666 ~ The Mark of the Beast
presented by charles huntley. Clever
T he most
solemn warning recorded in the Bible for our day is found in the fourteenth
chapter of Revelation. Called the mark of the beast, it has generated countless
discourses and theories as expositors attempt to plot a course to escape
Some twist the Scriptures in a manner to exalt the theory that the saints will be in heaven and will not have to endure this final test of loyalty to God.
Most speculators will not rule out a connection between a proposed computer chip implant and world banking, but this is not the "mark", but an implement to coerce the saints. Let us find out precisely what the Bible says on this subject. But before we start this important journey through God's word, please take a moment to humbly pray. Ask for the enlightenment of heaven through His Holy Spirit that you may be anointed with the wisdom that can only descend from above to assist your understanding of this most important subject.
Because the Scripture warns about approaching trials that require one to
explicitly trust and obey our heavenly Father, I must first clarify one
point. Today many do not like the word obedience. True, you are
only justified by the imparted grace of God through the merits of
our Sin Bearer accepting our
punishment, but please understand that
our actions are important in another sense. Good works that we possess
will NOT be our authority to enter into heaven because good conduct that
emanates from the heart can only come from the One who dwells on high and
within--"Christ in you", doing "His good pleasure", is the mechanism
of our salvation (Colossians 1:27; Philippines 2:13). When first baptized
by water, we symbolically died a death to this world, but that death must
be manifest in our deportment by Christ working out His life within us;
that is the "born-again" experience (John 3:3).
A strict obedience to God will not qualify anyone to enter through the gates of the Holy City into the Heavenly Canna. Neither will Christ's righteousness justify, that is, make right, anyone by virtue of their being born as a human--of woman, or of the flesh; or, by being inaugurated into the most noble religious organization. Only God's love and your surrender and trust, as prompted within by the Holy Sprit, must be the great factor for your service and obedience. This was indicated to Israel before their exodus to the Promised Land: "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear [revere] the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, AND TO LOVE HIM, and to serve the LORD God with all your heart and with all your soul. To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good" (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13).
Many in the religious community are trying to love this fallen world and its allurements while loving God. Only half-dead to the world, their presumptuous faith, or self-inspired enthusiasm, becomes a method of works to make them believe they are saved when, in fact, they are half saved yet totally lost because they serve two masters; "A house divided cannot stand", says Jesus (Matthew 12:25). While attempting to serve God and their fleshly desires, their divided priorities prevent total commitment to the omnipotent One and they "grieve" the Holy Spirit and God's saving presence departs from them (Ephesians 4:30).
Often the words and actions of false prophets tell us that Christ's forensic act at Calvary, or our system of belief (faith) is sufficient for salvation while we descend from our high calling and partake of worldly pleasures (most are allurements of Satan). They forget the pleading words from the One who holds the entire universe in His grasp: "And why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"--(Luke 6:46). And when someone said the womb that bore and breasts that Jesus sucked were blessed, Jesus replied: "More... blessed [than my mother, Mary,] are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:27-28).
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we must also accept Him as our King and obey the laws of His government; otherwise, we are actually "dead" subjects presuming to have faith in an indifferent monarch who does not enforce his noble laws (James 2:17,20,26). Someone not "born again" or led by God's presence within, sees God's law as foolishness and does not really believe he is condemned through the words of death written indelibly by their King's finger on stone (1 Corinthians 2:14). Forced obedience is not correct in God's sight because it does not spring from a love and appreciation of God's goodness. When that same person becomes "enlightened" through God's Spirit, the same condemning law is now written on the tables of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33). This correct obedience is spontaneous--it is pleasurable--and that is the right condition of loyal angels and the perfect inhabitants of God's unfallen galaxies.
In that condition, the same law then promotes life, liberty, and happiness because the transformed saint evidences his conversion and is now in harmony with God's devout universe; and, to quote Jesus' statement to His followers: "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).
One can not obtain heaven by forced obedience--Jesus paid the penalty for ours sins, and the ability to obey is a gift God gives us in His great mercy: "Not by works of which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5) Just how one is saved is a subject of debate among theologians, and even more confusing is how one "falls from grace." Because your standing with God actually determines whether or not you receive the mark of the beast, these topics will be explained in greater detail later making this the longest chapter; but for now, and throughout this treatise, keep this thought continuously before you: The saints who DO NOT receive the mark of the beast are those "that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). Now for the most solemn warning:
"If anyone WORSHIP the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, that person will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out... [full strength] into the cup of his indignation; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascend sup forever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:9-12).
With such a fearsome warning, we must diligently seek to understand precisely what is occurring in this world today that will disqualify us from participating in the resurrection of the righteous--especially, the Mark of the Beast. As the earth heaves and tosses in its dying pains, there are a few people who are preserved through this calamity. David tells of those who "abide under the shadow [protection] of the Almighty" (Psalms 91:1).
At the time of the last plague of Armageddon, the living Saints will be
those resurrected alive, never tasting of death. David continues: "A thousand
shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall
not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the
reward of the wicked " (ibid. verses 7, 8).
Therefore, those who observe the destruction of the wicked is not limited to the holy angels and the Lamb, but to the saints who endure the coming tribulation and do not receive the mark of the beast. These faithful ones have endured unimaginable hardships. And their only hope is in Christ's promise of their resurrection to heaven (John 14:1-4); this hope increases in proportion to the calamities on earth. As the world consumes around them they sing songs of praise: "They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing.... From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: Glory to the righteous!"--(Isaiah 24:14, 16).
"Glory to the righteous [ONE]!" This song of praise indicates that those gaining victory over the Beast WORSHIP God. Who you worship is the first important "key" to victory. The warning in Revelation says: "If anyone WORSHIP the beast and his image..." (Revelation 14:9). WORSHIP and religion are synonymous, inseparable. So, first of all, the beast is a religious power and demands our worship or allegiance.
As we discovered previously, the Roman System had demanded allegiance or worship; or, suffer the penalty of death. Now it is in the form of a Christian church, and this system is to rule until consumed by fire under the fifth plague (Revelation 16:10). Therefore, the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel 12 must have another name in the book of Revelation. Perhaps you guessed it, the Beast! But to identify this power for certain, the Bible gives us many important clues--and the most profound is his name. Let us read it for ourselves:
"Here is WISDOM. Let him that has UNDERSTANDING count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a MAN; and his number is 666" (Revelation 13:18). There are several points in this verse that need your attention. First are the words WISDOM and UNDERSTAND, they have similar meaning. Remember from our study in Daniel 12 Revealed: "And none of the wicked will UNDERSTAND; but the wise shall UNDERSTAND." If you had no problem UNDERSTANDING from that study that the Roman System is the Abomination of Desolation, then you will UNDERSTAND this too.
THE NUMBER OF A MAN
Second, the number 666 is that of a MAN. If you are like me, you get a
little squeamish when you see the number 666. I used to wonder while passing
a highway mile-post number 666, but after re-reading the verse, I do not
wonder. Once more, the Bible says it is the number of a MAN.
If you get anything positive from this study, it should be this fact: That mysterious number is not the number of a computer operated by the New World Order. It is not the year A.D. 666. It is not a triple SIX digit number on your credit card or social security number. It is not a computer chip with 666 megabytes of random access memory implanted in your forehead or on your hand. It is not a mile post number, and if the last three digits of your mother-in-law's phone number is 666, that, too, is a coincidence because it can not apply to a woman, although a woman called Pope Jude once masqueraded as a man and was elected to that office. Even if numbers are manipulated to identify a female, it cannot apply because the Bible says: It is the number of a MAN.
The word MAN used here in Greek is aner. This noun is always translated masculine in the King James Bible according to the context of the sentence as follows: Fellow, one time; husband, 50 times; man, 156 times, and sir, six times. It is ALWAYS used to indicate a PERSON, and never a place or thing. In the Greek, it says to count the number of the MAN. It did not say "read his number", or "see his number", it says to COUNT THE NUMBER of the MAN. In Revelation 14:11 the mark is referred to as "the mark of his NAME." In Revelation 13:17, 15:2 it is called "the number of his NAME." So the "mark" and "number" refer to his "name", and we count the number of his name.
As mentioned earlier, one thing we inherited from the Roman System is Roman Numerals. Archaic? Yes! Awkward to use? Yes! And do you remember them all? Probably not! The way I remember is to calculate the tiny Roman Numerals on the bottom row of the pyramid found on a U.S. one-dollar bill. They are MDCCLXXVI. The largest digit is placed first, M = 1,000; D = 500; Two Cs = 200; L= 50, two Xs = 20, V = 5 and I = 1. Now, let us add and "COUNT THE NUMBER" and they TOTAL 1776--the year the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. By the way, if it totaled 666, the U.S. dollar is not the beast because it is does not apply to a man's name or title.
Several years ago I was working with a friend who had once studied to be a Catholic Priest. "Robert!" I asked. "Have you ever heard of the name VICARIUS FILII DEI?" Robert answered affirmative. "Of course! It is the title of the Pope. It means: 'In the place of the Son of God.'" A MAN in the place of God? Unbelievable! Jesus said to His disciples: "Do not be called Rabbi [teacher]: for one is your Master, Christ; and all you are brethren [meaning no one is supreme instructor, neither is there a Throne of Peter for someone to occupy]. And call no one your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Matthew 23:8, 9).
Robert was correct. Spelled slightly different, my dictionary defines vicarious as "acting for another." A form of this word denotes the one in authority when the president dies--vice president. FILII (Latin, filialis, for son or daughter) is closely related to our word FILIAL. That refers to a kindred relationship by parents and offspring, such as "filial love." And DEI represents DEITY, or God. So, VICARIUS FILII DEI, originally published in Latin, literally means: In the place of the Son of God. This title was first bestowed upon the Pope in the eighth century when he received the so-called "Vicar of Christ" title by the Roman System. It was a counterfeit document called the Donation of Constantine, appearing two centuries after Constantine The Great, and bearing his forged signature, that suggested the name VICARIUS FILII DEI and strengthened the heresy of the succession of popes from the throne (Sic.) of the apostle Peter.
