appear in the Bible. There are, however, references to seven people who killed themselves: Samson (Judges 16); Abimelech ( Judges 9); Saul (I Samuel 31); Saul’s armorbearer (I Samuel 31); Zimri (I Kings 16:18); Ahithophel (II Samuel 17:23); and Judas (Matthew 27:5). The earlier conduct of all seven was morally corrupt, and except for Samson their suicides were simply attempts to escape their well-deserved fates.

“Suicide means self-murder and murder is forbidden by the Sixth Commandment: “Thou shalt do no murder.”  God has not given an individual — even one who could rightly judge himself deserving of the death penalty (as could most of the above) — the right to pass such a sentence. Suicide is not an acceptable way of escaping punishment, dishonor or the like.”

In a different case, however, Samson died a hero, because his suicide was in fact a dedication of his life, at long last, wholly to the service of God in the liberation of Israel from the Philistines. His motive was not just to kill himself to escape. Christ Himself similarly gave His life for others.

Since a suicide experiencing quick death or unconsciousness has no opportunity to repent of his murder in this life, some have wondered if suicide is the unpardonable sin. The answer is no, because the unpardonable sin is only unpardonable because it is something a person refuses to repent of.

God is merciful, not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9), but He simply has not called most people to repentance in this life. They will have their chance in a resurrected life after the millennium in the period known as the White Throne Judgment.

March 15, 2009

Could the Earth Contain All The Resurrected People Of History?

Filed under: Resurrection — melchia @ 2:15 am
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This world in its present state could hold few more people. Many areas are terribly overcrowded. Tillable land is becoming more scarce in many countries, and much of the world is covered with gigantic mountain ranges which are too high to be of use. Deserts or polar regions monopolize each continent at this time, and pollution, wars, and many other problems have lessened the earth’s capacity to support additional people.

It is unlikely, then, that the world could now contain all those who will ever have lived. What we need to keep in mind, however, is that they will not live in this world, this age, this society. They will be resurrected after a thousand years of renovation by God’s Government (Rev. 20:4-5). Here are some of the physical changes that will be made.

Mountains will be miraculously lowered to a tillable height, and valleys below sea level will be elevated (Isa. 40:4). The deserts will blossom abundantly (Isa. 35:1-2). God will restore a right climate to the earth and will provide rain when needed (Isa. 30:23; 35:7; Zech. 10:1). These changes will take time, but Christ and the saints will have a thousand years to prepare the entire earth for the multitudes that will be resurrected.

Suppose that at the time the events of Revelation 20:11-12 occur, 40 billion people will have lived. Could the earth possibly support this number? Simple mathematics — fifty million square miles of land surface shared by forty billion people — tell us that there would be about five acres of land available for each four-to six-member household. This would be large enough to feed the household and leave plenty of space for other purposes. This fits perfectly with Micah 4:4: “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”

The Bible clearly shows the logic of God’s plan for mankind.

March 8, 2009

What Will Take Place After The 1000-Year Millennium?

These events are described in Revelation 20:7 through the end of the book.

What will happen after God’s plan of salvation has been completed and the earth purged by fire (II Pet. 3:10-12) is found in Revelation 21: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle [dwelling] of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (verses 1-3). At that time, the earth will become the headquarters of God’s Government, which will never cease to grow (Luke 1:33; Isa. 9:7).

God’s plan is concerned with eternity. The sons admitted into His Kingdom will be active, dynamic, productive! They will not just sit around idly. Instead, they will continue fulfilling God’s master plan. Hebrews 2:6-8 states that God will ultimately put the universe under man’s authority. (The words “all things” would be better translated “the universe.”)

What is happening now is only the beginning. We can’t begin to fathom the immensity and glory of what we will be doing for eternity. A great deal more is included than meets the eye in the hint given in Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new glorious and wonderful beyond our most imaginative dreams. (See I Corinthians 2:9 and Romans 8:18.)

Does The Bible Mention Man Having 6000 Years Of Self Rule?

Most people have never heard about God’s 7000-year master plan for mankind. That great plan is pictured by the seven-day week. As Genesis shows, God refashioned the earth and created all life forms in six days and then rested on the Sabbath. God also gave man six days in which to work, followed by a day of rest (Ex. 20:9-11). On the seventh day, man is to put aside his normal routine of daily activities and worship the true God (Isa.58:13-14).

The apostle Peter undoubtedly understood that the seven-day week is a pattern which applies to time on a far grander scale. He wrote, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8, NKJV). The apostle Paul also had this principle in mind when he explained that the seventh day of the week pictures the peaceful time of rest that will follow this present age of human activity (Heb. 4:3-11). The apostle John tells us that this period will occur after Christ’s intervention in world affairs and that it will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-4).

Since the seventh day of the week symbolizes 1000 years of peace under the rule of Jesus Christ, the first six days of the week represent 6000 years in which man has been allowed to govern himself and work out his own ideas and plans. In other words, each day of the week represents 1000 years of human existence.

Where are we now in this great plan? Charts which list biblical events in time order (these can be found in some Bibles) are accurate enough to show that HUMAN LIFE was created about 4000 years before the birth of Christ. History makes it clear that almost another 2000 years have elapsed since then — making a total of nearly 6000 years of human civilization to date. In short, man’s “week” is nearly over, and God’s great millennial rest will soon be here.

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