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Plan of God

Chapter 5


Fullness of Time

Jesus Christ arrived on earth in the fullness of time.  The Plan of God is on a definite time schedule.  God is working in so many ways for His Plan to unfold at precisely the correct time.  The most momentous point in the Plan of God for mankind was the necessity of the Savior being born a man to redeem mankind.  Paul revealed to the Galatians that Jesus Christ the Messiah—the Anointed One—was the fulfillment of God's promises.  Jesus is of the lineage of David and the Son of God (Luke 1:35).  The Father knew when it was the exact time for Christ to appear:

Galatians 4:4-5  When the fullness of the time was come, God the Father sent forth His Son, made of a woman, accountable to the law, to redeem them who are subject to the penalty imposed for not keeping the law, that we might have the full rights of God’s Children.

In this Chapter we are examining the Holy Scriptures to find out what God tells us about the Fullness of Time when His Son, Jesus Christ the Redeemer, first came to this earth as mankind’s Savior.  We are so privileged to know the Plan of God which has been revealed to us so clearly in these latter days.  The world, not knowing the Plan of God remains in the dark – not understanding so much of God’s word in the Bible.  There is a veil over their eyes so that they might not see, and their foolish hearts are darkened (Romans 1:21):

John 12:40  God has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted...

Jesus came 2,000 years ago in order, not only to deliver us from sin, free us from captivity, and exchange His life for ours in payment of our sins, but to enlighten us, reveal God the Father to us, and make us Children of God.  Jesus said:

John 9:5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

God has provided His Church brethren with so much knowledge and understanding in these last days that it is terribly foolish not to try to avail ourselves of all His wisdom and expand our horizons so that we may walk in the light with Him.

2Peter 1:19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Most people profess to know and love Jesus.  The problem with that is the ‘Jesus’ they confess is not the Messiah of the Holy Scriptures.  The world is wrong on almost every point that they believe with all their heart.  The Jesus who died for the sins of the world was not resurrected in a beautiful Easter morning sunrise event (1John 2:2, John 20:1, 1Kings 11:33).  Jesus did not nail the Ten Commandments to the cross to do away with them.  He did not die on Good Friday, and He was not born anywhere near December 25th.  The spirit of Christmas is a strong beguiling spirit that entices and binds the heart of those who are being led away from the pure light of the Gospel.  The true Jesus established the seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest and spiritual rejuvenation—not the venerable Day of the Sun—Sunday which harkens back to an early idolatrous practice of sun-worship (Exodus 31:13, 17, Ezekiel 20:12, 20, Jeremiah 8:2).  Jesus did not teach that man has an immortal soul that goes to heaven after death (Ezekiel 18:20).  Jesus of Nazareth did not teach those bold myths.  The list goes on and on, but the question is, “Why do people believe in a mythological Jesus?”  It is because the glorious light of the real Jesus Christ has not shined out of darkness into their hearts (2Corinthians 4:6).  In short, they do not believe the Bible—the word of God.  Jesus tells us that condemnation is upon those who do not believe Him:

John 3:19-21  This is the condemnation, that Light [Jesus Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that does evil hates the Light, neither comes to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that does truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

It is a shame that those people who are the primary beneficiaries of God’s promised blessings to Abraham accept those pagan belief systems and try to introduce those numerous corrupt traditions into their relationship with God—making the word of God of no effect (Mark 7:13).  As a result of moving away from God, Britain’s and America’s blessings of wealth and national hegemony will be rapidly dissipated.  Scripture continues to combat a world of idolatries.  Traditions that overshadow the truth must never be allowed to override the holy and pure word of God.  Jesus came to enlighten mankind:

John 12:46  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.


Jesus of Galilee

Human life began in Galilee for Jesus when He was conceived nine months before being born in the fall of the year on the outskirts of Jerusalem at Bethlehem (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:26).  His chosen apostles were men of Galilee (Acts 1:11).  Jesus concluded His life’s work, also at Galilee, when He gave the eleven apostles commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 26:32, 28:7, 10, 16).  Jesus sent His men into the world with the light of the glorious Gospel to eradicate the darkness of those who were spiritually blind (2Corinthians 4:4).

Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come from Galilee and deliver the nations from darkness into the light of God (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Isaiah 49:6  ...I will also give thee for a light to the nations, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Matthew understood the significance and fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and recorded it in his Gospel account:

Matthew 4:12-17  When Jesus had heard that John [the Baptist] was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim (Genesis 49:13): That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations; the people who walked in darkness saw a great light; and to them which dwell in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jesus sometimes visited the coastal town Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene.  There was a synagogue there.  Magdala is a fishing town at the foot of Mount Arbel, the most prominent landmark on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee – only a brisk two hour walk from Capernaum where Jesus resided during His public ministry.

Matthew 15:39  [Jesus] sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

Magdala means tower—like a lighthouse, but Isaiah was not alluding to a lighthouse that guided fishermen back home on moonless nights when he said, “the people which walked in darkness saw a great light.”  He was referring to that great LightJesus Christ.


The Promise and the Light

This Chapter Five is about the fullness of the time – the point in history when two themes in the Plan of God converge in Christ.  The Promise of the Messiah—was realized in the Light of the world.  In the days of Jesus and His apostles, the promise was greatly anticipated.  Paul spoke of it:

Acts 26:6-7  …The hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come.

Jesus is both the Promise and the Light:

Acts 13:23  …God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.

Little did the world understand the momentous turn of events set in motion by the coming of the Lord.  The beloved apostle John tells us that the world of Jesus’ day was not to able to grasp the significance of the appearance of Jesus Christ.  And, little of Jesus’ teachings are understood yet by the world today—they simply do not comprehend Him.

John 1:4-5  In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.  The Light shone in darkness; but the darkness comprehended Him not.

John, the disciple beloved of Jesus, reveals the theme of the New Testament to be Darkness to Light.  John wrote his Gospel much later than the synoptic writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke, bringing to light much eye-witness insight about the life of Jesus that was little understood immediately after the death of Christ.  Jesus promised that through the working of God’s Spirit ‘all things’ would be recalled and revealed to His apostles (John 14:26, 19:35).  Speaking of Jesus, John wrote:

John 1:9  He was the true Light, which lights up every man that comes into the world.

There is no separation between Jesus and His Father.  Jesus said, “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)  Therefore God the Father is also Light.  John is speaking of God the Father here:

1John 1:5-9  This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and continue to walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


God’s Throne is Unapproachable Light

We are instructed by Paul to ‘lay hold on eternal life,’ because:

1Timothy 6:16  [Only our Lord Jesus Christ] …has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting.

1John 2:8  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shines.

While He was yet with them, just before He died, Jesus warned His disciples of the perils of this dark world:

John 12:35-36  Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while the Light is with you.  Walk while you have the Light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he is going.  While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the Children of light.


Promise of the Messiah

We learn from the apostles that the blessing to come on all nations is ultimately eternal life through Jesus Christ—the Messiah.  God said:

Genesis 12:2-3  I will make of you Abram a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Genesis 22:15-18  The angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven… and said, By myself have I sworn, said the LORD… in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Paul pointed out that ‘seed’ here is singular – indicating that Jesus Christ the Messiah would be the offspring of Abraham – and be a blessing to all nations.

Galatians 3:16  To Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He did not say, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.

To the world this singular event, a four-thousand-year-old oath to Abraham, is obscure and seemingly insignificant (Luke 1:73).  Here we are 2,000 years after Christ's first coming – and only a scant few can see the Plan of God unfolding.  We are inheritors of this promise – not only of lands and nations of people, but of a blessing—eternal life.  This promise was fulfilled in Jesus in the fullness of the times.


Everlasting Covenant

Hebrews 6:13  When God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by none greater, He swore by Himself.

Jesus, the God of the Old Testament promised Abraham and us, his spiritual descendants:

Genesis 17:7  I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto you, and to your descendants after you.
(Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18)

The Church of God brethren are heirs of this everlasting covenant.  Paul put it this way:

1Corinthians 3:21-23  …All things are yours; … the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

This Chapter is not a reiteration of the life of Christ in the Scriptures but a glossary of illustrations where we find Jesus bringing light to a dark world.  There are many renditions in print of the many fulfillments of Messianic prophecies in Christ’s life – especially those concerning the torture and crucifixion of Jesus.  “Excruciating,” comes from the root word for crucifixion.  No work of man could begin to do justice to the story of the life and death of Jesus.

John 21:25  There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.


Unto Us a Child is Born

A Savior became necessary because mankind’s sin brought the death penalty upon him (Romans 6:23).  Adam and Eve’s sin meant that Christ had to come to earth.  Without a Savior all mankind would have been eternally lost.  Jesus Christ came to earth and allowed Himself to be sacrificed to save mankind from its sins.  God’s Plan is for all humanity to be as He is in all righteous character—in mind and spirit.  Because Adam and Eve cut themselves off from access to the Tree of Life—which is God’s Holy Spirit, Jesus would have to once again make God’s Spirit available to mankind.  Before God could pour out His Spirit on a new people, their sins had to be taken away by a sacrifice.

No amount of man’s physical sacrifices could take away the penalty for sin (Hebrews 10:4).  It had to be a perfect sacrifice of more worth than all the world.  Only Jesus was more valuable than everything He had made (John 1:3).  God the Father offered up Jesus Christ in sacrifice, who in turn willingly offered His own life’s blood for the sins of the world.

John 3:16  God the Father so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Sin is rebellion against God.  Nothing man could ever do on his own would have been sufficient to mediate between himself and God.  A mediator—a  go-between is required because God cannot even look at sin (1Timothy 2:5).  God will not tolerate sin or injustice—not for a moment.  The Prophet Habakkuk declared of God:

Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and you cannot look on iniquity.

There was nothing wrong with the Old Covenant promises God gave to Israel.  Israel of old was to become a great and blessed physical nation—a showcase to the world (Deuteronomy 4:6-7).  But to the brethren of the Church of God are given exceeding great and better promises of the Kingdom of God and eternal Glory forever more—the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:10, Jeremiah 31:33).

Hebrews 8:6  Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Through Christ’s mediation, the Children of God become heirs of God—heirs of the Kingdom of God and eternal Glory.

Romans 8:16-17  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the Children of God: And if Children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

The Feast of Pentecost represents the establishment of the New Covenant Church with the coming of the promise of the Father—God's Holy Spirit, which He has given to us (Acts 1:4).  On that Day of Pentecost, only seven weeks after Jesus died and was resurrected, God poured out His Holy Spirit on a few assembled disciples of Jesus.  Peter, who was there at that Pentecost assembly, began preaching what must necessarily be done in order to receive the Spirit of God.  He powerfully proclaimed:

Acts 2:38  Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

God alone gives repentance and it has to do with overcoming sin and turning to the law of God (2Timothy 2:25).  God is faithful to forgive those who have repented of their sins.  Forgiveness is the result of God’s mercy in taking away our sin.  Repentance has to do with keeping God’s Ten Commandments.


My Redeemer Lives

Jesus came to redeem mankind.  All had earned the death penalty for sin.  Mankind had fallen from God’s good graces and needed to be ‘bought back.’  God, in His love and mercy, is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish (2Peter 3:9).  God would have all men to be saved (1Timothy 2:4).

Job 19:25  I know that my redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.

It was Jesus’ death that provided mankind with his indispensable redeemer who alone could atone for man’s sins.

1John 2:2  Jesus is the propitiation [atonement] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.


Divinity Set Aside and Vacated

Philippians 2:6-9  Christ Jesus, being like God the Father, did not consider equality with God something to cling to: Giving up His divine standing, He, of His own free will emptied Himself and made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name.

Jesus willingly stepped down from His seat which He occupied in heaven, yielding His will to God the Father and surrendering all power as God, to come to this earth—to die in place of man who dies as a result of sin—as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8, John 6:38).

Jesus, knowing full well that if He failed to live a perfect sinless life, He would die for His own sin.  He willingly came down to redeem and buy back mankind from the consequences of its sins (Hebrews 5:7).  Even though Jesus was ‘found in fashion as a man,’ He was nonetheless the Father’s Son (Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 2:17).  Nevertheless, having set aside His power, Jesus could work no miracles on His own, but fully relied on His indwelling Father to do the working of miracles  (John 5:19; 14:10).

On the night before He died, at the end of His life’s work, Jesus prayed to His Father to restore His glory and divinity to the full as it was before the days of creation:

John 17:1, 5  These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: … And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.


Prince of Peace

During the month old infant Jesus’ presentation to God at the Temple in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary met the long-time faithful and elderly Simeon, who through the Revelation of the Holy Spirit spoke of the Messiah:

Luke 2:32  A light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of thy people Israel.

