True Christianity Is A Way Of Life
There is no more well established fact in the Bible, but what specifically is that way of life and how may we live it? The book of Acts records the history of the early New Testament true Church of God giving the major events in briefest summary form. And in it Luke write’s of conforming to certain standards.
Government officials in Paul’s day recognized Christianity as a distinct way of life. Paul, under house arrest, defended his way of life to the procurator of Judea, “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge… he deferred them [put off any immediate action]… ” (Acts 24:22). Earlier Paul had explained: ” …I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (verse 14).
The true Christian way of life has its roots in the Old Testament. It is established on the ten commandments, as well as other laws of God which are based on principles of those basic ten laws. God’s way of life is the way to live in areas such as building your marriage, successfully managing your finances, and even how to protect your health. It is the way to all good things in life —to peace, happiness, and ultimately to living forever!
The apostle James refers to the ten commandments as the “royal law of liberty” (James 2:8-12). That is because they free us from the hurtful ways of this world. The ten commandments also clearly reveal the love God has for us. They are a reflection of the perfect character of God which can be summed up in "God is love" (I John 4:16).
John often referred to as the “apostle of love,” wrote: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3, RSV). Jesus Christ told His disciples, “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). God’s love and His law fit together. They do not oppose each other as some believe. As Jesus Christ plainly stated, “If you love me, keep my commandments!
The Sabbath Day
Most who profess to be Christians today partially keep the ten commandments to one degree or another. But the fourth commandment has never been popular with this world’s churches. Few realize that the observance of the Sabbath day is one of the most important signs which identify a true Christian. The Bible shows that the fourth commandment is the test commandment. The keeping of the true Sabbath shows God a serious commitment.
A member of the one true Church is someone God the Father has directly called and given His Spirit (Rom. 8:9-11).A true Christian will want to obey the fourth commandment. Keeping the Sabbath sometimes involves considerable faith. With this world’s values, it is not always easy to swim upstream. But the reward is for those who have the courage to observe the seventh-day Sabbath.
Special Annual Days
As the seventh commandment against adultery includes, in principle, all forms of illicit sexual conduct, so the fourth commandment, by amplification, includes other special days which were given to Israel when the Old Testament Church began. As the weekly Sabbath is holy time, so are seven annual Sabbath days holy to God—all for a very good reason.
The seventh-day Sabbath looks back to remind us of the fact that God is Creator, Ruler, Sustainer; and it looks forward to Christ’s coming 1000 year rule on earth when this world will experience rest from war, poverty, fear and suffering. It also shows that God has a great purpose and a plan for all of us!
The seven annual festivals give the overview of God’s step by step plan for man. The reason man’s awesome
potential is not understood by the professing Christian world today is
because most churches have neglected the very days God says are holy to
The weekly Sabbath and each of the annual Sabbaths are special times
committed to rest and spiritual worship of God. In a sense we
give these portions of time back to God. As we do we are rewarded with
greater understanding even as we are renewed
physically and spiritually on these days.
What Is a True Christian?
Jesus Christ gave us the very basis of real Christianity in what is commonly called the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew, chapters 5-7). This occasion actually started out as a private lesson He gave to His disciples (students or learners). He pointed out certain characteristics.
COMMENT: No, Jesus isn’t suggesting that they must lack God’s Spirit. Rather, He went on to show that those who have a humble attitude would be assured of being in God’s ruling Kingdom on earth.
COMMENT: There is a difference between being meek and being weak. Jesus was meek but not weak! He endured abuse and injury with patience and without resentment. He didn’t deliberately try to stir up arguments and trouble. A meek person will not try to justify self, especially when wrong. Neither feels superior to others and does not try to “get even” with others.
Did Jesus Christ come to destroy God’s law, or to keep it? Matt. 5:17-19.
COMMENT: God’s laws are given to us in concern for our own good. We will be studying for true understanding, and will be willing to change when we have been wrong, admitting our wrong beliefs, our mistakes, our law breaking. “Study to show yourself approved unto God…” (II Tim. 2:15), wrote Paul to Timothy. “Prove all things…” (I Thes. 5:21), Paul said to the Thessalonians.
4. Who did Paul say are justified before God—the hearers or the doers of God’s law? Rom. 2:13. Did Paul make it plain that pardon of our law breaking is by the grace of God.
COMMENT: Notice that in order to enter God’s Kingdom, there is DOING required—not just the confession of Christ as our Savior. God is also very much concerned about our spiritual works. He makes it plain that we cannot make it into the Kingdom of God by sitting back and thinking Christ has done it all for us.
6. Unless we have the love of God, can we really be a true Christian? Read all of I Corinthians 13 (the word “charity” in the King James translation means love). What are we when we lack the love of God? Verse 2.
7. Will God’s Spirit help us
keep His Ten Commandments—all ten of them? Rom. 13:8-10. In what way did
God inspire John to confirm Paul’s statement—what is the Bible definition
of God’s love? I John 5:2-3. How is this made perfect in us? I John
A True Christian Walks with God
2. Who is one of the first men in the Bible who ‘walked’ with God? Gen. 5:22-24. What else are we told about Enoch? Heb. 11:5, last part. Will he be in God’s coming world government? Heb. 11:13, 39-40.
7. How can we become one of Jesus Christ’s friends? John 15:14-15.
COMMENT: True friends walk together and talk together, without fear or embarrassment. They think much alike, and are in agreement, or else they are not real friends (Amos 3:3).
10. But if Israel went against his laws, what did God say? Lev. 26:14-39.
COMMENT: A true Christian will no longer be able to conscientiously follow all the customs and practices of the society around us. Where we formerly “went along with the crowd,” we will now begin to question our lifestyle. We will begin asking, “How does God say we should live?”
Of course we must live in this world (John 17:15) we dont conformed to this world’s ways (Rom. 12:1-2) we live peaceably (verse 18). And if true Christians must disagree because of biblical teaching, they do so without being disagreeable and self-righteous.
While not “of the world” in the sense that Christ meant, those men and women having God’s Spirit and a knowledge of His truth (Matt. 5:14-16). Should show the”fruit”of God’s Spirit. They are friendly, reaching out with a helping hand towards their neighbors and those they come in contact with every day. People will be encouraged as they see a little of the mind and character of God in action through this example.
12. What steps has a real Christian taken? Acts 2:38. What has God given them as a free gift? Same verse and Acts 5:32. (“Holy Ghost” is an archaic rendering in the King James Version and should read God’s"Holy Spirit.”)
COMMENT: A true Christian submits to God. (Rom. 8:7-8) and has come to realize they have broken God’s law (1John 3:4). And as they expected God to stand behind His promise as a result of being called by God the Father and after repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands, received God’s Spirit. This was when they became a true Christian. (Rom. 8:9-10.)
13. What does God call a person who claims to know Christ, but refuses to walk in His ways—refuses to keep His Commandments? I John 2:4. What will the one who says he is a true Christian actually be doing? Verses 3, 5-6. What did Solomon say every individual’s responsibility was to God? Eccl. 12:13. To have respect for God and keep his Commandments.
The Ten Commandments
Jesus Christ always preached the Good News of the government (or kingdom) of God to come on the earth. He said : “…repent, and believe the gospel"- the Good News (Mark 1:15). Over and over again the Bible teaches against breaking God’s great spiritual law (I John 3:4) summed up in the Ten Commandments. Repentance is the first step toward forgiveness. Repent means to- turn from- breaking His law.
Solomon said:” Fear God, and keep his commandments…”(Eccl. 12:13.) The world is frustrated and unhappy because it lacks contact with God. That can come only by obeying His Commandments!
COMMENT: Both Abraham and David were Commandment keepers. They had great respect for God’s law. That is one of the reasons why they will both hold very responsible positions in the future government of God on earth. David’s daily habit was to study God’s law (verse 105). His obedience to God’s Commandments made him wiser than his enemies (verse 98). David declared how he loved God’s law and used it as a guide in his life.
