January 15, 2021
(This is a work in progress - more to come.)
- Baptism in commanded by God for salvation (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:36-42).
- The apostle Peter commanded the crowd gathered in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, in A.D. 31 - "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38).
- The word "baptize" is a Greek word - literally in the Greek the word is baptizo - it means to immerse - "to plunge into" or "put into." It does not mean to "sprinkle" or "to pour." The Greek word for "sprinkle" is rantizo and "to pour" is Therefore, sprinkling and pouring are not forms of baptism. Immersion - being placed completely under water is.
- John the Baptist was baptizing in the river Aenon "because there was much water there" (John 3:23). When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch they went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:38). These, and other examples, show that total immersion in water was the method practiced by the Church Jesus founded.
- Even though Jesus had no sins to repent of, He was baptized by John, setting an example for us to follow (Matthew 3:13-16; I Peter 2:21).
- Baptism is purely symbolic. It is an outward sign of inward repentance. It demonstrates to God one's willingness and desire to permanently one's old life of sin and begin living a new life of obedience to God. Baptism demonstrates our total surrender to God.
- Baptism is symbolic of one's death, burial and resurrection from the grave (Romans 6:2-6; Colossians 2:12-13). Going down into the water clearly pictures the death of Christ and our old self. Coming up out of the water pictures Christ's resurrection, and our coming up out of the water to walk "in newness of life" - to live a life of obedience to God, free from the guilt of past sins and the death penalty those sins have incurred (Romans 6:23). We now reckon ourselves as dead, so far as sin is concerned, but alive through God and His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:11).
- Baptism should be done as the result genuine repentance toward God and complete faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Only a mature mind can truly "count the cost" (Luke 14:26-30). One must be mature enough to understand the commitment they are making and be able to truly repent and believe. Generally speaking - only mature adults should be baptized. There is no record of Jesus ever having commanded baptism for children, nor is there any biblical record of the early New Testament Church having performed such baptisms.
- Baptism is an outward acknowledgment that our selfish, vain, and sinful old self must die so that me might rise to live a new life of obedience to God's commandments as made possible through His Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is not given immediately at or by water baptism - yet Acts 2:38 shows that baptism does precede the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to a person through prayer and the laying on of hands of one of God's true ministers. The sequence of events is: 1) first repentance, 2) then water baptism, 3) next the laying on of hands, 4) then the receipt of the Holy Spirit as a result of the laying on of hands.
- Faith is a foundational and fundamental biblical doctrine (Hebrews 6:1). "Faith toward God" is absolutely required for salvation. None may obtain eternal life without it. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
- Faith is defined as - "Now faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is trust in God. It is the assurance that what God has promised He will perform (Romans 4:21).
- One does not need faith for something they already possess. Faith revolves around something "not seen," one does not yet have (Romans 8:24-25). "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).
- Faith, or belief, to be effectual, must be solidly based. It must have a sure foundation if it is to stand. Sincerity alone is not enough. We must place our trust in God (Mark 11:22), not men (Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 146:3). God is the only sure foundation or belief! Even when men are well intentioned, one can never really know whether they will be able to keep their promises. But God will never break His Word and is totally faithful (Hebrews 6:18-19; I Corinthians 1:9-9; I Corinthians 10:13; I Peter 4:19). Once God makes a promise, He will stand by it (Hebrews 10:23).
- Faith must be accompanied by works (James 2:17-18), as faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Faith, along with good works, is a living faith, the kind of faith we all need. We are saved by the life of Christ (Romans 5:10) - not by our works - and are given salvation as a free gift from God. But we are rewarded, or given our particular responsibility, in God's Kingdom according to our works (Revelation 22:12).
- It is possible to deny Christ by our works (Titus 1:16). Titus reveals the nature of these evil works (Titus 1:10-15). The faithful Christian should be "zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). James gives three examples of these "good works" - a Christian who sees one of his brethren without proper food or clothing (James 2:15-16), Abraham when he offered Isaac (James 2:21-23), and the third example relates to Rahab and her receiving and protecting the Israelite spies (James 2:25).
- Real, living faith must be based on God's will as revealed in the Bible (I John 5:14-15). True Christians must rightly divide "the word of truth" to know exactly what God's will really is and thus be able to have faith in that solid foundation (II Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 5:17). When we fail to petition God according to His will, we can expect no answers to our prayers - as we do not have the proper faith God requires for answered prayer (James 1:6-7; James 4:3).
- There are three conditions to healing: faith (Hebrews 11:6), obedience (I John 3:22), and patience (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 6:12; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 11:13).
- When we make a request to God we are to "ask in faith, with no doubting" (James 1:6-8). Doubt is a faith-killer.
- Faith is one of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22; I Corinthians 12:9).
- Hearing and studying God's Word will increase our faith (Romans 10:17).
- Faith is an important part of our Christian armor (Ephesians 6:16; I Thessalonians 5:8). Our faith can be overthrown if we are not alert and vigilant (II Timothy 2:18).
- Abraham, the father of the faithful had faith that he would become "a father of many nations" even though he was childless and 99 years old, and his wife Sarah was well past the child-bearing age (Romans 4:17-21). The fact that God had promised was all the evidence Abraham needed. He knew God would not lie - that His Word was good.
- Paul had faith toward God because he believed God. He had an unquestioning conviction that God would indeed do what He had promised (Acts 27:22-25). In summarizing his ministry for the Ephesian elders, Paul explained how he had testified "to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
- The Patriarch Noah was also an enduring example of "faith toward God." Paul summarized Noah's faith in Hebrews 11:7 - "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
- Hebrews 11 is known as "the faith chapter" because it is filled with examples of faith demonstrated in the lives of God's prophets, kings, judges, common people, and even one repentant harlot.
- To even start the process of salvation, one must have faith in Christ's blood, His atoning sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 3:25). Belief in Christ's blood - faith in His sacrifice for past sins - involves believing what Christ said. One cannot really believe in Jesus' sacrifice without believing His message - the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:15).
- Once a person has heard the true gospel of the Kingdom of God and has acted upon it by repenting, being baptized, and receiving God's Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 2:8), God imparts to that individual the very "faith of Jesus Christ." A person cannot work up this saving faith toward God. It is His gift upon real conversion.
- There is a vast difference between spirit, and flesh and blood. Although man was created in the very shape and likeness of God, he was not created out of spirit as God is (John 4:24). Man was made from the dust of the ground, subject to death and decay (Genesis 3:19). However, God's purpose is to one day make mortal man a spirit being in His Family (I Corinthians 15:42-54). That is why mankind was created in the "image" and "likeness" of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Not only did God make man like Himself - in the same form and shape - but He also made man in His "image." Image refers to mind and character. God wants those He calls to develop His holy, righteous character during this mortal life - before they can be "born again."
- Jesus revealed this profound truth to Nicodemus, a high-ranking Pharisee: "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Nicodemus understood what it meant to be born. But he did not understand how anyone could be "born again." He thought Jesus was referring to a second human birth. Christ was actually describing two different kinds of birth - one physical and the other spiritual. He was comparing physical birth to spiritual birth - the physical being a type of the spiritual. Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:4-8).
