Monday, December 11, 2017

Questions Concerning Noah's Salvation

By Al Maxey: http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx737.htm

The other day, while scrolling through the posts on Facebook, I came across a picture of Noah's ark with these words attached: "Grace did not save Noah, ... obedience did" (you can see this graphic at the left of this paragraph). Needless to say, this got my immediate attention. I do not know the person who designed this graphic, nor do I know the nature of his/her theological convictions, but the words attached to the graphic seem to suggest rather strongly that salvation is more about what man does than about what God does. It is a diminishing of God's grace, and an elevation of man's own effort. Grace is set aside, faith is not even mentioned, and obedience to some system of laws, rules, regulations and commands becomes the very means of one's salvation. It was because Noah obeyed that Noah was saved. He was not saved by grace, and faith is nowhere in view. Thus, for Noah, according to this view, salvation was based on his own effort; it was "wages due" for human obedience, rather than a gift of grace from a loving, merciful God. Such teaching is not only false, it borders on blasphemy!

Frankly, I find this picture (more specifically: the message embedded) offensive, for it suggests a theological perspective that is, in my view, utterly opposed to biblical truth regarding salvation. "By grace you have been saved," declares the apostle Paul (Ephesians 2:5) ... except in the case of Noah, I suppose! In Noah's case, God's grace has no bearing ... or so the message on this graphic seems to teach. If that was indeed the intent of the designer of this graphic, then he/she has failed to perceive the divine intent with regard to the matter of salvation. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9). There are those within Christendom who teach that salvation may only be acquired by obedience to commands. It is imperative, they say, that we search the Scriptures for these commands and obey them faithfully. If we do, God will save us. From the very beginning, man has sought to appease God by his own efforts, hoping that by doing so well enough he could merit God's favor. Such a theology shows a woeful lack of understanding not only of God's grace, but also of the salvation process itself: a process predetermined by our God. We see something similar from the pen of St. Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274), who wrote, "Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; to know what he ought to do" [Two precepts of Charity]. Notice that the focus is entirely on what mandoes (works-based) and knows (knowledge-based); nothing is even said about God: no mention of grace, love, mercy. When salvation is viewed as the result of something we do, rather than something He has already done, we have a false, twisted view of the true nature of salvation. Meister Eckhart (1260-1327), a contemporary of Aquinas, and perhaps with the above teaching of Aquinas partially in mind, offers a much better and far more biblical perspective: "One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; we must ennoble our works" [Work and Being].

God's call to Noah (and to us as well) was to BE something, far more than it was to DO something. In actuality, the latter tends to fall into place when the former is embraced. When we are loving, we do loving things; when we are kind, we do acts of kindness; when we are merciful, we show mercy in our interactions with others. Our acts of obedience are simply the grateful overflow of hearts filled with faith and love for the One who has graciously accepted us as His beloved children. We don't obey to BE His children, we obey because we ARE His children. Paul affirms this in a beautiful way: we are saved by grace through faith, not as a result of anything we have done, or ever could do; then, as a result of that divine acceptance, we gladly embrace the good works God desires for us to engage in to His glory and to the benefit of others (Ephesians 2:10). By grace we are saved for good works, not by good works. Obedience is a response to His gracious acceptance and salvation, not a means whereby we acquire it. Long before Noah ever began his building project, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8, KJV). While the rest of the world was devoted to walking every wicked path they could find, "Noah walked with God" (vs. 9), and "by faith" and with "reverence" in his heart for his Lord, he built the ark (Hebrews 11:7). Noah was a righteous man (Genesis 6:9), an example unto all who would thereafter be "an heir of righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7). With regard to the building of the ark, Noah had answered God's call "to BE" long before he answered His call "to DO." Noah was not a man living under rigid regulation in the hope of being saved; Noah was a man living in relationship with His God, walking with His God, loving and being loved; already assured of his acceptance and salvation. Obedience was simply a natural by-product of this saving relationship, not the means for acquiring it. Noah was saved long before he was called by God to build the ark, a vehicle that would spare him and his family from the deadly impact of the flood. Thus, God's grace preceded Noah's obedience, with the latter being a manifestation of the love and faith of Noah for such a gracious God. Indeed, the command to build the ark was an act of grace, just as Noah's compliance was an act of faith. We are saved by grace through faith, with our works merely reflecting this great reality. To shift the focus from grace/faith to works/obedience, with respect to salvation, is to undermine the very nature of God's redemptive purpose and plan.