COMMENT: These verses in Matthew 19 show that Jesus specifically meant the Ten Commandments. He knew that God’s ten-point law would bring peace to any individual or nation that would choose to obey it.
5. Does the Bible show that the true church Jesus Christ built would today be teaching obedience to, and be keeping the Ten Commandments and other instructions of Christ? Rev. 12:17; 14:12. Chapter 12 of Revelation personifies God’s Church as a woman.
COMMENT: No one who consistently breaks God’s law can have “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). The law of God is the way to peace and happiness. All the problems in the world today are caused by breaking God’s laws.
7. How did Jesus Christ expand the keeping of the Ten Commandments? Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28. Did John understand this principle? I John 3:15. Did Paul understand the spiritual aspects of God’s law? Rom. 7:14.
COMMENT: Contrary to the belief of some, Jesus Christ came not to do away with the Ten Commandments, but to teach and show by example how to live by the spiritual intent of the law. In Old Testament times God required a physical obedience from Israel. This was because the Old Testament church, the nation of Israel, was not given God’s Spirit to help them obey the spiritual intent of the Ten Commandments. But in New Testament times He wants us to use His Spirit to be able to obey His law.
Jesus singled out the Commandments – murder and adultery as examples. He taught we are not only to abstain from the physical acts of murder and adultery, but we are also to fight hatred and adultery in our thoughts as well.
Hatred against another human being is the spirit of murder. Sexual lust is the spirit of adultery. Christ extended the influence of God’s Commandments to include our innermost thoughts and attitudes. Let’s notice how the Bible shows this seemingly impossible task can be accomplished, still imperfectly because we are human.
COMMENT: The Ten Commandments reflect God’s love because they reflect God’s character, This love is not just another form of human love, it is the love that comes directly from God through His Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The first four commandments show us how to love God, while the last six of the Ten Commandments show us how to love our neighbor—all human beings.
COMMENT: God’s love enables us to fulfill the spirit of the law. It was the very tool that Jesus Christ used to magnify and fulfill the law Himself. As Paul explained: “…he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10, RSV).
COMMENT: The apostle John placed a great deal of importance on love. But never did he or any other inspired writer of Scripture say that love put away or destroyed the law of God. John, who was a close friend of Jesus Christ, made it plain that one who truly has the love of God, His mind, will be trying to obey all of the Commandments.
COMMENT: No one is saying
you can earn your place in God’s Family by keeping either the Ten Commandments
or any other law of God for that matter. To live forever is clearly a gift
from God! No man or woman could earn that in ten thousand years of keeping
the Commandments! But neither can you enter God’s Family as a law breaker! (Rom. 6:23.)
Jesus Christ plainly stated that we are
to keep the Ten Commandments with His
help, trusting in Him to apply His sacrifice on our
behalf when we fall short, and as we repent (I John 1:7-9).
“Remember the Sabbath Day”
The majority of churches today believe Sunday has replaced the seventh-day Sabbath. Somehow they have come to assume that the fourth commandment no longer apply’s. Then there are those who feel that it is not necessary to keep any specific day. To them, every day is a “spiritual” Sabbath.
God created the Sabbath by the act of resting on the seventh day of creation week. He set apart a 24-hour period of time to occur once every seven days following that first Sabbath.
2. For whom did Jesus say the Sabbath was specifically made? Mark 2:27.
COMMENT: He said “The Sabbath was made for man.” It was established less than a day after man himself was created! The Sabbath was set apart at Creation for our benefit.
COMMENT: The word Sabbath means rest in the original Hebrew. Physical and mental rest after a grueling work week is an obvious reason for the Sabbath. Human beings need periodic rest from the trials and troubles that seem to result from just living. We need a break from the normal routine- time to rest.
But the true meaning and purpose of the Sabbath goes far beyond physical and emotional rest. For the seventh-day Sabbath is interwoven into God’s purpose for creating man in the first place. We need this period of time to have spiritual contact with God. Time to think more about God, to worship Him both in private and with others, and to grasp more fully the PURPOSE for his existence.
4. Was the observance of the Sabbath day to be a special sign of identification between God and Israel? Ex. 31:13-17.
COMMENT: A quick review of part of Israel’s history is in order. The Israelites had been the slaves of Egypt for several hundred years. While in Egypt, Israel was not permitted to worship the true God. They were forced to work seven days a week. They forgot God’s laws and the knowledge of the true Sabbath day which they had received from Jacob (renamed Israel), Isaac and Abraham.
After God brought Israel out of Egypt, He showed them which was the seventh day by supplying a double portion of manna (bread) on the sixth day of the week (Friday) and by withholding it on the seventh day (Saturday), and ordering them to rest on that day (Ex.16:22-26). This continued for 40 years (verse 35). After giving the true Sabbath day, God included it as one of the Ten Commandments.
In order that Israel remember that God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler, He singled out Sabbath observance as the one sign by which they could always be reminded of who He is, and who they were. Many other nations had laws which paralleled some of the laws of God. Some had fairly tight moral laws, usually criminal ones (i.e. against murder, stealing). But none had a law requiring them to keep the Sabbath day. Therefore it was the one law of God which would make Israel stand out.
And so God doubly commanded Sabbath observance by making a separate covenant with Israel. The Sabbath was already one of the Ten Commandments which were given to Moses shortly before. It was to be an everlasting covenant (Ex. 31:16), and would identify the people of God. Likewise today, the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is one of the signs which helps to identify those who comprise the true Church of God.
COMMENT: God made the Sabbath covenant with Abraham’s physical descendants. It was to be obeyed throughout their generations. Today, all who have God’s Spirit have become Abraham’s through Jesus Christ, and are therefore under the same obligation to keep the Sabbath day!
COMMENT: Jesus Christ regularly attended the local synagogue on the Sabbath “as His custom was.” He fulfilled His own command to meet for worship services every Sabbath day (Lev. 23:3).
COMMENT: It is plain that the apostle Paul observed the Sabbath day. And if Christ lives His life in us today through God’s Spirit as He did in Paul, then we will also be keeping the same day Jesus Christ and Paul kept!
COMMENT: Because Israel had become rebellious and polluted His Sabbaths, God did not allow that generation to enter the promised land—a symbolic type of the coming Kingdom of God on earth. Those Israelites under Moses were on their way to the promised land, even as those with God’s Spirit today are to enter into God’s Kingdom at Christ’s return. That is what the writer is saying in Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4!
The word rest in Hebrews 3:11 is translated from the Greek katapausis and is defined as rest or place of rest. As used in this verse, it meant for ancient Israel the rest from the wilderness by entering the promised land. This is a TYPE of the true Christian’s spiritual rest—being made Spirit, born into the Kingdom of God.
COMMENT: They went on to break God’s Sabbaths when He made that the testing point “that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no”Ex. 16:4; therefore God said of that generation,”They shall not enter my rest.”
And none, but Joshua and Caleb of that generation, did enter the promised land. But the children born along the way during the 40 years did enter with Joshua. God had originally promised this land to Abraham for his descendants and was bound by His promise. Notice that before the second generation of Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Joshua said to the men of three tribes: ” … The Eternal your God does give you REST, and does give you this land” (Josh. 1:13).
11.If New Testament Christians believe, and obey God, may they enter their rest in God’s coming Kingdom? Heb. 4:3
COMMENT: It is clear: Real belief in God equals active obedience! If a person truly believes God’s written Word, he will be obeying it.
12. Will we be keeping God’s weekly Sabbath day as a symbol of our future rest in God’s Kingdom ? Heb. 4:9.
COMMENT: The meaning of this verse has been obscured by the King James rendering of the word rest. Everywhere else in chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews, the English word rest is translated from the Greek word katapausis. However, in verse 9 of chapter 4, rest is translated from the Greek sabbatismos, meaning the keeping of the Sabbath.