- A human mind can be compared to an egg or ovum, and the Holy Spirit to an impregnating seed or germ of eternal life. Receiving God's Spirit is the begettal of the spiritual life of God within one's mind. And as a newly begotten physical embryo begins to grow in its mother's womb, so must a true Christian begin to grow in God's spiritual character after they are begotten by His Holy Spirit (I Peter 2:1-2; II Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:11-16). Spiritual growth comes from prayer, fasting, and Bible study and by living a life in obedience to God as the individual is empowered by the Holy Spirit within them. All Spirit-begotten Christians are the unborn children of God the Father in the same sense that an unborn human embryo or fetus is the child of its parents.
- God's purpose is to create, from mortal mankind, individuals composed of spirit possessing perfect spiritual character (Isaiah 64:8; Job 14:14-15). We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).
- At present there are only two members in the God Family - God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14; I Corinthians 8:6). But God is planning to expand His Family by bringing many spiritual children into it (II Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 2:9-11; Revelation 21:7).
- Jesus is actually the "firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). We are to be conformed to the image of Christ, which means to become like Him - to be glorified as He is now glorified. Our awesome potential is to become God's literal, Spirit-born children - members of God's own divine Family!
- True Christians are already, in this mortal life, God's spirit-begotten children (I John 3:1-2; Romans 8:14-16). Although they are now the children of God, Christians are only heirs of God's Kingdom (Romans 8:17). They shall, in the future, become inheritors of it.
- Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50). We must be born of the Spirit to become a member of the God Family (I Corinthians 15:51-54).
- Those who are born of the Spirit of God - are spirit (John 3:6), and like wind, are invisible to mortal men. Any human who claims to "born again" is in error, for he or she is still flesh and blood.
- Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever been "born again" (Hebrews 1:1-6).
- When the glorified Jesus Christ returns to earth, the Spirit begotten children of God who have died through the ages will be resurrected to spirit life, and those still alive will be changed instantly into spirit (I Thessalonians 4:13-17). At that moment they will be "born again," this time as glorified immortal members of the God Family (I John 3:2; Daniel 12:3).
HOLY DAYS & FESTIVALS
God's annual Holy Days and Festivals reveal a step-by-step outline of His Master Plan for the salvation of all mankind. These are God's feasts, and they are holy convocations - commanded religious assemblies (Leviticus 23:2).
- The first step in God's plan for eventually bringing billions into His divine Family is the death of Christ. The New Testament Passover is the annual memorial of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The Passover pictures our being reconciled to the Father through our Savior Jesus Christ who rescued us from the penalty of our past sins.
- The historical record of the first Passover that the Israelites kept in Egypt is found in - Exodus 12.
- The lambs they selected were without blemish (without deformities, diseases, or imperfections), a male of the first year (Exodus 12:5). They were prophetic of Christ, our Savior "The Lamb of God" who was sinless; without spiritual blemish or spot (I Peter 1:19).
- As soon as the lambs were killed, the Israelites took some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they lived (Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:22). The Israelites were protected from the plague of death by the blood of the lambs that had been applied. It was a sign showing that the household was to be spared from death (Exodus 12:13). Today we can be protected from the penalty of eternal death our sins have earned through the shed blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7).
- From its first institution in Egypt, the Passover became a yearly reminder of the Eternal's "passing over" Israel and sparing their firstborn from death. However, the Passover also looked forward to the future when Jesus Christ would come to shed His blood, paying the penalty of human sin in full by His sacrifice, making possible the remission of our sins upon repentance and baptism.
- When Jesus was a child, He went to Jerusalem with His parents, who observed the Passover every year (Luke 2:40-42). During Christ's ministry He continued to keep the Passover (John 2:13; John 2:23). He, as the LORD of the Old Testament, is the one who revealed these festivals to ancient Israel and kept them Himself during His life on earth as a human.
- Before His crucifixion, Jesus instructed His disciples how the New Testament Passover should be observed by true Christians in remembrance of His suffering and death (Matthew 26:17-21; Luke 22:13-15).
- Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover symbols on the evening of the very day the Passover lambs had always been slain - the 14th of Abib. During supper, on the evening before Jesus' crucifixion, He instituted the washing of feet as a part of the new way of observing the Passover (John 13:1-17). He commanded His disciples to follow His example and to wash one another's feet (John 13:14-15). They were commanded to teach others to do likewise (Matthew 28:19-20). He also introduced the symbols of the bread and the wine. Unleavened bread - was to symbolically represent Christ's body which was brutally beaten (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-20). Eating the broken bread symbolizes our faith in the body of Christ, broken for our physical healing. It is through Christ's stripes that we may be healed (Psalm 103:2-3; Isaiah 53:5-8; I Peter 2:24). Wine - was to symbolically represent His blood, which was to be shed for the forgiveness of past sins (Matthew 26:27-29; Luke 22:20).
- If the original Passover lambs had not been slain, the Israelite's firstborn would have been killed in Egypt. Unless Christ was killed, we would not have a Savior (Exodus 12:6-7; I Corinthians 5:7). As these lambs were types of Christ, and died by bloodshed, so it was necessary for Jesus to die by shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of our sins - our transgression of God's law (Hebrews 9:22).
- After Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover symbols, He gave His disciples some final instructions and warnings, as well as encouragement (John 13 - John 17). Throughout these passages Jesus used this opportunity, not to do away with God's law, but to emphasize it.
- Knowing how excruciatingly painful His death would be Jesus prayed with great fervency to escape the extreme pain and suffering that was to come (Luke 22:41-44; Matthew 26:39-44).
- Christ was then betrayed by one His disciples and arrested like a criminal (Matthew 26:47-56).
- He was brought informally before the Sanhedrin by night, beaten and spit upon (Matthew 26:67). He was then sent to Pilate and Herod and mocked by their soldiers (Luke 23:11; John 19:2-3).
- Before delivering Christ to be crucified, Pilate had Him scourged (Matthew 27:26; Isaiah 52:13-14). After He was crucified, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, which ended His life (Fenton, as well as Moffatt, includes the following sentence as the first part of Matthew 27:50 "But another taking a spear pierced His side, when blood and water came out." This is supported by the ancient Greek manuscripts; also see John 19:34).
- God's Church kept the Passover more than 10 years after Christ's crucifixion (Acts 12:4).
- The Apostle Paul taught New Testament Christians to keep the Passover as Jesus had done and commanded (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
- Christ taught, by example, that the New Testament Passover should be taken only once a year on the 14th of Abib, in the evening, after the 13th has ended. The Passover is a memorial we are to keep in remembrance of Christ's suffering and death. Memorials are observed annually, on the anniversary of the event they commemorate.
- In ancient Israel males had to be circumcised in order to partake of the Passover (Exodus 12:48). In New Testament circumcision is of the heart (Romans 2:29). Those who repent, are baptized, and have received God's Spirit (through the laying on of hands) have become spiritually circumcised. Therefore, the Passover, unlike any of God's other annual festivals, is limited to baptized members of God's Church.
- Jesus commanded His disciples to keep the Passover in memory of Him until He returns (I Corinthians 11:26). The apostles kept it, and God's Church is still keeping it today, exactly as Jesus commanded. It will also be kept by Christ and born-again Christians when He establishes the Kingdom of God on earth (Matthew 26:29).
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
- To keep us in the knowledge of the second step in God's Plan, God instituted the second annual festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The observance of this festival impresses on us that we must do our part to keep the sins Jesus covered with His shed blood out of our lives.
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the keeping of God's commandments.
- Immediately after the Passover, God commanded the Israelites to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20; Leviticus 23:6-8). The first and the seventh days were set apart as "holy" days on which the people were to assemble.