We are told simply, but powerfully, that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8). Most translations use the word "favor" here, although in both the Greek and the Hebrew, the word employed in the text is the common word for "grace," which is often characterized as "unmerited favor." In other words, by the use of this word it is being made clear that Noah had in no way earned this favor by the perfect performance of certain works. Rather, when God looked into Noah's heart, He perceived a genuine desire to know God and a true devotion to serve Him to the best of his understanding, opportunity and ability. Noah was not perfect; no man is. But, God is not looking for religious perfection, He is looking for hearts looking for Him, and when He finds them He reaches out to them with a call to a deep personal relationship. Noah accepted that call of grace by faith, and he "walked with God." This is the first occurrence of the word "grace" in Scripture, by the way. "Now for the first time 'grace' finds a tongue to express its name" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 1, p. 104]. "It is salutary to note that the most godly and important man in the entire world at that time ... was merely a sinner saved by grace!" [Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, p. 177]. Dr. Morris continues: "Note the consistent biblical order here: First, Noah 'found grace.' Then Noah was 'a just man' (that is: 'justified' or 'declared to be righteous'). Thus he was 'perfect in his generations' (or 'complete,' in so far as God's records are concerned), and therefore he was able to 'walk with God.' Salvation in any era is exactly in this way. By sovereign grace, received through faith, the believer is justified before God and declared to be complete in Him. Only as a result of, and on the basis of, this glorious gift of grace, can one then 'walk' in fellowship with God, showing the genuineness of his faith by his works. Four times it is said later, for example, that Noah 'did all that God commanded him' (Genesis 6:22; 7:5; 7:9; 7:16)" [ibid].

Yes, Noah was obedient to God's will; yes, Noah lived his life performing good deeds. BUT, he was obedient and he was active because he was saved, NOT in order to be saved. Noah lived his life by faith, a faith that did not remain hidden, but one which manifested itself in all areas of his life. Of all the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, Noah is the only one whose testimony both begins and ends with an emphasis on his FAITH (Hebrews 11:7). For someone to declare, "Grace did not save Noah, ... obedience did" is appalling, and it shows the author of such a statement needs to be taken aside and shown the way of the Lord God more accurately!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What is God’s REAL Name?

Almighty God thunders, “How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause My people to forget My name . . . as their fathers have forgotten My name for Baal “Lord”]” (Jeremiah 23:26-27).

God declares in His word, “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved” (Romans 10:13). In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes Joel 2:32, “In the last days everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But what IS that Name? What is God’s name, in the original
Hebrew language?


Exodus 20:7 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Many Scriptures tell us we should magnify and praise God’s Name. But how can we do it, if we don’t even know it? The name of God appears 6,828 times in the Bible. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has a name by which he wished/wishes to be known. This most holy name of GOD is written in Hebrew by the letters yod hey vav hey.

This four letters name is called the Tetragramaton. But just how is that name to really be pronounced? Does it matter? How important is it that we say God’s Name correctly?

God’s Name Revealed!

Does God reveal His actual name to us? The answer is YES! The evidence has been overlooked, ignored, and is understood by scholars and, theologians and the whole world! We will rediscover the TRUE name of the Almighty God, Creator of the heavens and the earth!

In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes Joel 2:32, “In the last days everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” What is His name, in the original Hebrew language? Exodus 20:7 says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not old anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Many Scriptures tell us we should magnify and praise God’s Name. But how can we do it, if we don’t even know it?

Remember that the name also means essential nature, character, reputation, and authority. The name of our GOD and the titles by which he is known are extremely important and a casual use fails to communicate adequately the greatness, majesty, holiness, and grace of the one to whom we refer.

Moses (Moshe) asked God what he was to say when the people asked, “What is his name?” (Exodus 3:13). “God said to Moshe, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [ I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what you are to say to the people of Isra'el: ‘Ehyeh [I am or I will be] has sent me to you’” God said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra'el: ‘Yud Heh Vav Heh (YEHOVAH), the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham the God of Yitz'chak, and the God of Ya'akov, has sent me to you.’”