The angel of the Lord had appeared unto Joseph in a dream and told him:

Matthew 1:21  Mary shall bring forth a son, and you shall call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.

Jesus Christ possesses the legal right to the throne of King David through His legal guardian, Joseph.  We see this in a Messianic prophecy:

Isaiah 9:6-7  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the [Kingdom of God] shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His empire and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Matthew provides the legal succession for Jesus Christ to be heir to the throne of David (Matthew 1:1-17, Jeremiah 33:14-17).

Luke provides the bloodline genealogy of Jesus Christ through His Jewish mother, Mary’s family lineage back to King David (Luke 3:23-31), and ultimately to Adam in whom God breathed the breath of life at creation (Luke 3:38, Genesis 2:7).  Jesus’ DNA, therefore, is traced directly to Adam through King David (Luke 3:31).

Jesus is legitimately heir to David’s throne through both sides of His family.  Nonetheless, the enemies of Christ insinuated and accused Him of being illegitimate – born out of wedlock.  Idle gossip followed Jesus all the days of His life:

John 8:41  …They said unto Jesus, We were not born as a result of fornication. 

Jesus did not have to answer their false accusations because God the Father had said differently of Him:

Mark 1:11  There came a voice from heaven, saying, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


Only Begotten Son

As a matter of fact, Jesus was not born of fornication.  God the Father begot Jesus. The Father had never begotten a son before, making Jesus His only begotten Son.  ‘Beget’ is a biblical word that means to conceive, father, sire, have an offspring, bring into the world, give life to, bring into being—literally to bring a child into existence by the process of reproduction.

1John 4:9  …God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

The being we distinguish as Jesus Christ—The Word of God—had existed as Almighty God for all time and eternity with the being the Bible identifies as God the Father.  Together and individually they were Almighty God.  But in a moment, God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world.  Our human minds cannot fathom the process of God becoming man, but that is exactly what took place with Jesus Christ—Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us (Matthew 1:23).  At that moment God became the Father, and the Word became His Son—Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35  The angel answered and said unto Mary, the [there is no article in the Greek] Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest [God the Father] shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Matthew 1:20  …The angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. [again, there is no article in the Greek] [Holy Spirit is not a person or being.]

When each human baby is conceived a unique identity is formed with that new life.  An individual comes into existence.  Everyone has an only one of its kind identity.  Identity is what makes you, you and me, me.  Identity originates with the father and arises in the child - except in the case of Jesus Christ.  His identity preexisted creation itself (John 1:2).  Jesus said it this way:

John 14:10-11  …I am in the Father, and the Father in me.

Instead of a new identity being brought into existence when Jesus was conceived, God the Father transferred the preexisting identity of the Word into the womb of Mary (John 17:5).  God the Father voiced:

Hebrews 5:5  …Thou art my Son, today I have begotten you.  (Hebrews 1:5-6; Psalms 2:7)

John 1:14  The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.


Children of Light

Jesus was only the first of many begotten children of the Father.  Every Christian is first begotten by his physical earthly father.  Then, at his conversion, each is again begotten by God the Father through His Spirit—becoming Children of God (1John 3:2).  Then, God the Father becomes ‘Daddy,’ and Jesus becomes our ‘brother’ (Romans 8:15, Hebrews 2:11).  Speaking first of Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 1:6  When [God the Father] brought His first begotten [Jesus Christ] into the world, He said, And let all the angels of God worship Him.

Peter also adds that each Christian is also begotten again, a second time – first in infancy by a physical father, but then again by God the Father at his commencement of conversion because Jesus makes it possible:

1Peter 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1John 5:1)

Conversion is a journey toward Light and salvation (Note the cover of this book.)

Ephesians 5:8, 14  You were sometimes darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as Children of Light... and Christ shall give you light.

The Father Revealed

One of the major reasons that Jesus Christ came in human flesh was to fully reveal the Father who does not openly interact with mankind.  It was Jesus who worked with all the men of the Bible.  Jesus tells us that no one has ever seen the Father:

John 1:18  No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Jesus reveals the Father to us by way of repentance, faith, conversion and baptism.  It is a reciprocal process – and only for those who are converted.  Jesus said:

Matthew 11:27  All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.

John 14:6  Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.


The God of Our Fathers

God the Father was not “Father” to all of ancient Israel.  A person only becomes a Child of God when the Father imparts a token of His Spiritual life to them (Romans 8:16).  Only when our patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were converted, used of God and reconciled to God the Father— did He became their Father:

Because they were converted, God the Father was revealed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  As well, Moses, David, the prophets and the people of faith had the Father declared unto them by Jesus Christ the God of the Old Testament.  They will all be in the first and better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).

Acts 3:13  The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus.

God the Father became their Father – just as He is “Our Father,” to converted Christians (Luke 11:2).

Jesus was a part of a large family with lots of brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3).  Spiritually, a person becomes a brother or sister to Christ when they have the same Father (Matthew 12:50, Hebrews 2:11).


Jesus Christ God of the Old Testament

This Jesus Christ of the New Testament, who was sent in the fullness of time, is the same Jesus Christ who was God of the Old Testament:

1Corinthians 10:1-4  Brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. [Jesus the Messiah]

John reveals that this same Jesus Christ was the spokesman of the Father:

John 1:1-3  In the beginning was the Word [‘Logos’ the One who became Jesus Christ], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

This Book about the Plan of God – Darkness to Light, is based on the Holy Bible—the Word of God.  The Father had the Word (Jesus Christ, the Spokesman) inspire and reveal it for our sake.

2Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 


Light to Them that Sit in Darkness

Isaiah 7:14  The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

The angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary and told her that she would be the mother of the Son of the Highest—who would bring light to them that sit in darkness:

Luke 1:30-33  The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS.  He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David:  And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end.

Luke quoted Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who in turn was paraphrasing Isaiah 9:2:

Luke 1:79  To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

The Bible does not directly reveal the date of Jesus’ conception.  In the Plan of God it was a pivotal and momentous day.  God the Father voiced this phrase:

Hebrews 5:5  …Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.

Though we are not told specifically which day this took place, we know that it did.  Almighty God became a man—in the likeness of sinful flesh with a nature like man’s sinful nature, to condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).  What kind of day would God have chosen for the fullness of time to come to fruition on this earth?  As momentous an occasion as God coming to earth in human flesh was – both conception and birth, Christians are not commanded by God to observe the day of Jesus’ conception or birth—but are commanded by God instead to observe the day of Jesus’ death.


Passover Commemorates Christ’s Death

Why does the world wish to hide the clear Biblical truth about Jesus being the embodiment of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:3-14, John 1:36)?

John 1:29  John the Baptist saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

1Corinthians 5:7  … Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.

1Peter 11:19  With the precious blood of Christ [we were redeemed], as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (Exodus 12:5)

1Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

1Corinthians 4:5  …until the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness

Leviticus 23:4-5  These are the Feasts of the LORD, even Holy Convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover.

Jesus’ conception had to be at a precise time for all prophecy to be fulfilled exactly – even to the death of Jesus Christ on a Wednesday ‘in the midst of the week’ on Nisan 14thPassover Day 34 years later on Wednesday April 5, 30 AD.  [Count 1 AD – 1 BC, because there was no -0- year.]

The average length of human gestation is 266 days, or 38 weeks from conception, which is exactly 9 lunar months.  If Jesus was conceived on December 21/22, 6 BC, Jesus could have been born on the 15th day of the month of Tishri, or September 15, 5 BC, everything pointing to His birth being at the time the Feast of Tabernacles which had just begun at sunset that evening!  It is noteworthy that when the autumn moon shown at its brightest there was a lunar eclipse marking that particular Feast of Tabernacles.  (Compare E.W. Bullinger, Companion Bible, APPENDIX 179 1. p. 198)

In John 1:14, the Word was made flesh refers to Jesus’ conception, whereas, dwelt (tabernacled) among us refers to His birth.  Many Scriptural references help us accurately locate the season of Christ’s birth.  And, of course we are able to count backward to His conception.  The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus was born nowhere near December 25th.  Luke shows that Jesus was not born in the winter by recording that shepherds were tending their flocks in the fields by night (Luke 2:8).  While cold temperatures generally do not bother well-fed sheep in full fleece, cold winds do—so grazing in open fields was inappropriate in the cold of winter.

Jesus, at His first coming, was not born at Christmas time, but born earlier in the year during the annual Fall Feast Days—possibly the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, or the Feast of Tabernacles.  All the Feasts of the Lord carry most significant meaning for the Plan of God.

Jesus fulfills the very meaning of the Feasts of the Lord, past present and future (Leviticus 23:2).  God deliberately made His Holy Days to be Holy Convocations for all time—eachan important epoch in the history of God’s people—so that we could understand what they meant and how they accomplish the Plan of God.

The Feast of Trumpets pictures a most significant event; the dramatic return and second coming of Jesus Christ in supreme power over all the earth.  Just as importantly, the Day of Atonement pictures the cleansing from sin and the reconciliation of all mankind to God.

And likewise, the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the revival and restoration of all things (Acts 3:19-21) when Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will be establishing the Kingdom of God over all the earth.  At that time all the families of the earth shall go up unto Jerusalem every year to observe this Holy Day (Zechariah 14:16-18).  Christ will be King: For He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).


Jesus Fulfills the Feasts of the Lord

When Protestants read that Jesus fulfills the Feasts of the Lord they automatically say things like, “Those are Jewish feaststhey are not for us.”  On closer examination a careful reader will discern that indeed, they are not the Jews’ feasts but, the Feasts of the Lord.  Protestants will also say, “Jesus fulfilled the Feasts of the Lord – so we do not have to keep them holy,” just as they say, “Jesus fulfilled the law – so that means we do not have to keep the Ten Commandments.”  For that exact reason, God made them Holy Convocations forever—sacred assemblies to be declared at their appointed times for God fearing people.  It is most important that we keep and observe God’s Holy Days.  They are rich in information and facts that reveal how God is going about His Plan for mankind.  On the other hand, this world’s traditional religious festivals like Easter, Saint Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Sun-Day, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Christmas shed no light whatsoever on the Plan of God.

Because those pagan holidays are not found in Sacred Scripture they have no bearing at all on the things God is working out for His people.  Those traditional holidays only hearken back to ancient demonic pagan festivals.  That is why Jesus said to those who omit the Commandments of God, “[You are] making the word of God of no effect through your tradition.” (Mark 7:8, 13)

Each and every one of God’s Holy Days pictures a major step in God’s Plan to bring His Children into His magnificent glory.

1Peter 5:10  The God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus…


Born in a Barn

When Jesus was born, masses of faithful men and women from far and wide were converging upon Jerusalem for the purpose of observing the Feast of Tabernacles.  That is the reason there were no rooms available at the inn when Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  Jesus’ beginning was in the humblest of accommodations—a barn:

Luke 2:7  Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a stall; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Galatians 4:4  When the appointed time—the fullness of time came, God sent forth His own Son, born of a woman…

The angel Gabriel had come to Mary and told her that through the miraculous power of the Most High God’s Holy Spirit she would be enveloped in a lustrous brilliance by which the Holy One born to her would be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)


Called Out of Darkness

The timing of Jesus’ conception had been carefully selected by God.  From Mary’s time of ovulation, to the timing of the Jubilee Year that Jesus would begin His public ministry.  Every indication points to the conception of Jesus taking place on, or near the winter solstice of 6 BC.  It could have been that Jesus was conceived on the night of December 21/22, 6 BC.  It was the darkest – and longest night of the year.  It was darkest in more ways than one.  The Romans ruled over the Promised Land, and they brought their debauchery with them.  Peter would explain that Jesus came into the world to deliver the saints from pervasive darkness:

1Peter 2:9  You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, an extraordinary possession; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:

For the Romans of Christ’s day, the time of the winter solstice was the gala time for pagan festivities commemorating their heathen god, Saturn.  Saturnalia is an enduring Roman celebration held at the time when the sun has receded as low as possible in the southern sky.  All of the degeneracy and corruption that was celebrated at that time of year would later be embraced by Catholicism and the so called Christian world in their observance of Christmas.  All the decorative lights and glitter in the world cannot conceal the dark origin of this holiday that predates the Romans by thousands of years.  Two-thousand years before Christ, Jeremiah and Isaiah warned God’s people to avoid this abomination:

Jeremiah 10:2-4  Thus says the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain: For one cuts a [Christmas] tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it does not move.  (Jeremiah 3:13, Isaiah 40:19-20, 44:17 et al., show that idolatrous images and Christmas trees used in worship are an abomination to God.)

Satan, who hates everything about Jesus Christ, has perverted the time of His conception—turning it into a Christmas celebration honoring himself—the Power of Darkness (Colossians 1:13).

John 12:35  Jesus said…he that walks in darkness does not know where he is going.