- The Israelites were to put all leaven and leavened food out of their homes and off their property during the seven Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 13:7; Deuteronomy 16:4). A leavening agent is any substance used to puff up - to produce fermentation, causing dough to rise. Yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are leavening agents.
- Leaven is often referred to in the Bible as a symbol for sin (Matthew 16:6; Matthew 16:11-12; Luke 12:1; I Corinthians 5:8). Leaven puffs up, and so does sin. Unleavened bread is a flat bread that contains no leavening agent, and therefore typifies the absence of sin.
- God specifically commands His people to eat unleavened bread each day during this festival (Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19-20; Leviticus 23:6). The act of eating unleavened bread during these days symbolizes the keeping of the commandments -active obedience to God.
- God wants Christians to forsake this world's ways of sin (Revelation 18:4). We are to continually "strive" - to expend energy and effort - to put sin out of our lives (Hebrews 12:1-4).
- As a child, Jesus went up with His parents keeping the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 2:41-43).
- In the year Jesus was crucified, His enemies were expecting Him to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14:1).
- More than 20 years after Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, Paul and his companions had observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread at Philippi (Acts 20:6). This festival was still being kept by God's Church - it was not abolished at Christ's death.
- The Apostle Paul, inspired by God, told New Testament Christians that they should keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (I Corinthians 5:7-8). Paul was telling the members of the Corinthian Church to put out spiritual leaven, just as they had already put out all physical leaven in preparation for this festival. They were to keep the Feast not only with unleavened bread, but also with the spiritually unleavened attitude of righteousness, sincerity, and truth.
- For those who have been called to Christ by the Father, putting all leaven and leavened products out of their dwellings and off their property for the seven days of this festival pictures their putting sin out of their lives. And since seven is the number God uses to denote completeness and perfection, the seven days of the Feast remind us that God wants His people to work at putting sin completely out of their lives.
- This feast was called the "Feast of Weeks" (Deuteronomy 16:9-10; Deuteronomy 16:16). In the Old Testament this feast also went by the name "Feast of Firstfruits" - since it came at the end of the first, or spring, harvest in the Northern Hemisphere (Exodus 23:11; Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26). And, since it was the fiftieth day of the spring harvest season, Greek speaking Jews and Christians called it pentekoste which means "fiftieth." It is called Pentecost in the New Testament.
- In the Old Testament, the spring harvest began in the following manner: On the morning of the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread, a sheaf of newly sickled barley was brought to the priest to be accepted by God. This was called the "wavesheaf offering" and represented the first of the firstfruits harvest. After Christ was resurrected from the dead, He ascended to His Father in heaven (John 20:17). On that same day after returning from heaven, His disciples could touch Him (Matthew 28:9; John 20:19-20; John 20:27-28). This was the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Days of Unleavened Bread. It was on the very same day that the wavesheaf was offered that Jesus was accepted by His Father as the spiritual "wavesheaf" offering in heaven. Christ therefore fulfilled the symbolism of the Old Testament wavesheaf offering. He was the first resurrected Son of God (I Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18). He became the firstborn Son of God - the first human to complete the process of salvation and be "born again" into the Family of God.
- It was on the day of Pentecost that God first sent His Spirit to begin His Church - to beget and strengthen the firstfruits He was beginning to call into His Church symbolically represented by the two "wave loaves" (Leviticus 23:17-20). Fifty days after Christ's sacrifice was accepted in heaven, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples just as He had promised (Acts 2:1-6). Pentecost is now a memorial that commemorates the founding of the New Testament Church of God, for it was on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 31 that the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest began to be prepared for reaping into His Family.
- Most people remain cut off from access to God's Spirit, a policy that began in the Garden of Eden. After God created Adam and Eve He gave them basic instructions in the right way to live, and offered them an opportunity to receive His Spirit (Genesis 2:8-9; Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve had mortal life. The tree of life represented eternal life, which can come only from God's Spirit. If they had eaten of that tree, they would have received God's Spirit and been begotten of God. Adam and Eve, conditionally, would have received the earnest or down payment of eternal life. God's Spirit would have enabled them to overcome temptation and grow in righteous character. They, however, did not eat of the tree of life, but rather ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). As a result Adam lost his opportunity to conquer Satan and replace him as ruler of this world, and Adam and Eve were denied further access to the tree of life and therefore were cut off from access to God's Spirit (Genesis 3:16-24). All humanity has been cut off from access to His Spirit and from salvation ever since. Until a son of Adam - the Son of Man - could qualify where Adam failed, could conquer Satan, pay the penalty of human sin, and ransom the world from its kidnapper, no one could restore the government of God on earth, and no one could be given salvation. The Messiah, and He alone, could do all of this. Of necessity, then, God's Plan required that mankind in general be not yet judged. God has therefore not permitted them to have access to His Spirit, nor access to salvation. They will have their opportunity for salvation in a special resurrection to judgement, which will be after God's government has been restored on earth. That is why Jesus spoke in parables - to hide His meaning from the general public (Matthew 13:10-15; Mark 4:11-12). God is simply not calling everyone now.
- Those now called into God's Church are a part of God's spiritual firstfruits - the first group to be offered salvation. God's Church, is the means by which God is now preparing this world for Christ's return. It is through His Church that He is preparing the future rulers and teachers of His Kingdom (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10).
- God knows that to successfully put sin out of our lives and keep it out, our own human willpower and abilities are not enough. We need the spiritual strength of God's Holy Spirit to help us obey God's spiritual law.
- Shortly before His trial and crucifixion Jesus told His disciples that He would send the "Comforter" - the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-18; John 14:26). Christ would continue to teach and support His disciples, but not in person, but by means of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8). His Spirit had been with the disciples, but Jesus promised to send it to be within them, as it had been within Him (John 14:17).
- The disciples miraculously received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost A.D. 31 (Acts 2:1-13). This marked the beginning of God's Spirit-begotten New Testament Church. Ecclesia - the Greek word for "church," means an assembly of "called-out ones."
- In this age before Christ begins to rule over the whole earth, each person is specially chosen (John 6:44; John 6:65). Like the prophets before them, these firstfruits are called for a special mission preparatory to the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth and the salvation of the majority. The world as a whole must remain cut off from access to salvation until Christ returns. This is why God's Church does not try to convert anyone. Only God can do that.
- Out of the thousands who had heard Jesus Christ, about 120 believed Him (Acts 1:15) and were given God's Spirit, thus making them the first members of God's Church (Acts 2:1-4). The 3000 who were begotten of God later that day (Acts 2:41) were from various parts of the world (Acts 2:5, Acts 2:8-11; Acts 2:41).
- When Christ returns, He will return to His spiritual Temple (I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-21). God's Church, composed of those who have God's Spirit within them, is the spiritual Temple to which Christ will come.
- Paul understood that the people of Israel were spiritually blinded (Romans 10:26; Romans 10:18; Romans 10:21). God purposely allowed their blindness (Romans 11:8; Romans 11:25; Romans 11:32). However, Paul also knew that the Israelites would have a future opportunity to receive salvation (Romans 11:26; Romans 11:31; Isaiah 59:20).
- When Christ returns, the nations will go to Jerusalem to be taught His way (Micah 4:2). The earth will become full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9), and He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28).