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has a name by which he wished/wishes to be known. This most holy name of GOD is written in Hebrew by the letters yod hey vav hey. This is known as the “Tetragrammaton.” These four letters are the me of the Most High God - YEHOVAH!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Kingdom Good News after the Watchtower

by Antwan Warren, Georgia

All my life, I was under the impression I was a part of God’s “one true organization.” Raised with this mentality by my loving mother, I never doubted or saw the need to question or test my faith. I desperately wanted to put the Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). Working for the Kingdom meant for me doing the works of the organization. I gave it my all and then some. I believed the teaching that Christ became invisibly present in 1914, and is ruling from heaven. I believed the two-hope teaching that some Christians go to heaven while the majority will be on earth. I believed Jesus was the arch-angel Michael. I believed their teaching that their governing body was truly God’s one mouthpiece. I fell for it all; hook, line and sinker. But by the grace of God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of old, I am no longer held captive by these teachings. My Heavenly Father has graciously revealed Himself and His Son to me. I am truly humbled. So I must now proclaim this. It’s like a burning in my bones! There is a simple message of hope contained in the Holy Scriptures. The enemy Satan has desperately been trying to subvert it.

We must follow the true message and believe it in order to see its clarity. This is the framework to work from. Our foundation must be rooted in what the faithful patriarchs and prophets of old were looking forward to. I will start with Abraham. Notice what YHWH - Yehovah said to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3: “All families of the earth will be blessed.” Further in Genesis 13:13-18, and again in 17:3-9, God makes this promise of the land to Abraham and his offspring, and He sealed this by the circumcision covenant. The question is, Who is this offspring of Abraham?

Please read Galatians 3:16. The offspring is the Messiah Jesus! Now we can read verses 26-29 of Galatians chapter 3. All those in Messiah have a share in the inheritance given to Abraham. Paul said in Romans 4:13 that our forefather Abraham would be “heir of the world”! It was all about the land promise of Canaan throughout the Old Testament. The book of Joshua described our forefathers conquering this promised land and living in peace. God cannot lie. It was Israel who kept rejecting their God. But all the prophets spoke about the restoration of the land with a promised Messiah and King. (Please read Psalm 2:6-12; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:1; 16:5; Jeremiah 3:17; 23:5; 30:3; Micah 4:1-5; Obadiah 21.)

Again, it was all about the promised land with God’s Kingdom established in Jerusalem with an anointed king. An example of this in advance is Solomon sitting on God’s throne in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 29:23). So in the future age to come, Jerusalem is where God’s throne will be (Isaiah 24:23). All the Hebrew prophets and patriarchs of old were looking forward to inheriting the land - Israel/Kingdom, with a future Messiah being God’s appointed king. Everyone will be able to enjoy life and peace and happiness the way God had intended it from the beginning. All nations of the earth will learn from them.

Let’s take this promise a step further now to King David. David was a righteous man and he too was given a promise in 2 Samuel 7:12-14. An offspring would actually inherit the throne of David in the Kingdom of God. This is why Scripture always makes reference to the throne of David. We find the land and the Kingdom on that land, and in addition a promised king. This promised Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth; he is the true descendant of David! (Acts 2:30; Matthew 1:1; 12:23; Luke 1:32-35; John 7:42; Romans 1:1-4). We must think like these faithful Hebrews of old. They anticipated the coming Messiah, the son of David to restore Israel, establishing the Kingdom of God on earth! (Acts 1:6-7).

A recap of what I just wrote is found in a speech Stephen gave in the entire chapter of Acts 7. Also in verse 37 of the same chapter is a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15 about the Messiah Jesus as the promised final prophet.

The Messiah’s Identity As mentioned, Jesus is the true descendant of David. Unfortunately, throughout history Geek pagan philosophical thinking has clouded our minds with a different Jesus. The Devil behind the scenes has veiled the true identity of Jesus! We must come to understand who the Hebrews understood the Messiah to be. They never thought he was God becoming a man and they never thought he was the transferred life of Michael the arch-angel. To see the identity of the Messiah we simply follow the promises of the coming son of David, who would be God’s Son (Luke 1:32-35; Matthew 1:20: “begotten in her”). This is the thread running all the way through Scripture (Revelation 5:5; 22:16). This ties in with all the promises! Our lord Messiah (Luke 2:11; Psalm 110:1), the holy exalted one of the most high God is none other than the man Jesus of Nazareth, the descendant of David from the tribe of Judah! The Bible is about God and mankind and how God is restoring things through this unique man who is now our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). The Messiah was not a literal pre-existent being in heaven. This is a falsehood that infiltrated the faith. Jesus was foreknown by promise to these faithful ones as God's plan of reconciling all things (1 Peter 1:20).