My Father's Business

Holy Scripture shows that from His earliest years Jesus focused on His purpose in life.  In 9 AD Jesus was 12 years old at the time of the Spring Holy Days.

Luke 2:41-43  Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the Feast.  And when they had fulfilled the days [the Days of Unleavened Bread], as they returned, the young man Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and His mother knew not of it.

It was not only the Feast of Passover that they kept, but Jesus observed all the Feasts of the Lord His entire life—even dying on a Passover Day.

Leviticus 23:4  These are the Feasts of the LORD, even Holy Convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Jesus Went Missing for Three Days

What had happened is that Jesus had become involved in a studious debate with the Masters of Israel who knew Scripture best of all.  Jesus remained at the Temple in Jerusalem enlightening those instructors through the wisdom acquired through God’s Spirit (Luke 2:40; 52).

Luke 2:44-49  [Joseph and Mary], supposing Jesus to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.  And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.  And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.  And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?  Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And He said unto them, How is it that you sought me?  Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?


Jesus Came to Reveal the Father

Yes, Jesus was already occupied with the things of His Father (John 6:38).  He was the only one who was able to unveil the hidden reality of God the Father.  The Father is not generally known to mankind (John 16:3, 17:25).  Jesus said:

Luke 10:22  All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows who …the Father is, except the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.

Not only was Jesus revealing the Father, He was making it possible for many to have a one-on-one relationship with the Father.  Adam’s sin had caused all mankind to be cut off from God—completely isolated from Him.  Isaiah gives us an example of the separation between God and man:

Isaiah 64:7  …For You have hidden your face from us,…because of our iniquities.


Children of God the Father

God the Father remains unknown to the world, but He is “Father” to all those who have the love of Jesus Christ and keep the Commandments (1John 5:2):

Matthew 5:45  That you may be the Children of your Father who is in heaven.

John 1:12  As many as received [Jesus], to them gave He power to become the Children of God, even to them that believe on His name:

A Christian is distinguished from the people in the world because he has become a Child of God (1John 3:2).  All Children of God have come out of the world, received God's Holy Spirit and begun putting on God's spiritual life (2Corinthians 6:17-18).  Jesus also revealed the fact that access to the Father was strictly limited (John 6:65):

Matthew 11:27  All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father.  Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”


Jesus Begins His Ministry

Isaiah 9:6-7  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus began His public ministry on the Jubilee year of 26/27 AD when He began to be about the age of 30—the age of the priesthood (Numbers 4:3).  The Jubilee Year is each fiftieth year in a forty-nine-year cycle.

Luke 3:23 Jesus, when He began His ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph.

Prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus referenced the Jubilee Year and spoke of these Scriptures (Leviticus 25:8-13).  The Jubilee Year is the Lord’s year, the acceptable year of the Lord when men are set at liberty (Isaiah 61:2).

Leviticus 25:10  Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

America’s Liberty Bell (August 1752) is an iconic symbol of American liberty and freedom, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It’s raised inscription reads: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXVvsX.”

‘Liberty’ was one of the first things Jesus proclaimed as He began His public ministry.  He explained that the spiritual law requires sinful man be in bondage to death (Romans 6:23):

John 8:34, 36  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (Romans 8:2)

Galatians 5:1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Not only was it Jesus’ custom to keep the Sabbaths Holy—He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28) because He created the Sabbaths (Genesis 2:2-3).


Liberty

Luke 4:16-19  Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He entered into the synagogue on the Day of the Sabbaths [Pentecost, Feast of Weeks], and stood up for to read.  And there was delivered unto Him the book of the Prophet Isaiah.  And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

All of these points were the actions the Messiah had been prophesied to perform—and Jesus was applying them to Himself!  Those present at this particular Pentecost service were astounded at His proclamation.

Luke 4:20-21  And Jesus closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down.  And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him.  And He began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.


Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God

Mark 1:14-15  After John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.  And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

What is the Gospel—most do not know?  The Gospel is not the story about Jesus; how He gave sight to the blind; how He walked on water; how He made the lame walk; how He cleansed the lepers and raised the dead (Matthew 11:5).  No, the Gospel is what Jesus preached and taught over and above those miraculous works—it is the Good News of His Father’s Kingdom.  Jesus will come to establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth—that indeed is Good News.  God, not Satan will reign supreme over all.  This message of the coming Kingdom of God is the life’s lesson that must be conveyed to the world by every one of the brethren of the end-time Church of God—by being a light to the world (Matthew 5:14; 24:14).  God’s law, His love and His way of life will be the norm for all men.

(More on this in Chapter Six.)



Teach the Law

Proverbs 6:23  … The law is light.

The law of God enlightens our path so that we do not stumble and fall because of sin.

Psalm 18:28  O LORD, you light my lamp: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Psalm 119:105  O LORD, thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Romans 7:12  The law is holy, and the Commandment holy, and just, and good.

Why is it that so much of the world believes that Jesus did away with the law of God allowing men to run amok doing just as they please?  God’s intention for man is not for him to behave wildly, uncontrollably and disruptively over his fellow man.  Notice Jesus instructions:

Luke 11:35-36  Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness.  If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle does give you light.

God’s law of light is a law of love—meaning that its purpose is for the betterment of self, family, society and nations.  Jesus said that, we who have never been able to live up to God’s standards perfectly, should look to Him who fulfilled the law, that is, lived up to the full intent of the law.  He certainly did not destroy the law of God.  He explained that all Christians should be teachers of His law—living peaceable, orderly and law-abiding lives.  Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19  Do not think for a moment that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil [magnify the Law of God].  For truly I say unto you, Until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in anyway pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.

There are enormous benefits that accrue to those who live according to the law of God.  God blesses everyone who acts in accordance to His holy law because they are advancing His Plan—instead of waring against it (Ezekiel 22:26).

Romans 7:12  The Law is holy, and the Commandment holy, and just, and good.

That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”  (Luke 11:28)

Psalm 119:2  Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart.  (Psalm 1:1)

Psalm 119:97-100  O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.  You, through your Commandments have made me wiser than mine enemies …I have more understanding than all my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation.  I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your Law.


Fulfill All Righteousness

Jesus was baptized though He never sinned.  He told John the Baptist that the reason that He was being baptized was to fulfill all righteousness—it was the right thing to do.  Righteousness means obedience to the will of God.  Jesus demonstrated to John, and to us, that it was His will to do everything the Father required of Him – setting us an example to follow.

Matthew 3:13-16  Then Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan unto John the Baptist, to be baptized of him.  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and you come to me?  And Jesus answering said unto him, Allow it to be so now: for thus it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he allowed Him.  And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: (John 1:32)

God’s Spirit is not a bird, and does not look like a dove.  Anyone who has ever seen a dove descending knows that they land slowly and gently – not like a bolt of lightning.  God’s Spirit was manifested in this way for a witness that something truly extraordinary had just taken place.  At Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit came upon the first Church saints there was a similar remarkable spectacle observed by all in order to punctuate the fact that something truly breathtaking had occurred.


 


Jesus is Coming a Second Time

God has graciously revealed so much more to His Church in these last days.  God’s Church is eagerly awaiting the second coming of Jesus the Messiah.  It appears that John the Baptist did not fully understand about the Messiah’s two-fold coming, though his obligation was to prepare the way for the Messiah.  Notice the expectation of the Messiah…

Matthew 11:1-4  It came to pass when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.  Now when John [the Baptist] had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto [Jesus], Are you He that should come, or do we look for another?  Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

Jesus had not been implementing the prophesied vengeance, fire and wrath as John the Baptist expected of Him.  In the Old Testament Scriptures, that retribution is rightly attributed to the coming Messiah.  The public of Jesus’ day even suspected John the Baptist of being the Messiah:

Luke 3:15-16  As the people were in expectation [of the Messiah], and all men mused in their hearts of John  [the Baptist], whether he was the Messiah, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire:

John fully expected to see Jesus smite the earth any day.  In this next verse we will see the difference in a gospel about Jesus, and the true Gospel that Jesus preached concerning the soon coming Kingdom of God.  Jesus wanted John the Baptist who had been preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah, not to be scandalized, but to recognize that He had been fulfilling the role of the Messiah’s first coming (Isaiah 35:4-6, Malachi 3:2-3).  Jesus sent this message to John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:5-6  The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

God’s people know that Jesus came 2000 years ago – a long time ago – and now expect His second coming.  Some, however, grow weary in well doing and begin to say where is the promise of His coming; my Lord delays His coming (Luke 12:45)?  It should be clear to us that the Messiah has a two-fold coming (Luke 18:8).


Forty Days of Temptation

Satan possessed the authority and power to grant Jesus Christ the things that he tempted Him with.  Satan offered Jesus Christ instant gratification, glory and all earthly power forever if only Jesus would yield to him and become subservient to him.  For Jesus in the flesh, it constituted a tremendous temptation because Jesus could have avoided persecution and death.  Spiritually intense after forty days of fasting to draw near to the Father, Jesus maintained the big picture in His mind (Matthew 4:4).

Matthew 4:8-10  The devil took Jesus up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said unto Him, All these things will I give thee, if you will fall down and worship me.  Then Jesus said unto him, Get away from me Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:9, 12  Satan brought Jesus to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:  And Jesus answering said unto Satan, It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord thy God.

Mark 1:12-13  Immediately [after Jesus was baptized] the Spirit drove Him [from Jordan River] into the wilderness.  And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him.


Who Will be King

Jesus would have lost His eternal life had He sinned because He was subject to the Law of God, just like every other man.  But, Jesus obeyed God—His Father.  Satan wanted nothing less than the total destruction and annihilation of Jesus.  Satan offered Jesus the world, but Jesus knew that He would have died eternally for the sin of yielding to Satan!  Had Jesus sinned on a single point of God’s law He would have died for His own sin—just as the first man Adam did.  But Jesus grew in Godly character by obeying God, and by suffering and striving against human nature—the same pulls of sinful flesh common to all mankind.


Calling His Disciples

John the Baptist told his disciples that Jesus was the Messiah, and that He must increase, and I must decrease (John 3:30).

John 1:40-41  One of the two which heard John the Baptist speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.  He first found his own brother Simon, and said unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

Matthew 4:21-22  …Jesus saw two more brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in a ship with Zebedee their father mending their nets; and He called them.  And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed Him.

Knowing the Plan of God, and that He must be betrayed and put to death, and having inspired the words of the Scriptures, Jesus knew before He chose Judas Iscariot that he was the “son of perdition.” (John 6:71; 17:12)

Psalm 41:9  Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

John 6:64  There are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

Jesus after praying all night before He selected His disciples, Jesus knew what was in the hearts of the men He chose (John 2:24).

Luke 6:12-13  It came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles. [those sent forth]

Jesus handpicked each of His apostles—only after much prayer and scrutiny.  We are given rare insight in the choosing of Bartholomew – or as John called him, Nathaniel.  Nathanael of Cana in Galilee possessed a rare sincere character trait—that of a true Israelite in God’s sight—in whom there was no agenda, no guile, no hypocrisy, and no deceit.  Jesus had seen him in the shade under the fig tree and heard his sincere prayer.  When Jesus revealed to Nathanael that He knew the secrets of his mind and heart, Nathanael became a believer (John 1:48).

John 1:47  Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

This verse gives us insight into the character of Jesus Christ in whom, it goes without saying, there is no guile, vindictiveness or surreptitiousness—a true spiritual Israelite of God.

Galatians 6:16  As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.


 


Ye Are the Light of the World

Those saints who believe in Jesus Christ believe in the principles and values that He taught.  Too many who say they ‘believe in Jesus’ do not believe what He said, taught and did.  His life is not about walking on water, multiplying the loaves, or raising the dead to life.  Yes, He did those things, but that was to show that He was the prophesied Messiah.  Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God was coming to this earth—and He taught how those who would be in the Kingdom would live their lives.  It will not be like today’s world where God and His ways are relegated to ‘honorable mention’ at best, and are not deserving of first and foremost consideration.  Jesus taught His followers how to live their lives.  He said to those who would be His saints:

Matthew 5:14  You are the light of the world.

We have no light of our own, but we are able to let the light of Christ shine through us.

John 8:12  Jesus said unto them, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Paul described how those who responded to God’s calling no longer walked in the dark and lawless ways:

Ephesians 5:8  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.

1Thessalonians 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Isaiah 42:6-7  I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles [non-Israelite nations]; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Isaiah 42:16  …I will make darkness light before the blind.