Please allow me one moment to inject a thought: Do we need a human "father" to prescribe our religious duty? Did Jesus really abandon us? He said: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth" (Matthew 28:20). And John emphasizes the mission of the Holy Spirit: "But the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but these anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie..." (1 John 1: 27). So, with Jesus' presence through the Holy Spirit, we need no human being to usurp the position and mission of His Spirit that gave us the Bible as a rule of faith. It is blasphemy for someone to change the Word given through the Holy Spirit (Revelation 22:18).
mission of the church is not to pass ecclesiastical legislation
that conflict with Scripture, but to teach what God gave humanity in the
sacred scriptures. God gave "some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfection of
the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body
of Christ: Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ..." (Ephesians 4:11-13).
The mission of church leadership is to foster an intimate relationship with Christ and a trust and obedience to His Word. Shepherds of the flock who do this are to be commended.
Now, let us COUNT THE NUMBER of the man using Roman Numerals. Even
though it is Latin, we can figure it out because a few letters of their
alphabet are assigned numeric value.
|V (U) = 5|
|I = 1|
|C = 100|
|A = 0||F = 0|
|R = 0||I = 1|
|I = 1||L = 50||D = 500|
|*U = 5||I = 1||E = 0|
|S = 0||I =1||I = 1|
|Totals 112||Totals 53||Totals 501|
|Now, let us||total all columns:||112 + 53 + 501 = 666|
The letter U is a variant of V and was added as a vowel to our English
alphabet in the 18th century; the U has the same value as the V in Latin
There are three places in the Bible that mentions a mark in the hand or forehead: First, Deuteronomy 11:18: "Therefore shall you lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes [your forehead]." Second, Deuteronomy 6:8 says: "And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes [forehead]." And finally, Exodus 13:16: "And it shall be for a token [Hebrew: oth, meaning" sign"] upon your hand, and for frontlets between your eyes [forehead]: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."
The first two verses quoted are in reference to obedience to God's commandments, being written in the "heart", the "soul" [psyche], and the "hand." If obedience to God is spontaneous because His indwelling presence inspires love and trust in His Word, then even obedience through action (the "hand") is acceptable to God--that means that we must obey God's holy dictates, even if we do not fully discern the rationale behind the commands. The last quotation carries the same thought, but makes reference to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage: " The LORD brought us forth out of Egypt." This is the version of God's law that Moses wrote (Deuteronomy 31:24).
"But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the LORD your God: [in it] you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor the stranger that [is] within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you." [Then Moses adds this thought to remind God's people that God is our Deliverer:] "And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and [that] the LORD your God brought you out here through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commands you to keep THE SABBATH DAY" (Deuteronomy) 5:15.
Today, we have been delivered through Christ's eternal sacrifice from the world where we were Satan's captives just as surely as the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. If you, too, abhor the injustices of this sin-polluted planet, then you are looking forward to that rest in the heavenly Canna. The apostle Paul borrows from Moses' thought as recorded in Hebrews where he likens the exodus from Canna to our Sabbath rest in Christ:
"For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this occasion, 'And God did rest the seventh day from all his works....' For if Jesus [literally Joshua, which means God saves] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief [and not enter heaven]" (Hebrews 4, 8-11).
These thoughts convey the principle that in addition to reminding us of
God our Creator, the Sabbath of the fourth commandment brings us into rest
with God, OUR DELIVERER. Christ says: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn
of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find REST unto your
souls" (Matthew 11:29). And Christ did not change His Father's commandments,
"would he not afterward have spoken of another day" (Hebrews. 4:8)? Yes,
there are those who insist that Christ actually changed His own law.
We do not find this change recorded in the mission of Christ outlined by God the Father in Isaiah 42: "Behold! My servant [Jesus] who I uphold, My Elect One in who my soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.... He will MAGNIFY THE LAW AND MAKE IT HONORABLE" (Isaiah 42:1, 21). Christ magnified the law by upholding its principles and stating that it is only fulfilled through love. He specifically said that His Father's Commandments were NOT to be changed:
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [magnify and make honorable]. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled." Matthew 5:17, 18
When will "all be fulfilled?" Certainly it was not on the cross when Jesus
was sacrificed "once" and announced that His mission was complete with
the words, "It is finished" (Hebrews 10:10, 12; John 19:30)! After Christ's
exclamation, we must be careful to obey because, " if we sin willfully
after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remained
no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment
and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries " (Hebrews 10:26,27).
Satan is still the tempter, and the controversy between good and evil continues--even
to this day. Our study of Daniel 12 accurately shows when "all these things
shall be finished" (verse 8). It is three and one-half millenniums from
Haman's decree in B.C. 474)--approximately 1,000 years in the future. That
is when Satan and the wicked are destroyed and sin is eradicated from the
Some sincere ministers say that Jesus changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, or worse yet, they nullify the entire ten-commandment law. Have you observed that neither Jesus or the Apostles tell the people to trust the Rabbi? Their job was to read the scriptures to the people each Sabbath, but they were interpreting the Scripture to suit themselves, to pacify their consciences while living in transgression. For this reason God spoke similar words of caution through Jeremiah: "Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD" (verse 17:5). And the apostle James says: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him" (Verse 1:5). Because others may direct you to scriptures you have overlooked, "in the multitude of counselors there is safety", but God's Word must remain your primary guide (Proverbs 11:14).
Before we delve further into the mark of the beast, you need understand some important Bible truths; you will never learn these profound facts from "teachers" who "nails jots and tittles" of God's law to the cross (Matthew 5:18).
It is difficult for us to properly understand the Bible because we may
study it while "wearing grandpa's glasses." That is, we assume what we
are taught is correct and, while ignoring significant texts, are interpreting
the Bible as if our established beliefs are the same as Bible authors.
Therefore, we may inadvertently misapply biblical facts, including the
truth that Jesus abolished "sacrifice and offering" (Daniel 9:27). When
properly applied, that text means food offerings and festivals related
to annual ordinances and days were abolished at Calvary because they merely
prefigured future events.
In 1998 the Vatican issued an official statement on Sunday sacredness contradicting their historical position. The inconsistencies of this declaration prompted me to computer-analyze the entire Bible for every event that used the Hebrew terms for Sunday, "first day" and "day after the Sabbath", which means the day after the seven-day week. How interesting to discover that the only symbolic festivals in the Old Testament Torah that commemorated a specific day of the week were the two annual Sundays: The Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.
To observe Pentecost, God commanded the Levites to "count 50 days to the day after seven Sabbaths..." (Leviticus23:16). In other words, Pentecosts were to be observed annually on the Sunday following seven consecutive Saturdays, dating from the Firstfruits Sunday when they "began the harvest" (see Leviticus 23:16; 9-22 and Deuteronomy 16:9). According to the Sadducees, Samaritans, and authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, these compulsory festivals were to be observed literally, as the Bible commands, every year on "THE DAY AFTER THE SABBATH", which is Sunday (Leviticus. 23:11, 15). These annual Sundays were sacred, or holy assemblies, when no common work was to be done (Numbers 28:26).
You who understand deeper truths of the Bible know that Christ was literally raised from the grave as the Sunday "Firstfruits"-- But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.... But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits ;afterward they that are Christ's at his coming--(1 Corinthians. 15:20, 23). And the Holy Spirit fell on the "Pentecost Sunday" seven weeks later (Acts 2:1). "Firstfruits Sunday" commemorated the Sunday resurrection of Jesus from the grave to heaven to receive His father's authority; and "Pentecost Sunday" represented the strength manifested seven weeks later in the Spirit's outpouring of "power" upon His disciples to be "witnesses... unto all the earth" (Acts 1:8).
God previously typified those significant events in the Old Testament because he did not want them celebrated, in any manner , by the New Testament church. These Old Testament Sunday observances were "symbolic", literally fulfilled, and were therefore "a shadow of things to come", and "nailed to the cross." That is, today there is no such thing as a weekly Sunday holy convocation, Sunday Passover, Sunday Pentecost; nor a weekly Easter service or Sunday resurrection celebration; such suggestions originated as a fabrication to pacify the conscience and excuse transgression of God's law among those erroneously sanctifying events previously typified in the Old Testament.
Some theorists may argue that the significance of Sunday was not terminated because these festivals were kept by certain Jewish groups each year on a different week day, sometimes on the Sabbath, following the special "invasion Passover" as observed at Gilgal when they did not harvest (Joshua 5:11). That reasoning has no logic because the Bible links Firstfruits to the first Sunday of barley harvest, that is, on the day they "began to put the scythe to the grain" and they could never "begin" or start harvesting on the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 16:9). Secondly, these holy days met exact literal applications on the special Sundays of the very year Christ was crucified; that is, the shadows met their substance precisely--they were completely fulfilled and these "sabbath days" are, to again quote the Apostle Paul, "nailed to the cross" (Colossians 2:14-17).
For this reason, Sunday can not be legally observed annually or weekly; it is not sacred today, and will remain a regular working day--never to be kept sacred each week throughout the endless days of eternity--the sanctity of Sunday only exists in the minds of the nostalgic. There is now NO mandate in the New Testament to observe Sunday in honor of Christ's Sunday resurrection or the Sunday Pentecost "experience", or an example of such observances recorded in God's word.