Most other translations correctly render Hebrews 4:9 in the English. Even the margin of the King James version renders it: “There remains therefore a keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God.” The Revised Standard Version has it: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” The Jerusalem Bible: “There must still be, therefore, a place of rest reserved for God’s people, the seventh-day rest.”
COMMENT: Notice how the Revised Standard Version renders verses 10-11: “For whoever enters God’s rest [the Kingdom of God] also ceased from his labors as God did from his [on the seventh day following the six working days of creation]…”God’s seventh-day Sabbath is not to be treated lightly, for the Sabbath is both to remember Creation and the coming rest that we will enter when born into God’s Family.
COMMENT: You may be interested to know that as early New Testament Christians assembled together on the Sabbath day, God’s Church in this age assembles for worship services on God’s Holy Sabbath Day.
See ‘Which Day Is the Sabbath of the New Testament’? On Page 2 of the America And Britains Future Free Library.
The Seven Annual Sabbaths
God the Father has a master plan to bring about His awesome purpose for mankind. And His Son, Jesus Christ, plays the central role in God’s little known plan which is outlined in the form of seven annual Sabbaths/festivals which true Christians are to observe for a vital purpose.
Just as the Sabbath is God’s weekly day of rest, these annual holy days give the step by step overview of the working out of God’s plan. Not only does each festival picture a great event, but the yearly observance of these days by God’s Church are a continual reminder to them of their part in it. It was not until the days of Moses that God began to reveal the details. He introduced these festivals to His nation Israel—His “Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).
God intends the spring harvest festivals to picture year by year the fact that all of those He has called since Christ’s first coming are only the “first fruits”—only the small beginning of His great spiritual harvest of human beings into His Family. Later, as pictured by the autumn harvest season, God will call the rest of humanity.
In the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, we find a summary of these festivals. The first three festival periods, beginning with the Passover reminds us of the first part of God’s plan. They picture the “first fruits” of God’s spiritual harvest. The last four festivals look forward to the future and show the later great autumn spiritual harvest of billions of people.
The Encyclopedia Britannica confirms that the early New Testament Church of God kept the biblical festivals in a new and different way. “The sanctity of special times [current religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas] was an idea ABSEAT from the minds of the first Christians, who continued to observe the Jewish festivals [of Lev. 23], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed” (vol. 7, p. 859, 14th edition).
Most Bible commentators and scholars will agree that the many passing references to these annual occasions in the New Testament indicate that in the times of the early church their observance was known. Most importantly, Jesus Christ and the Church of God kept the annual festivals and their Sabbaths: “In the early Christian Church celebrating the festivals together with the whole of the Jewish people was never questioned, so that it needed no special mention” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1, p. 628).
It is obvious from a study of the Bible that God’s annual festivals took on a new significance in the Church of God and continued as true Christian celebrations. Jesus Himself played a major role in this by His teaching and example.
1. Who does the Bible say originated these annual festivals and their Sabbaths? Lev. 23:1-2.
COMMENT: Notice that these are NOT the “feasts of the Jews” or “feasts of Moses,” as some have thought—they are GOD’S OWN FEASTS which He originated and gave to His people to keep year by year.
2. God specifically said that His annual feasts were to be observed in addition to the weekly Sabbath? Lev. 23:37-38.
COMMENT: The Passover begins God’s master plan. It pictured in advance the great sacrifice, the death of Jesus Christ our Passover —I Cor. 5:7; I Peter 1:19) for our law breaking. After His death, the Passover became a memorial of His sacrifice.
COMMENT: While instituting the new symbols of the wine and the bread, picturing His blood- for the forgiveness of our law breaking, and His broken body- for our physical healing (I Pet. 2:24), Jesus gave a command: “This DO in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19) -once every year.
COMMENT: Jesus Christ left an example for us to follow. Notice that this ceremony of the washing of His disciples feet had nothing to do with the Old Testament observance of the Passover. It was then being instituted for the very first time by Jesus Christ Himself for his Church to keep annually from that time forward! Foot-washing depicts the attitude of humility and service to others which Christ always had, and which He wants us to imitate (verse 16-17).
7. Were the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread holy days on which the people were to assemble themselves, much the same as they would on a weekly Sabbath day? Ex. 12:16; Lev. 23:7-8.
8. Did New Testament true Christians observe this festival? I Cor. 5:7-8.
COMMENT: I Corinthians 5 shows that the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which the Corinthian Church of God was keeping, pictures an end to breaking God’s law. Leavening, is a biblical symbol for sin (verse 8) like physical leavening used in bread to make it rise, not only can cause a person to swell with vanity and become puffed up in God’s sight (verses 2, 6), but can also spread throughout a group of people.
Paul warned the Church of God at Corinth that they should put out of their fellowship the person who was openly breaking God’s Law (verse 1). Paul urged decisive action as he reminded them, “…a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (verse 6). The Passover is to remind us that Jesus Christ paid a tremendous price for our law breaking. He offered something more valuable than anything we could offer—the sacrifice of His perfect life.
Then the Days of Unleavened Bread, which immediately follow the Passover, reminds us to put law breaking out of our lives and to keep God’s laws.
10. What new name was given in the New Testament to this Old Testament festival of “First fruits”? Acts 2:1.
COMMENT: The term Pentecost means “fifty” in the Greek. This is the only annual Sabbath whose exact calendar date is determined by counting. The first New Testament Pentecost occurred on the fiftieth day after Christ’s resurrection.
COMMENT: This festival pictures the arrival of God’s Spirit for the first time. This first Pentecost marked the birth of the New Testament Church of God.
It was on this day that God’s first small spiritual harvest began. The Church of God received God’s Spirit- part of His Mind – that would help them to grow spiritually, preparing them to become members of God’s Family at Christ’s return. God knows that for us to overcome our human weaknesses our human willpower and abilities are not enough. We need the strength of His Spirit. This is the third step in God’s master plan intended to help each one of us succeed in our purpose for living.
12. What is the next festival, or annual “Sabbath,” of the seven described in Leviticus? Lev. 23:23-24.
COMMENT: The Feast of Trumpets depicts the return of Jesus Christ to set up the Kingdom of God on earth (Rev. 11:15). The first resurrection occurs at the second coming of Jesus Christ which is announced by the blast of a trumpet (I Thes. 4:16-17; I Cor. 15:52).
COMMENT: Notice that it is the Feast of Trumpets, plural (Lev. 23:24), not just the “Feast of the Last Trump. Ancient Israel became accustomed to the blowing of trumpets for many purposes: the calling of assemblies, or as a warning. Much like the use of bugles in the military, ancient Israel came to recognize various sounds as having specific meaning.
There is a parallel between trumpets sounding alarms of warning in ancient Israel and the written Work of God today (Isa. 58:1). There is also a relationship between the trumpet blasts, signaling the return of Jesus Christ, and the warning and witness conducted by God’s Church today which is preparing the way for the return of Christ.
COMMENT: The rituals required of the Old Testament ministry on the Day of Atonement are described in the 16th chapter of Leviticus. The live goat carried the sins of Israel and was led into a desolate wilderness, which represents Satan. All of our guilt will be laid on Him.
Satan, who is called the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4), and is described as the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2), the father of law breaking (John 8:42-44), will be restrained. No longer able to “broadcast” his attitudes of vanity, lust, and greed into people’s minds.
At Satan’s “chaining” (Rev. 20:1-3), the symbolism of Leviticus 16 will have become reality. The minds of all will be opened by God’s Spirit and will accept and receive forgiveness. They will be able for the first time to understand God’s plan. Then they will become “at one” with Jesus Christ and God the Father, as symbolized by the Day of At-one-ment.