When John wrote that Jesus was the Light of the World, it was not a new concept.  Isaiah, among others, described Jesus in this way:

Isaiah 60:1-3  Arise, shine; for your light is come, and your glory of the LORD is risen upon you.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness shall cover the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you.  And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

The brightness of Jesus Christ is often underestimated, but Paul described it wonderfully.  Jesus appeared to Paul as a light brighter than the sun itself, and repeated His words given to Isaiah.  Paul described Jesus’ appearance to him in this way:

Acts 26:13, 18  ...I saw in the road a light from heaven, brighter than the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me… To open the eyes of the Gentiles, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.


Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus created the weekly seventh-day Sabbath for the benefit of mankind.  The Sabbath capped-off God’s creative efforts!  Not only is the Sabbath for man’s rest, but it is a prophetic picture of the Plan of God—a spiritual rest hearkening back to the creation week.  God, who rested on the seventh day is creating man in His image—so man is to rest on the Sabbath Day as well.  It is a Holy Day.  God gives man one day in seven to contemplate the spiritual things of God.  Jesus said that the Sabbath does not take away from the purpose of man – but is advantageous to fulfilling God’s Plan for man.

Mark 2:27-28  Jesus said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:  Therefore the Son of man [Jesus] is Lord also of the Sabbath.

Jesus, as Lord of the Sabbath is supreme in authority over the function and purpose of the Sabbath.

Genesis 2:3  God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it [made it holy]: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.

God rested!  God was not tired – He does not get tired.  God rested on the Sabbath Day showing that it was the beginning of His spiritual creation for mankind.  The seventh day Sabbath is a prophetic picture of the Millennial Rest at the culmination of six-thousand years, each week day representing 1,000 years, of human bondage to the labor of sin.  Man will be able to rest—when man will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21).

Jesus will establish God the Father’s Kingdom over all the earth and Jesus will reign supreme with His saints (Revelation 11:15; 20:4, 6).

Israel and Judah went into national captivity for Sabbath breaking and idolatry (Ezekiel 20:12-23).  Few realize that these Scriptures are a prophecy for modern Israel today, but America, England and the English-speaking people today are about to suffer a similar fate.

Isaiah 56:1-2  Thus says the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.  Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it and keeps his hand from doing any evil.

The Sabbath is for the purpose of worshipping God and learning all about Him.  In Genesis, we are able to see that the Sabbath was the beginning of the spiritual creation (Genesis 2:3).  It is the one day of the week set apart by God for physical resting.  Even God rested!  God is deadly serious about no work being done on the Sabbath:

Exodus 35:2  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an Holy Day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

Sabbath services are not primarily a social occasion, but a day in which Christians seek ways to live according to the rules of the Kingdom—even now.  Those who are in Christ have been spiritually conveyed into His Kingdom already (Ephesians 2:6;
Colossians 1:13).  When Christians assemble they do so primarily for the purpose of:

Hebrews 10:24-25  … considering one another to provoke unto love and to good works [and] exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.


Heart and Spirit of Christ

God has called students and disciples out of this world to follow Jesus Christ.  Christians are called now, not solely for the purpose of salvation, but for the purpose of the Gospel’s sake and learning to teach others.  Prior to baptism God leads a person to believe in Jesus Christ the son of God his Savior, and to heartily repent of sin and begin to live his life in accordance with His words and obedience to His Commandments.  Another important thing to consider before baptism is to count the cost of becoming a Christian for Jesus said that one must be willing to give up everything including their own life to be His disciple (Luke 14:26-27,33).  It is not easy to be a Christian.  Wherever life takes a Christian, he must be faithful to the end.  The Church brethren are called to be trained to become rulers and teachers in the coming Millennium of the Kingdom of God on earth.  They will rule and teach under the King of kings, Jesus, when the Tree of Life will be opened to all men.  All people are not being called by God at this time.  God speaks of the time when they shall be called:

Joel 2:28  It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…

 It is the Heart and Spirit of Christ that makes one a Christian.  Christianity is not merely an intellectual endeavor.  Too many people make that mistake!  They speak religious sounding words but in fact they exhibit very little, if any, Christian substance.  Religious practice in many congregations today is only a pretense of true Godly faith.  Conventional Christianity may be a wonderful social experience rejoicing in olden festivities, but it does not resolutely adhere to the Christianity of Christ.  Jesus came to make a division between customary superficial religion and His way of life:

Matthew 10:33-35  Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.  Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

It may seem strange to hear the King of Peace say, “Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace.”  What it means is that Jesus will not compromise or step aside from His Father’s perfect way in order to find some middle ground with this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).  The true Church does not lower Christ’s standards in order to make itself attractive to the world.  Branding, or appearing to be likeminded with the public, is not the approach of the Gospel message (Mark 10:28-30).  Jesus laid down His life, and a Christian must do likewise.  That message is not to be soft-pedaled, played down, or de-emphasized.  God calls only those He knows will be able to live up to His high standards.  The Church must not try to build and sustain an alluring brand so as to successfully compete in the marketplace.

Thankfully we have, in Jude verse 3, the answer to where one can find True Christianity.  “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  That was the true Christianity practiced as Jesus and the apostles taught it.  We must find it again.  It is extremely difficult to be and remain a true Christian.


You Will Be Persecuted

In the exact same way that Jesus was ridiculed, dismissed, and ultimately killed, true Christians are not accepted, but reproached, and brought to ruin.  True Christians will be disfellowshipped, persecuted and put out of the congregations when they live by Godly principles, standards, and remain faithful to the Truth.  During the apostasy, the great deception of the 1980s, some true ministers continued to stand for the doctrine of Jesus Christ.  They had left everything behind – home, family, profession, and security – devoting themselves entirely to the service of God’s people.  They were marked, and disfellowshipped – not for sin or heresy, but for political expediency (Romans 16:17).  The great majority of the church pastors closed their eyes to that heavy-handed practice, not considering that God will hold them just as accountable as the perpetrators of the evil ordeal (Leviticus. 5:1).  God will not hold them guiltless.  One of the last things Jesus told His disciples was to expect that kind of treatment, even from the church rulers and powers that be:

John 16:1-3  These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.  They shall put you out of the assembly places of worship: yes, the time comes that whosoever kills you will think that he does God service.  And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

Luke 21:12  …They shall seize you, and persecute you, and deliver you up to be tried in your synagogues, and be put into prisons, and you will be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

Luke 6:22-23  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

 


False Teachers

The religious environment that Jesus encountered was a noxious syncretistic amalgamation of God’s word, tainted Judaism, Babylonian influence, Platonic doctrine and Greek philosophy—the end result being a fatal blend which denied the integrity of the True faith.  Too much of that environment prevails today.  Jesus established True Christianity in His followers.  To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, one must expeditiously and fastidiously believe and follow the meaning of every Scripture in order to learn God’s intent for us.  Knowing the Truth of God and putting it off for a more convenient day is foolishness.  God tells us that we must make the most of our opportunities while we have the occasion (Proverbs 10:5).  All the elements of the True faith—the word of God—were delivered to the first-century Church of God.  Nevertheless, God’s people have been continuously plagued by false prophets, false ministers and those who would pervert the word of God.  Jesus warned that false teachers would deceive many up unto our day.

Matthew 24:11-14  Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Acts 20:29-30 [Paul echoed the same warning.] I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.


Teach us to Pray

More than a prayer to be memorized and recited, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray.  First and foremost, prayer is to be directed to God the Father, recognizing His sovereignty.  Jesus told them how to pray:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy Kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, as we forgive every one that is indebted to us; and lead us not into trials but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-3)

Some late translations from the Byzantine text include a version of a doxology from David's blessing in 1Chronicles 29:11:

“For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”


Give us This Day our Daily Bread

Most of this world believes that, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is a simple request for daily physical food – but it is clearly not an appeal for daily physical nourishment.  To the contrary, Jesus taught the disciples:

Matthew 6:31  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

The misunderstanding surrounding the translation of the unique Greek word ‘epiousios, arises from a lack of understanding of this word which was coined and used only by Jesus.

John 6:51  Jesus said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:

John 6:58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live forever.

The renowned Biblical scholar, E.W. Bullinger believed that the word epiousios is a reference to Jesus Christ—speaking of Himself – the true spiritual Bread of Life that descends from heaven (Nehemiah 9:15, Revelation 2:17, Matthew 4:4, and John 6)

Give us this day our daily bread,” is a request to our Father to have Jesus Christ, the True Bread from heaven, live His perfect life in us and provide all things necessary for salvation.

When Jesus said, “Deliver us from the evil one,” it was a request to the Father to release us from the devil, the power of darkness.

Colossians 1:12-13  Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son:

1John 2:9-11  He that says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loves his brother abides in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.  But he that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not whither he goes, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.


I Will Build My Church

Jesus Christ is the wise master builder.  Everyone knows that Jesus established the Church – but what is the basis upon which the Church of God is built?  The Church was built on the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.  Speaking to the apostles, and Peter specifically, Jesus said:

Matthew 16:19  I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Let’s understand that Matthew 16:19 does not appoint the Pope, nor anyone in the ministry of God’s Church to judge any person, or to represent God’s authority and have his decision ratified in heaven.  This verse has been misused by men and organizations as the basis for church authority, the primacy of Peter, and the establishment of a ministerial elite class of church leaders.  This was not Christ’s intent at all—quite the opposite.

It is important to understand what Jesus was saying.  The conversation began when Jesus asked His men, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13)  Jesus was establishing for His disciples what, or more properly, whom the foundation of the Church would be built upon.

Matthew 16:16  Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Messiah,” the Son of the living God.

God the Father had revealed that precious truth to Peter because Peter had not figured it out for himself (Matthew 16:17).  The Father had shown Peter that Jesus was the anointed one, the Savior, who would rule in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus was confirming to them that He was that long sought for Messiah—that was the topic of the conversation they were having.  “You are the Messiah,” that is the basis, the foundation, the rock, upon which Jesus would build His Church.

Matthew 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter [little stone], and upon this mega-rock I will build my Church; and the gates of the grave shall not prevail against it.

Jesus was establishing this fact in their minds: “Upon this rock,”  “This foundation,”  “This corner stone,” “This key-stone,” “I am the Messiah,” I will build my Church.  Jesus was looking Peter right in the eye – and He utilized a play on words – petros and petra – but the intent was that Jesus was saying to them all – the Church is built on the fact that Jesus is the Messiah (Matthew 16:19).

Jesus was telling them then, and He is telling the Church brethren today, that they are being held responsible for this precious knowledge – that Jesus is the Messiah.  That meant that whatever they did from that point forward would be recorded in heaven as a testament to their very lives and how they lived them.  Judgment is upon those who are converted and led by God’s Spirit—everything is recorded in heaven (1Peter 4:17).  However, judgment is reserved for a later time for those who are in the world – that is why Jesus directed His disciples not to tell others:

Matthew 16:20  Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Messiah.

Everyone is liable for what they know, and those who are converted are responsible, and are being judged now!  The Church brethren are being tested and tried now for the purpose of writing a permanent record in the Book of Life.

Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), has appointed no divinely ordained interpreter of the Scriptures on earth (2Peter 1:20).  God leads His called-out Church people in truth and understanding through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14, 1Corinthians 2:13-14).  The Church of God is not visible to the world because it is a spiritual entity—the Body of Christ.  There is no appointed or ordained leader of a church organization that possesses authority or dominion over members of the Church (2Corinthians 1:24).  The Bible—God’s Word—is the authority which rules through the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Church members (1John 2:27).

Man tends to have an 'inherent' and ‘innate’ desire to belong and be a useful part of something greater than himself.  There is a basic need to be loved and accepted.  When those desires are shattered – one feels rejected.  God the Father has reconciled His Children to Himself through Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 5:18).  That will never be shattered!  The Biblical concept of ‘Church’ is much more than organization, authority, name, and numbers… 

The ‘Church’ is those converted people—Christ’s Body—with a core set of beliefs, practices and identity who are led by God’s Spirit – with a true unity of that Spirit.  There are many groups that claim to be God’s Church without possessing the all-encompassing life’s set of ideal standards and boundless Christian love.  It is God alone who has separated us out of this evil world.  God the Father has placed us where we belong:

Colossians 1:12-13  Giving thanks unto the Father, who has enabled us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [The saints and the Church are one and the same!]  Who has delivered us from the power of darkness [where we do not belong] and has conveyed us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.


The Bible is the Word of God

Proverbs 30:5  Every Word of God is pure:  He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.

God has given His people the entire word of truth.  It is His manual for us, that we may be able to be as He is (Romans 10:17).  Jesus said, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Luke 4:4).  God has preserved His every word—both Old and New Testaments.  First, He used the Jews to preserve His Truth:

“To them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2).  This means that the Jews were responsible for the accurate conveyance of Scripture throughout history.  The Old Testament Scriptures were codified by Ezra.  Ezra wrote the Books of Chronicles, as part of his work in canonizing the Old Testament Scriptures.  The Chronicles were the last books of the Old Testament to be written.  The three apostles who codified the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were Paul, Peter and John.  John wrote the Book of Revelation.  John was of the priestly line of Aaron.  As the last living apostle, John compiled, arranged and canonized the entire New Testament.