Jesus is the way (John 14:6). He is the second Adam (Romans 5:12-21). Immortality in the coming Kingdom of God is now possible in Messiah (2 Timothy 1:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). This is what God intended long ago in speaking to these faithful men of old. This life promised to us was manifested in the Messiah (1 John 1:1-4). The world/age to come in the Kingdom is about the rule of Messiah, the exalted, glorified, first immortal, spiritual man (Hebrews 2:5-10). Not a god-man or angel man, but a glorified, immortalized human man. The Messiah is the first of many brothers (Romans 8:29). The Apostle Peter speaks of Jesus being foreknown in God’s plan (1 Peter 1:20; Acts 2:23). Paul also warned the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 11:4 of a different Jesus and a different gospel. So, as Berean's we must earnestly investigate these things and always be willing to test. The foundation of truth must be strong. This foundation should be built on the apostles and prophets with Jesus being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

What Did Jesus Teach? Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God on earth, as later his apostles did (Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 9:2, 11; Acts 8:12; 28:30; 19:8-9; Matthew 6:33). It was all about the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven on earth. That teaching was built around ancient promises (Psalm 37:11; 115:16; Matthew 5:5). The earth is our home. There are heavenly rewards because the source is from our Heavenly Father, a divine source (James 1:17). Also, Jesus has not yet sat on the throne of his forefather David, but he will at his return to Jerusalem (Matthew 25:31; Luke 1:33). This will be a restored glorious heavenly Jerusalem. We are now awaiting this magnificent future return (certainly not 1914 or 1878).

How will we take part in this Kingdom? We must be born again (born from above) as said in John 3:3 and 1 Peter 1:23. This rebirth happens when we believe in the Kingdom message and in Jesus Messiah (Acts 8:12; Matthew 13:19). The free gift of life is for all people who believe in the message and in the name of Jesus Messiah (Galatians 6:15-16; Colossians 1:26-28). This message must now be proclaimed, for it is truly Good News! The faithful people of old are asleep in death awaiting the resurrection to receive the promises of eternal life, the life of the age to come in the Kingdom of God on earth (Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19-20). The Gospel of the Kingdom is what we need! It will refresh us and change our lives for the better, giving us true freedom. If there are any Jehovah’s Witnesses or former Jehovah’s Witnesses reading this and looking for answers, prayerfully consider these things, for it is God who makes the seed grow. Grace and peace to you all in Messiah.

The Good News About Coming Kingdom Of God

Jesus the Messiah and the apostles preached the gospel! Jesus commanded in Mark 1:15, Repent you, and believe the gospel.” But exactly what is it that we supposed to believe? Just what is the true gospel? Do you know? Are you certain?

Here is more of Mark’s account: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (1:14). This is the gospel Jesus preached. It was in this very same context that He said, “Repent you and believe the gospel” (vs. 15). Which gospel? Of the “Kingdom of God.” Verse 1 in Mark 1 refers to this

message when it states, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus God's anointed one.” The gospel of Jesus the Messiah is about the Kingdom of God; not something else! One must believe the gospel about the coming Kingdom of God as your future depends on believing the good news about the coming Kingdom of God.

Notice: Luke 8:11-12: Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Did you catch that one must believe the word of God in order to believe and be saved!

Notice that Matthew defines what "the word of God" and "the word" mentioned in Luke 8:11-12 is:

Matthew 12:19: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.

So the "word of God" and "the word" in Luke 8:12-12 is "the word of the kingdom" which is the only message that Jesus proclaimed. Everything that he preached was to prepare people to believe and enter into the coming kingdom of God.

This subject is so important that God inspired the apostle Paul to warn the Galatians then and us now: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace
of God's anointed one unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of God's anointed one. [Understand. The gospel - God's anointed one's message - can be perverted!] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (1:6-9).

This is a blunt statement and strong warning to all who will heed! Tragically, almost all have not heeded. A little later, in chapter 2, verse 5, Paul stressed his hope that the “truth of the gospel might continue with you.” So there is one true gospel - all others are false! I did not
say that - God did, through Jesus and Paul.

Although some assert that Paul taught a different or additional gospel, it is plain that he never did. Ironically, God used Paul to warn against ever allowing such false teaching by pronouncing a curse on any man or angel who violates this command. Remember, “But though we [apostles]… preach any other gospel… let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

What a powerful scripture and warning!