- In addition to being rulers (Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:10), the Spirit-born children of God will also be priests (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:6; Malachi 2:7; Ezekiel 44:23). Just as ancient Israel's priests were assigned to teach God's laws, Spirit-born members of God's Family will be teachers of God's way of life, helping bring the knowledge of the way to salvation to everyone.
- God has given His people a job to do, and He has given them the power to be able to do it. God's Church could not preach the Gospel to the world without God's Spirit. Nor could God's people prepare for their future leadership roles without this divine power. Jesus said that even He could of His own human strength do nothing (John 5:30; John 8:28; John 14:10).
- The Father "dwelt" in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Christ promised the same spiritual help to His disciples (John 14:16). Christ through His Spirit lives in His followers today (Romans 8:9-10; Colossians 1:27; I John 3:24).
- It is necessary to obey God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). Christians must not only have God's Spirit, but also be yielded to it, letting it transform them so that they become more like Jesus Christ and His Father (Romans 6:13; Romans 8:14; Philippians 2:5). The indwelling of God's Spirit allows His followers to obey Him, overcome sin, and endure to the end.
- Christ's disciples know they should keep the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:6; I Corinthians 16:8). His Church keeps it yet today.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS
- The Feast of Trumpets is another one of God's annual Holy Days (Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1; Psalm 81:1-4).
- In addition to the silver trumpets that were blown on the Feast of Trumpets. A ram's horn ["shophar" - in Hebrew] was also blown annually on this Feast Day. The Feast of Trumpets is a day of gladness and great rejoicing, but it also has a contrasting note of solemnity to it. That is because of the earthshaking events that will occur just before Christ's return. It was the blast of the ram's horn that gave great solemnity to the Feast of Trumpets as it was used as an alarm of war (Jeremiah 4:19-21).
- God's faithful servants through the ages have been responsible for warning the world of impending war (Amos 3:6-7; Ezekiel 33:2-9). Old Testament prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, have used their voices like trumpets to blast warnings to God's people. And God's servants today are doing the same thing.
- World War III is coming! War is coming because of sin (Isaiah 58:1; Hosea 4:6; Hosea 8:1-4).
- The Feast of Trumpets not only pictures the terrible time of misery and war to befall this generation, but also the intervention of Jesus Christ to save the living from annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22) and to set up the government of God on earth and to rule as King of kings (Revelation 11:15-18; Revelation 19:16).
- As the disciples saw Christ ascend to heaven in A.D. 31, two angels told them that He would come again (Acts 1:11). Jesus also told His disciples that He would come again (John 14:3).
- The sign that will announce the return of Jesus Christ is the sound of a loud trumpet (Matthew 24:30-31). The trumpet of war will sound, and the seventh trumpet announcing the victory of the King of kings will be blown before this generation passes away.
- The time-setting for the blowing of the seven trumpets, found in the book of Revelation, is the time of God's wrath against rebellious mankind (Revelation 6:16-17).
- The First resurrection also occurs at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns to earth with the shout of an archangel and the trumpet of God, the resurrection of the "firstfruits" will occur (I Corinthians 15:52; I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
- True Christians who have yielded their lives to God in obedience to His law and who have received His Holy Spirit will be changed from physical human flesh to immortal spirit life (I Corinthians 15:50-54; Revelation 20:6). These are the elect who will be raised from the dead and given immortal life in the first resurrection, as well as those elect who are still alive at Christ's Second Coming.
- Jesus Christ will reward the saints - give them crowns and offices of rulership - at His coming (Revelation 11:18; Isaiah 40:10; II Timothy 4:8; I Peter 5:4).
- Members of God's Church today rejoice on the Feast of Trumpets because they look forward to the return of Jesus Christ when they will be made immortal, and will reign with Him on the earth. But this utopian world tomorrow will not happen immediately. Satan must first be put away. The binding of Satan and the demons is pictured by the Day of Atonement, the next step in God's Master Plan of salvation.
DAY OF ATONEMENT
- For nearly 6,000 years Satan has invisibly swayed the nations, governments, and leaders. He has inspired world wars and helped cause the misery, hate, violence, and suffering that have plagued mankind throughout history. Satan has been this world's ruler ever since God gave him that office. However, his days in that office are numbered. Jesus Christ has qualified to replace Satan, and He will replace Him when He returns (Revelation 5:12; Revelation 19:11-16).
- This fifth annual Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, pictures the time when Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords to take over the government of this world and depose Satan the devil. Only then, will the world have peace at last!
- Satan will be bound for a thousand years, no longer able to deceive the nations or influence mankind to sin (Revelation 20:1-3).
- The Day of Atonement is perhaps the most unusual Holy Day, for it is the one day on which God has commanded His people to fast - to abstain from food and drink from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32; Isaiah 58:3). Afflict is translated from the Hebrew word anah, which means "to be afflicted, to humble oneself, to oppress, to depress, to fast." The purpose of afflicting our souls on the Day of Atonement is to humble ourselves before God (Psalm 35:13). Fasting on the Day of Atonement is a vivid reminder of the state of mind necessary for salvation - of humility, godly sorrow, earnestly seeking God and His way.
- The world today is puffed up with pride and does not realize it is cut off from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2).
- The Day of Atonement follows nine days after the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:27-32; Numbers 29:7).
- Leviticus chapter 16 details what God commanded the Levitical high priests to do on the Day of Atonement. These rituals, which are no longer performed, pictured the binding of Satan and the restoration of God's government on the earth. The purpose of the rituals God gave His Levitical priests was to remind the Israelites of their sins, that the penalty for sin was death, and that they would need a Savior to pay the penalty for them. The symbolism of the sacrificial laws was fulfilled by Christ's death in A.D. 31. Therefore the sacrifices need not be offered today, nor can they be, because there is no functioning Levitical priesthood, nor is anyone else authorized to perform these physical duties.
- On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took two young goats from the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16:5-7). The two goats, in physical appearance, were similar. But they were to portray two vastly different symbolic roles. The LORD'S Goat - was sacrificed by the high priest as a sin offering for all Israel. Its' blood, symbolic of Christ's shed blood, was then sprinkled on the mercy seat. The killing of the LORD'S Goat and sprinkling its blood on the mercy seat pictured the method by which humans can be reconciled to God - through the sacrifice of an innocent victim. Christ was that victim. He voluntarily took our guilt with Him on His cross, paying the penalty in full. Our guilt is atoned for, and it ceases to exist if we accept Christ as our Savior and quit sinning. The sins of the people were borne by the goat even as Christ bore our sins on His cross (Hebrews 9:28). The Azazel Goat - represented Satan. Originally it meant "escape goat" - the goat that was allowed to escape. Today the word scapegoat signifies "one who bears blame or guilt for others." This is not the meaning that God inspired. Azazel, Satan, bears his own guilt in deceiving mankind and will be punished for it. It was, on the head of this goat, that the sins of Israel were placed. Azazel was then led into the wilderness, symbolically carrying the people's sins with him. Satan is a spirit being and therefore immortal (Luke 20:35-36), so to signify that, the goat was permitted to live. When Jesus returns, Satan's part of the blame for mankind's sins will be placed on him, and he will then be removed from the presence of man (Revelation 20:1-3). Justice will be done.