Paul instructed the Church to hold fast to sound doctrine and the truths he had taught them in his letters (2Timothy 4:1-7).  Luke, Mark and Silvanus helped Paul canonize some of his epistles.

Hebrews 4:12  For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The entire Bible is the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13).


Jesus Healed the Multitudes

Matthew 15:30-31  Great multitudes came unto Jesus, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and He healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be made whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Healing is a miraculous occurrence wherein the physical laws of the universe are held in abeyance while God’s supernatural intervention restores right health as it was in the beginning.  Healing is achieved without the violation of God’s perfect law—which never happens—but by God’s compassion and mercy (Romans 7:12, Matthew 9:1-8).

Mark 5:33-34  The woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Jesus, and told Him all the truth.  And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith has made you whole; go in peace and be whole of thy plague.

Luke 17:19  Jesus said to the cleansed leper, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

God has promised to heal us according to our faith—and He does (Psalm 30:2; 103:3).  He is our Divine Healer.  Healing is accomplished in those of faith when the suffering of Christ is accepted by the Father in place of the travail of one who is ill.  "By His stripes we are healed."  In the same way that Jesus died so that repentant sinners might live, He also suffered so that those who are sick might be made whole.  Jesus personally bore our sins in His own body when He was killed so that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness (1Peter 2:24).

Jesus' anguish and suffering began before He ever felt a fist, a thorn, a whip, a nail, or a spear.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was overwhelmed by such grief that He could hardly breathe.

Matthew 26:36-39  Jesus began to be sorrowful and very heavy.  Then said He unto the disciples, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.  And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.

Jesus would not have prayed that urgent appeal to His Father if His anguish had been tolerable.  Jesus knew that He would be physically marred more than any man, but His greater grief and sorrow stemmed from man's betrayal and rejection of Him (Isaiah 52:14).  Most Christians do not realize that next to loving God, Himself, it is His desire that the brethren care for one another.  They also do not realize that a Godly brotherly love is the primary prerequisite for healing.  "For this cause (without brotherly love) many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [are dead]."  (1Corinthians 11:30)  The "cause" of illness and death was the division among the brethren, which constituted not discerning the Lord's body – that is, not determining and making a distinction between who were converted brethren and who were of the world.


The Called-Out-Ones are the Church Brethren

Matthew 16:18  [Jesus said] … I will build my Church [‘ekklesia’]…

The apostle Paul spoke of all those who believed in Jesus Christ as being an inseparable body of believers.

Romans 12:5  We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

It is important to grasp this concept because Paul often said things that were difficult to understand (2Peter 3:16).  Those believers were none other than Jesus’ true called out ones—the ‘ekklesia’—the Church brethren who were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1Corinthians 1:9).  Paul went on to say that the body belonged to Jesus Christ—they were His possession.  Paul stated that it was the Passover fellowship that united the brethren into one body:

1Corinthians 10:16-17  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ?  The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the Body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

1Corinthians 12:12  As the [human] body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1Corinthians 12:27  You are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.

Ephesians 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 5:23  …Christ is the head of the Church: and He is the Savior of the body.


 


The Church Brethren Are the Lord's Body

The Church of God today really needs to grasp what Paul meant by, "the Lord's body."  When we read the words, "the Lord's Body," we should understand that Paul is referring to the Christian believers—the Church brethren—who make up the Church of God (Ephesians 1:22-23).

When many people hear the phrase, The Lord's Body, they immediately recollect the dead body of Jesus that was taken off the cross and laid on a stone slab in a tomb.  However, often times when the Lord’s Body is spoken of in the New Testament, it is a direct reference to the Church—the Church brethren—and not Jesus’ physical body.  Jesus Christ revealed to Paul that the Church brethren are in effect, His Body:

Colossians 1:24  …For His [Christ's] body's sake, which is the Church.

The phrase, The Lord's Body, takes on additional meaning as the Scriptures unfold.  This allegory leads to a deeper spiritual understanding where words sometimes fail us.  The spiritual meaning and intent of Scripture is always broader and more profound than physical fact.  Many verses firmly establish that the “body” of Christ is a direct reference to the Church of God brethren.  Paul built on that correlation of Christ’s body being the Church brethren and tied it to marriage – as husband and wife are one fleshone body in marriage.



 


Discern the Lord’s Body

"Division" among the brethren was the subject being addressed when Paul wrote that some of those of the Lord's body were shunning one another and some brethren were not being properly accepted and acknowledged (1Corinthians 1:10-13; 11:18).  Paul let them know how serious the matter was:

Why were once faithful members of God’s Church dying prematurely?  When a once converted person turns his back on some of God’s people—rejecting a part of the Body of Christ—he reviles the Holy Spirit and loses God’s protection over his life (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26, Mark 3:29).

Every faithful member must absolutely grasp the definition of the Lord's body from the Bible itself.  The Body of Christ is the Church of God—the brethren of the Church.  This concept of one body is solidly established in Scripture.  The purpose of the Church is nothing less than to ultimately bring all mankind to be of one Spirit – bringing the entire world to salvation.  Passover pictures Jesus’ death—body and blood—shed, not only for the saints, but for the entire world (John 3:17).  The unleavened bread and wine are not to be taken lightly:

1Corinthians 11:27  Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Not only does division and discrimination destroy fellowship and unity, it is as though Christ were being crucified anew (Hebrews 6:6).

1Corinthians 11:28-30  But let a man examine himself, and [if he accepts all the brethren without reservation] then let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he that eats and drinks [the Passover] unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Are Christians able to discern who their brothers and sisters in Christ are—distinguish between the world and the Church, and treat all the brethren accordingly?  Taking Passover while refusing to be reconciled to others renders the Passover service contemptible in God’s sight.  All true Christians must be wholeheartedly accepted, without exception, counting them as brethren.  Salvation is at stake.

Paul said that a Christian must examine himself as to whether or not he is a part of any division before taking Passover.  There can be no hate, despite, or rejection of any of the saints, as that behavior defines not discerning the Lord's body.  The saints are obligated to extend their realm of fellowship to include all who have the earnest of God's Holy Spirit.  Paul characterized personal scrutiny and self-examination as properly "discerning the Lord's body."

The heart of the matter is that the Corinthians were “not discerning the Lord's Body.”  Those Passover participants did not regard everyone there equally – as all being members of Christ’s Body.  That division was going on at the Passover service in question.  ‘Discernment,’ means understanding and perceiving that all the brethren, regardless of their background, comprise the one Body of Christ.  The Lord’s Body is the Church – the saints – the elect children of God – the Bride – the brethren – members of the Lord’s Body.  Keep in mind that Paul is discussing the lack of discernment – the division taking place in the congregation (1Corinthians 11:18).  ‘Discernment,’ means realizing that God places the members in the Body as He chooses – and none who are led by God’s Holy Spirit are to be excluded from recognition and fellowship:

1Corinthians 12:18  God has set the members every one of them in the body, as it pleases Him.

Who can argue with that?  It must be understood that all the brethren constitute the Church.  Jesus is the head of His Church; and converted Christians are individuals of His spiritual body.  Paul wrote:

Ephesians 1:22-23  [God the Father] has put all things under [Jesus’] feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His Body" [the one spiritual Body of Christ].

Anyone who expects to be the Bride of Christ, is obligated to extend their realm of brotherhood, fellowship, and service to include all who have the earnest of God's Holy Spirit.  We cannot hate, despise, neglect, or reject any of the saints, as that behavior will disqualify us from the Kingdom of God.  Those who are only interested in preparing themselves, while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their brethren, have fallen for the deception of Cain, who asked in Genesis 4:9, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  At the close of the church-age just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, this terrible division is once again rampant among God’s people.  The Laodiceans are not zealous and on fire, but weak and sick spiritually (Revelation 3:19).

Paul said that we must examine ourselves as to whether or not we are a part of any division.  "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you(1Corinthians 11:18)."  That was the very reason that God refrained from healing those who did not accept all the brethren in a right spirit.

Much can be learned about healing from Christ’s doctrine of the Laying on of Hands, which sadly, most churches do not believe or practice.  Paul says:

Hebrews 6:1-2  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Anointing with oil, the laying on of hands, and the sending of an anointed cloth to the sick, are expressions of what God has shown us for the purpose of healing, setting apart, or sanctification by prayer.

It happened in Paul’s day, as it often does today, that the saints were just too far away for the physical Laying on of Hands.  Thankfully, Paul knew that this holy “setting apart” is truly spiritual in nature.  He sent a piece of cloth with a little oil through the mail to the distant person who was in need of God’s healing.  When “anointing the sick,” oil, representing the healing power of God’s Holy Spirit, is used in the Laying on of Hands.  Anointing is the ceremony of setting apart with (olive) oil representing God’s Holy Spirit.

“Laying on of hands” is a holy ceremony in which an ordained representative of Jesus Christ extends his hands and places them upon the head or body of the person who is ill.   This prayerful request to the Father pictures God stretching forth His holy hand to bless and to heal the ailing person by accepting the sufferings of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sick person (1Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).

Acts 4:30  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy servant Jesus.

Jesus Christ, as the Lord God of the Old Testament, established and utilized the “Laying on of Hands” as one of His foundational doctrines, rituals or ceremonies.  When it was nearly time for Moses to pass on his responsibilities to Joshua, the Lord told him to “lay hands” on Joshua so that everyone would look to Joshua in obedience, and Moses “laid his hands” upon him and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded (Numbers 27:18-23).  During His personal ministry, Jesus often employed this custom in the dispensing of blessings and healings.

Luke 4:40  All they that had any sick with different kinds of diseases brought them unto [Jesus]; and He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.

Luke 13:11-13  When Jesus saw the woman, doubled-over with a spirit of illness for eighteen years, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.  And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

The Laying on of Hands, then, is one of the essential doctrinal truths of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:2).  It is the prescribed procedure for performing a number of divine functions including, but not limited to: The Blessing of little children • Anointing for healings • Ordinations • The Blessing of marriages • and, Imparting the gift of God’s Holy Spirit at Baptism.

The brethren of the Church of God are blessed to know and participate in these ceremonies, utilizing the “Laying on of Hands” by which God bestows spiritual gifts on them.  Most religious organizations do not practice the Laying on of Hands or recognize the blessings that this intimate and meaningful doctrine brings.  God established the Laying on of Hands in order for us to see His direct intervention in our lives.  When we are ill, it would be so easy to pray to God with our head on our pillow and say, “Oh God please heal me.”  But God tells us to bring a formal petition to Him through His ordained elders.  God has promised to reward this kind of faith.  The words “ordained” and “anointed” are similar.

James 5:14-15  Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.

In the New Testament Church of God, we see examples of Christ’s representatives laying hands on those who were baptized so that they might receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:15-17  When [Peter and John] were come down, they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: (For as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

God’s Holy Spirit is imparted to new Christians, right after baptism, with the Laying on of Hands.

Acts 19:5-6  They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them.

In the “Blessing of the Little Children” ceremony, our young children are dedicated to God.  There is a special request made that God place His angels about them for their protection (Matthew 18:10).  In the blessing of the young children, we are following Jesus’ example:

Matthew 19:13-15  Then were there brought unto him little children, that [Jesus] should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, allow little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the Kingdom of heaven.  And He laid His hands on them.

A Christian marriage ceremony is another occasion for the laying on of hands.  Marriage is a divine institution in which a couple enters into a covenant relationship with each other, and also with God.  As the couple face one another and join hands, the presiding minister lays his hands on them, and asks God’s blessings on their marriage.

It is only after prayer, fasting and due consideration, that ordinations to special duties and offices are performed through the laying on of hands.  Paul cautioned Timothy, “Lay hands too quickly on no man.” That is because stringent qualifications must be met by those men who become ordained servants of Jesus Christ (1Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:5).

In the early New Testament Church, when the number of the disciples in the faith increased rapidly, the twelve apostles asked them to choose men of moral character and good reputation to be “deacons.”

Acts 6:5-3  The saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, …whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

A word of caution is needed because of the many false ministers that Jesus warned us of.  Many superstitious and unconverted men have coveted the power to bestow God’s gifts through the laying on of hands.  God will not give this power to anyone except the true servants of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:18-21).  Here are a few more examples of Laying on of Hands.  Note the apostle Paul being healed and anointed while he was yet called Saul:

Acts 9:17  Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 5:21-23  When Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was near unto the sea.  And, behold, there came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lies at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.