Paul explained that the apostles were entrusted by God to preserve the true gospel about the coming Kingdom of God. Notice I Thessalonians 2:4: “But as we [apostles] were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts.”

This is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. True ministers must always teach what God commands not what pleases men (including Bible “scholars”). Any claim that Paul taught a different or second gospel (usually thought to be about Christ or some separate idea about “peace” or “grace”) is impossible. Had he done this, he would literally have been pronouncing a curse on himself!

Did you know that Jesus was foretold to bring the gospel? In the Old Testament, Jesus was prophesied to come as a messenger. Notice Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send My messenger

[typed by John the Baptist in the first century], and he shall prepare the way before Me [God's anointed one the Messiah]: and the lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in…”

God's anointed one, the Messiah is the “Messenger” of the gospel about the coming Kingdom of God, he is not the message itself. Now compare the passage in Malachi with another: “The law and the prophets were until John [the Baptist - only Old Testament

scriptures had been preached previously]: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man [who chooses] presses into it” (Luke 16:16).

Remember that in Mark, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God and called it the gospel.

The word gospel comes from the Old English term “god-spell” or good news. The word kingdom also derives from an Old English term that simply means “government.” Therefore, it is accurate to say God's anointed one, the Messiah preached “the good news of the government of God.”

You can know the who, what, where, when, why and how of this good news, and how it relates to the Bible’s very greatest prophecy. The Kingdom of God is the dominant theme of not only the New Testament but also of the whole Bible. Incredibly, most know little or nothing of it. This world’s ministers seem to be oblivious to this gospel and seldom if ever preach about it. Therefore, virtually the whole world stands in complete ignorance of the single greatest truth in God’s Revelation!

All God’s Prophets Preached the Kingdom The book of Acts contains an extraordinary

statement from the apostle Peter. Let’s read it: “Repent you therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence
of the Lord. And He shall send Jesus His anointed one, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution [or restoring] of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).

Notice that Peter refers to the coming of God's anointed one (vs. 19) as “the presence of the Lord,” meaning He will be back on Earth. Verse 20 states that God “shall send Jesus the Messiah.” Verse 21 describes God’s Kingdom as the “restitution of all things.” Peter stated that this “restitution” (the Messiah establishing His Kingdom) is something “God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (vs. 21).

Did not God actually use all of His prophets to announce His Kingdom? Indeed His did! Bible scholars and religionists ignore this knowledge and even reject it without examination.

Let’s review just a few examples:

In fact, let’s start with the period before the Flood. The apostle Jude, Jesus’ brother, stated, “Enoch [Noah’s great-grandfather]…prophesied… saying, Behold, the lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all…” (vs. 14-15). These verses clearly refer to God's anointed one, the Messiah establishing a world-ruling government.

The Bible calls Enoch a “preacher of righteousness” (w Peter 2:5). Including Abel, there were six other men who previously held this role, with their lives spanning the entire period between Adam and the Flood.

All of them spoke the same message. Remember, Peter said, “since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Is there evidence the gospel was preached in the period following the Flood? In Genesis 12:3, God said to Abraham, “…in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” this verse is also referenced in Galatians 3:8, but is phrased a little differently: “… In you shall all nations be blessed.” This verse also states that the gospel was “preached…unto Abraham.”

This is fascinating understanding! Not only did Abraham have the gospel preached to him (probably by Melchizedek), but it is also preached in Genesis through the writings of Moses! Ask: how could all nations be blessed unless God's anointed one, the Messiah establishes his government on Earth where the nations are?

Moses was the first man God raised up to lead ancient Israel. As both a prophet and judge, he preached the gospel to Israel in the wilderness. Acts 3:24 references Samuel, also a prophet, as having preached the gospel. Notice: “All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken have likewise foretold of these days.”

These are powerful statements that cannot be glossed over. This verse says, “All God’s prophets…as many as have spoken…foretold of these days”! King David preached the Kingdom of God! He recorded, “…for You [God] shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth” (Psalm 67:4). This obviously refers to God’s coming supergovernment. Nations are on Earth, not in heaven!

Notice what the prophet Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty Hero, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” (9:6-7). This prophecy is so obvious it needs no explanation!

Now the prophet Jeremiah: “Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a Righteous Branch and that King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely [neither of these taking place now]: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). These verses also need no explanation.