In addition, Sunday was not legalized by the entire church until Constantine's fourth-century Council of Nicaea. Rome was previously rebuked by leaders from the Asian church when they substituted the Passover with the pagan Easter Sunday. In vain Rome suggested the universal church disfellowship the Asians for not submitting to their Roman tradition. The eastern churches, however, prevailed and observed the biblical fourteenth-day-of-the-first-Jewish-month patterned by Jesus, the first disciples, and early churches. After several decades of conflict, Rome influenced the First Nicaean Council to substitute Easter Sunday for the correct date of the biblical Passover.
the unbelieving Pharisees who sought His condemnation: "And because I tell
the truth, you do not believe me" (John 8:45). The truth may be just as
confusing to you. Most of the world places confidence in the integrity
of church leadership and imagine that Sunday is the Sabbath of the New
Testament. With so much emphatic endorsement, we imagine, surely
there must be many biblical examples of Sunday sacredness. True? Well,
the Bible (and the Koran ) both mention commandment-keeping, which
encompasses Sabbath (Saturday) sacredness, as a result of God's plan to
inherit eternal life, and there is not a single text in the Bible
(or Koran) suggesting such a change (James 2:10, 11; Isaiah
66:22,23). Instead, history reveals Sunday as linked with sun worship;
it is named "sun's day" and is Satan's counterfeit holy day. In reading
the Bible you will find recorded many Sabbath services and NOT ONE "sacred
Sunday" (or Friday) worship service in compliance with God's law.
Additionally, the Koran declares Abraham the father of the prophets and says you must obey God's prophets to be a true follower of Islam, meaning peace or submit (Koran 4:47,-51); the Koran also condemns the Jews for crucifying the Jewish prophet Jesus Christ (Ibid. 4:158). Although that declaration is correct, in application the Koran conflicts because the life and teachings of the "prophet" Jesus does not duplicate Islamic evangelism by military conquests. Jesus said: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants [disciples] fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36).
The fifth trumpet of Revelation
nine describes the invasion of Christian territories by Ishmaelites (see
the web site below). Since the Moslems first assaulted these countries,
the number of relentless invaders, sympathizers, and terrorists undoubtedly
exceeds the 200 million warriors described in Revelation 9:16; in
fact, one famous French Battle of Tours, of October 10, A.D. 732,
had an estimated 300,000 deaths among the Saracen invaders. That Islamic
defeat undoubtedly kept Northern Europe from further attacks and Islamic
Come, let us reason together, says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18). These prophecies do not represent invasions of Israel by Russia or China, as some suggest, because no general today would amass 200,000,000 combatants, thus exposing them to aerial annihilation. Two myriads of myriads, in the original Greek, symbolize an innumerable host: It represents Moslem militants and their sympathizers throughout history. I discuss this number in greater detail, as well as biblical prophecies of Islamic supremacy, at the Internet site, islam.htm, and in the Appendix.
The great majority of Moslems are non-violent followers of, who the Koran identifies as the God of Abraham, Allah. Historians knew that the Bible pointedly identifies the leader of Islamic militants: "And they had a king over them, [who is] the angel of the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:1-3], whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon [destroyer]..." (Revelation 9:11). Did you notice? Yes, Revelation nine-eleven!
Although the Koran condemns killing the innocent, one writer's study suggests such attacks justifiable under current Islamic interpretations (Koran 2:190-193; Robert Spencer: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades). Regency Publications, 2005, pages 35-45).
Could an eternity in Heaven be heavenly with such destructive attitudes? Absolutely not! Death in the "lake of fire" would shorten your agony.
As mentioned earlier, the Koran teaches that the biblical prophets
are equal in authority, and must be obeyed. That encompasses the Sabbath
(not Friday) in the ten-commandment law that was upheld by Jesus (Mark
2:27). And emphasized by the prophet Moses about 2,000 years before Mohammed
existed (Koran 2:136,174-177; Exodus 19:1-25;20:26; 31:18; Deuteronomy
Perhaps you have read newsletters written for Sunday congregations. They may mention many Sunday events, like the amount of offering collected, or church attendance "last Sunday", or possibly discuss plans for Sunday choir practice, field trips, or outings. When one reads the Bible they discover the opposite of this--many Sabbath events, and a strange omission of Sunday-glorification. This is because Sunday is one of the six common days in which we are to "remember the Sabbath day" and prepare for its sacred hours (Exodus 20:8).
Without dispute Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, but that event did not nullify the sacredness of God's Sabbath. Luke's writings in Acts, covering more than 30 years of church history after Christ's ascension to heaven, only mention the words first day ONE TIME. Instead of using the term "Sunday", Luke writes "first day" because he uses God's method of naming week days found in the first chapter of His Word (Genesis 1:5). This indicates Luke also uses Bible reckoning of sunsets, not our modern midnights, to start the beginning of each day, as he does in Luke 23:54 and 24:1 (Leviticus 23:32). As Christians, God demands we speak honestly, and it is so very important that we study Luke's only usage of "first-day" in Acts without the distortion that you hear from those who misunderstand that Sunday is not sacred, but a common working day (Acts 20:1-16).
To understand this "first day" event, please observe that Luke identifies
who accompanied him and Paul to a farewell dinner
and final meeting of their one-week stay at Troas (Acts 20:4-6).
And because "there were many lights" at that Sunday service, it was actually recording a Saturday-evening meeting, which is the beginning of the Biblical first-day (Sunday). Also, after breaking bread, Paul delivered "his message unto midnight"; that is, he stopped preaching his sermon at midnight, which is actually the end of our modern Saturday (Acts 20:7).
Although there were "many lights in the upper chamber", that Saturday evening around midnight, a young man named Eutycus slept and toppled three stories down from the outside window.
The young man was taken up alive, and Luke's narration continues: "And we ["we" means seven disciples plus Luke] went before [in advance] to ship and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he arranged, minding himself to go afoot... [walking], departing at daybreak [Sunday morning]" (verses 7, 11, 13).
Let me speak frankly so you may
understand what the Bible is clearly saying: Paul's parting sermon to the
Troas church lasted until midnight, which is the beginning of our
modern Sunday. That evening Paul's evangelistic team of eight disciples
"went before"; that is, they left that Saturday-evening meeting, pulled
anchor, paddled to deep water, hoisted sail, and sailed some sixty miles
(97 km) around the peninsula from Troas to Assos, and that excursion occupied
all of Sunday, the day millions of people think is the new Sabbath of the
Christian church. Meanwhile, with the disciples gone, Paul's sermon was
over and he "talked" (verse 11) with the remaining church members until
sunrise, Sunday morning, and then walked about 24 miles (39 km) across
the isthmus from Troas to Assos to meet the eight disciples--that would
also occupy most of Sunday, a mandated working day (Exodus 20:9).
You must honestly admit that God knew precisely what He was doing when He impressed Luke to record the minute details of these events which include "many lights" in the upper chamber where Eutycus slumbered that Saturday evening, then Paul hiking and eight of his evangelists boating all day Sunday, and all this after a Saturday-evening meeting. This is hardly a sacred Sunday-morning church-service, or evidences a change in God's law.
Properly understood, these verses re-orient us to reality: God's evangelistic team of nine disciples (counting Paul) guarded the holiness of the Sabbath by delaying their departure from Troas until after the sacred hours of the day God blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:3). Also, Sunday is not being celebrated because they were not at a "Lord's Day" [sic.] service but traveling all day. God knew Satan would introduce error into the church during the Dark Ages when Bibles were suppressed and the Abomination of Desolation changed His law and hunted, tortured, and murdered those who translated or preached the Word in languages other than Latin; by listening in an unknown language, the people could not discern they were being misled by those in authority. And millions today sincerely think they are obeying God by keeping Sunday holy while they are actually transgressing the day God "blessed and sanctified" (Genesis 2:3). As we enter this period of enlightenment where "knowledge will be increased", it is imperative that you see that Sunday-sacredness is an incomprehensible myth and absolutely absurd (Daniel 12:4). "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).
to Luke, the apostle Paul also uses the biblical term for Sunday,
first day, ONE TIME in all of his epistles (letters), also
covering about thirty years of his ministry to the church. This lengthy
period stretches from Paul's conversion in A.D. 34 on the road to Damascus,
to his condemnation by the infamous Nero who died in A.D. 68. That
lone mention of Sunday is recorded in Paul's letter written to the Corinthian
church that he had previously established.
Luke writes of Paul's initial visit to Corinth and states: "He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath [Saturday], and persuaded the Jews and Greeks [Gentiles]....", "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 20:4, 11). Now, Paul plans to visit the Corinthians. So they can prepare for his arrival, he sends a courier ahead with the epistle (First Corinthians) telling of his intentions which includes the collection of an offering for the famine-stricken saints in Jerusalem.
Sunday was not considered sacred to the early Christians and Paul says he was 'blameless in the Law"--that law commands Sabbath sacredness (Exodus 20:8-11; Philippians 3:6). He is fully aware that this letter will be read to the congregation as they meet together on the customary Sabbath (Saturday, Acts 17:2). The apostle does not want any anxious saints to desecrate God's Sabbath by preparing an offering before sunset on the Lord's sacred rest-day, so instructs them: "On the first day of the week [Sunday] let every one of you lay by him [himself alone, not in church] in store [storage], as God has prospered him, that there be no gathering when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:1,2).
When the entire Bible is taken in context, you must honestly admit that Paul is actually saying Sunday is still a working day: "Do not transgress God's law by going to your granary, marketplace, storage shed, garden, or otherwise perform work by preparing an offering until after the Sabbath's sacred hours Saturday evening. That way your offering will be ready for presentation, and no work will be necessary, when I preach to you next Sabbath."