15. How are we to observe the Day of Atonement? Lev. 23:32.
COMMENT: The Day of Atonement is the one day on which God has commanded us to fast. (For biblical proof that ‘afflicting our soul’ means to fast, compare the following : Ps. 35:13; 69:10; Isa. 58:3; Ezra 8:21.) The purpose of fasting is to humble us—to help us to see ourselves as we really are. And to see God as He is.
Fasting on the Day of Atonement means no food and water for 24 hours from sunset to sunset (or evening to evening Lev. 23:32). Fasting is not penance—not a hunger strike to try to get our way with God. We are to fast in order to humble our will, and to draw closer to God and His way (Isa. 58:6-11). Fasting on the Day of Atonement is a reminder of the state of humility, which this world will have been brought to before the return of Jesus Christ!
COMMENT: The Feast of Tabernacles was also called the “Feast of Ingathering” (Ex. 23:16; 34:22) because this seven-day festival fell just after the autumn harvest season. The whole nation observed this feast after the final, main harvest was in (Lev. 23:39).
COMMENT: Jesus wisely chose not to travel openly in Judea (verse 1). However, verses 1-10 show that He did risk His life to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Even though He went secretly, He openly taught in the temple during the middle of the Feast (verse 14).
18. What is the theme for the yearly observance of the Feast of Tabernacles? Deut. 16:14-15. Notice the words “surely rejoice.” Does God intend for everyone—regardless of age, or economic level to rejoice in this feast? Verse 14.
19. Does God intend for a man to take his wife and children with him to the Feast of Tabernacles? Deut. 16:14; 12:5, 7, 12. Are they to live in temporary dwellings corresponding to motel and hotel rooms today at the place designated for the observance of this feast? Lev. 23:42, 40.
COMMENT: The Feast of Tabernacles is full of meaning for us today. It portrays the world tomorrow under the rule of Jesus Christ, the 1,000 years of peace and prosperity for the billions who will live in this coming age. It is during the Millennium that the great “autumn harvest” of human lives will begin to be gathered into the Kingdom of God— as members of the Family of God. They will be given the privilege of bringing knowledge to every human then alive.
New generations will be born in the 1000 year Millennium, and humans will soon again number billions! Each will live a life of overcoming as true Christians today will have lived.
For ancient Israel it was a time of rejoicing because the winter’s harvest was taken in just before the Feast. But in the Millennium, the happiness and prosperity pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles will come about under the rule of Jesus Christ. The Feast of Tabernacles separates and frees us from this world. Living in temporary dwellings for an entire week away from our everyday surroundings, away from our jobs and our customary thoughts picture the freedom and peace of the 1000 year Millennium.
The Feast of Tabernacles as observed today is actually a tiny foretaste of the world tomorrow when God’s Spirit will lead everyone. These are days of concentrated teaching by God’s ministers—days of genuine true Christian fellowship. Those attending the Feast demonstrate now by the way they live together in harmony, what this whole world could and will be like!
COMMENT: We have seen how those who have been privileged to be called by God through the ages, especially from the first coming of Jesus Christ unto the end of the 1000 year Millennium, fit into God’s master plan. But what about the billions of people including perhaps most of your loved ones?
Billions have never even heard the name of Christ, or heard of God’s great plan! Will they remain dead, never even having had a chance to hear the truth? Would this be fair of a loving God? Can you imagine a merciful and just God condemning innocent little children to remain dead for all eternity without ever knowing God’s happy way of life? The answer is revealed in the final step in God’s master plan.
God has, in His fairness, planned for everyone who has ever lived—men, women and children—to receive the very same opportunity you are being given. Just as the week is not complete without the Sabbath day, so God’s master plan is not complete without God’s seventh annual holy day.
Seven in the Bible is a number signifying completion and perfection. Without the knowledge of this seventh annual holy day, you can’t understand the perfection of God’s master plan—that God’s mercy extends even beyond the 1000 year Millennium! In order to understand this final phase of God’s plan, we must understand the last of God’s annual holy days, symbolizing the Last Great Judgment.
COMMENT: The last annual High Sabbath is observed immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles. But because of its close proximity to this feast, it naturally was associated with the Feast of Tabernacles and was called the “eighth day.” In the New Testament it is referred to as the “last day, that great day of the feast” (John 7:37).
22. Revelation chapter 20 holds the key to the meaning of the “Last Great Day.” As we already know, verses 4-6 speak of those resurrected ruling with Jesus Christ on earth for 1,000 years. But exactly what is said in the first sentence of verse 5?
COMMENT: These are not “the dead in Christ,” but simply the dead, those billions who may never have even heard the name of Jesus Christ. Note the first part of verse 5 in the King James Version, Here’s how it should read: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”
The sentence, “This is the first resurrection,” refers to the resurrection of those just before the 1,000 years. John makes clear, “the rest of the dead”—those who never had a chance to understand God’s truth—would not come up in a resurrection “until the thousand years were finished.” This resurrection after the 1,000 years are finished—is the second resurrection in time order.
23. How does John further elaborate on the second resurrection? Rev.20:11-13.
COMMENT: The Greek word translated “books” in Revelation 20:12 is biblia, and it is from this exact word that we derive our English word “bible.” The “books” that are opened are the books of the Bible! They will be opened to the understanding of the billions of people who have never yet heard the name of Jesus Christ or been able to understand the truth of God’s written Word. This is the same spirit of understanding—of “living waters”—that Jesus Christ referred to on that Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles! (John 7:37-39.)
25. Where else in the Bible is this resurrection described? Ezek. 37:1-14. Are these dead clearly raised to physical human life, again to have human bodies, to rely on air to sustain their physical existence? Verses 5-10.
26. What is God’s promise to these resurrected peoples? Verses 13-14. Isn’t this obviously the giving of God’s Spirit that Jesus Christ spoke about in His sermon on the “Last Great Day” of the Feast of Tabernacles? John 7:37-39.
COMMENT: In chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Matthe Jesus gave enough examples of generations of people living at different times in human history to prove the fact that most of humanity will be alive, together, at the same time on this earth. There will be pre-Flood men and women, all twelve tribes of Israel, those who lived during the Middle or Dark Ages, etc., and everyone living even now, not called by God to receive their opportunity during their lifetime. (See John 6:44, 65.)
This group includes all people of all times everywhere on this earth, excepting, of course, those in the first resurrection—or those relatively few incorrigibly people who will be resurrected in the third resurrection to have their part in the second and final death (Rev. 20:14-15).
If many of the ancient peoples described in Matthew’s gospel would have repented, as Christ Himself said they would have if He had personally come to them in their day; they will most surely repent when resurrected after He has already ruled for a thousand years on an earth dominated by peace and prosperity.
A decision must be rendered based on how each individual responds. (This same “judgment” is now upon true Christians who have received God’s Spirit today—I Peter 4:17.) And since every individual will have the fullest single opportunity, each will in effect be rendering their own verdict by the choices they make while living during this period of time.
But if you become a true Christian now in this age, and if you remain faithful, you will be privileged to receive a “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35) at Christ’s second coming. It’s better simply because you have the opportunity to receive a greater reward than those who will live during the last judgment period, or even those who will have lived during the Millennium!
We have seen that all of God’s annual Sabbaths/festivals are built around the annual harvest seasons in Palestine. But it is the spiritual harvest that God is interested in! Old Testament Israel was reminded of their dependence upon, and relationship to, God by this seasonal cycle of harvest festivals. Now God’s faithful New Testament Christians can receive the lifesaving knowledge of God’s plan for His spiritual harvest through the observance of these same days!
What we wants to remember, we must review regularly. Observing each annual festival in its season, we are reminded of God’s master plan, and our individual part in it. Through the years, God’s Church has grown in the understanding of the spiritual meaning of these annual holy days.
