Does God have a heart? What does it mean to put your whole heart into something?
The Fulfillment of the Passover through Christ and His Church
In ancient Israel under Moses, blood of the Passover lambs was put on the doorposts and the lintel of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt in order to protect those inside from physical death. But still, more was necessary for the quality of the Passover lambs and their preparation and consumption through the congregation. This sermon shows that all these requirements and characteristics were fulfilled by Christ and that they are being fulfilled today by His Church.
You Have Been Warned
We grow used to warnings, and it is easy to think that they don’t really apply to us. That attitude becomes tragic when the warnings are from God—for His warnings are a matter of life and death!
Holy Sabbath Convocations
How are we to observe the Sabbath… especially during Church services? How should our children behave? Why should they even be present in Church services? What should they do during services? Does it make a difference whether we participate in person or over the Internet?
It’s the Truth
In our world—this year, this month, this week, this day, right now—TRUTH has fallen, it has failed! This must not happen for Christians!
I Am Stubborn!
Stubborn refusal to heed can truly be a matter of life or death! Stubbornness is a dangerous component of pride and self-righteousness; it is a springboard to rebellion; and, ultimately, it will result in an unwillingness to be led by God!
It’s All About the Work
4>Dave Harris | March 12th, 2016
Stunning, unimaginable accomplishment is described in the Word of God. It is about the work of God—the things He has done, continues and even plans into the endless future of eternity!
The Kingdom of God
Why does the Bible speak of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the Father, and the kingdom of Christ? Who and what is God? Is Christ God? Was He God before He became a Man? Who is YHWH—the God of the Old Testament? Did the Jews know the Father? What exactly is the kingdom of God? Is God a Family? How can we inherit the kingdom of God? Are converted Christians today already a part of the kingdom and the Family of God?
Where will the marriage supper between Christ and His Church be held?
Revelation 19:7-9 states the following about the marriage between Christ and His Church: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus Christ, compare Revelation 5:1-14] has come, and His wife [the Church, compare Ephesians 5:31-32] has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”‘…”
Please note that this Scripture does not say where the marriage supper will take place. Other Scriptures strongly imply that it will take place here on earth, after Christ’s return.
Christ gave a parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, presupposing that the wedding feast or marriage supper will take place here on earth. We read in verse 11: “But when the king [who had arranged the marriage for his son, verse 2] came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.” In the parable, “the king” represents God the Father, and “the son” represents Jesus Christ. If the marriage supper were to take place in heaven, the guest without a wedding garment could not have been there — neither as a physical being nor as a fallen spirit being. He could not have been a disqualified saint, as there are no physical beings in heaven and as the disqualified saint would not have been changed to spirit. Nor could he have been a “fallen” spirit being, i.e., Satan or a demon, as by that time, Satan and his angels will have no more access to God’s throne in heaven. Revelation 12:8 speaks of a time, before the marriage supper, stating, “…nor was a place found for them [Satan and his demons, verse 7] in heaven any longer.”
Christ tells another parable in Matthew 25, comparing the Church with five wise and five foolish virgins, “who went out to meet their bridegroom” (verse 1). While the five foolish virgins tried to buy oil for their lamps, the bridegroom (Jesus Christ) came, “and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut” (verse 10). We then read that “afterwards the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!'” Christ, though, refused them entrance to the wedding supper. Where did the five foolish virgins go? Obviously, as physical humans, they could not go to heaven to try to get entrance there. Christ’s parable of the five wise and the five foolish virgins clearly presupposes and implies that the events take place here on earth.
Nevertheless, some have suggested that the wedding supper will take place in heaven before Christ returns to the earth to establish the Kingdom of God. It has been suggested that Christ will come back to take His saints to heaven, have the marriage supper in heaven with them, and then return with His saints to establish the Kingdom of God.