This may sound strange to you, even hypothetical, but even among congregations that keep the Sabbath sacred today, common church functions, or activities that require work, are routinely announced before the congregation during the Sabbath's worship service, and scheduled for Saturday evenings or Sundays. And Paul's instructions to the Corinthians are a valid caution for you, to prevent your transgression of God's law. Were he writing to us, the "last generation", he might say: "Begin preparation for next week's Sabbath on Sunday. 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy'--it is a holy assembly (convocation) to meet with the saints and God--do not desecrate its sacred hours by frequenting sporting events, restaurants, working, or shopping. You must wait until after sunset Saturday; and, once more, do not forget to "gather" your offering on Sunday, that way it will be ready for church service next Sabbath" (Isaiah 58:13,14).
Paul's instruction to the Corinthians is another biblical example proving that God's Law is binding today; that is, Paul is actually guarding the sacred hours of the Sabbath. It is in no honest sense telling people to worship on Sunday. Read first Corinthians 16 verses one and two again--it does not record tithe-paying at a Sunday morning church service as falsely suggested (Proverbs 30:6).
These truths should be gladly received by everyone desiring to serve God according to divine standards; and others, unfortunately, will certainly be offended (Galatians 4:16). Yet please understand, there were some valid changes introduced into the New Testament church. Although the Bible is silent concerning a change in God's explicit instructions to have a "holy assembly" on Saturday (Leviticus 23:3), and it does not command one o "remember" a new "holy Sunday" or "holy every-day-alike"; instead, it records Jesus giving the New Testament church two new ordinances. Let us first discuss communion, sometimes called Eucharist.
Under the law of Moses the saints often ate the life-imparting flesh of their sacrificial offering--those digested proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and sacrides, provided strength and built new tissue in their bodies. Jesus indicated that this was really symbolizing our becoming an integral part of His divine life while acknowledging His great sacrifice: "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). Today, Christians who eat the nourishing bread and wine during communion service symbolize the combined life that all believers must have as Jesus also "nourishes" them through His imparted presence: "Do this in remembrance of Me", said Jesus; "He that lives in me, and I in him, the same... [accomplishes much] for without me you can do nothing" (1 Corinthians 11:24,25; John 15:5). Of course Jesus is not advocating eating human flesh and blood, He said: "The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). And this is the only way you can be saved, by accepting through the faith God gives you, what God has done for you, and what God is simultaneously doing within you; that is, the crucified and risen "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
is not mocked and He knows where His presence abides (John 6:70). God is
also fully aware of the enabling strength imparted by His internal Shekinah
glory, and if He could force 1,000 megawatts of conviction into our conscience,
we still could not be saved without our submission because God demands
our cooperation--He will not reside where He is not wanted.
And the worthless excuses and alibis that bind us to pride or willful sin,
they are rejected as were the empty excuses of our first parents. God only
accepts our best efforts, and we can not succeed without His "leading"
presence, "For as many as are
led by the Spirit of God, they are
the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). If we fail to grow to the "full stature"
by persistently yielding ourselves to transgress God's law in deed or thought,
we have then presumptuously separated ourselves from Christ. Then the Holy
Spirit departs and we, like King Saul who initially felt his insufficiency
and was anointed with God's Spirit, or Judas Iscariot who worked miracles
with the disciples, may profess holiness, but have failed to follow the
Holy Spirit's convictions to keep our sinful inclinations in subjection
(1 Corinthians 9:27;1 Samuel 16:14; Luke 22:3).
Such transgressors become servants of the one they obey; that is, they make a covenant with sin and death instead of obedience and righteousness (Romans 6:16). Making a covenant with sin "grieves" the Holy Spirit and allows evil angels to silently assume that vacancy and, unknown to us, our life is outside of Christ; "Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:9). This happens regardless of our previous faithfulness, denominational orientation, waving hands and vocalized praise, conviction, religious enthusiasm, ecstatic feelings, sincerity, or supernatural manifestations--our faith becomes worthless presumption (Titus 1:16; Luke 13:27). God's mission is to save, and for a time He may continue to strive with our impenitent hearts, wooing us to conform, but in that un-saved condition that is void of God's presence, we have failed to "overcome" and unknowingly have become Satan's puppet, dressed in Christian apparel, in the Great Drama of Eternity (1 Samuel 16:4; Matthew 12:45; John 13:27; 1 Corinthians 4:9). And Satan knows he can influence Christians to proclaim their "faith in Jesus" while "slightly sinning", and their delusion works more destruction to God's noble plans for mankind than the influence of the most blatant criminal--reproach is brought upon God's name as they cause the word of God to be "evil spoken of" and influence others to "slightly" transgress (2 Peter 2:2; Matthew 13:29-30).
"It is impossible for God to lie", and we can trust His promises of eternal life for the faithful; Jesus said: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Hebrews 6:18; John 8:32). When called of God , the new Christian usually has a contrite and humble spirit. In their weakest state they are the strongest in God's strength and are justified by true faith; yet our judgment is imperfect and it is difficult to determine at what point we are actually saved or when ones faith becomes presumptuous and grieves the Holy Spirit's saving presence (Isaiah 57:15). Many feel fully saved when they are totally lost; "they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). This is because even right actions or repentance can be prompted by wrong motives; remember, repentant Achan and Judas confessed their sins but were not saved, while the penitent thief was justified (Joshua 7:20; Matthew 26:24; John 23:43).
feel secure in their beliefs, often while compromising with sin or shunning
known duties, many attempt to determine God or man's exact action
that makes one saved or lost. For centuries people have been vigorously
debating the intricate legalities of justification by faith to the point
where they are as argumentative as the Sadducees and Pharisees of old.
Unfit for heaven, Jesus said the prostitutes would enter the kingdom before
them; but one thing is certain, Jesus warned that the enemy plants "weeds"
in the church (Matthew 13:24-30).
The weeds closely represent the true plants. According to Jesus these are Satan's "implants" and may never have been converted: "one of you is the devil"; that is, these deluded impostors look like Christians but are self-deceived, and Paul calls them "enemies of the cross" (Matthew 13:25; John 6:70; Philippians 3:18). "Not sparing the flock", they often appear the most learned and pious among the humble saints. They may exhibit their credentials, even speak of divine revelations and work miracles; meanwhile, they are actually tempting the saints to transgress, promoting self-satisfaction to the unconverted, advocating false theories, and causing confusion within the church (Acts 20:29; Matthew 13:38,39). These individuals have embodied error until it permeates their being; thinking they are saved, they will be stunned when they hear Christ's words spoken while they stand among the condemned multitude: "You do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked...."; "depart from Me, you that work iniquity" (Revelation 3:17; Luke 13:27).
Many times they have spoken soft words of love through smiling lips and tactful deportment. They may have betrayed with a kiss and made noble statements like: "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him?" and, "This [fragrance] should have been sold and the money given to the poor" (Pharisees--John 7:47,48; Judas Iscariot--John 12:5). Jesus warns them of their fate, "It is certain that troubles arise, but curses will follow those who cause these problems"; and for greater emphasis, two times Paul says: "Let them be accursed" (Matthew 18:7; Galatians 1:8,9). Jesus gives us permission to evaluate others by comparing the Word with their conduct because actions reveal mental processes, "by their fruits you will know them", He said (Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 7:15-23).
So, at what point is one actually saved or lost? We cannot say with certainty because heaven makes that determination. Supernatural intelligences weigh our individual history, read our thoughts, know our motives, and hear our appeals (Daniel 7:9,10). God also listens to others as they offer prayers of intercession in our behalf. To one believer Jesus might say, "You are not far from the kingdom of God"; to another, "Woe to you... you can not enter into the kingdom, and you prevented those who were from entering" (Mark 12:34; Luke 11:52).
Most Christians do not know "the depths of Satan" (Revelation 2:24). Because our perception of sin and ability to judge motive in others is imperfect, and God's most faithful followers are usually charmed by the counterfeit "saints" and can not discern their delusions, greater harm may be done to the church by their premature separation--believers may not understand the logic of their termination. It is best to let God do the impartial judging while we individually maintain a teachable spirit. Although the church must deal with the corrupting influence of obvious transgression, Jesus has instructed the leadership to allow the Christian look-alikes to remain; then, He will do the discipline and separating as necessary. Do not be alarmed when their afflictions arrive or when they forsake assembly with the saints; the church will continue to grow as it did after Judas hung himself, Demas forsook Paul, and the appalling deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (2 Timothy 4:10; Numbers 26:9,10; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 5:10,14).
Satan is quite capable
of partially blinding us to our own faults, so we must closely compare
ourselves with Bible standards (Isaiah 8:20, 2 Timothy 2:15). Through honest
self-analysis and much prayer, God will reveal to us our true condition
(2 Timothy 2:15; Revelation 20:12, 13). Are we willing to obey Jesus regardless
of circumstances and intimidation by others? Then offer no excuses for
bad behavior because
you are not justified while excusing known sin,
evading compliance under the pretext of ignorance, or neglecting known
duties: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you
have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you... seeing you have forgotten
the law of your God..." (Hosea 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Daniel 12,10; Matthew
25:25-30; Hebrews 10;26; Numbers 15:30). Do not have a double standard
by trying to love the world and heaven simultaneously. Maintain faithfulness
in meeting your obligations to God through obedience, benevolence, and
supporting the Gospel through prayer and personal service while studying
the Bible and assembling with the saints at God's "holy convocation" each
Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3). Although good works will never buy your salvation,
if you find these distasteful or burdensome, your old person has not "died"
and the "kingdom of God" is not complete within.
The beloved disciple says it so very clearly: "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" and "do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 2:3; 3:22). Then John summarizes that point by reminding the "born again" saint that one must "keep himself" from sin, and God will provide protection from Satan's assaults: "You may know that you have eternal life, and that.... whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is born of God keeps himself and the wicked one [Satan] touches him not" (1 John 5:13, 18).