Both the high priest and the goat represented Christ. It was not possible for the high priest to die every year to picture Christ's death. That had to be symbolized by the goat. Nor could the goat, after it was killed, represent the risen Christ, our eternal High Priest. The human high priest represented the living, resurrected Christ. Christ, after His sacrifice and resurrection entered behind the veil to the throne of God in heaven (Hebrews 6:19-20). It was His own blood that he presented as an offering for sin (Hebrews 9:11-12). The high priest, symbolically taking the atoning blood to God's throne, represented and symbolically did the work of the risen Christ. Christ is now our High Priest (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 4:14-16; I John 1:9). and is seated at the right hand of God (I Peter 3:22; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 8:1). Christ is our living Savior.
- The Levitical rituals, even though they clearly picture the meaning of the Day of Atonement, are no longer performed (Hebrews 9:8-14; Hebrews 10:1-4; Hebrews 10:10-14). However, God's Church does fast on this annual Holy Day. The reason the sacrifices are obsolete, and fasting is not, is because the rituals were commanded to be performed by the priests as a type of the sacrifice of the death of Christ but fasting was commanded for the entire congregation. Fasting for spiritual reasons, according to the Scriptures, means going without food and water (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:18; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:8-9). True Christians are spiritual Israelites, and they obey the commands God gave to all His people. All God's people refrain from work on His Sabbaths, and they gather for worship and fellowship on His holy convocations.
- The New Testament Church kept the Day of Atonement (Acts 27:9). All biblical scholars know that the fast refers to the Day of Atonement. The evangelist Luke wrote this more than thirty years after Christ's crucifixion.
- The Day of Atonement pictures freedom as well. The Jubilee Year was given to the Israelites so their poor might be released from debts they were unable to pay. Every fiftieth year all debts were pardoned, and those who had sold themselves into slavery were freed. Land lost through poverty was restored to the family originally owning it (Leviticus 25:9-10). This was done on the Day of Atonement, thus connecting this Holy Day with a release from bondage. This is typical of man's future release form spiritual bondage - release from all spiritual debts and sins - freedom from the temptations and deceptions of Satan and his demons.
- The word atonement means "to make at one with." This day symbolized God and man being set at one - literally the Day of At-one-ment!
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
- The New Testament Church taught the meaning and the observance of God's annual festivals and Holy Days throughout the Roman Empire including the doctrine of the Millennium - the thousand-year rule of Christ and the Spirit-born saints (Revelation 20:1-6).
- The truth about the Millennium continued to be taught long after the death of the apostles. However, within a few hundred years it was rejected by false Christianity.
- The Feast of Tabernacles begins five days after the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:33-34; Deuteronomy 16:13-15). The feast begins with a Holy Day in which all ordinary work is forbidden, and on which people were to assemble before God (Leviticus 23:35). The Feast lasts for seven days (Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:15).
- The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the "Feast of Booths." This is because during the seven days of the Feast, the ancient Israelites were to live in booths (Leviticus 23:40-42). A booth or tabernacle is "a temporary dwelling." God commanded the ancient Israelites to live in temporary shelters made of tree branches while observing the Feast of Tabernacles. Today, God's people who attend the Feast stay in temporary dwellings such as tents, campers, motels or hotels, and the like. By staying in temporary dwellings during the Feast of Tabernacles, God's people are reminded that this physical life is only temporary, and that they are merely strangers and pilgrims in this present life, waiting to inherit the Kingdom of God.
- For ancient Israel, living in booths during the Feast was to be a continual reminder of Israel's forty-year sojourn in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:42-43). A sojourn is "a temporary stay." During their forty years in the wilderness the Israelites had no permanent dwellings. Israel's forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob also lived in temporary dwellings as heirs, but not yet inheritors (Hebrews 11:9-13). True Christians today are "strangers and pilgrims" in this physical temporary life (I Peter 2:11; John 17:11, 14). They are separate from the world (Revelation 18:4). They, too, are heirs, not yet inheritors, of their permanent dwelling place, the promised Kingdom of God! What is permanent is eternal life.
- The Feast of Tabernacles, besides being called the Feast of Booths, is sometimes called the "Feast of Ingathering" (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:39). This harvest festival was to be a time of great rejoicing and thanksgiving for God's abundant blessings. It pictures the future ingathering of the great spiritual harvest of Spirit-begotten human beings into God's Family during the Millennium.
- The spring grain harvest is small compared to the great fall harvest. The first harvest is represented by a single day - the festival of Pentecost. It pictures the spiritual firstfruits, the relatively small number of people whom God has called into His Church before Christ's return, when they will be born into God's Family. The Feast of Tabernacles lasts seven days and pictures a large harvest. People will be born physically, called of God, and, after growing in godly character, born spiritually into His Family all during the thousand years!
- God, working through His chosen servants, chooses the place (or places - Exodus 20:24) where the Feast is to be observed (Deuteronomy 16:16).
- Jesus kept the Feast of Tabernacles even though the Jews sought to kill Him (John 7:1-14). With such dangerous circumstances, if ever there was an excuse not to attend one of God's feasts, this would have been one. And yet Jesus not only attended, but by the middle of the Feast stood before the assembled crowd, teaching them about God's Master Plan. He set an example for us. Jesus kept all of God's Holy Days, and commandments too.
- In the Millennium, all Israelite tribes, in addition to Judah, will keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Hosea 12:8-9). Gentile nations will also keep this feast (Zechariah 14:16).
- Any nation that at first refuses to keep the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium will receive no rain (Zechariah 14:17). If they continue to refuse to obey, they will receive "the plague" (Zechariah 14:18-19).
- The divinely set theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is "you shall surely rejoice" (Deuteronomy 16:14-15) which can also be translated "be altogether joyful."
- The Feast of Tabernacles is a Family affair (Deuteronomy 12:7, 12).
- God states that good food and drink should be enjoyed during the Feast (Deuteronomy 14:26). For ancient Israel it was a time of rejoicing because the abundant harvest was reaped just before the feast. Today it is a foretaste of the prosperity, happiness, peace, and joy that will exist on the earth when Christ is the King.
- God commands that His people save a tithe of their income throughout the year to be spent in traveling to, and attending, His feasts (Deuteronomy 14:22-26). This is an additional tithe, or second tithe.
- When the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh during the Millennium, the basic attitude or nature of humans will change (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Isaiah 11:9). Once God puts His Spirit within repentant mankind during the Millennium, people will begin to obey God and express outgoing love and concern for others. It will be a time of great rejoicing!
- During the Millennium God will also change the nature of animals so that they all will be peaceful and harmless (Isaiah 11:6-8; Ezekiel 34:25; Hosea 2:18).
- During this time God will be King of kings, and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He will rule from Jerusalem on the earth (Jeremiah 3:17). The Spirit-born saints will rule with and under Him (Daniel 7:14, 18, 27; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; I Corinthians 6:2). These Spirit-born teachers in God's Family will take a personal part in teaching God's law and turning people to righteousness (Isaiah 30:20-21; Jeremiah 31:34; Habakkuk 2:14).
- In the Millennium people will no longer have the influence of Satan to contend with (Revelation 20:1-3). This present evil society in which we live will also be gone!
- There will be world peace (Hosea 2:18) and people will convert their weapons of war into farming tools (Isaiah 2:4).
- The world will be free of sickness and disease (Isaiah 33:24; Jeremiah 30:17). The handicapped will be healed - both mentally and physically (Isaiah 35:3-6). Education about how to be healthy, and the miraculous healing of all sickness and disease, will mean good health for everyone in the world tomorrow. Neither will fear and worry exist in the wonderful world tomorrow (Jeremiah 33:10-11; Zechariah 8:4-5).