However, the Bible does not teach that Christ will return “twice.” The Bible is consistent that Christ comes back a second time to reward His saints and, at the same time, to punish the wicked that are still alive (Matthew 24:27-39; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10). God’s saints will be resurrected and changed to immortality at the time of Christ’s return and at the sound of the seventh and last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). However, at the same time, that is, at the sound of the last trumpet, Christ will also begin His reign over the world (Revelation 11:15-18). There can only be ONE seventh and last trumpet. There cannot be a sound of the seventh trumpet to signal the resurrection of the saints and their “going to heaven with Christ” for the marriage supper, and ANOTHER seventh or last trumpet to signal the subsequent return of Christ with His saints from heaven to set up the Kingdom of God.
Rather, we read that Christ will return; that at that time, the saints will be resurrected and changed and meet Christ in the air; and that Christ and His saints will descend immediately together on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). That particular day is a twenty-four-hour-day, as Zechariah 14:6-7, 9 reveals.
Some have suggested that Revelation 14 speaks of a marriage supper in heaven. However, Revelation 14 does not mention a marriage supper. It states that the Lamb and 144,000 of those “who were redeemed from the earth” stand on Mount Zion (verse 1), and that they are “without fault before the throne of God” (verse 5). Although “Mount Zion” can refer to a spiritual mountain in heaven (compare Hebrews 12:22), it can also refer, of course, to the physical mountain here on earth. The saints might be standing, on Mount Zion, before God’s transportable throne, which was on earth before (compare Ezekiel 1). Or, verse 5 might just express the thought that they are without fault “in the sight of” God. The Greek word for “before,” i.e., “enopion,” literally means, “in the sight of” or “in the face of.” (Compare, Luke 1:15; 16:15; Acts 4:19). Even today, we appear daily “before” God’s throne in heaven, through prayer.
Another Scripture that has been used to suggest that the marriage supper will be in heaven, is Revelation 15:2. Again, this passage does not even remotely suggest a marriage supper. The passage states that saints are “standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.” This is another vision (verse 1), which, simply judging by its wording alone, without consideration of other Scriptures, does not have to take place in heaven. The sea of glass could very well be a reference to a sea of glass before Christ’s throne which will be here on this earth. In addition, we find in Ezekiel 1:22, 26, that Christ’s transportable throne has a firmament or crystal, in other words, a sea of glass. Note, for instance, that we read in Exodus 24:9-10: “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.” In addition, the saints in Revelation 15:2 are portrayed as standing on a sea of glass, singing the victory song of Moses. This reminds us, of course, of God’s victory over the Egyptians, when they drowned in the Red Sea. Therefore, this vision might very well picture the saints’ symbolic victory over the beast power (compare verse 2), as ancient Israel was victorious over Egypt. This is especially true in light of the fact that Exodus 15:18 conveys a future victory of God and His people over God’s enemies: “The LORD SHALL reign forever and ever.” One must be careful not to deduce an entire teaching from a symbolic phrase.
A third Scripture quoted to support the speculation that the marriage supper takes place in heaven is Revelation 7:9-17. Again, nothing is mentioned in this Scripture referring to a marriage supper. We are told that a great multitude of all nations stands before the throne and before the Lamb. This is clearly another vision — such as the vision of dead souls under God’s altar that cry out with a loud voice (Revelation 6:9-11). Still, even when analyzing carefully the text of the vision in Revelation 7, we find that the described event does not occur in heaven. Revelation 7:14 says that the saints “washed their robes and made them white.” Verse 15 says, “Therefore they ARE before the throne of God, and SERVE Him day and night in His temple.” This cannot be happening in heaven, as the last part of the verse says that God “WILL dwell among them.” If this passage described a situation in heaven, God would ALREADY dwell among them.
The passage conveys, however, that those of the great multitude, who had to go through the Great Tribulation to become spiritually clean, will from that time on serve God daily in His temple — the Church, a spiritual organism, the bride of Christ. We are today the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 2:21). But we are not in heaven.
The idea that the marriage supper will be held in heaven is nowhere taught in the Bible. All Biblical passages strongly imply that it will occur here on earth, after Christ’s return to this earth.
Does your church have a prophet of God who interprets the passages in the Scriptures the way God intended them to be interpreted?
The New Testament of the Bible does speak about the office of prophet as being a part of the spiritual order designated by God for leadership in the Church:
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).