Unlike the world’s holidays which show no practical purpose or plan for human existence, God’s annual Sabbaths/ festivals reveal the full scope and meaning of His great purpose for mankind. God’s annual Sabbaths and their related festivals not only teach us His plan, they point us directly to Jesus Christ. He is “our Passover” (I Cor. 5:7).
Christ is the first of the “first fruits,” and it was after His resurrection that He sent God’s Spirit on the day of Pentecost to those who the Father would call, enabling them to fulfill His law, and grow spiritually. It is Christ who is going to intervene in world affairs, pictured by the Feast of Trumpets and put down the rule of man and Satan, as portrayed by the Day of Atonement. With the influence of Satan gone, all will have opportunity to become “at one” with God the Father and Jeers Christ.
Christ is coming to set up His government on earth pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles, millions will be born into the Family of God during the 1000 year period. Finally, Christ will make God’s Spirit available to everyone who ever lived, but never heard or understood the truth, in the last great step, the Last Great Day in His plan. This will be the conclusion of His personal sacrifice as Savior of mankind.
God’s true Church today has retained the precious truth concerning His master plan and purpose here on earth for you! Around the world God’s Church is faithfully observing all of His festivals every year.
Note: For more information on these annual Feast’s, see ‘Gods Holy Days’ on page 3 of the America And Britain’s Future Free Library. If you would like to begin observing God’s true Holy Days see the calander available in the America and Britains Future Free Reference Section.
Tithing in a New Spirit
We have seen that the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths/festivals, and many other Old Testament laws, are now observed by true Christians with a new approach (Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28). We are about to see that God’s law of tithing also takes on new meaning today. Paul wrote that “…We are able ministers of the New Covenant” (II Cor. 3:6).
True Christianity is a way of life. It has everything to do with the way we live our daily lives—our day-in, day-out association with others, our business practices—even the way we handle our finances.
Remember that God is Creator and Owner of everything we see around us. God has a prior claim to ownership of all that has been produced out of the earth. As David wrote: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). All the gold and silver belongs to God (Hag. 2:8). God created everything and by virtue of that creation He owns it all—including all of us! There is really no way that we can repay God for what He has given us. So why give a tithe of our increase to God?
Tithing is a part of God’s give way of life. God wants us to learn how to give and share for the good of others, and for our own good! God uses the tenth He claims for Himself to bring this truth to the world.
God’s law concerning what we produce and earn can be compared to a contract. He wants us to understand that we are working with Him in a partnership. God allows us to live and work on His earth—to cultivate the land and produce the food we eat. He allows us to cut down His timber and build the houses we live in, and to use all His resources in producing thousands of products for our own use. God is a very generous partner. But he reserves 10 percent for His Work on earth.
COMMENT: Abraham paid tithes to God. He gave a tenth part of the spoils of battle to God. The context of these verses in Genesis clearly shows that God received His due before any of the goods were given to others. Abraham acknowledged that God was the source of his wealth.
Abraham became a very prosperous man because he was blessed by God. And the biblical record shows he continued to be obedient to God for the rest of his life (Gen. 26:5).
COMMENT: Tithing is revealed in the Bible as God’s system for financing His ministry. Prior to the Levitical priesthood and that of Moses, the ministry was of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was God’s representative on earth and He received the tithes from God’s faithful servants at that time. Melchisedec, “…having neither beginning of days, nor end of life… abides a priest continually” (Heb. 7:3). He probably was High Priest even from the time of Adam! And finances His ministry on earth by the tithing system.
COMMENT: Jacob promised to give God the tithe of his increase from that time forward. Over the years of his life God did bless him a great deal because of his faithfulness; there was hardly enough space for all his cattle. Jacob apparently continued as a life-long tither, never forgetting the One who had caused him to prosper (Gen. 48:15).
4. Before the time of Moses, the tithe had been paid directly to Melchizedek. But after Israel came out from Egypt, who did God say was to receive the tithe? Num. 18:21, 24. To whom were the Levites themselves to pay a tithe of their income (of the tithes they received from the people)? Verses 26-28.
5. What different use was to be made of this tithe for that time? Num. 18:21.
COMMENT: Melchizedek, the member of the Godhead who became Jesus Christ, selected the Levite’s to be His ministers. God’s ministry through the Levitical priesthood was a material, ritualistic ministry of reminding the nation of it’s failure to obey His laws (Jer. 7:22-24).
So Melchizedek ordained a change in the tithing law—He turned the tenth He had always personally received over to the Levite’s for their support. But there was no spreading of Gods’ truth worldwide at that time. God merely called for the Levite’s to teach the people the law in the letter, and to administer the physical rituals and sacrifices. And the people were commanded to bring their tithes to them.
Hebrews chapter seven clearly shows that tithing had long been an ongoing financial principle by the time God formally instituted ancient Israel’s civil law through Moses and made tithing a law.The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that tithing is not Levitical (of the descendants of Levi) or “ceremonial” (see verses 5, 8-10). It did not begin with the Levite’s and is not ended now that there is no longer a Levitical priesthood in the world.
According to verses 11-17 of Hebrews seven, God changed the priesthood back to the spiritual priesthood of Melchizedek. The Levitical Priesthood was superseded by the priesthood of Jesus Christ the Melchizedek priesthood restored! And so there was also a change as to who should now receive the tithe (verse 12). Christ has authorized His New Testament ministry to accept the tithes in order to do the spiritual Work of God!
The New Testament era began when Melchizedek- Jesus Christ, who abides as our High Priest continually (Heb. 7:5; 4:14-16), became human to be sacrificed for the law breaking of all mankind and make God’s Spirit available to those whom God the Father would call.
Jesus Christ came to inaugurate a NEW kind of ministry, a Spiritual Ministry, a ministry of Prophecy and a ministry of WARNING, as well as Good News. Christ’s commission to all His true ministers is, “Go and teach all nations… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19-20). And, referring to our day, He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a WITNESS unto all nations; and then shall the end [of man’s rule on earth] come” (Matt. 24:14).
Jesus Christ came to qualify as the Ruler of this world. And He came to train messengers who would announce to an unbelieving world that He would return to establish the government of God on earth. Christ personally chose His original twelve apostles, or ministers, to carry on the work He began.
But which church today is carrying out Christ’s commission? Jesus Christ said He would build His Church (Matt. 16:18). And He did build it! Have you found it?
Jesus Christ established one church—not hundreds of differing, disagreeing denominations. One church which was to carry on the work He began. That church first comprised His apostles and disciples whom He empowered with His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). And Christ’s TRUE CHURC has continued through the ages until TODAY!
As the end of this age approaches God’s TRUE MINISTRY will be carrying out Christ’s commission. They are making plain the Good News of the soon coming Kingdom of God to rule this earth. Without fear or favor, they are explaining the laws of that coming world government. And they are making plain and clear the hundreds of prophecies referring directly to this time.
In these critical, chaotic days approaching the end of an age, the carrying on of God’s true ministry is a worldwide work to reach millions of people. It is a huge undertaking to all nations! Today, God has provided for the financing of His ministry by the same system He has used for millennia—the tithing system.
6. Does the Bible show that both nations and individuals can literally “steal” from God directly? Mal. 3:7-12.
COMMENT: Can anyone afford to rob God? Stealing from God is a very serious matter! It would be wrong to toss it off as if God does not notice. Although tithing is giving a tenth of our income, it already belongs to God. It is the first tenth which He has reserved unto Himself. It is only after we acknowledge God’s claim over that first tenth of our income that we have legitimate claim to the other nine-tenths.
7. What does one come under when he or she breaks this fundamental financial law of God? Mal. 3:9.
COMMENT: Does anyone who lives in America, Britain, Canada or Australia doubt that these Western nations are a contradiction in terms— blessings and cursing’s at the same time—yet news of our latest financial problems are regular headlines in the United States, Britain and other English-speaking countries in the Western world.