There are many other Scriptures about the laying on of hands: Acts 13:2-3, Numbers 27:18, 23, Deuteronomy 34:9, 1Timothy 4:14, 2Timothy 1:6, Mark 6:5, Acts 28:8, Genesis 48:13-20.


Reconciliation

By addressing division within the Church, Paul shows that, not only our healing, but our very salvation depends on our truly caring for one another.  Scripture does not allow for Christians to co-exist without properly relating to one another.  It is clear that for us to have a right relationship with God, it is first necessary to "get right" with others.  Jesus tells us that as Christians our priority must be to reconcile, not only with God, but also with one another.  Christ taught that reconciliation has a higher priority than even church attendance.

Matthew 5:24  Be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Since our unity with the Father and the Son begins at baptism, then so does our unity with one another.

1Corinthians 12:13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body …and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

How much more clearly could it be written?  Brethren become unified spiritually - one in Spirit, and one in the Body of Christ.  By definition, it is absolutely impossible to have Christian love for only a part of the Body of Christ.  We cannot serve some brethren while neglecting other brethren.

Ephesians 4:2-4  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

It is very clear what God's intent is – that people learn to live, to love, to work, to associate, etc., together.  God wants us to learn how to live with one another now, so that we will know how to live with Him eternally.  We cannot hate, despise, or reject any of the saints, as that behavior defines "not" discerning the Lord's body.  We are obligated to extend our realm of fellowship to include all who have the earnest of God's Holy Spirit.  Paul characterized our self-examination as properly "discerning the Lord's body."  Our healing depends on understanding the full extent of this Scripture.

There is a direct correlation between Divine healing and the unity and oneness we share with all of the children of God who constitute the Lord's body.  Paul said that sickness and death, not healing, was the result of partaking of the Passover while division existed among the saints.

Those brethren who Paul was addressing had not discerned the Lord's body because there was partiality between the brethren.  We are reconciled to God the Father by the death of His Son.  Jesus was sent to this earth, not only to be sacrificed unto death and raised unto life, but in order to enable mankind to be reconciled to God the Father after their disobedient choice in the Garden of Eden.  God was in Jesus making reconciliation, but He has charged us to be reconcilers and peace-makers with all the brethren as well—our healing depends on it.

2Corinthians 5:18-19  All things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the service of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the restoration of good and right fellowship with all the brethren.  This entire healing and salvational process is contingent on our having direct positive interaction and unity with God's people.  If we, who are called of God, possess a genuine devotion and Godly tenderness for the brethren, we will not diminish the sacrifice of Christ.

We are healed by His stripes.  Our ultimate healing, which is our salvation, awaits us because Jesus was raised to life by the Father, and so we shall be saved by His life (1Peter 1:18-21).

Romans 13:10-11  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  And do this [loving our neighbor], knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

When we worship the True God, keep His commandments, love the brethren, and discern the Lord's Body, our petition to the Divine Healer is heard.  Too many Christians see the phrase, “discerning the Lord's body,” as meaning that one must recognize that healing is a result of the broken body of Jesus.  That is a misunderstanding as the result of an error in translation.  Discerning the Lord's body has nothing to do with the concept of the Lord’s body being broken—it was not!  Yes, Jesus was beaten and tortured – but He was not broken.  What does Scripture tell us?


Jesus’ Bones Were Not Broken

Prophecy that Jesus' bones would not be broken was fulfilled.  Jesus was beaten, nailed, pierced, crucified, and killed.  His bones were even exposed.  Why was it so important a concept that His bones not be broken?  The answer lies in the integrity of "the Lord's Body" – the very people of God who are "of His bones."  Adam spoke for Jesus and the Church brethren when he said, “bone of My bones, and flesh of My flesh.” (Ephesians 5:30-32, Genesis 2:23).

Christ’s Church is therefore to remain unbroken and not be shattered into splinters.  It is not God’s Will that the “Body of Christ” – the true Church people, be broken apart.  It is His Will that the true body of believers be unified in love and in Spirit – being of one mind with each other.  The Church of God is not to be broken – it is to be prepared in unity, wholeness and oneness to be the Bride who will have made herself ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7).



 


Jesus’ Body Was Not Broken

The question has been asked, "Was not Jesus' body broken to make payment for our healing?"  The Scriptures reveal that for our healing Jesus received "stripes" – not broken bones.  "By whose stripes you were healed."  (1Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5)  The Bible manuscripts specify that Christ's body was not broken.  The King James translators, not realizing the significance of Jesus’ bones remaining intact and unbroken (Exodus 12:46), incorrectly embellished the Greek text.  They misapplied the phrase “which is broken” to the following verse – which is not in the original text.

1Corinthians 11:23-24  The Lord Jesus …took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

It does not say that in the original Greek.  What then is the correct translation?  This is how the Scripture should be correctly rendered according to E. W. Bullinger: 

1Corinthians 11:23-24  The Lord Jesus …took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, this is My body, for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

That is what took place at Jesus’ last Passover.  Jesus broke the unleavened bread that represented His body.  The Greek, ‘klao,’ Strong's 2806, means only "to break bread," as in the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  This word is never used in the sense of breaking bones.  It always means to have a meal as the saints did: "breaking bread from house to house, did eat their food with gladness and singleness of heart."  (Acts 2:46)

Jesus was beaten with many stripes.  He was crucified, and He died – but His bones were not broken.  “When they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs:  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water …these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken.”
(John 19:33-36).  This incredible symbolism has tremendous significance for God’s Church brethren today.

God went to great lengths to prophesy about the bones of Jesus.  It was told that Jesus would receive "stripes," but none of His bones would be broken.  David was inspired by Christ to give us this Messianic prophecy.  "He keeps all His bones: not one of them is broken." (Psalms 34:20)

Scripture reveals that we, the Church, the saints of God, are also represented by the bones of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:30  We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

As the future Wife of Christ, we, the Church of God, are "of His bones," just as Eve was bone of Adam's bones. (Genesis 2:23, Ephesians 5:30)  Therefore, the Church is to be unbroken, and to remain one intact body—one in spirit—as the bond between Jesus and His Bride is unbreakable and inseparable.

It is through the entire ordeal of Jesus Christ's anguish, torment, and suffering, that healing is available to those who are ailing.  When a Christian goes to God in faith by being anointed with oil and accepts the sacrifice of Christ to cover sins repented of, their prayer is heard (James 5:14).  Prophesying of the Messiah to come, Isaiah chastises us for our division:

Isaiah 53:4-6  Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But 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.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Jesus paid the entire price so that His people may be made whole in every way, physically, emotionally (restoring the broken-hearted), psychologically and especially, spiritually (Psalm 147:3, Matthew 15:30).  Since all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose, we understand that God is fully in control of our lives (Romans 8:28)  Time and chance do not happen to the people of God until His purpose is accomplished in them.

Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God whose bones were not broken (Exodus 12:46).


Answered Prayer

When one goes to God in faith through anointing, accepting the affliction of Christ to cover sin and sickness, that man’s prayer is heard.  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  (James 5:16)

1John 3:22-23  Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.  And this is His Commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

1John 5:14-15  This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

God built into man the natural ability to heal.  Our immune systems fight foreign invaders in our system.  Broken bones grow back together.  Tendons heal stronger than before a break.  But 6,000 years of sin and degradation have taken their toll on the human anatomy.  By all means, Jesus expects all to live lives conducive to good health.  Only upon faith, which includes repentance, should one ask God’s healing of damage that has occurred as a result of a wrong lifestyle.

James 5:14-15  Is any sick among you?  Let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Jesus healed, not those who were converted Christians, but everyday folks from all walks of life.  He healed them because of the compassion He had for them, and as a sign that He was the Messiah to come (Luke 7:13, Matthew 11:2-6).


One Body – One Spirit

At creation, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and He opened his side and created Eve to be his wife.

Genesis 2:23-24  Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh …Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

This is a prototype of Christ and His Bride.  Paul understood the prophetic significance, referring to Jesus as the final Adam (1Corinthians 15:45, Romans 5:14).  Jesus Christ foretold that He and His Bride would be one body, and ultimately - one Spirit.

1Corinthians 6:17  He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit [with the Lord].”

It cannot be emphasized enough how serious a matter it is that the True Church recognize the unbreakable bond that exists between all its members.


Christ in Us

Jesus Christ is lived in every Christian’s life.  Christ, His principles and values are the guiding motivation and only path.  For those who seek the riches of God’s glory, Paul put it this way:

Colossians 1:27  …Christ in you, the hope of glory…

Philippians 1:20  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

2Corinthians 4:10  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Colossians 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.

John 6:27  Labor not for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures unto eternal life, which the Son of man [Jesus] shall give unto you.

1Thessalonians 5:23  The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Bread of Life

John 6:33  The bread of God is [Jesus] who comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.

John 6:35  Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:48  I am that bread of life.

John 6:63  It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.



 


That They May Be One

This was Jesus’ dying wish.  Jesus’ prayer was for the unity of the brethren.

Colossians 3:15  You are called into one body; and be ye thankful.

Every Christian must be:  "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).  When Paul said that we must be properly "discerning the Lord's Body," he meant that we cannot take the Passover and at the same time be responsible for any of the division; the broken, shattered condition of the Church people.  The Church of God is not to be broken.

"That they may be one."  These words were spoken by Jesus Christ the night before He died as He prayed for us to His Heavenly Father (John 17).  Five times Jesus expressed His desire for our unity – not only a unity of the original apostles – but also of all who have followed in their footsteps, generation by generation.  Notice the significant repetition of the phrase ‘that they may be one’ in Jesus' prayer:

John 17:11  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.

John 17:21  That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.

John 17:22  And the glory which Thou gave Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one.

John 17:23  I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.

Our response to this deep desire for unity that Jesus pleaded for should be to do everything humanly possible to bring about the unity and oneness of the brethren of the Church of God.  It has always been God's Will that His Church, His children, be unified – made one by His Spirit.  As God's children, we should be laying down our lives to help bring about unification in attitude, direction, and fellowship of the brethren; especially as we find ourselves separated by the imaginary walls of worldly administrations.

Philippians 2:1-2  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Our individual responsibility in working to bring about Godly unity is a matter of personal salvation.  We will not attain to eternal life unless we develop a Christ-like love for all of the saints.

1John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loves not his brother abides in death.

The basis of unity and oneness is a genuine care and deep concern for the complete well-being of all the brethren.  This kind of unity requires nothing less than putting our very lives on the line for the sake of one another.  Oneness demands the right application of Godly principles when interacting with our brethren.  In short, oneness requires Christian love.

God's Church is not a place!  It is a people, yielded to God, who exhibit unity and love for all.  God commands all of His children to be one with all whom He calls, because we are to be one in His Spirit.

1Corinthians 6:17  He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit.



 


Footwashing

Where the synoptic Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention the establishment of the bread and wine at Passover, John's Gospel entirely omits those accounts, giving weight to the Footwashing in the meaning of the Passover.  Jesus served mankind – and He intends that we serve one another.  The concept of spiritual cleansing portrayed by the Footwashing is rich in spiritual depth and implication.

We know what it means to be served our coffee and a meal by a server, waiter or waitress.  True Christian service to one another entails so much more than being a cordial host or hostess.  The introduction to the Footwashing begins on Passover evening before Jesus Christ died.  Passover is a most solemn Feast picturing the death of Jesus Christ, and all that entails.  The fare of this Feast is nothing less than the body and blood of Jesus Christ which brings eternal life.

John 13:1  Now just before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.  [Very powerful poetic words!]

On this night Jesus observed and brought to an end the Old Testament Passover meal, and initiated the New Testament Passover service.  While the Old Testament Passover Seder was in progress:

John 13:4-5  Jesus Christ rose up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a servant's towel, and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the servant's towel wherewith He was girded.

Extrapolating backward, the translators of the Amplified Bible correctly joined the word, "servant's," to this passage.  Why did Jesus wash the disciple’s feet, and why did He institute the Footwashing command as an integral part of the New Testament Passover?  What spiritual lesson should be drawn from the Footwashing?

When Jesus said, "You also ought to wash one another's feet," He was inaugurating a most important Passover element (John 13:14).  Is the Footwashing optional, or is it commanded?  Why must Christians wash the feet of others?  Some people think that the Footwashing is for the sole purpose of teaching us to be humble.  The Footwashing does require that we have a humble attitude, but it means much more than merely humbling ourselves by washing the dirty feet of others.  We must be careful not to fall into the trap of acquiring a false humility as a result of the Footwashing ceremony.  By His example, Jesus was teaching us how to serve and forgive others just as He has done.  There is no greater servant in the universe than God the Father (John 3:16-17).  Godly service is the essence of Godliness. The Footwashing is about learning to serve one another in a spiritual way.  Not having yet received God's Holy Spirit, the disciples could not understand the spiritual aspect of the ceremony Jesus was establishing.