We also find that Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of the Church (compare Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18), selects people to serve in capacities including that of prophets:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Following the establishment of the Church of God in 31 AD, ample evidence is given that there were prophets whom God chose for special revelation of His Will.
One such example is found in reference to the immediate troubles Paul was about to face upon his going to Jerusalem:
“And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, “So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles”’” (Acts 21:10-11).
It is noteworthy that Agabus was conveying a revelation given to him through God’s Holy Spirit [which is the power of God]—something that did occur as shown in subsequent chapters in the Book of Acts. Agabus was also used to “foretell” an approaching disaster:
“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:27-30).
Barnabas and Saul were named as being among those who were called as “prophets and teachers,” yet God chose them for additional responsibilities within His Church—that is, to become ordained as apostles (compare Acts 14:14). Still, we clearly read:
”Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said [God’s Spirit inspired them], ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3).
Note that Barnabas and Paul were selected for a particular work—or function—within the Church. Paul was chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles (compare Romans 11:13), and we see that he, like the rest of the apostles and ministers of God, preached the message of the gospel. In that process, the individuals hearing the Truth of God were challenged to prove it—based on the written Word of God:
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12).
It not only falls to those hearing what is preached [including messages on prophecy] to prove its veracity, but the true ministry of God must, likewise, “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). God’s ministry should abstain from preaching highly speculative prophetic scenarios, which cannot be proven from Scripture.
Paul strictly cautioned Timothy: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
We also find this cautionary instruction from Paul regarding Timothy’s ministerial responsibility:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:13-17).
From this and many other Scriptures, God reveals that understanding of His written Word takes place on both an individual level through reading and hearing as well as through instruction from the faithful ministry of God (compare Romans 10:14-17). Christ’s Spirit in converted Christians is “the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). At the same time, it is also true that God gives some of His disciples a greater degree of prophetic understanding than He may bestow on others (1 Corinthians 12:10).
When considering how God has established the conduct and oversight of His Church, the main responsibility for the true teaching of His Word falls to the ministry—as noted in previously quoted verses. This does not preclude that ministers with the rank and function of prophet may arise within the Church of God through whom God reveals His Will; however, the New Testament examples show that these circumstances both were not and never will be in contradiction to the revealed Word of God!
In fact, the great danger is that false prophets will arise with the objective of deceiving God’s people (compare Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24; 1 John 4:1). Peter specifically addresses this fact:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
When Jesus Christ asked the question of his disciples, “‘But who do you say that I am?’” (Matthew 16:15), carefully note what follows:
“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’” (Matthew 16:16-17).
We know from the Bible that God will select “two witnesses” who will “prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (compare Revelation 11:1-13, especially verse 3). We also know that during this same time, a false prophet of immense demonically inspired power will emerge who will oppose God and His servants and who will deceive the whole world—even claiming that he is God (compare Revelation 13; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Even now, “destructive heresies” arise in which deceivers claim great titles for themselves—who make merchandise of the people of God; however, we have this assurance from God:
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). Also note this statement:
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).
For those who are willing to persevere in faithfully and zealously obeying God, true understanding of His Word is promised (compare Psalm 111:10).
Following the pattern established by the first generation of the Church of God and found written in the Bible, our organizations, including the Church of the Eternal God in the USA; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom, continue to seek God’s guidance and inspiration through the gift of His Holy Spirit and under the watchful care of Jesus Christ, the true Head of the Body and the One seated at the right hand of God (compare Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 12:2).
We do not claim that there are presently any ministers in our organizations who have been ordained by God to the rank and function of apostle or prophet; nor do we believe that God has given anyone else outside our organizations such ranks and functions. When God chooses to set aside some of His ministers for such responsibilities (as He will, for instance, in regard to the two witnesses), the fruit of such persons will make this fact abundantly clear to those in God’s Church. For instance, God manifested and revealed without doubt the apostleship of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, the late human leader of the former Worldwide Church of God, who died in 1986. Today, even though some claim godly approval for stating that they are apostles and/or prophets, it is our judgment that their claims are false, as in our opinion, they have not manifested the signs of an apostle or prophet in their lives.
Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link