As God reveals our weakness, we should realize it is only unequaled grace that conquers the wretchedness of our human nature. Jesus' mission is to recover the lost and He will certainly reveal those needs and effect the essential changes within; to the humble believer seeking God's will, He promises: "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me" (Isaiah 27:5).
Our humility and mistrust of self is so important, and God can not be bribed; He is an impartial judge, and faithful angels record every detail of our lives with uncanny precision. We will meet our life again in the judgment and there are no omissions of your faithfulness and repentance; or, unconfessed or unforsaken sins and neglected duties (Matthew 12:36). Our "self estimation" will not qualify us for paradise, but in God's judgment heavenly beings determine if you can dwell with them (Daniel 7:10). And if you remain faithful to the end, you will know for certain you have "attained" when you hear God's words, "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your Lord" (Philippians 3:12; Matthew 25:23).
by immersion is the other New Testament ordinance, and a thinking pastor
will tell you that your rising from the water during baptism, not
Sunday observance, is the New Testament method of commemorating both Christ's
and your resurrection from the dead. No, you are not automatically
saved by the act of baptism; but, being immersed in cleansing water commemorates
the washing of your sins and your acceptance of Jesus' death; and rising
from the water symbolizes the Spirit's cleansing work in you; that is,
what should be taking place internally--the old sinful person's "death"
and a new life invigorated with God's power.
Although provision has been made to save everyone, they must begin their heaven-bound journey by first accepting it: "All ['who live for Him'] have died in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). Humanity is not unconditionally saved when born of the womb, or anyone automatically made righteous by Jesus' atonement 2,000 years ago as John the beloved identifies the saved as those not "born of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man but of God" (John 1:13). "For He has made Him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). To believe everyone is born saved is an "easy street to heaven", a form of universalism. This might pacify ones conscience, but remember, for eons the devils were totally-saved and majestic angels--until they sinned; they are fully aware of Jesus' authority, but tremble and face their final punishment as must unrepentant transgressors (James 2:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). Jesus says His blood is shed for "you", His followers, for the saving of "many", not everyone (Luke 22:19; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24). Although Christ's great sacrifice could have saved the entire human race, many have not met the conditions provided by God's promptings, to accept and repent; therefore, they will remain in a lost condition: "Many are called but few are chosen" (Matthew 20:16; 22:14; Mark 1:15; Romans 5:19; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Peter 4:17).
Christ's great sacrifice is significant beyond comprehension yet the re-birth requires our honest cooperation--"as many as received him [internally], to them he gave [enabling] power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12). We hear much of Christ's death, but it actually takes two "deaths" for each saint to enter heaven--first Jesus', then our death to self and the world.
When you sincerely receive the name of Christ for the remission of sins, calling yourself a Christian, and make a public statement of that fact by giving your old person to Christ through public baptism, you should rise from the water "born again." This is your second birth , "born of the Spirit" with the old sinful person dead and buried in the watery grave. Paul explains it to the Roman church this way: "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Allowing God to conform us to His divine image is essential in the Christian journey to Heaven.
In a sense, the children of Israel and the "mixed multitude" were baptized as they crossed the divided waters of the Red Sea and walked under God's protective cloud on their way to Palestine, but take note: They were not automatically saved because those who murmured, who forced their own plans instead of obeying God's, and who did not walk in newness of life, violently perished as blatant transgressors (Ibid.; 1 Corinthians 10:1,2; Jude 1:5).
The human heart is deceitful above all things; truly, "who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Proverbs 20:9). As Christians, we should mistrust our abilities and never boast like the self-confidant disciples: "We are born again and have attained; we will never, never, never, forsake You"; or inquire like the works-oriented ruler, "What must I do [I do, I do] to be saved"; instead, we must all crucify self--every day we must all come to Jesus with genuine remorsefulness and a desire to serve God in righteousness--just like that crucified thief (Matthew 26:35; Luke 18:18; 23:41-43).
Before his death, he had time in prison to reflect on his wrongs and sincerely repent--his life had been cumbered with bad choices. God moved upon his penitent heart to recognize his unworthiness and understand Christ's noble mission. This degenerate failure was the only penitent human to personally call upon Christ to permit his entrance into heaven before Jesus died; yes, this thief pled his unworthiness to the Compassionate Savior. We have the same option; with so many imperfections, we know that our human nature falls extremely short of the holiness heaven demands and we are unfit to enter paradise. We see little good in ourselves; mistrusting our own righteousness and abilities, our excuses cease and we cling to Jesus our righteousness (Romans 3:22). Longing for the holiness necessary to see God, we know He is faithful and all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us according to His good pleasure (Hebrews 12:14; Philippians 2:13; 4:13).
In an honest self analysis, a deep soul searching, do you see your unworthiness like the prophet and apostle Paul? He was exact in outward obedience but internally was not "already perfect" (Romans 7:24; Philippians 3:12). If so, do not retreat or forsake the battle; that conviction means the Holy Spirit has not deserted you like it did the remorseless Herod: Jesus "answered him nothing" (Luke 23:9). There is hope if God is still battling your sinful nature by revealing to you your great need of "bringing into captivity every thought" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Were you not drawn into circumstances that reveal these personality defects, you could not ask God for help in finishing the most rewarding contest you will ever complete--"laying aside every. . . sin that so easily assails us, and let us run the race with patience. . ." (Hebrews 12:1).
~ ~ The Olympics of Eternity ~~Destiny uncertain in eternity's great race, two captains call plays to control the pace.
One captain is certain he can never win, yet prompts his team to loose with him.
The other Captain's victory is sure, "the wise shall understand" His prize endures.
He runs with His players, encouraging their win, imparting His might and strength within.
So choose your captain, a medallion to hold, one is an illusion, the other pure gold. -- Charles H. Clever
It is through the gift of faith, an essential component of God's grace, that we are saved by Jesus' substitutional punishment AND imparted righteousness (Romans 12:3). Jesus does not merely cover our sinful human nature through His supreme forensic act; instead, God IS our righteousness. Old things pass away and all things become new when His righteousness is merged with our worthlessness, and His strength merged with our weakness (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then we are unified with the Just Creator and are legally justified through that oneness--we are new persons, not reborn of the womb, or water only, but as Jesus stated, "born again... of the Spirit" (John 3:3).
God does not force sanctification because justification is a multifaceted legal transaction that is only ratified (legally effective) through His abiding presence--that presence enables us to "turn from transgression." The Holy Spirit does not manipulate our movements like a marionette; we must cooperate with heavenly agencies through God's gift of true faith. Both agencies, our willingness and His providence, are necessary in our conversion and salvation (Isaiah 59:20,21; Ephesians 4:30).
God is always faithful and has made every provision for those who, instead of offering excuses for sin, "hunger and thirst after righteousness"--the decision is ours (Matthew 5:6). Should we withhold our best efforts and persist in stubbornness, we mock God's plans of righteousness for us and we "grieve" the Holy Spirit's presence--God does "not justify the wicked" (Exodus 23:7). When God abandons us to our pernicious ways, we are no longer justified, regardless of our sincerity, and we face the penalty of our sins in the judgment.
Salvation is quite easy and God will never forsake us if we remain faithful; it is not merely what we do, or what He did, but what we allow God to do in us and for us that we are accounted righteous and become a "new creation", growing to the full stature. To abide in His love, we must obey Him and maintain a willingness to allow God to work His pleasure within as He effects essential changes to our characters: "You are my friends," says Jesus, "if you do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:5,10,14).
God knows us better than we know ourselves, and if we refuse reform, we are illegitimate children (bastards, Hebrews 12:8) and our justification is rescinded. Unless fully repentant, God will faithfully execute judgment upon us as He did the demons. When united with God, they were noble angels who knew the peace and perfection of heaven. Thinking they had good motives, they refused to obey their Creator while arguing their plans to reform God's government; how sad that such immaculate creatures allowed themselves to be transformed into demagogues that hate everything that is just, noble, pure, and good (Matthew 8:29; 25:41).
The inhabitants of Heaven are perfect because the will of God is their joy and supreme delight--they love God, trust their Captain's capabilities, and obey Him unflinchingly--without question. God demands this trait of His faithful followers before allowing them into paradise. Regardless of your "noble" intentions, if you act like the devil here, and attempt to reform God's standards of righteousness, insisting on your own way by not cooperating with God, then you would also resist compliance and continue to "reform" there--the peace and security of heaven will never be jeopardized by your presence.
deceived by Satan offer false faith, and do not present their "bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God" (Romans 12:1). Originating
in heaven with the great deceiver, it is known as presumption and
encourages pride or resists compliance through complacency or misguided
zeal. It is extremely dangerous because it prevents Christians from seeing
their great need. It allows believers to love self and the world
while blindly" continuing in sin that grace may abound"; it fosters self-righteousness
and claims the promises of God while excusing sin, and this stifles growth
and repels God.
God calls this a "lukewarm" state, when deluded believers feel totally justified while living a partially-compliant life (Revelation 3:16). They lack the imbued "enmity" that makes them hate this sinful world. This enmity is furnished by the indwelling righteousness of the Lamb of God. The presumptuous are in a lost condition if they only trust in the superficial robe of the Lamb's skin and lack that internal enmity imparted by His Spirit (Genesis 3:15, 20).
Being "saved", while "lukewarm", appeals to the unconverted who love pacifying preachers. Soothing sermons travel around the world at 186,000 miles (300,000 km) per second (the speed of electromagnetic waves in free space); meanwhile, the truth is censured (Jeremiah 50:6). Ignorant of the unity and holiness that keeps God's universe secure, the presumptuous say, "God is not particular." They fail to exemplify heaven's principles and do not allow God to complete His work within--these half-saved yet totally-lost "Laodiceans" do not sense their deficiencies, and will be "spewed out of His mouth" like lukewarm water (Revelation 3:16).