COMMENT: God does not offer us complex hard to be understood solutions to our financial problems. The simple truth is: Give to God what is His and He will reward us. God has a thousand ways of making what you do pay off. If you work diligently, and are faithful in giving Him His portion, He will work with you, causes your partnership with Him to produce and earn more!
Those who faithfully give God His tenth find that the 90 percent that is left seems to go further than the 100 percent ever did before. Members and co-workers have remarked that there seems to be an unwritten law which cannot be put down in a budget—a law that causes their money to always stretch further when they tithe faithfully.
Read the following scriptures in connection with this principle: I Kings 17:8-23; II Kings 4:1-7; 42-44; Matt. 14:17-21; 15:34-38; Heb. 13:8. At the same time, by giving the tenth which God reserves for Himself, people become more conscious of their money—they budget and plan more carefully, and waste less of their incomes.
9. What should be our attitude in giving God the tenth that belongs to Him, and offering as we are able? II Cor. 9:6-7.
COMMENT: The giving principle is stated in the Bible. Jesus Christ showed that a giving spirit brings an automatic boomerang-like effect. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into you. For with the same measure that you give it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
Solomon reiterates the very same in his writings: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1-2, RSV). Again, “One man gives freely, yet grows richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. A liberal man will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Prov. 11:24-25). All of these verses just repeat in different words, the time-tested principle restated by many writers throughout the Bible: “What you sow you shall reap” (Gal. 6:7).
10. In what way did Jesus Christ uphold the principle of tithing? Matt. 23:23. Notice the last part of the verse.
COMMENT: He said that spiritual qualities such as judgment, love, mercy and faith are more important than carefully and strictly paying tithes on every little plant that might grow in your garden—especially when that strictness led to self-righteousness. But Christ said “not to leave the other undone”—not to fail to pay your full tithe as God requires.
11. Is tithing a kind of worship, as well as an expression of faith toward God? Heb. 11:6.
COMMENT: Tithing is a deeply personal act of worship when done in faith. It is an acknowledgment that God is there—that He REALLY EXISTS—and that He is able to supply all your need. (Phil. 4:19).
COMMENT: God’s tithe is 10 percent which He reserves for Himself. And
yet, it is actually spent wholly for man’s benefit—God’s way is to give without charge. By involving His fellow-laborers in this commission, they
share in bringing others into the Family of God. By
honoring God our own material needs will be supplied,
for God promises: “Seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:3)
The Christian Fight!
The written word of God tells us that all who will follow the true Christian way of life will have to face three deadly enemies. These three enemies tend to discourage us from developing the character of Jesus Christ.
2. Did Paul know, shortly before his death, that he had won the true Christian fight? II Tim. 4:6-8.
COMMENT: The first enemy is our own human nature (Gal. 5:19-21). This nature in us rationalizes cleverly, producing deceitful impulses—vanity, lust, greed, etc. We are persuaded to break God’s spiritual law, cutting us off from Him. Our nature can destroy us spiritually, unless we resist its wrong impulses.
4. What is the second enemy, is it the world around us? Gal. 1:4. What should be a true Christian’s attitude toward the world’s social order with its glitter, glamour, and alluring appeal? I John 2:15-17.
COMMENT: John is speaking about this worldly system around us. It is from the original Greek word Cosmos, translated “world” in I John 2:15, that English words such as cosmopolitan, cosmopolite, etc. are derived.
John was referring to the societies of this world motivated by the vanity, lusts and greed of human nature. Because most people have been deceived (Rev.12:9), they don’t understand how many of the world’s ways could be wrong in God’s sight. This world bombards us continually with temptations which can seduce us.
5. Should true Christians try to avoid the evil that is in the world? II Cor. 6:14-18; Rev. 18:4. Does this mean that any should move away from populated areas? John 17:15-18. Notice especially the first part of verse 15.
COMMENT: Christ’s prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John shows that God does not expect Christians to move to the mountains and deserts to escape the world’s distractions! They should try to be separate spiritually.
From childhood we conform to the customs and practices which we learn from the teachings and examples of others. We accept without question most of the lifestyles of the society around us. But as we learn about God’s way, we are to apply ourselves to this new life. Paul said “Be not conformed to this world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
6. Do people always appreciate the person who tries to live according to God’s law? I Peter 4:3-4; John 15:18-20; 16:33. How should a true Christian respond to those who might be antagonistic? Matt. 5:43-47; Rom. 12:20-21.
COMMENT: Perhaps because of our examples of genuine concern for people some of them may turn to God (Matt. 5:14-16). Eventually God will open their minds.
7. What, or who, is the third enemy? I Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7. Isn’t Satan ultimately responsible for inspiring all the evil in this world? II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2. Has he deceived the whole world? Rev. 12:9.
COMMENT: Satan, formerly the archangel Lucifer who was originally created perfect in his ways (Ezek. 28:15), acquired his satanic nature by his own reasoning and choice. Humans have in turn acquired Satan’s nature from early childhood, we call it “human nature.” Notice how Paul described this natural frame of mind: “… the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).
But once God’s Spirit is added to a person’s mind, he then has the power to resist the attitudes of self-centeredness, lust, greed, vanity, jealousy, envy, resentment, competition, and hate which are broadcast to our minds by Satan. We are not compelled to respond to or obey these impulses. Satan has no power to FORCE anyone to think or do wrong, but we do so without realizing what is taking place in our minds. Most people just drift along, responding to emotions and impulses.
Satan, the “god of this world,” the “prince of the power of the air,” is actually working in those unsuspecting all over the world today. That is why it is “this present evil world,” and why the world is so thoroughly deceived today!
8. After you are called by God the Father and receive God’s Spirit which makes you a true Christian, will Satan try to influence you again—to deceive you and lead you away? II Cor. 11:2-4. Did some in Paul’s day begin to fall victim to Satan once again? Verses 13-15; Gal. 1:6-8; 3:1.
COMMENT: Being in God’s Church does not disconnect Satan’s wavelength. He continues to broadcast the attitudes of his nature. When Jesus Christ spoke of overcoming, He referred to overcoming Satan’s ways. Without God’s protection and restraining power over Satan, which He promises to grant us if we remain close to Him, none could ever make it!
Before Jesus Christ could qualify to restore the government of God and rule all nations, He had to withstand Satan’s most severe temptations. That struggle is recorded in the fourth chapter of Matthew. Notice how Satan attempted to deceive and influence Jesus Christ to turn against God.
9. When Jesus was extremely hungry, how did Satan appeal both to human vanity and hunger? Matt. 4:1-4. And to the human desire for prestige and power? Verses 5-9. What were Jesus’ immediate responses? Verses 4, 7, 10. What was the outcome of this titanic spiritual battle? Verse 11.
COMMENT: Christ resisted Satan, when He gave him an order he had to obey. He was defeated in this supreme spiritual encounter of all time. He responded to Satan’s temptations by citing the appropriate scripture that applied in each situation. He knew God’s will. Therefore, Satan could not deceive Him!
11. What instructions on fighting against the impulses and attitudes of Satan does God give? Eph. 6:10-12. What are Christians to put on in order to fight this spiritual battle? Verses 11, 13. Of what does God’s spiritual armor consist? Verses 14-20.
COMMENT: Truth refers to the inspired Word of God (John 17:17), the first piece in the Christian’s spiritual armor. The breastplate of righteousness is obedience to God’s commandments (Ps. 119:172); the gospel is the message of the coming Kingdom of God when Christ will rule this earth and bring it peace.
The shield of faith refers to the faith of Jesus Christ which can be placed within us (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:9)–not just to our own human, physical faith. This faith is God’s gift, God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And it is Christ’s faith put within us that will enable us to conquer and overcome!