- God will bless the inhabitants of the Millennium with rain in due season (Ezekiel 34:26; Isaiah 30:23-24; Amos 9:13; Jeremiah 31:12). Beautiful forests will abound, and the deserts will blossom as the rose (Isaiah 41:14-20; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:6-7).
- God will give the whole world a pure language so all can serve Him with one accord (Zephaniah 3:9). People everywhere will speak, read, and write the same language.
- God intends the Feast of Tabernacles to separate and free His people from the world and its evil influences. This great festival gives them a special time and setting, in which they are free from the routine cares of this world, to think more about God's purpose for life and how to attain their human potential.
LAST GREAT DAY
- Billions have died without ever having had an opportunity to understand the purpose of life and to be saved. Satan has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). However, these billions are not, through no fault of their own, "lost forever" or condemned to the "lake of fire." The answer to what happens to them is revealed in the final step of God's Master Plan of Salvation for mankind - pictured by the seventh and final Holy Day. After the Millennium, they will be resurrected to mortal life and given their opportunity to understand God's truth, to be begotten by God's Spirit, to grow in His character, and to become Spirit-composed members of His ruling Family.
- The Bible shows that God does not intend for everyone to understand His truth at this time. If He wanted everyone to understand at this time, everyone would understand. God has allowed the vast majority of mankind to be blinded by Satan to His truth (Romans 10:18-21; Romans 11:8-26). It is God's purpose and plan that, until Christ returns, only those He specially calls will understand (John 6:44; John 6:65).
- Just as the week is not complete without the seventh-day Sabbath, God's Master Plan is not complete without this seventh and final festival - the Last Great Day.
- God commanded His people to observe an eighth day of worship immediately following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-36). Because God commanded this festival to be kept immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles it was associated with the Feast and was called "the eighth day" (Leviticus 23:39-42). It came to be known among Christians as the Last Great Day. However, it is clearly a separate and distinct Holy Day.
- Jesus kept the Last Great Day of the Feast (John 7:37-39). He spoke on the eve of the Last Great Day, after the traditional water-pouring ceremony, which occurred on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus was not talking about physical thirst but was revealing that if any man have spiritual thirst, and believes on Him, he can come to Him and drink in the Holy Spirit. But, as Jesus made clear in John 6:44, no man can could come to Him unless the Father draws or calls that person. For the vast majority, the fulfillment of Jesus' words must wait until the spiritual fulfillment of the Last Great Day.
- God will eventually call everyone and give them a full opportunity for salvation. He is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4). However, everyone is not saved at the same time. There is an order of resurrections (I Corinthians 15:22-24).
- It is not possible to be saved in any way except through Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17; John 10:9; Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5-6). "Even as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). Everyone who has ever lived and died will be resurrected. Christ was the first to be resurrected. The next to be resurrected will be the saints who lived before Christ's Second Coming. They will be resurrected at His return - at the first resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:50-54).
- The second resurrection occurs after the Millennium is over (Revelation 20:5).
- Satan will be restrained, prevented from deceiving the nations during the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). He will also be restrained during the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:10). In the lake of fire, Satan will be able to do nothing. God will have rendered him completely powerless - unable to deceive "the rest of the dead" who will then be resurrected to have their opportunity to understand God's Plan of Salvation. Freed from Satan's spiritual influences, they will be given their one and only opportunity for salvation through repentance, baptism, receiving God's Spirit, and growing in Godly character during a second mortal life.
- The dead who stand before God in the second resurrection - or Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12; Daniel 7:9-10) - do not include true Christians today, because they will appear before Christ and receive their rewards at the first resurrection, when Christ returns. Nor do they include those converted during the Millennium, because they too will have already inherited God's Kingdom during the thousand years, after living a normal life span. The dead who stand before God in this resurrection are all those who died in spiritual ignorance in past ages. This will be a resurrection to mortal life.
- Jesus spoke of a time of judgment when those ancient peoples would be given an opportunity to understand what He had been preaching to the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum (Matthew 11:21-24). Christ mentioned the people of Tyre and Sidon, Sodom, Nineveh in Jonah's time and the Queen of the South (Matthew 12:41-42). All of these examples of people who lived in different generations are compared to those who lived in the cities and towns of Jesus' day, the majority of whom did not understand or believe His message. He tells us that they will all be resurrected with the generation that lived in His day. Jesus gave enough examples of people living at widespread times to prove that most of humanity will be brought back to life at the same time on this earth. Even babies and children who die untimely deaths will be resurrected then. They will all rise in the second resurrection because they had not yet received their opportunity for salvation during their first lifetime. This group includes all people of all times except those who will have already been born of God, and those relatively few people who already had their opportunity to receive eternal life, but deliberately rejected it and sinned willfully. The incorrigibly wicked will be resurrected in the third and final resurrection and destroyed in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15).
- The prophet Ezekiel described a resurrection of dead Israelites back to mortal life (Ezekiel 37:1-14). This resurrection is clearly a resurrection to physical life - because the bodies have skin and bones and require air to breathe (Ezekiel 37:5-9). God will put His Spirit in these billions of people (Ezekiel 37:14). This is the second resurrection.
- Israel is a type of all nations. Ezekiel's prophecies describe a time when both Israelites and Gentiles (Ezekiel 16:55) who died in spiritual ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation.
- Jesus Christ will be the Chief Judge in the Last Great Judgment (Daniel 7:9-10; Psalm 9:7; John 5:21-22; Acts 10:42). The saints will judge with Him (I Corinthians 6:2). Christ will judge everyone in accordance with "what they do" after they are resurrected to mortal life. All are judged by the Word of God - the Bible (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Daniel 7:10; Romans 2:6-11; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12). God judges His children by evaluating how well they live by His written Word. Their rewards in God's Kingdom will depend on their character development during their mortal life. It is a process requiring time and opportunity for learning and growth.
- True Christians are being judged today (I Peter 4:17). We are being judged so that we might avoid condemnation (I Corinthians 11:32). Those resurrected after the Millennium will be judged the same way. They, like Spirit-begotten Christians today will be given enough time to prove they are willing to live God's way through a life of overcoming and obedience to God.
- In this period of judgment - the Great White Throne Judgement - not only will the Bible be opened so they can understand what is written in it, but the Book of Life will also be opened so their names can be written in it.
- Isaiah describes this judgment period (Isaiah 65:20-25). He strongly indicates (verse 20) that those resurrected then will live for a hundred years. This verse further indicates that the child (of God) will, at the end of this period, be changed - the fleshly cells of the body will die as the person puts on immortality. This death of the physical cells of the body also occurs to Christians who are alive at Christ's Second Coming. They, too, die but do not sleep the sleep of death; they are in the "twinkling of an eye" changed to immortality. The wicked sinner at the end of the hundred years will be under a curse and will die in the lake of fire.
- The Last Great Day pictures the completion of God's Master Plan - the Great White Throne Judgment period after the Millennium.
LAYING ON OF HANDS
- This doctrine shows that God works and deals with mankind through fallible, imperfect human beings He chooses and sets apart for His purpose.
- From the books of Moses to the book of Revelation we find the laying on of hands ceremony used in a variety of circumstances. It was performed as an official ceremony, generally by an individual ordained or commissioned by God. The ceremony centered around God's servant praying aloud as he placed his hands on the recipient of his petitions. It was a formal request to God, usually for a specific blessing, gift, or authority as in ordination. Things that are only God's to give. Usually a simple, short ceremony, but filled with meaning.