Like the majority lost in Noah's day, the presumptuous sinners portray Satan's first lie, "In the day you... [sin] you will not surely die" (Genesis 2:17). They feel that God's loving nature, or forensic act at Calvary, prevents Him from destroying transgressors; they forget that both John the Baptist and Jesus opened the Gospel with the words "repent"; and the disciples preached that same message: Be sorry for your transgressions and turn from your sinful ways (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:14, 15; 6:12). The Gospel does not excuse sin, it provides the remedy--it demonstrates the virtues of heaven while furnishing conviction of wrongs, power to obey, and pardon for failures (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). Jesus said: "I tell you... except you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5).
The life of the impudent is fraught with alibis for bad conduct and this trait is carried into church. Many transgressors feel justified by their intellectual assent of God's great plan while rejecting His admonitions and warnings against sin and prideful hearts. They blindly believe that the Gospel, or God's immeasurable love, saves them from the consequences of continuing in sin; while confessing His name, they hold to a form of godliness but deny His power to change lives (2Timothy 3:5).
Abandoned by God and blinded by Satan, the presumptuous consider their faith "grace based." "Wrestling the Holy Scriptures to their own destruction", they stubbornly cling to selected Bible texts deemed favorable while rejecting those they need most (2 Peter 3:16). For example, while "loving the loaves and fishes" that God provides, they may say "love, love, love, love" and quote Jesus' words to Nicodemus written in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world...", yet fail to read His complete thoughts that include good works: "But he who lives the truth comes to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they are accomplished in God" (John 3:21).
God's humble followers, possessing true faith, firmly believe they are justified by faith that delivers them from their sins, that their works are accomplished in God; they do not believe they are justified by faith through their own good works or while living in blatant transgression (Ibid.). The faithful saints incorporate His righteousness and yield the product of obedience; they will not be easily deceived by those making a covenant with death. Let me remind you again of Jesus' enlightening words to those who "live not by bread alone, but by every word of God" spoken in His law and through His prophets: You "are not of the world, even as I am not of the world... and the Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 4:4; 17:16, 21).
Legislators know that anarchy is encouraged when their laws are not enforced; order is maintained only if they do not allow citizens to pick and choose which injunctions they obey. Likewise, the Supreme Lawgiver will do precisely what He did throughout the Bible, strictly enforce His divine laws. God has asked nothing impossible or unreasonable of His subjects, and they must not make excuses for transgression, alter His commandments, or select the laws they wish to obey or transgress. And those who think God excuses willful sin will never be allowed to menace the peace and harmony of His immaculate universe (Exodus 34:7). God exhibits sound logic in His reasoning, and disobedient humans and angels will certainly harvest what they have planted because "God will in no case clear the guilty" (Exodus 39:7).
As you can see, there is more to the important ordinances of baptism and communion than just doing them, their principles must be applied in your life; that is, Christianity is living in oneness with God. That oneness is the mission of His church. With the saints exemplifying the changes God makes in their characters, it becomes the theater of our lost world, displaying God's ability to change lives for eternity. And that change, that individual oneness with heaven, is the key to avoiding the "mark of the beast", surviving the plagues, and being resurrected to heaven.
Besides the New Testament ordinances of baptism and communion, it also strengthens ones faith to study other symbolic festivals observed in the spring and fall of each Jewish year--they dramatized other components of God's plan of salvation. Some of these are called Sabbath days, and are not enjoined upon the Christian church (Acts 15:9). In reading New Testament history, one would expect to find recorded a resistance to the elimination of these Old Testament ordinances by those who faithfully observed them from adolescence. This did occur, resulting in admonitions such as recorded in Colossians 2:14-17; Galatians 4:9-10; Romans 14:5, 6; and Ephesians 2:15. These symbolic festivities, like the Sunday Pentecost, were legitimately abolished by Jesus (nailed to the cross), but this does not include any portion (jot or tittle) of God's ten-commandment law that defines sin (Matthew 5:18; 1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7). With these thoughts in mind, and asking for Divine guidance, let us consider Christ's words further....
mission was not to destroy God's standard of righteousness, but to "magnify
the law, and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). God's truth is an absolute.
That means we have no right to alter truth by vote or dismiss it as insignificant;
and God's Word and His divine law is as eternal as God himself. Jesus magnified
the law by teaching that sin proceeds from the heart; that is, we must
clean the cup within, then the entire vessel will be pure (Matthew 23:26).
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these [My Father's] commandments,
and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;
but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called
in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). "Whoever will keep the whole
law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
John the beloved uses much stronger language: "He that says, 'I know him,'
and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not
in him " (1 John 2:4). Your minister should be teaching you to revere
God's Word and to observe all ten of His commandments.
Jesus did not allow sin to go un-reproved. Were He walking among us today, and vocally reproving our pride and love of praise, compromising conformity and assent of worldly standards, and neglect of duty, we would shout "Crucify!" like the religious bigots of yesteryear. We would not recognize Him as the Messiah who must enforce His perfect laws--"certainly he is a Samaritan and has a demon", we would shout (John 8:48). Jesus did not obey the Rabbinical traditions, nor should we. No one is an island unto himself; if we dismiss a single scripture that we personally feel insignificant, we unknowingly become "teachers of unrighteousness" and our bad example inspires others to negate those of their choosing. The consequences of deceiving others by living an untruth effects our eternal realities because "the least in the kingdom of heaven" will be destroyed outside the Holy City--these are those who "cause... a lie", or "love and make a lie" (Matthew 5:19; Revelation 20:9;21:27; 22:15).
If Jesus did not change His fathers Law, then the change is again found with the "man of sin" that emerged from the Abomination of Desolation. Previously we have discussed that the Bible foretells the presumptuous intent of the Roman System to alter God's unchangeable Law (Daniel 7:25). You certainly recall our discussion of the Roman Catholic Church. It was more than 1,000 years before the Protestant reformation when they presumed to effect this change; and in the past, they have honestly boasted about that presumptuous act.
Do Jesus' followers have the authority to change His instructions? Absolutely not! After Moses destroyed the tables containing the ten commandments, God engraved them a second time with His own finger to remind us that His law can never be effaced by man (Exodus 32:19; 34:1). And Christ commissioned His disciples to baptize all nations, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world..." (Matthew 28:19,20). There is no such thing as a secret Bible text that Jesus forgot to mention, so God's church must operate within the perimeter of Christ's teachings. Whatever the church thinks to "bind on earth" must be applications of Jesus' teachings in the New Testament, and they must not conflict with the testimonies of His prophets; to teach a conflicting revelation is worthless tradition and should be abandoned.
Catholicism determined if church policy should be based on Scripture or so called, "church authority" during the famous 16th-century Council of Trent. Therein they affirmed their right to change God's law because, after 18 years of deliberation, church tradition prevailed when the Archbishop of Reggio (Gaspar [Ricciulli]de Fosso) reminded delegates on January 18, 1562, that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, for which no scriptural authority can be found. His argument silenced bishops advocating sola scriptura and belittled Protestants for claiming "scriptures only" while following Catholic tradition and transgressing the true (Saturday) Sabbath of the Bible. I have preceded a Catholic publication, Rome's Challenge to Protestants, with a portion of this archbishop's argument. By reading this scholarly analysis of Sunday "sacredness" (posted at: http://www.revealed.org/romeschallenge.htm), you will understand why learned writers, like the editor of the Saint Catherine Catholic Church Newsletter, can state in all sincerity:
The Church has always had a strong sense of its own authority. 'What ever you bind on earth is bound in heaven', Jesus said. Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century [Actually, it was at the Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D.]. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. "The Day of the Lord" (dies Dominica) was chosen, NOT from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church's sense of its OWN POWER. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy" (Ibid., Algonac, Michigan, U.S.A., May 21, 1995).
The only quotes from early history exalting Sunday worship over God's sacred rest-day come from these Roman capitols where God's Sabbath would eventually be held in derision and Sunday erroneously called "the Lord's Day." They initiated this error despite the fact that John used the term "Lord's day" to designate the Sabbath that Jesus said He was "Lord of" (Revelation 1:10; Mark 2:28 ). How can you know this is true? The disciples always used first day, the correct biblical term for Sunday, as follows: Matthew, Luke and Paul, once; Mark, Luke, and John, twice. Read it for yourselves at Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2. Then notice that Jesus said He was Lord of the Sabbath--it is the Lord's Day (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5; Isaiah 58:13.
you been living during that time, would you have exalted Sunday and distanced
yourselves from the Jews by compromising to retain your home and livelihood?
Think about it for a moment. It requires a strong faith to not yield
to pressures, "because Claudius [emperor--A.D. 41-54, succeeded by Nero--A.D.54-68]
had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome" (Acts 18: 2). Yes! In all
probability you would not want to appear Jewish, and that is one reason
many do not keep God's holy Sabbath commandment today, with extreme misunderstanding
it is stigmatized as archaic and only applying to the Old Testament Jews.
The unity of the marriage institution was given to Adam and Eve in Eden 2,000 years before the first Jew. It was affirmed by Jesus in the "New Testament" (Matthew 9:3-9). Likewise, the oneness with God and humanity derived through Sabbath observance found its origin in Eden when "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it"--that special day He rested on (Genesis 2:1-3). And that was many centuries before God reminded Israel of its sacredness at Mount Horeb. Jesus declared its purpose: "The Sabbath was made for man..."; it was made for man in Eden to bless Adam, you, and the saints throughout eternity (Exodus 20;8-11; Malachi 4:4; Matthew 5:19; Mark 2:27, 28; Isaiah 66:23).