The helmet of salvation is the knowledge of what
it involves, what it’s all about—the purpose of life. It is the knowledge of the TRUE DESTINY of mankind—that
of becoming members of the Family of God! The sword of the Spirit refers to the written Word of God—it is the true
Christian’s only offensive weapon in fighting Satan (Heb.
4:12). It shows
us what the enemy is up to. The final thing Paul mentions in fighting Satan is prayer. True
Christians are to draw close to God in persevering prayer (I Thes. 5:17) This is the way to OVERCOME Satan and to force him to leave you alone!
Why Overcoming is so Important
The Bible speaks a great deal about overcoming. It is important in living the true Christian life, and what effect it has on us in the Kingdom of God.
1. Did Jesus Christ become perfect? (complete) Heb. 2:9-10. Notice especially the last part of verse 10. What did Christ say He expects of those who would claim to be His followers? Matt. 5:48. Who are they to be like? Eph. 4:13.
COMMENT: He spoke of becoming perfect. But exactly what kind of perfection was He talking about? In the original Greek, the word for perfect is teleios, which also means complete. In other words, Jesus means that His followers are to become fully grown and spiritually mature.
Obviously, we cannot become absolutely perfect until the resurrection when God will complete the process and give us new, perfect spirit bodies with a perfect sinless nature that will be like God’s. But in the meantime, God wants us to strive to perfect His character in us by obeying His commandments, and overcoming.
2. Even though Christ was the Son of God and possessed God’s Spirit without measure (John 3:34), did He have to obey while human? Heb. 5:8-9. Did He overcome? John 16:33. Did He resist temptation? Heb. 4:15.
COMMENT: Jesus Christ kept God’s commandments perfectly. He was able to become the Savior of mankind and the supreme example of spiritual maturity which true Christians are to be striving to emulate. The Bible shows that striving to perfect the spiritual character of Christ is an ongoing process of putting law breaking out of our lives, learning to control our nature.
COMMENT: Through overcoming our spiritual character we are building the character of God. And the more we overcome, the greater the responsibility we will be capable of exercising in Christ’s soon coming government on earth. But no one can overcome for us. It requires effort on our part, together with the help of God’s Spirit, to become the spiritually minded and motivated person God can use in His Kingdom. And just as with Christ, our overcoming involves “good works.”
4. Does the principle of Matthew 24:46-47 illustrate that it is those who overcome to the very end—those who are still growing in character at Christ’s return (or at their death, if that comes first)-who shall inherit God’s Kingdom.
5. Does II Peter 1:5-9 also show there is need for continual growth in true Christian character as long as a person lives? Does verse 10 imply that those who don’t continue to grow and overcome will not make it into God’s Kingdom?
To Become Inheritors with Christ
1. Because Jesus Christ was perfect, where is He presently seated? Rev. 3:21. Have all the angels, authorities, and powers been made subject to Him under His Father? I Pet. 3:22; Eph. 1:20-22; I Cor. 15:27.
COMMENT: Notice how the Moffatt translation renders the original Greek of Hebrews 1:2: “But in these days He has spoken to us by a Son—a Son whom he has appointed heir of the UNIVERSE!
4. Will Christ be the only inheritor and ruler of this earth and the vast universe? Or will there be co-rulers, “joint-heirs,” with Him to share His great inheritance and responsibility? Rom. 8:16-17; Rev. 21:7.
COMMENT: We are heirs—joint-heirs with Jesus Christ to inherit and rule EVERYTHING God has created!
Notice also the second chapter of Hebrews. Beginning with verse 6, the apostle Paul quoted Psalms 8:4-6: “What is man, that you [God] art mindful of him?” Yes, why should God be concerned about us humans? Why were we born? Here is the answer: ” You have put ALL THINGS in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him” (Heb. 2:8).
Absolutely nothing God has created is excepted. We were BORN TO RULE! The awesome destiny of mankind is co-rulership first of this earth, and then the vast universe with Jesus Christ! But not until we have qualified and become members of God’s Family.
This far only Jesus Christ, the “first born among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), has received this power. So “… now [today] we see not yet all things put under him [man]. But we see Jesus…crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:8-9). He alone has received the power we are to receive at the resurrection. Can you begin to grasp the magnitude of these sure promises of God?
5. In what capacity is Christ now serving true Christians? Heb. 4:14-16.
COMMENT: As our High Priest
Christ is always available to help in times of need. He takes special
interest in our spiritual development, helping to prepare us so we
can eventually inherit “all things” with Him!
Why YOU Should Want to Rule
Many are surprised to learn that the Bible says so much about ruling in the Kingdom of God. Some doubt that they could ever qualify to rule over others. Perhaps even you have thought, “But I don’t want to rule."
History right down to the present is replete with accounts of rulers, politicians and bureaucrats who have abused their power and served their own interests, while calling themselves “benefactors” or servants of the people (Luke 22:25-26). Small wonder that many people have little desire to emulate such authority. Jesus Christ, who has qualified for the greatest position of rulership under the Father in the coming Kingdom of God, said He came to be a servant (Luke 22:27). Let’s see how and why service to God actually entails rulership.
1. How does a true Christian express service to God? Matt. 25:24-36.
COMMENT: We serve God when we help and serve others. Christ said “… Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these… , you have done it to me” (verse 40).
Hundreds of millions in this world would benefit from even basic instruction in how to improve the quality of their physical lives, including their everyday cleanliness and hygiene! Above all, they need to know God’s purpose and plan and how to enter God’s Family. Jesus Christ came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28). The foot-washing ceremony which He established shortly before His death symbolized this attitude of service. We should want to follow Christ’s example (I Pet. 2:21; John 13:17).
All true Christians are, in reality, training for a role in that government of the world tomorrow under Christ’s leadership and rule. The real Christian life, is one of overcoming, growing, preparing, and developing for service through rulership in the 1000 year Millennium, as well as serving others here and now!
COMMENT: We read of thrones, judgment and ruling. These scriptures indicate that we will receive positions in God’s government. All who are learning to overcome now will eventually be “kings and priests,” having various responsibilities in the Kingdom of God (Rev. 5:10).
3. By what principle can a person of ordinary ability in this life ever qualify to take on far greater responsibility in the Kingdom of God? Luke 16:10.
COMMENT: We learn to serve by being faithful—conscientious—in whatever we do. We must put into practice in our daily lives the principles and laws we learn from God’s written Word. Even the person who considers himself or herself as having only a little ability and natural talent, can qualify for God’s Kingdom. We learn to rule tomorrow by learning to manage our own affairs and responsibilities today, no matter how small they may be.
God is no respecter of persons or sexes (Rom. 2:11; Gal. 3:28). What sex we were born has no bearing on our reward. Note: It is by God’s grace that we will enter His Kingdom— to live forever is God’s gift. But it is by our works that we will be given an office for doing more good—once we become members of God’s Family.
As our elder brother—”the firstborn among many brethren” Jesus Christ has already qualified for the highest office under God the Father in the coming world tomorrow. No one else can ever receive the position of rulership the Father has promised Him. Notice a few other positions which are mentioned specifically in scripture.
4. To whom has God promised rulership over the united nation of Israel?
COMMENT: Others who overcame have gone before us and are to be in God’s Kingdom. They have already qualified for responsibilities in God’s ruling Family, though God has not specifically revealed their positions. But every individual will have a job to do, for an entirely new civilization must be built on earth to say nothing of the universe-built this time to God’s specifications. It will take many different jobs to create the worlds society as God wants it.
5. Will there really be enough opportunities to serve for all who have overcome down through the ages? John 14:1-3.
COMMENT: By speaking of the temple “my Father’s house” having many
“mansions” (“rooms” in the Revised Standard Version and other translations),
Jesus illustrated that there would be places for many to assist
in the government of the Kingdom of God on earth, when Jerusalem will be
the world capital. “I will come [back to earth] again, and receive
you unto myself; that where I am [ in the temple of God on
earth], there you may be also” (John 14:3). Christ assures us that He and God
the Father will have opportunities and challenging, positions
of responsibility for everyone in God’s Family!