John 13:6-8  Then came Jesus to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, is it for you to wash my feet?  Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter.  Peter said unto Him, You shalt never wash my feet.  Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me.

Jesus established that the Footwashing ritual was absolutely required.  The Footwashing, when performed in the spirit in which Jesus established it, assures our place in the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

John 13:9-10  Simon Peter said unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.  Jesus said to him, He that is washed need not except to wash his feet but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

Jesus establishes here that Peter has been forgiven—washed all over—and cleansed from sin through baptism.  When Jesus said, "He that is washed, need not wash except his feet, but is clean every whit," Jesus was alluding to baptism which cleanses a sinner completely of all past guilt.  And, Jesus shows here that the yearly Footwashing is still necessary and required.  Because we are human – we sin.  We must immediately seek God’s mercy and forgiveness because unforgiven sin removes one from a right relationship with God and removes one as a part of the Body of Christ.  The annual Passover Footwashing is a reminder of the necessity of being clean in God’s eyes in order to remain in His good graces.

Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2).  Because we are in the flesh, we are not perfect.  Sin can and does occur after baptism, and must be acknowledged, repented of and forgiven (1John 1:8-10).  The Footwashing is a needed spiritual cleansing – because we come short throughout the year – we are sinners – and Jesus Christ is our advocate, comforter, intercessor and consoler.

1John 2:1  If any man sin, we have an advocate [parakletos] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Though we were once washed at baptism, the Footwashing symbolizes our renewed commitment to walk in the newness of life that we made at our baptism.  Because we are yet sinners, the yearly Footwashing indicates our desire to "clean our slate," so to speak, in a reaffirmation of our baptismal vow.  But, this explains only having our own feet washed.

Why is it necessary to wash the feet of others?

John 13:12-15  So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was sat down again, He said unto them, Do you know what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also are required, [you must, obligated, duty-bound] to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

In the same way that we want to be clean before God, He requires us to help other brethren be clean before God in our common spiritual quest of His Kingdom. Jesus taught:

John 15:12-13  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus laid His life down for us, so we must lay our lives down for others – but how do we do that?  When a brother or sister has strayed and allowed a serious sin to enter their life – we must serve them by going to their spiritual rescue, no matter what it takes – that is laying down our life for them.


Who is a Christian

Christians are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to overcome the self-serving human nature.  Christianity demands that one follow the example of Christ and lay aside personal self-interests; preferring the good of all others, which is spiritually speaking, Christian love.  James tells us how we are to go to the rescue of every brother or sister in Christ who is experiencing a spiritual problem.

James 5:19-20  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converts [turns around] the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

This is a perfect example of the spiritual application of the Footwashing.  We, therefore, must wash the feet of one another.  Not only must we have an attitude of being willing to lay our life down for others, we must actively intervene in their lives whenever they go astray so that they may live.

John 13:16-17  Truly, truly, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them...

Jesus gave and gave until He gave His all.  How did Jesus love us—He laid down His life for us.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Jesus gave us this priority: "Whoever would be first and foremost among you, let him be your bond slave, even as the Son of man came not to be waited upon, but to serve, and to give His life..." (Matthew 20:27-28).

The Footwashing ceremony defines our relationship with God and our fellow man.  The Footwashing symbolizes our renewed commitment to walk in the newness of life that we made with our baptism vow when we were washed clean all over.

Romans 6:4  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.


God Dwells in Us

It has always been God’s Plan to dwell in His saints.  We are dwelling in Him and He is dwelling in us.  It is an inestimable blessing to be a part of God’s true Church.  The word “dwell” in Greek means to tabernacle.  We find that Jesus tabernacles with us.

John 1:14  The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, tabernacled among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus explained how He spiritually, through His Holy Spirit, is actually in His people continuously, actively, and not in some sentimental or emotional fashion.  Spirituality is reality.  It is eternal.  It is God’s Life becoming a Christian’s Life.

John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; which the world cannot receive, because it sees it not, neither knows it: but ye know it; for it dwells with you and shall be in you.

When Jesus said this to His disciples they did not yet have God’s Holy Spirit in them yet, but God was directing, calling, and motivating them.  They received God’s Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

John 14:20  At that Day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

Christ lives in Christians, therefore they are His body.  It is not only Jesus who dwells in His people, so does the Father.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words [that means to begin to do absolutely everything that Jesus taught] and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

It is not a case of just believing in Jesus and then carrying on doing what we’ve always done.  That is the problem with the Protestant and the Catholic world.  They continue as they always have—without true repentance.  They live according to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when it suits them.  God would have us take of the Tree of Life—and live in us:

2Corinthians 6:16  …You are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

God the Father and Jesus Christ live, dwell, and abide in true Christians.  Does it show?  Does it reflect in our attitudes?  John Chapter 15 is all about abiding continuously with God.  Paul said it like this:

Romans 8:9  You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:11  But if the Spirit of Him [the Father] that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.


Gift of Glory – Spirit of Glory

Christianity is a life of giving and sacrifices, but it is not a faith void of its rewards.  Jesus, by His life, glorified God the Father and the Father glorified His Son.  Right after the institution of the New Testament Passover, Jesus revealed in a prayer to His Father how He would make it possible for unity and oneness to return to His apostles.  Throughout the Scriptures we see a spirit of reciprocity at work.  Reciprocation is a Godly give and take.  We see that the Father glorifies His Son, Jesus Christ, and vice versa, Jesus glorifies His Father:

John 17:1  These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify you:

We see God’s principle of reciprocity working here.  Reciprocity is a mutual promotion of one another.  Glory works when others are promoted – not when we seek to promote ourselves.  We see that  Jesus gave the same glory to His apostles and to His saints.  We see that we are to give glory to God.  What is God showing us here?  Jesus tells us why He gives that gift of glory.  Jesus gave that gift of glory to the apostles to bring them into the unity of the Spirit, as the Father and Son are one.

That unity and oneness is not a natural course of development in carnal people as seen with sons of Zebedee – who were into self-promotion.  They were jockeying to be in the positions of influence.  They were not at all deferring in submission to God’s direction (Mark 10:37-41).  They were thinking, “How can we be first and foremost over the other apostles?  How can we end up being in charge?  How can we have all the people look up to us?  How can we have the power and control?”  As we know, that only causes indignation in the others.  The unity and oneness established by the gift of glory from Jesus to the apostles is the same mutual reciprocity to one another of the glory between Jesus and His Father.

The Gift of Glory is the means of bringing unity and oneness by way of shared promotion of one another.  This giving and receiving cycle is the opposite of competition in that it only works when the gift of glory is received and given again.

1Peter 4:11  … That God [the Father] in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ…

1Peter 4:13-14  …When Christ's glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and spirit of God rests upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.

This spirit of glory and the gift of glory are one and the same.

1Peter 4:16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Over and over we find the principle of reciprocity at work.  Jesus said of Himself:

John 13:31-32  …Now is the Son of man glorified, and God [the Father] is glorified in Him.  If God be glorified in Him [Jesus], God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall immediately glorify Him. (John 17:5, Acts 13:37, Psalm 16:10)

The Gift of Glory—Spirit of Glory is not an independent spirit that promotes self rather than foster the unity of the Church brethren.  This is where so many church leaders have gone wrong – being afraid to honor those who serve them.  They are not utilizing God’s Holy Spirit to boost all the brethren of God’s Church.  They chose rather to promote themselves and their corporate organizations in an effort to sustain their prestige.

1Corinthians 12:26  …And whether one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.

The Spirit of Glory is the means of bringing unity and oneness by way of shared promotion of one another.  This giving and receiving cycle is the opposite of competition, in that it only works when the gift of glory is received and given again.


The Passion of Christ

There have been many good books covering the trial and passion Jesus endured before His crucifixion and death.  It should be added that God foretold the spiritual insults that would be heaped on Jesus.  We see precious little evidence of the spiritual pitched-battle that was ensuing during Jesus’ physical passion.  While Jesus was dying, the invisible demons were encircling His cross like buzzards circling putrefying carrion.  Thinking that he was finally victorious over the Messiah, Satan reveled at the crucifixion, underestimating the love of God, the Plan of God, and the exceeding great power of the resurrection (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Jesus inspired David to write of His spiritual battle long before crucifixion was the prevalent mode of execution.  Jesus knew that He would be laying down His life in lonely solitude, and He lamented being distanced and separated from God the Father—all the while being taunted by Satan and the demons.  This Psalm describes Jesus thoughts and prayer while hanging on the stake:

Psalm 22:11-19  Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.  Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.  For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may count all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture.  But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

These Messianic prophecies describe so accurately what took place in the midst of the week on Nisan 14, Wednesday April 5, 30AD on Passover afternoon.  After His 3 year public ministry Jesus was crucified.

Daniel 9:26-27  After threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself …And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease…

The first half of that final week has also already taken place.  It was the 3 years during which Jesus Christ confirmed the New Covenant with His Church.  We find that there will be another span of 3 years in the future in which God will fully confirm His New Covenant with His chosen people—those who comprise the first and better resurrection.

God the Father So Loved the World

God the Father made the greatest sacrifice.  He was willing to lose His Son, Jesus, to save us!  We are told, “God so loved the world that He gave [up] His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).  God the Father could have lost Jesus Christ forever!  If Jesus Christ had failed; if Jesus Christ had sinned even once – He would have died eternally for His own sin.  He would not have lived again!  Jesus would have been eternally dead, and God the Father would have been forever alone.  Jesus’ existence would have ceased!  The earth would have ceased to exist (Hebrews 1:3).  It is Jesus who upholds all things by the word of His power.  So, when we read John 3:16, let’s understand to whatever degree we are able, the magnitude of the sacrifice that God the Father made.

There are those who do not believe that God loved us that much – that He would allow His Son’s eternal life to be at stake.  They say, “God cannot die,” but they quote God the Father’s eternal state:

1Timothy 6:16  Who only has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light which no man can come near to unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.

They think, “Surely God had some sort of contingency plan whereby Jesus would have been saved in His sins.”  That would have been a terrible violation of everything our Father stands for:

Ezekiel 18:20  The soul that sins, it shall die.

There is a high price to pay for the violation of God’s Judeo-Christian ethics.

Romans 6:23  The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is the law of God that must be satisfied.  The law of God is the power and authority that sentences the sinner to death.

1Corinthians 15:56-57  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is the holy lawgiver who lives by His every word.

1Peter 1:15-16  He who has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conduct.  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

“Hallowed be thy name” is better rendered as “Father, Your Name is the Holiest;” or “Your Name is set apart in a class all its own, held in the greatest respect;” or “No other name compares to Your Holy Name.”  Jesus intended that only His Father have the title, Holy Father.  In Matthew 23:9, Jesus demanded that only His Heavenly Father be referred to in that way because God the Father is Holy—actually the Holiest!  God is perfect in every way and He will not permit man to bring his imperfections into His flawless presence.  God says: 

Psalm 101:7  He that works deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that tells lies shall not tarry in my sight.

The resurrected Saints’ Family name will be the same as God’s (Revelation 2:17).  As long as man resides in carnal sinful flesh (Romans 8:3) – he cannot come near unto the Father, nor have his prayers answered (Isaiah 59:2).  But, with conversion, the receipt of God’s Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ righteousness being imputed to the saints, reconciliation to the Father is afforded to the Church brethren.  Jesus then teaches His followers to pray, “Our Father” so that their prayers may be heard.  It is only the select Christians—led by the Spirit of God—who are able to do those things which are pleasing in His sight (1John 3:22).  In the Millennium, with God’s Holy Spirit poured out (Joel 2:28-29), all men will enjoy that same reconciled status with the Father.  And yet, because of man’s acquired sinful nature, God the Father will continue to rule through Jesus Christ.

The eternal Plan of God is made manifest in Jesus Christ our Lord.  God’s selection and calling of people for the purpose of adding to His Spiritual Body is part of a much larger Plan or purpose which will ultimately involve all mankind.  God's desire is that man becomes holy as He is holy.  Until and unless sinful man puts on the righteousness of Christ, he will be forever disqualified from the Plan of God, and he will not see the Kingdom of God.  No man will be welcomed into God’s eternally perfect and glorious Kingdom to bring in iniquity, corruption, sin and contamination.  The premise is that all mankind is refused and lost because of its sinfulness.  Only salvation and righteousness through Jesus Christ can rectify this impasse.

The Eternal God is Holiness:  He is perfect, faultless, righteous, set far apart and high above all that is corrupt, dishonest or imperfect.  Nothing sinful will ever come into God’s holy presence and spoil or soil His perfection:  Not war, crime, murder, stealing, lies, adultery, dishonor, etc., because His Kingdom is always a place of perfection, love and peace.  God is not going to let His Kingdom become soiled by our sin.  No sin can come into His Holy presence.  This earth has plenty of sin – but not the eternal Kingdom of God.  Jesus had to die for us so that His righteousness might be imputed to us.