Constantine the Great made a bigoted statement that worked to negate God's Sabbath: "Let us then, have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd" (Eusebius, The Life of Constantine, Book 3, chapter 8). Constantine even passed the first recorded Sunday-rest law: "On the venerable Day of the Sun [Sunday] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed...." (Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; translated in History of the Christian Church, by Philip Schaff, Vol. 3, p. 380).
Satan is well able to influence people to exalt falsehood; this law would eventually expand to prohibit commandment keepers from obeying God by resting on His holy day: "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day [Constantine's Sunday] they shall especially honor, and,... shall do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing [resting on the Sabbath], they shall be shut out from Christ" (Charles Joseph Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, vol. 2, p. 316). It is very unfortunate, indeed, that these men, who never visited the "third heaven", yielded to intimidation and did not possess the fortitude of the apostles and Peter, who said: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Many church leaders today refrain from declaring the whole truth. The majority,
even among the Catholic family, are as sincere as was Saul on the road
to Damascus to capture the condemned saints. They have not recognized the
connection between perfect obedience to God's Law and the "mark of the
beast." After studying the issue closely, you can see that Sunday sacredness
is ridiculous, a colossal myth promoted as genuine. And with the truth
burning within, those recognizing the facts should not fail "to declare
unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin" (Micah 3:8).
Like the converted Paul, refusing to "scratch itching ears", they will face denominational expulsion and loss of employment, friends, family, and possibly their life, the ultimate result of declaring an unpopular truth to a lost society (2 Timothy 4:3). By teaching present truth and warning the people of their transgression (Satan's counterfeit Sabbath), they will ultimately be found among the faithful. Christ teaches: "Therefore your sins remain...", and, "in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (John 9:41; Matthew 15:9). If it is vanity to reject revived truths while professing allegiance to God, and not keep His commandments, then Sunday is kept in vain--it, like the Wednesday night prayer meeting, does not satisfy the obligations of God's law.
Substituting Sabbath sacredness for Sunday observance can "mark" one as a transgressor today and the Church of Rome claimed that Sunday observance is a MARK of their authority; yet, God says that the Sabbath is a sign [or mark] of our sanctification: "Hallow [keep sacred] My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign [mark of allegiance, or seal] between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God" (Ezekiel 20:20). This text mentions that the seal (mark) of God is "hallowed" by the observance of the fourth Commandment.
Many honest Christians who keep Sunday do not know that Rome claims that Sunday observance is a mark of allegiance to their authority. Read what Monsignor Luis Segur frankly writes in Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today: "The observance of Sunday by the Protestants is homage [mark of allegiance] they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] church" (ibid., 1868, p. 213).
The issues at stake in God's Ten-Commandment law are significant beyond
imagination. It was what we consider a little sin that brought destruction
to God's entire universe (For we know that the whole creation groans
and travails in pain together until now, Romans 8:22). You may have
noticed that Satan concealed himself as a beautiful serpent to tempt Eve.
Sunday also conceals its falsity under a beautiful religious disguise--the
resurrection of Christ is likened to a weekly Easter Sunday celebration
(See Pope John Paul's Apostolic Letter Dies Domini of May 31, 1998).
Adam's transgression was what we might think insignificant--he only yielded to his wife's suggestions, yet God shut them out of the Garden because of that "little" sin. Trying to keep peace in the family was fatal and the curse of sin now encumbers us. Because the first ruler of earth forever lost the right to reign through "one small step for man", it became "one giant step for mankind." The only remedy available required the Lord God, the co-ruler of the universe, to become a human and accept upon Himself the punishment and death for those who are truly repentant. At Calvary our sins were placed on our Substitute and God turned His face from His Son for a brief moment--so He can behold our continence forever. Our majestic Savior took our stunted human nature after 4,000 years of degradation, then Christ faced Satan in person after being weakened by 40 days of starvation; and He was victorious, even to the death of the cross. This is what one "little" sin cost--God's substitutional death. We deserve the beating Jesus took, but Jesus did not die from the wounds received at the hands of the Romans.
God is not a co-conspirator with Satan in the plan of redemption; and although the devil persecuted and mocked Jesus at Calvary, his attempted murder of our innocent Savior has no part in our salvation because Jesus gave His life (John 10:17, 18). Then the Father crushed His Son's life by placing YOUR confessed sins on Jesus: "He has made Him sin for us", the innocent Sin Bearer "who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our Holy Father can not dwell with sin, and Jesus cried: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani as God crushed His Son by withdrawing His life-sustaining presence: "Yet it pleased the LORD [the Father] to bruise [crush] Him [Jesus]; He has put [Jesus] to grief: when you will make His soul [life] an offering for sin..." (Matthew 27:46; Isaiah 53:10).
When Jesus accepted our guilt and punishment, God inflicted our sentence for sin upon His Son, and Jesus died as the Substitute; and those two distinct streams of saving blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of His corpse, they testify of two powerful aspects of our redemption that we must possess (John 5:6-8). The blood represents Jesus' sacrificial death for us and the water represents His Spirit's purifying work in us, "a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (Luke 22:20; John 3:5; 4:14; ). Knowing this, you must not resist God's work in you by not giving your best efforts; because, God does not accept the punishment for known sins that you have not forsaken and transferred to your Substitute by repentance and confession; and "You will find [the LORD your God], if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29). Rebellion can not be excused, and there is a strict legal process for eliminating sin; it requires your cooperation. If you think otherwise, you make of none effect the truths God symbolized throughout the Bible and in the Old Testament sanctuary service; this will certainly jeopardize your eternity.
you contemplate those last moments of Calvary, and understand His beating
and ignominious death, the distorted flesh on His lacerated body, that
blood spilling from His ruptured veins and pierced side--God allowed this
as a punishment for sin by civil authorities. Do you realize it should
have been ours? "His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form
more than the sons of men" because sin can not be allowed in God's perfect
universe--it can never be dismissed--there is no excuse for rebellion against
God, and it demands the maximum punishment, even death. Yes, Jesus
took our sins upon himself as symbolized by the brazen serpent, a symbol
of sin, "lifted up" in the wilderness that saves beholders from the sting
of death. And although Jesus cried "why have you forsaken me" as God hid
His face for that brief moment when Jesus "became sin for us", the brilliance
of Calvary illuminates the face of those who live His victorious life;
Jesus lives again in you, and you are healed to radiate His righteousness
to a rebellious world (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14,15).
The universe would never be secure by any other means: "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed"; Jesus suffered the punishment of the vilest sinner (Isaiah 52:14;53:5; Hebrews 10:29; 2 Peter 2:9). Can you see how inexcusable and detestable sin is in God's sight? There is no excuse for rebellion, disobedience must be punished, and heaven would never be heavenly with its blight because permissiveness would eventually putrefy God's immaculate universe (Isaiah 26:21).
Let me remind you once more: That righteousness possessed by our Example is available to you; that is, provision is made to save every contrite sinner who comes to Him in true repentance. It is not my mind you want, or even the unfallen mind of noble Adam in his Edenic perfection; only the untainted mind of God--yes, Jesus was God. It is only His perfect mind that can make us righteous, and He offers it to you: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5-13).
God demands respect, and He will be glorified by His subjects. When His holy law was given in awesome splendor, just touching the mountain invoked the death penalty (Exodus 19:12, 13). Understanding the issues, can you better see why God demands death for the unrepentant and will never dismiss willful transgression of His holy law or the presumptuous substitution of Satan's counterfeit commandment. The Bible is plain on this point, and we need not question God's wisdom in demanding the unity with Him and His subjects that Sabbath sacredness conveys. The Sabbath is a rest-day for both men and women, and Christians who enjoy hot foods cooked on Sabbaths, or otherwise desecrate the Sabbath sacredness, usually shun these verses:
Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and that which remains over, lay up for you to be kept until... [Sabbath] morning.They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.... And the LORD said.... "The man shall be surely put to death...."Speak also unto the children of Israel, saying, "Verily my Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign [mark of obedience] between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that sanctifies you. You will keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is HOLY to you: every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does work therein, that soul will be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD [the Lord's holy day]: whosoever does work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death." "Keep the Sabbath... for a perpetual covenant.... for ever...." Numbers 15:32-35; Exodus 16:23; 31:13-17.
As noted earlier, Constantine's church outlawed Saturday with the following decree: "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [Sábado in Spanish, the Sabbath] but shall work on that day; but the [so called] Lord's day they shall especially honor" (Ibid., page 316). When conditions are favorable, Christendom will again exalt Satan's counterfeit commandment. And to question their authority will excite the same wrath that was executed in the past against the estimated 50,000,000 people murdered by the Roman System throughout the Spiritual Dark Ages; and yes, you are surely aware that Protestants have, on a smaller scale, also persecuted each other and Catholics; strangely, they will collaborate with Rome in this final delusion.
The Vatican has a significant voice in world affairs, even before the United Nations. Presently restrained by public opinion and protective laws guaranteeing religious freedom and human rights, when conditions are right they will again slander God's International Rest Day by promoting their spurious Sabbath--such blasphemy and deluded logic to presume the authority to change God's law--it demands Saturday-abstinence from work. Legislation will be introduced that revives and augments their archaic anti-blasphemy laws that are based on flawed interpretations of the Bible--freedom of religion and human rights will be scorned. Upholders of God's truth will again meet Satan's wrath through the influence of the Abomination of Desolation and its sympathizers. And this will occur on a much larger scale than similar anti-blasphemy legislation now existing in some Arab countries. Then the church and its sympathizers will be guilty of murder against the saints, and divine justice met by the outpouring of the seven vials of God's wrath as "the curse devours the earth" (Isaiah 24:5,6; Revelation 15:7).
all this sound impossible? Will tenants of constitutions guaranteeing religious
freedom be renounced by national and international law? Yes! Jesus
said: "The time comes that whoever kills you will think that he does God
a service" (John 16:2). Satan knew how to shape policy in the
past, and possessing greater skills from practice, he controls world events
to suit his evil plans. These predictions are not written because of enlightened
hindsight, or deluded paranoia, but our faithful God has warned us about
this last-day image ; that is, a reproduction or duplication of the past
where governments enforce church laws; and as surely as Jesus is Lord,
the Scriptures will be fulfilled (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:14,15).