Ezekiel wrote this of Israel’s descendants alive today: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (36:24).

The next 10 verses describe a period of rebuilding and national prosperity that can only happen after the Messiah's Return. They are unmistakably clear.

Did the prophet Daniel preach the Kingdom of God? The Bible answers: “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and
the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms [of men], and it shall stand forever” (2:44).

All the so-called minor prophets also recorded the gospel of the Kingdom of God in one way or another. God’s Servants Preached the Same Message. Remember, the phrase “the gospel of the kingdom of God” is not the only proper way of describing this coming government! Peter wrote: “God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” until the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21).

An important point from this verse. It says, “God has spoken…” The gospel of the Kingdom of God is a message from God. It should be clear that God speaks through whatever kind of servant He is using—prophet, patriarch, judge, deacon, preacher of righteousness, king, apostle or pastor!

His servants always spoke the same message! The word gospel is found over 100 times in the Bible. Sometimes it is found alone, and sometimes “of the kingdom” follows it. Other times, it includes “of the kingdom of God,” or the equivalent phrase “of the kingdom of heaven.” Note that it says “of heaven,” not in heaven.” It is heaven’s Kingdom, and there is a big difference between the two. Grasp this crucial point!

Throughout the New Testament, the word “kingdom” is found 27 times, “kingdom of God” 75 times, and “kingdom of heaven” 34 times. All are clearly one and the same. Paul preached the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles, yet some believe he preached to them a “different” gospel again, unaware that it was Paul who pronounced a curse on anyone who did this. However, he did not neglect the subject of Jesus roll in the salvation process.

First, Acts 19:8 establishes which gospel he preached: “And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.” In many of his epistles, Paul taught the Kingdom to Gentile congregations. His message was always the same. He continually preached, taught and referred to the Kingdom of God. He wrote, “I have gone preaching the kingdom of God…repentance toward God, and faith toward our lord Jesus Messiah” (Acts 20:25, 21). He preached the same gospel to both Jew and gentile. Finally, let’s read this last recorded picture of Paul’s life: “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, AND teaching those things which concern the lord Jesus the Messiah…” (28:30-31).

Luke, who was the writer of Acts, differentiates between preaching about the Kingdom of God and preaching about Jesus God's anointed one! While both are vitally important, they are clearly two separate subjects!

The deacon Philip also preached both in Acts: “But when they believed Philip…concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus God's anointed one, they were baptized, both men and women” (8:12). Philip differentiated between the Kingdom of God and God's anointed one Jesus. Remember, the messenger is not the message.

Notice that those in Samaria were baptized only after “they believed” the right message. Also, Jesus’ name was taught as all-important as to it's meaning, but as additional understanding. Jesus is not the gospel. However, He does stand directly alongside the true
gospel and, as head of God’s Kingdom on Earth under the Father, will rule the entire Earth with the saints co-ruling with him! after he returns to establish it. Do not lose sight of this!

The apostle Paul further distinguishes between the gospel and the person of Jesus God's anointed one in this powerful warning: “For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached…or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians11:4). Paul wanted the Corinthians to reject false teachers and hold to what he had taught them. The point here is Paul distinguishes between the teaching of a false Jesus and that of a false gospel. These are and always have been separate errors.

Some get confused when reading I Corinthians 15:1-4, thinking Paul contradicts himself by stating that “the gospel…[is] how that God's anointed one Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day.” Careful reading will make clear “the gospel” reference in verse 1 is not connected to Jesus’ death for our sins and his burial, referenced in verses 3 and 4. When correctly understood, rather than saying Jesus is the gospel which would contradict all other passages on the subject this passage confirms the opposite, and supports all the scriptures we have covered.

Since Jesus preached “repent and believe the gospel,” it should now be clear why. His role must always be preached alongside the Kingdom of God and the part he will play in it. One cannot enter the Kingdom unless he understands and accepts that “God's anointed one Jesus died for our sins” and that person has repented of his sins.

What evidence is there that other New Testament writers preached the same message? A great deal! All the Apostles Preached This Same Gospel. The apostle Peter also preached the Kingdom of God: “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our lord and savior Jesus the Messiah” (2 Peter 1:11). So did the apostle James: “Hearken, my beloved brethren, has not God chosen the poor of this world
rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him?” (2:5).