- God commands that the physical act of the laying on of hands be used by true Christians.
Laying on of Hands - For a Specific Blessing
- In Genesis 48 is recorded a very moving example of the laying on of hands when Jacob blessed his two grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:14-19). Jacob (Israel) went on to bless the boys individually, handing down the blessings promised to Abraham. The laying on of hands way symbolic of this transferal by God's authority.
Laying on of Hands - In Recognition of Authority or For Ordination
- In Old Testament times instructed Aaron and his successors to lay their hands on certain of the sacrificial animals. This was done as a symbol of the figurative transfer of sin to the animal to be sacrificed (Exodus 29:10-20; Leviticus 8:14-23; Numbers 8:10-14). Of course, this all had symbolic meaning since only Christ's blood really atoned for sin (Hebrews 10:4).
- The laying on hands is used in ordaining His servants to positions of responsibility. Moses passed on his authority to Joshua by laying hands on him (Numbers 27:18-23). Notice that it was not Moses who put Joshua over all Israel. Moses merely laid hands on Joshua as a symbol of the fact that God had placed him in that office.
- There are many New Testament examples of a person being ordained to an office through the laying on of hands. In Acts 6:5-6 seven deacons were set before the apostles, who prayed and laid hands on them putting them into the office of deacon. Acts 13:2-3 - records the ordinations of Barnabas and Paul. Again, God's will was carried out by His ministers praying and laying hands on the ones He had chosen. This is another example of God's issuing authority through His already ordained and chosen human servants.
- Timothy was admonished by Paul, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily..." (I Timothy 5:22). He was telling Timothy not to ordain anyone to an office on the spur of the moment, but to carefully and prayerfully consider the ordination first.
- The laying on of hands is still used today in ordaining qualified men to be deacons and ministers, and qualified women to be deaconesses. God has ordained that His Church employ the laying on of hands as a physical symbol of the authority that God has placed in His Church and with His true ministers.
Laying on of Hands - For Receiving the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Acts 2:38).
- Christ gave the ministers of His Church the authority to baptize those who have truly repented of their sins. Baptism is followed by the laying on of hands for the receipt of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:5-6; Acts 8:15-17).
- God's Spirit is placed in an individual through the laying on of hands by a faithful minster of God (II Timothy 1:6-7). Even Simon the Sorcerer recognized that the apostles had genuine God-given authority - authority which he saw demonstrated through the laying on of hands. Simon learned that this power could not be purchased with money (Acts 8:18-24).
Laying on of Hands - For Healing
- Christ set the example in healing (Luke 4:40; Mark 6:4-5).
- Concerning His true ministers Christ stated: "...they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:18). In Acts 28:8 we find that Paul laid his hands on Publius' father to heal him.
- James 5:14 is a command from God to those who are sick: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." No minister's hands are special or holy. No olive oil has any mysterious power. It is God Himself who heals through His Holy Spirit; but He has prescribed a physical act to show our faith and trust in Him and to show our acceptance of the authority He has placed with His servants (James 5:15-16).
- The Holy Spirit is the power and energy of the God Family, as well as the very nature, life, and mind of God. The Holy Spirit is not another spiritual entity, a divine person, or being. The doctrine of the "trinity" is simply found nowhere in the Bible.
- God's Spirit fills the entire universe, much like air is present everywhere on the earth (Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24).
- When referring to the Holy Spirit the Scriptures use the Hebrew words ruach qodesh , and the Greek word pneuma - both meaning "air," "breath" or "wind." God uses various symbols (air, wind, water, and oil) to depict His Holy Spirit. Of these, the one He uses the most is wind, air, or breath - simply because this the best symbol available to physical human beings living in a physical universe. Air is life-giving, it is powerful, and it is everywhere and so is God's Spirit.
- The Spirit of God is the power by which God (the ultimate source of all power) created all things (Psalm 104:30; Jeremiah 32:17). Jesus Christ, the "Word" - [Greek - Logos] of the God Family (John 1:1-3, 14) "spoke and it was done" by God's Spirit (Psalm 33:6, 8-9). It was also by the power of God's Spirit that He renewed the surface of the earth (Psalm 104:30). God the Father created all things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:13-17).
- God sustains and rules His vast creation by His great power (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:2-3; Psalm 66:7).
- Even as a human, Jesus Christ still had authority from the Father to give a word, or issue a command, and "it was done" by the power of God's Spirit. He exercised that power by casting out a demon with a command (Matthew 8:16). He also used that power to heal a crippled man (Matthew 9:6), to open a deaf man's ears so he could hear (Mark 7:34), and to calm the wind and the sea (Mark 4:39), as well as work many other mighty miracles!
- God's Holy Spirit is present in the Father and in the Son (John 4:24). It is also in all the holy angels (Hebrews 1:7), as well as being in God's people (Romans 8:9).
- God makes the Holy Spirit available through Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:22; John 1:4; John 10:10; John 7:37-39; I John 5:11-12).
- The Holy Spirit is a gift from God (Acts 10:45; II Timothy 1:6).
- God's Spirit is given to a person by the laying on of hands and prayer by one of God's true ministers following baptism (Acts 8:17-23; Acts 19:1-6; II Timothy 1:6-7).
- Repentance and baptism are required steps to receiving the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 2:38). God gives His Spirit to those who obey (Acts 5:32).
- Through God's Spirit, we have the ability to obey God and thereby grow in the Holy and righteous character of God as we allow His Spirit to lead us along the path of righteousness (Romans 8:14). Those with God's Spirit actually come to think and act the way God does (Ephesians 2:5).
- A person who does not have God's Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ and is not a true Christian (Romans 8:9).
- God's Spirit unites with "the spirit in man" (the human spirit) in order that one who is being called, by God (John 6:44), might understand spiritual things (I Corinthians 1:9-14; Romans 8:6-11).
- Each individual is known by his or her "fruits," or "works" (Matthew 7:20). God expects those He has called to bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). The fruits that are to be borne, are the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
- God's Holy Spirit inspires His people (I Peter 1:10-11, 21; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; Isaiah 28:25; Acts 13:1-2; Acts 13:3-4; Acts 8:26-29).
PLACE OF SAFETY
- The horrible period of time, just before the end of this age, when Satan's wrath reaches its peak, was described by Jesus Christ in - Matthew 24:21-22.
- God will need to supernaturally intervene to prevent total annihilation.
- Jesus will return in power and glory to reestablish God's government on the earth and set up the Kingdom of God.
- During this time of Great Tribulation Christ promises His Church a place of safety (Revelation 3:10). The Philadelphia church is to be protected during this time. This verse does not refer to any period of temptation the world went through during the time the original, small church at Philadelphia existed. It can only refer to the Great Tribulation.
- The trial takes place for "an hour." (The same "hour" the 10 kings receive power with the beast (Revelation 17:12' Revelation 13:5).
- God has revealed enough in the Bible to make it clear that He will provide for His Church to go to a place of protection at the right time, to the right place and in the right way.
- The initial fulfillment of this occurred when the Church fled Jerusalem prior to its destruction in 70 A.D. The Greek word for flee used in (Luke 21:21) - means to escape or run away, to take flight (not flying in the air).