Jesus Stood Alone

Why did Jesus have to die?  God knew that one day—in the fullness of time—Jesus, as the sacrificial Lamb of God, would have be sent to the world to die for the sins of mankind.  Before the heavens and earth were created, God knew that man without God's Spirit in him, would be utterly incapable of remaining sinless.  God also knew that it would be necessary to send a Savior who would pay the price for the sins of mankind that he might be delivered from the death penalty he had brought upon himself—and live.  The Savior would be the atoning sacrifice who would pay for the sins of the world.

Man’s greatest trials and tests usually come all of a sudden.  Oftentimes, it seems we are all by ourselves.  The spiritual reality is that we are not alone – God is with us.  Elijah said, “I am all alone,” but he knew that God was very much involved in his confrontation with the priests of Baal (1Kings 19:14).  He was not alone as far as knowing that God was a part of what he was doing.  The fact is this:  We never walk alone – like Elijah, like Daniel, like David who so clearly proclaimed, “The Lord is with me.”  Paul stood alone, notwithstanding the Lord stood with him (2Timothy 4:17).  From our human standpoint we have to step up to the plate; but we are not alone.  Just as a parent does not abandon a child, our loving Father said that He would never leave nor forsake His children
(Hebrews 13:5).  The Plan of God will come to pass in His People.  Jesus, the Son of God, was not alone, as He said:

John 16:32  …I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

In death, Jesus Christ had to stand completely alone – something we will never have to do.  Jesus bore our sins (Hebrews 9:28).  Jesus became sin (2Corinthians 5:21).  God the Father had to turn His back on Jesus and allow Him to stand alone (Isaiah 59:2).  Jesus Christ willingly went through that abandonment unto death.  Hanging on the stake, Jesus said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Mark 15:34) That is to say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Why did God the Father forsake Jesus on the stake?

2Corinthians 5:21  God has made Jesus to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

When Jesus was covered in our sin – His Father could not look upon Him.

Isaiah 59:2  Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you.

Sins separate us from God because no sin can come into the Father’s presence.  Jesus had become sin in our stead, and our sin caused Jesus’ Father to have to forsake Him.  Jesus never sinned—not even once—though He was tempted in all points just like we are (Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus Christ suffered the ultimate sacrifice in that He died alone on the stake without His Father.  It is unimaginable what God the Father went through at the loss of His Son.


God the Father Alone

It is inconceivable for mere humans to even try to comprehend the sacrifice the Father experienced—excruciating hurt, pain, loss, and the profound loneliness.  Jesus Christ was dead, and for the only time in all of existence, God the Father was all alone.  For the first time ever, the Father was separated from His Son, He could not see His Son, nor talk to Him, nor hear Him.  God the Father stood alone, as Jesus Christ stood alone, so that we do not have to ever stand alone. 

In times of testing and trials, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalms 46:1)  When we think we have it tough, think about that example.  When we look to God, knowing that God is with us, it gives us the courage and maturity to step out in faith and stand alone.  Jesus Christ wants to know if we will always represent His Truth in the face of adversity, no matter what.  Are we able to stand alone when the attacks come against His True Way?  When all is said and done, He is with us in our Christian battle.  Jesus says to us:

Mark 8:34  Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

When people use the excuse that it is God’s responsibility to make corrections in His Church, they are demonstrating that they lack the courage to stand for what is right.  Some brethren, however, will courageously take a stand, showing God that they will implement His way; not only now – but in the Millennium as well.  That is what God is finding out right now, and this is why He does not intervene to make “wrongs” right.  Christians do not have the option of whether or not to take a stand.  They must take a stand.  No one qualifies for the Kingdom of God without standing strong—walking in faith, overcoming, and proving themselves.  Moses’ advice some 3,500 years ago, is still perfectly valid today.  Moses said unto the people:

Exodus 14:13  Fear ye not, stand forth, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today.


The Father Raised Jesus from Death

Contrary to what the apostate Worldwide Church of God taught in the 1980s when it turned its back on God—rejecting His law, His Holy Days and His doctrine—and went fully into paganism, Jesus did not raise Himself from the grave.  If Jesus raised Himself, then He was not dead – and if He did not die for us – we are still in our sins!  The Father raised Jesus from death!  Jesus’ thoughts had perished, His memory was completely gone, and His identity no longer resided in that dead body.

Psalm 146:4  His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

What would it take for the Father to, not only raise Jesus to life, but to reconstitute His identity, thoughts, memories and the power that Jesus had at His fingertips when He created the vast universe?  How great was the power required for the resurrection of Christ?  There is no greater power mentioned anywhere in the Bible.  Jesus had to be completely restored to His former glory—as He had prayed for the night before He died:

John 17:5  Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world existed.

The power of Christ in sustaining all that exists is only a token of the power that had continuously resided in Jesus before His incarnation:

Hebrews 1:3  Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The resurrection utilized the Father’s most exceeding greatness of His mighty power to raise Jesus from death to His former glory.

This writer was fired and disfellowshipped from that organization for teaching that God the Father in exceeding great power raised Jesus from the dead.  The Bible clearly says this in over two-dozen places.  The righteousness of Jesus Christ is only imputed to those who believe in God the Father who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead (Romans 4:24).

Ephesians 1:17-20  The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory …the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know …what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.

Our universe of countless galaxies contains an unimaginably immense amount of energy and power – but they pale into insignificance when compared to the mighty power God the Father utilized in raising His Son, Jesus Christ, to Life and restoring the glory to Him that He possessed from all eternity.  As incredible as it may seem to our carnal minds—that same life-giving power is working toward us, the Children of God:

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.


The Wave Sheaf

When properly appreciated, the wave-sheaf offering brings a great message of hope and salvation to God’s people.  Jesus Christ is the Wave Sheaf offering.  God gave this very special ritual to Israel long before they were to implement it.  The wave-sheaf was to be gathered in the Promised Land, and not before.

Leviticus 23:9-11  The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

The Church of God brethren have been given the understanding of the superb New Testament fulfillment of Jesus Christ as the wave-sheaf offering.  It took place on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath, after Jesus had died on Passover. 

John 20:1, 14, 17  On the first day of the week [Sunday] came Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and saw the stone taken away from the sepulcher …And when she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.  Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father …my God, and your God.

In fulfillment of the wave-sheaf offering, Jesus ascended to His Father on Sunday, the first day of the week.  In the Old Testament, the wave-sheaf offering was offered to God by Israel's High Priest on behalf of the people. The phrase, “accepted for you,” is most revealing.  It pictures Jesus Christ, the true Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth, being offered to God the Father to be accepted on our behalf.  When God the Father formally accepted the resurrected Jesus Christ, it became possible for us to also become Children of God.

Jesus Christ presented Himself to God the Father as the Wave Sheaf offering to be accepted as the first of the "firstfruits" resurrected from the dead to eternal life.  We, too, will be resurrected and accepted by the Father to eternal life as firstfruits.  The wave sheaf ceremony shows us the achievement of the perfect Plan of God and our salvation in it.  We can now have hope and full assurance that God the Father will accept us to glory, just as Jesus Christ was glorified during the Days of Unleavened Bread so many years ago.  Jesus fulfilled the meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in that He was sinless.


Days of Unleavened Bread

Jesus is the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and Truth.  Paul explains how we are to put all sin out of our lives while we are putting on Jesus Christ.

1Corinthians 5:6-8  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  Purge out therefore the old leaven (sin), that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a memorial of the Israelites’ hasty departure from Egypt (Exodus 12:39).  Because of the oppression Israel suffered in Egypt, unleavened bread was also called the bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3, Exodus 3:9).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread follows Passover for seven days.  The fifteenth day, and the twenty-first day of the first month are Feast Days and are therefore, Holy Convocations.  God tells us:

Exodus 12:15-17  Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.  And in the first day there shall be an Holy Convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an Holy Convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.  And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.

Unleavened Bread pictures our coming out of sin – putting sin entirely out of our lives.  Jesus Christ is our perfect example of a sinless life.

Exodus 23:15  Thou shalt keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou came out from Egypt; and none shall appear before me empty.)

Deuteronomy 16:17  Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He has given you.

By the gracious act of God, the “called out Church of God brethren” do not have sin imputed to them because they have renounced sin in repentance and accepted in faith the blood of Jesus Christ for forgiveness—and have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.  They have been delivered from “sin” and Egypt by Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Deliverer.

Ephesians 2:1-8  He has made you alive, who were dead in your trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:  Among whom also we all had our conduct in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

When man sinned, God, Himself, made restoration and reconciliation possible.


Christ in Us – the Hope of Glory

Christians have come out of the world to live by the principles and values which Jesus Christ taught.  That is how Jesus lives in us.  We have been given the inestimable blessing of being a part of God’s true Church at this time.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)  But to be able to come to the Father, we must go through Jesus Christ because He is the only way, He alone has the truth, and He is life.  We must “Put on Christ.”  When Christ lives in us through His Spirit, we begin to put on His ways, His faith, His attitude, His sacrifice, His character, His mercy – all of His attributes and characteristics like forgiveness, and love [not hate towards others] – we must become just like Him!  Every characteristic of Jesus must be in our minds and in our hearts, replacing all the sinful and wrong thought patterns which once defined us.  The apostle Paul’s commission included the responsibility of fulfilling the word of God:

Colossians 1:25-28  Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints:  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.


Feast of Pentecost

‘Pentecost’ is a New Testament term indicating that fifty days are to be counted.  It is a Holy Day of Convocation that always falls on the first day of the week, Sunday, because the count is begun on the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks because God tells us to count seven weeks.

Leviticus 23:15-16  You shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the Wave Sheaf offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days [Pentecost]…

Exodus 34:22  You shalt observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest. (Numbers 28:26)

Pentecost is also called the Day of the Firstfruits because it pictures the resurrection of the firstfruits saints.  (Leviticus 23:17)

Firstfruits are the first agricultural produce to ripen each year.  God uses the analogy of the harvest to demonstrate His Plan of Salvation.  Ancient Israel observed it late in spring after the barley harvest.  Firstfruits actually begin with the first ripe grain of the Wave Sheaf offering and continue through to Pentecost.  God's people, are a part of the Firstfruits with Jesus Christ.

Numbers 28:26  Also in the Day of the Firstfruits, when ye bring a new food offering unto the LORD, after your weeks be out, ye shall have an Holy Convocation; ye shall do no servile work.

Pentecost is also called the Feast of Harvest because it pictures the spring harvest of the Church of God brethren—the resurrected firstfruits saints.

Exodus 23:16  And the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of thy labors, which thou hast sown in the field.

God sent His Holy Spirit and fulfilled the meaning of the prophetic Day of Pentecost when He established His Church some seven weeks after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  That birth of the Church took place on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, 30 AD.

Acts 2:1  When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Church of God brethren are being judged and sanctified by God now to be in the early harvest pictured by the Feast of Pentecost—shown by the first and better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35).

The resurrection of the saints to reign and rule with Jesus Christ will come at the sounding of the last trumpet (1Corinthians 15:51-52; 1Thessalonians 4:16-17).

God's Law was given on Pentecost on Mount Sinai.  The Holy Spirit enables Christians to keep the Law of God—even its expanded meaning and spiritual intent.  Old Testament Israel, without God's Holy Spirit, was unable to keep the Commandments as God desires we keep them.

The Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension into heaven shows the coming of God’s Holy Spirit upon the Church brethren.  This Day marked the establishment of the New Testament Church of God—not an organization run by men—but a spiritual entity with Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18).  Neither did Jesus establish a rulership hierarchy among the called-out brethren.

Jesus empowered and taught His disciples to be servants to God’s people by providing especially for the spiritual needs of God’s flock (John 13:14).  Jesus said: 

John 21:15; 16; 17 …Feed my lambs… feed my sheep.

Pentecost shows the conversion process wherein the spirit in man is enlivened, vitalized, animated, given life, impregnated by the Spirit of God making us Children of God.  One hundred and twenty New Testament Church of God brethren were empowered and initiated on the first Feast of Pentecost following Jesus death and resurrection (Acts 1:15).  They were each sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus had instructed them:

Luke 24:49  Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Today, we are near the pivotal point in the Plan of God as portrayed by the Feast of the Lord.  The resurrection of the Saints of God will occur on an imminent Feast of Pentecost—at the last trumpet at the return of Christ.

1Thessalonians 4:16  The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

In Chapter Six we will look at the yet to be fulfilled Holy Days including the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.

Chapter 6: The Church Age
 


Teach Us To Pray