Matthew’s account mentions the phrase “gospel of the kingdom” three times. Notice one: “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (9:35). In most of His parables, Jesus taught the basics of the Kingdom of God. Matthew alone makes over 50 references to it. Luke records what Jesus the Messiah
commissioned his disciples to preach: “Then He called His twelve disciples together…And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God…” (9:1-2). Soon after, He sent 70 others to preach, and they also carried the message of the “kingdom of God” (10:1, 9).

Being Preached Today In the Matthew 24 and 25 Olivet Prophecy, Jesus was asked about the events that would be the signs of His return and of “the end of the world [age]” (24:3). He foretold certain trends and conditions that would occur first. In verse 14, He also stated, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Make no mistake! Jesus God's anointed one will soon return to Earth and establish his Kingdom. It will ultimately reign over the entire Earth - all nations - and the resurrected saints those who have qualified to rule with God's anointed one and shall co-rule with Him.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHT FROM PASSOVER

As we study the Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion we are often confused by the apparent discrepancies between traditional practice and the Gospel record. Many have set about compiling charts and calendars, as has this writer, to find a solution.

One of the confusing factors that is not always taken into account is the simple fact that the Hebrew calendar 24 hour “day” starts at sunset while our Roman calendar day starts at mid-night. In fact the Roman day has one daylight period and two night periods while the Hebrew day has just one of each of about equal length. Even those familiar with these facts still sometimes get their ‘wires crossed’ by not realising that in Genesis 1, the Hebrew “night” comes before the “day”.

Of course, apart from the fact that Genesis repeatedly refers to “the evening and morning, one day” there is a clear logic to this order as well. Darkness is the absence of light and existed first, God said “Let there be light”, so light is created and comes after darkness which just ‘is’.

Now, we see how we drift in our ideas. The very word “evening” from “eve” or poetically "even" and "eventide" in our experience suggest "toward the end of". Although New Year's Eve is before New Year and in most other usage we use it to mean “before the event”. It goes to prove my frequent contention that most words have no meaning out of context. It is like a colour on an artist's palette, it exists and excites various responses however it is only when it is applied and shaped on the canvas that it expresses meaning. One dictionary definition of "evening" reads, “The period immediately preceding a certain event.” The “evening” is the period preceding the “morning” - one day! Our thinking has changed but God's Word doesn't.

Consider how easily folk are confused. Most will remember how the new Millennium was celebrated 12 months early, in year 2000, even though both the Greenwich Observatory and the US Navy Observatory pointed out that 2001 was the first year of the new Millennium.

This simple fact of night coming before day, has caused considerable confusion to the extent that even Jewish feasts, like Passover, get moved 12 hours to the “evening after the day”, the Roman calendar logic, rather than the evening before the day, the Hebrew calendar logic.

Now, once we take this fact on board, it becomes a simple matter to describe the events surrounding the Crucifixion and Resurrection consistently with the Gospel accounts. Jesus did not, as some say, celebrate the Passover with His disciples, early. Neither did He rise from the grave on the first day of the week, which may disturb those who use that thought to justify changing the Sabbath. The Passover was kept on the evening of the 14th Nissan and Jesus was crucified and buried on the 14th Nissan, the Passover was not “the Sabbath” spoken of, that was the next day, the 15th of Nissan, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover was not eaten on a Sabbath, for work, contrary to Torah was necessary in connection with the Feast. (eg lighting fires.)

The fact the the women came to the tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week does not prove that Jesus rose then - “He is Risen!” as the greeting goes and the time of resurrection is not given, except in Jesus own plain statement in Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." If we are to take Jesus at His word then he did not mean one and a half days. We must agree that he had to be in the grave before sunset, the day He was crucified which simply means He must have risen, also before sunset, which had to be late on the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day, as He was not in the grave at sunrise on the first day of the week.

Note:

Jesus "only sign" of his true Messiahship was "the sign of the prophet Jonah" (Matthew 12:39,40) - 3 days and 3 nights in the grave.
Jesus kept the Passover with his disciples on the 14th Nissan. (Luke 22:15) - The day starts at sundown.
Jesus was crucified on the 14th of Nissan and died about mid-late afternoon and buried before sunset (Luke 23:54).
Jesus was 3 days and 3 night (22 hours) in the grave - (Not 1 1/2 days)
Jesus did not rise from the grave on the first day of the week but close to sundown on the Sabbath (Luke 24:1-3)
The Jews moved Passover to the 14th like Christians moved the Sabbath to the first day of the week (Changing times and seasons).