You CAN Overcome!
As with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Paul and others God knows that true Christians will occasionally stumble spiritually—they still can and will break God’s law (I John 1:8-9). But our merciful Father promises to forgive us if we repent, and He will strengthen us so we can continue to overcome and live forever in His Family.
God does not call people to the true Christian way of life to loose out. He does not want any to miss the reward of living forever (II Peter 3:9; I Tim. 2:4). But God will not do it all for us. We have our part to do! Paul said: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthener me.” (Phil. 4:13.)
SO CAN WE!
Through Christ we can please God, fulfill His law, and overcome!
COMMENT: So true Christians, have something they must begin to do for the rest of their lives involving “works.” Christ said: “My Father works, and I work” (John 5:17). God’s way of life is one of productivity, growth and challenge.
COMMENT: As mentioned earlier, to live forever is a gift from God. You cannot earn that by your works. However, the true Christian still has his part to do.
The Bible tells us that we must remove habits and patterns that would ultimately destroy us (Rom. 6:23). But how, through our own human power and our own willpower alone? No, not a single one will ever conquer the influences of the world and Satan through human strength alone.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the five principal founding fathers of the United States, attempted to become morally perfect. Here is an excerpt from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:
“It was about this time that I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined."
"While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention: inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was [in] our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and the good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of content.”
COMMENT: Paul found that when he tried to resist his human nature, bad habits and sins would not easily be dismissed. Of course, Paul did overcome. He wrote the following words shortly before his death: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. … there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8, RSV). Notice how Paul succeeded in overcoming.
COMMENT: Jesus Christ, who defeated Satan (Matt. 4) and qualified to rule will again defeat Satan and this world’s influences through God’s Spirit! He told His disciples to be of good cheer because He had overcome the world (John 16:33). John said that God’s Spirit is greater than Satan (I John 4:4).
5. But didn’t Jesus say He could, of Himself, do nothing? John 5:30.
COMMENT: Even the very Son of God said He could do nothing (no spiritual works) by His own human power. If Christ, when human had no faith in Himself, how much less, can you and I accomplish by trusting in ourselves? Few realize that Christ’s obedience and even the miracles He performed were not done by any supernatural power of His own. All His spiritual works were done literally through faith in God the Father’s power, setting an example for us.
6. What was the source of Christ’s faith? John 14:10-11.
COMMENT: The Father lived in Jesus Christ through His Spirit, this made His obedience to God’s law possible! Christ had the faith of God.
7. Are true Christians to live by faith? Heb. 10:38; Rom. 1:17. But is having faith in God’s power all that is required of us today? Rom. 3:31. Is faith without obedience to God’s law a dead faith? James 2:20-22.
COMMENT: The Bible very plainly says that each individual has a part to play. But some professing Christians have been taught that Jesus Christ lived a good life for us and obeyed God’s law for us. We have seen that a true Christian is not excused from growing in spiritual character. These scriptures make it clear that having faith does not excuse us from spiritual works.
COMMENT: Those with God’s Spirit have the “faith of Jesus Christ.” It’s not just our faith in Him, but His faith —the spiritual faith through which He obeyed God’s laws—placed in us and acting in us!
9. Does the Bible call Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith? Heb. 12:2-4.
COMMENT: A more accurate translation of the phrase “author and finisher” is “pioneer and erector.” Jesus led the way, as our pioneer, setting us the best example of living faith. But Jesus also perfects His faith in us! Here’s how:
10. Did the apostle Paul plainly state that Christ lived in him? Gal. 2:20.
COMMENT: Paul didn’t live by his own faith. The mind of Jesus Christ lived in Paul through God’s Spirit. The same faith that can be in your mind! The faith of Jesus Christ will enable you to overcome as did Paul!
12. What must you do to receive Jesus Christ’s faith? Acts 2:38. Must you be willing to obey God? Acts 5:32. And must you first show faith toward Christ before He will give you His faith? Acts 20:21; Rom. 1:17.
COMMENT: God will give His Spirit and faith only to those who meet these conditions. Repentance is toward God and means that we have decided to change the entire course of our life, to begin living by all His commandments. (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:2).
13. Once we receive God’s Spirit, must the faith that it gives us grow? II Thes. 1:3.
COMMENT: Faith is not implanted in our mind whole and complete when we receive God’s Spirit. Faith must grow by testing and by our works. It must be living faith.
COMMENT: Abraham was a close friend of God. And, as a result, he received the help to set an outstanding record of faith. If we will let His Spirit flow through us, then we can be close friends of God as Abraham was, and be perfecting faith as he did.
Good friends spend a lot of time together in conversation. They discuss life, their goals, problems, and listen willingly to each other. If you are a friend of God you will want to talk to Him. You will also be listening to Him talk to you. And you will often think about His words. Notice what Christ has to say about this.
15. How did Jesus Christ teach His followers to talk with the Father? Luke 11:1. What is the general format we should follow when we pray? Verses 2-4; Matt. 6:9-15. Should we repeat words aimlessly, or by memory? Matt. 6:7-8. Should we pray in a private place, where we can be alone with God? Verses 5-6.
COMMENT: When you pray to God, you are actually talking to Him. You are coming into His presence, taking His time, and letting Him know how you feel about certain things, how you think about certain problems which arise, and ask Him for His guidance, advice, and help in solving problems.
When you pray for the needs of others and the needs of God’s Work, God listens! He is very much concerned about the welfare of all His people, and the trials His Work experiences, as well as your own personal welfare. God is not far off or aloof to His spiritual children. He wants us to talk to Him in prayer, to receive the help we need to live the true Christian way of life.
He also wants us to listen to Him when He speaks to us. How does He do this? Through His inspired written Word. When you read and study the scriptures, God is actually talking to you through them. They are His words to you. Notice the analogy Jesus used to illustrate this point.
COMMENT: Learn to let Christ, and God the Father, speak to you from the Bible. (Phil. 2:5) and allow the Word of God to guide and direct you. But because “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” God makes up the necessary difference. Like Paul who was mindful of his own human limitations, we look to God for the help to accomplish His purpose in us—”for my weakness makes me strong in him” (II Cor. 12:10, Phillips New Testament in Modern English).
It’s Up to You
You were born with the potential to become a member of the universe-ruling Family of God—to have a part in governing, teaching, and guiding the world in the coming 1000 years of world peace —and after that, to help rule the entire creation of God forever! This is the awesome destiny God offers to YOU!
Analyze your own life and character. Have you begun obeying God? Are you developing—growing—in self-control? In the ability to restrain wrong desires, selfish motives or vanity? Are you replacing bad habits and attitudes with right thoughts and deeds? If you are now rightly directing the little powers in your control, such as your temper, your voice, your emotions, or your present perhaps small income, then you probably could be entrusted to properly carry out a larger responsibility.
But if you have not yet begun to learn to control and guide even these little powers in your care, then how could God entrust you to handle far greater responsibilities in the Kingdom of God? If you don’t learn to be faithful, who will entrust to your care the riches and the powers of God? Strive to be faithful over what God has already given you, so that one day Christ can say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much…” (Matt. 25:21, RSV).
Seek God’s way by drawing closer to Him by praying and studying to learn more. Continually build the character of God until death, or until
the moment Jesus Christ returns when God will instantly change our weak bodies into powerful spirit bodies! (Phil.
3:20-21.) Our awesome destiny is that of helping to rule the earth and the universe
beyond as a member of God’s Family! It is exciting, a wonderful
future! Have you begun to qualify for it? It’s up to you.
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