- A second related event involves the same prophecy (what happened in 70 A.D.). However, there will be an end-time fulfillment of this text as well - it is an urgent, emergency escape (Matthew 24:16-21). This refers to the people of God in Judea. Those of God's Church who happen to be in this geographical area when the abomination of desolation or surrounding of Jerusalem comes to pass must literally flee for their lives! The must flee, run away, escape (not fly in the sky by plane) to the mountains. Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains. These mountains may not be the final destination, but would have to be passed through to ultimate protection.
- A third related event concerns God's Church from about A.D. 325 to about 1585 (Revelation 12:6). This scripture describes the Church after Christ's ascension to God's throne (Revelation 12:5) and before the end-time war in heaven (Revelation 12:7). The period is mentioned is 1,260 days, which in this case prophetically refers to 1,260 years, according to the day for a year principle found in (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5). During this time the Church fled into the wilderness, away from centers of influence and into the less populated areas to escape persecution from the Catholic Church.
- The fourth related event concerns the very end time, just three and a half years before Christ returns.
- After the war in heaven pitting Michael and his angels against the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7), Satan is cast to the earth and starts a new, vigorous persecution against the Church (Revelation 12:13).
- Revelation 12:14 - shows that the woman (the Church) is given two winds of a great eagle that she might "fly" to "her place." Here the Greek word literally means "fly" as a bird or plane does, not flee or escape by other means. Here she is nourished (fed physically and spiritually) for three and a half years ("time, times, and half a time"). However, this is not the only possible explanation. A similar statement is found in Exodus 19:4 - here the Israelites walked out of Egypt.
- The "woman" symbolizes the Church of God, that group of people who are individually begotten and led by the Holy Spirit and who are living in obedience to God (Romans 8:9; Acts 5:32).
- The Bible indicates that there are certain others in the Church who do not make this flight (Revelation 12:17). They face not just persecution from Satan but war with him, and there is no promise of divine protection for them.
- The place to which the Church flees is the wilderness (Revelation 12:14). This indicates a solitary, sparsely populated area.
- The place of safety will be a place of protection but it will not yet be God/s Kingdom. Those who go will not yet have endured to the end. They will still be able to sin and fall away.
- The Bible shows who will be counted worthy to escape (Luke 21:36; Luke 9:24; Matthew 24:42-51). If we do our part, God will protect us during the time of trouble to come!
- The fourth commandment is - "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
- The Sabbath is to be a holy convocation (a commanded assembly) (Leviticus 23:2).
- The Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27).
- Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath because He made it (Mark 2:28). God the Father created all things through Him (Colossians 1:13-16).
- God made the Sabbath on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2).
- God rested on the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3). Did God rest because He was tired? (Isaiah 40:28).
- The observance of the Sabbath was to be a sign of identification between God and His people (Exodus 32:13-17). The Sabbath is special to God. It is a memorial of creation - a sign identifying God as Creator and those who keep it as His people.
- Days begin and end at sunset according to God (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
- God commands us to celebrate His holy time from "evening to evening." That is from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32).
- God gave us instruction on how He intended the Sabbath to be kept (Isaiah 58:13).
- The Sabbath to be observed each week regardless of pressing duties, rush business, or ripe crops (Exodus 34:21).
- God commands us to prepare for the Sabbath day (Exodus 16:23-25).
- God will bless a faithful Sabbath keeper (Isaiah 58:14; Isaiah 56:2-7).
- Christ intended the Sabbath to benefit mankind (Exodus 23:12) Notice the words "rest" and "refreshed." The word "Sabbath" means "rest." The Sabbath allows us to rest physically and mentally after a busy week. God knew humans would need a period of rest from work. The Sabbath allows us to think more about God, to pray and worship Him, and to study the Bible to understand more about God's purpose for us.
- Sabbath keeping is a test commandment (Exodus 16:4-5).
- New Testament Christians admonished to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16, 31).
- It was the Apostle Paul's custom to keep the Sabbath (Acts 17:1-2).
- The New Testament Church of God observed the Sabbath (Acts 13:13-15, 42, 44; Acts 18:1, 4, 11).
TITHING - FIRST TITHE
- God reveals Himself as Creator and Owner of everything (Psalm 24:1; Job 41:11; Exodus 19:5; Haggai 2:8). God created everything and owns it all! He has prior claim to ownership of all that is produced out of His earth. Yet God requires us to return to Him only 10 percent of what our efforts produce and earn. God, in turn, used the 10 percent He claims as His own for proclaiming the Gospel - the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God and the peace, joy, happiness and prosperity it will bring.
- Tithing is also revealed as God's system for financing His ministry (I Corinthians 9:7-14; Hebrews 7:5-17).
- Abraham paid tithes (Genesis 14:17-20; Hebrews 7:1-4). Abraham paid tithes over 430 years before the Law was delivered through Moses. God blessed obedient (Genesis 26:5) Abraham (Genesis 13:2).
- Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham also paid tithes (Genesis 28:20-22). He was blessed for doing so (Genesis 30:43).
- The first mention of tithing in its full details is found in Leviticus 27. (Leviticus 27:30). The word "tithe" means "tenth". All the tenth is holy to the Lord. It belongs to God.
- The commission of the New Testament ministry is to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Matthew 24:14). This is made possible through tithes and offerings.
- Jesus taught people to tithe (Matthew 23:23).
- Nations and individuals been stealing from God because they have failed to tithe (Malachi 3:8-12).
- God wants us to have a cheerful attitude in paying tithes and offerings to God (II Corinthians 9:6-7).
TITHING - THE SECOND TITHE
- There is more than one tithe mentioned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 12:1, 5-18). The only stipulation God puts on this "second tithe" or "additional tithe" or "tithe besides" or "second tithe" is the place and time where we use it.
- The Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, rendered into English] sheds a great deal of light on Deuteronomy 12:17-18. The Septuagint reads as follows: "Thou shall not eat in thy cities the additional tithe of thy corn...but before the Lord thy God thou shall eat it, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose..."
- The Greek word rendered "tithe" use in Deuteronomy 12:17 is epidekaton which may mean "an additional tithe," or "a tithe besides." The Greek word dekaton which means "a tenth" is not used here.
- The second tithe is for our use - so we might learn to properly stand in awe of, revere, respect and worship our Creator at His festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
- These verses show us how to spend this tithe - for transportation (getting to and from these Feasts), lodging, food and drink, and for our entertainment and pleasure during these days.
TITHING - THE THIRD TITHE
- In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need such as orphans, widows, strangers, and the Levites (Deuteronomy 26:12-13). The "third year" refers to the third year of a cycle of seven years.
- The Jews who translated Deuteronomy 26:12 into Greek in the Septuagint, understood it. Notice this verse as translated in the Septuagint: "When thou hast completed tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, you shall bring the second additional tithe to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat in thy gates, and be merry." The Greek wording here is to deuteron epidekaton - that is - "the second additional tithe." There is not only one tithe (first tithe), but also an "additional tithe" (second tithe), then this "second additional tithe" (third tithe).
- Since the laws of letting the land rest and releasing the poor debtors were based on a cycle of seven years, we are to save this special tithe in the third and sixth years out of every seven-year period.
- This is not the only place this "second additional" or "third tithe" is mentioned (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
- This special "third tithe" - God's insurance program - is for the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, and the handicapped Levite" - in other words, those having no means of support.
Additional Fundamental Doctrines Coming Soon. Check back often!