How easy it is to follow public opinion; increasing sedition and anarchy, on a scale unimagined by our forefathers, compels sincere people to make decisions they would not make under normal circumstances. It appears there is no other way than an imperfect mixture of religion and civil government to save the world from disaster, and the non-compliant will be scorned and considered traitors against society: "Consider that it is expedient for us, that one [innocent] man should die for the people, and that the whole nation [or world] perish not" (Caiaphas--John 11:50).
There were times in the past when feelings of despair overcame me as circumstances forced my absence from church on Sundays. Being raised to revere Sunday causes one to esteem a day of human invention--a tradition, and only sacred in man's eyes. The atheistic German philosopher Fredreich Nietzsche correctly emphasizes this valid point. He writes: "Every tradition grows even more venerable--the more remote is its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe" (Human, All Too Human, 96).
Jesus' greatest obstacle was trying to overcome the errors of church hierarchy who had exalted man's theories in place of God's. He did not obey church legislation that conflicted with God's law, but His mission was to save. That is why He never failed to rebuke the sins of leadership or laity; "Sin no more, unless a worse thing comes upon you", He said to a man He healed--much stronger words were used against the proud Pharisees (John 5: 14; 8:11). As God forgives us our sins, we must also exhibit compassion against the repentant; of Christians, the Lord's prayer demands we forgive those who have transgressed against us (Matthew 6:12, 14,15; Luke 1-4). Jesus also requires that church leaders maintain an attitude of forgiveness (John 20:23). But, if He was to enter our churches today, and find us trafficking in forgiveness like those of old, He would violently cleanse the temple of profiteers (Matthew 21:12,13; John 2:16). Likewise, when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, He will execute judgment against those who are publicly endorsing Sunday worship because the church has NO POWER to exonerate the unrepentant, and that includes those who knowingly transgress God's Sabbath commandment through man-made rites (Jude 1:15).
The design of the Gospel is to give victory over transgression and prepare you for life in paradise; and more than any other commandment, Jesus enforced the Sabbath because it is "the Lord's day" and He was "Lord of the Sabbath" (Isaiah 58:13; Mark 2:28). He taught that God's special day was "made for man"--for their benefit. And that it was lawful to rescue suffering animals and minister to the immediate needs of humanity. He emphasized this by allowing the hungry disciples to disobey the priests' prohibition against eating the tender grain they had just plucked for lunch on the Sabbath. He never said that the Sabbath should be desecrated by common labor, like harvesting with a scythe to lay-up in storage, or doing one's own pleasure. He emphasized that performing intimate care on His special day is manifested through love of God and His creation. This love was displayed by His acts of healing diseases on the Sabbath, and His correct observance in attending church and, "as His custom was", by reading the Scriptures on that day; you see, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Luke 4:16; Mark 2:27).
Jesus' refusal to observe tradition
caused Him much criticism, and ultimately death. And when charged with
violating their rules, He corrected their error and said to them, "Why
do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" and,
"In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of
men" (Matthew. 15:3, 9).
Through the prophet
Jeremiah, the Lord taught the children of Israel that their prosperity
was contingent upon obedience, including the correct observance of the
Sabbath (Jeremiah 17: 19-27). "Hallow the Sabbath day, do no work in it,
then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the
throne of David... and this city will remain forever" (verses 24, 25).
They did not obey those warnings and God's people were carried as slaves
into Babylonian captivity, then Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.
The Jews learned from this calamity and first-century scribes and Pharisees
were very strict in dictating how to observe the Sabbath but, like Christians
today, their "traditions" were mingled with false theories.
The Bible prohibited changing residences (house moving) on Saturday, but what about an emergency relocation (Exodus 16:29)? Jesus sets the record straight: Concerning the impending Roman invasion, Jesus asked his disciples to pray that their flight from fields and Judea be not in the winter or on the Sabbath day (Matthew 24:20). Winter is a difficult travel season and the Israelites were also aware of the hardships of fleeing on the Sabbath--they must travel light, that is, literally flee empty-handed. Jesus' counsels were thoughtful reminders of this to His faithful church, as He instructed through Jeremiah six-centuries earlier, to not "carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day" (Jeremiah 17:22). The Christians had already sold their homes when Jerusalem was besieged in A.D. 66 (Acts 4:35). And on a day other than the Sabbath they could carry what little they possessed and relocate away from Israel--this they did, and no faithful Christians lost their lives in that invasion.
Jesus did not "nail His Father's commandments to the cross", and He knew His disciples desired to keep God's law correctly. His urgent words were reminders to continually guard the sacredness of God's Sabbath commandment, even several decades after His crucifixion--this command includes emergencies like fleeing. In this perverse world, as Jesus requested, we should likewise pray that God controls circumstances so we can obey His law.
My Christian friends, we must trust Christ explicitly. As we live during the fulfillment of these last-day events, we must remember that Jesus said He will find faith when He returns. "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bears long with them? When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7). Yes! There will be faithful servants resurrected without tasting death, who are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye", and throughout eternity these saints will worship before the Lord every Sabbath (1 Corinthians 15:52; Isaiah 66:23).
So take note! It is imminent that conditions worsen before resurrection day. Sunday observance will be legislated globally as the beast causes all to receive the "mark" by honoring Rome's Sunday in substitution of God's sacred Sabbath. Flagrant transgression has always resulted in God's wrath; violation of the fourth commandment will cause God to withdraw His protection. Then Satan's followers, unrestrained by God's protective grace, will unjustly persecute those who keep God's commandments (Isaiah 24:5, 6; Revelation 13:15,17).
Most senior citizens still remember the song, Istanbul Was Once Constantinople
and may wonder why God allowed Nicomedia to become part of Turkey, now
dominated by Islamics. That is where God's Word was neglected when the
church committed presumptuous errors in changing God's law. At the Nicene
Council in A.D. 325 they glorified Sunday; then, in A.D. 787 the devotional
use of images was allowed.
God's law should not be tampered with and must be revered. As discussed earlier, Rome will suffer under the fifth plague, and even today the Eastern Church is laboring under Islamic influences with many cathedrals converted to mosques.
commands you to obey civil legislation that does not require one
to violate God's superior laws, and the saints should comply with civil
rest-days, also called blue laws (Titus 3:1; Romans 13:1-7). God will not
consider one a transgressor of His law because they obey Jesus' instructions
to render unto Caesar and God what is required; if necessary, change
your employment so you can attend church and abstain from work on
both God's sacred rest day
and "Caesar's" Sunday (Luke 20:25).
Although Sunday legislation is introduced with the best of motives, and may give a superficial appearance of unity, Blue laws will not render global peace and sanctity as sponsors anticipate because prejudice, self-worship, mistrust, and hatred, is too deeply ingrained to be pacified. Do not provoke!
Although we must speak and live the truth, or be weighed in the balance and found wanting, it is not proper Christian behavior to insult those who cherish Sunday by flagrantly violating their civil Sunday laws, you will only bring reproach upon the saints and cause your unnecessary martyrdom; furthermore, the civil authorities will be overwhelmed prosecuting those of independent mind who respect neither the laws of God or man. And God's faithful will also be blessed by studying His benevolence on Sunday, during a mid-week service, or daily; however, you must continue to assemble on and revere the true Sabbath--it is "blessed and sanctified"; that is, made sacred by God for a "holy convocation", to be explicitly "remembered" and "kept holy" (Genesis 2:3; Leviticus 23:3, Exodus 20:8).
Even today there are Christian ministers who mimic the English reformer John Wesley. He kept Saturday holy and preached on Sunday. Where necessary, the early church in Rome initially reasoned likewise in compliance with civil and divine laws by maintaining a two-day worship system. This action represented wisdom on their part and was not sinful until they glorified Sunday and abandoned the Sabbath.
Please remain faithful during these difficult times--only those who obey God's law are translated alive--and the transgressors who have rejected present truth will perish on "judgment day." They do not reason that, like Sodom of old, it is the few righteous in their midst that prolongs God's mercy and delays divine judgments against sinners.
Remember this important fact, regardless of their accusations against you, it is actually those who exalt Satan's false rest day who cause the plagues and destruction of earth; they have "changed the ordinance and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore has the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men [saints] left" (Isaiah 24:5, 6).
Regardless of the magnitude of their errors, God requires you to love and respect the erring, to be a peacemaker at heart, and not possess a combative spirit or glory in your "rightness"; yet, you must remain steadfastly faithful to God's truths because, at this time, our world will not become the utopia they seek. Jesus explains the end so vividly: "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:25--28). "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book" (Daniel 12:1).
Just one more important thought as we close this chapter: Do not sell your
eternity on a cheap market. To be found among that faithful company must
be your greatest goal---to be with that small group enduring the final
test of obedience to God's Law, not Sunday, the Mark of the Beast.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their
testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11).
As earth disintegrates around the saints, they are comforted by these words:
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments
of God [not man's tradition] and [possess] the faith of Jesus" (Revelation
14:12). The Omnipotent One is well able to preserve His people through
the coming tribulation; "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted above that which you are able; but will with the temptation also
make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
you join me by making that decision to trust our loving Creator explicitly
so as to endure to the resurrection of the saints and inherit glories unimaginable?
Read the next important chapter, Will Israel Save the World at: http://abiblecode.tripod.com/70weeks.htm
Copyright 1998, with major modifications in 2006, by Charles H. Clever, all rights reserved.