True Bible Teaching about God’s Purpose and His plan of Salvation for all those who will believe in Him

Earth

Will the Earth ever be Destroyed?

Planet Earth

There is worldwide concern over the state of our planet.

Whether it’s pollution, loss of habitat, climate change, lack of good water or loss of animal species. People everywhere worry about how we can stop the deterioration.

Large Asian countries are using increasing quantities of resources which escalate the problem.

On top of this our planet is under threat from population growth, terrorism and nuclear weapons.

But whether mankind succeeds in saving the planet or not, God created the world and he cares what happens to it. His message in the Bible tells us he will send His Son Jesus Christ to rule as king over the earth.

Consider these Bible quotes…

“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!).”
(Isaiah 45:18)

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
(Genesis 8:22)

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus.”
(Isaiah 35:1)

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11)

“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”
(Hebrews 9:28)

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world, and then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
(Luke 21:25-27)

Will the Earth ever be Destroyed?

As the prophet Daniel foretold, there is a time of trouble coming on earth that will bring it to the brink of destruction.

At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1–2).

Survival or Destruction?

EarthWill the earth survive or will it, and every living thing upon it, be destroyed? Some people think that the earth’s days are numbered and fear for its future survival, but they need have no such concerns.

Although there is a time of judgement coming on this earth, the Bible is quite definite that the earth itself will not be destroyed; that it will survive. And as this is a promise that God has made in His Word, the Bible, we can be absolutely sure about it. Here are some of those promises:

  • One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides 
  • For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who   formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:18);
  • The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men (Psalm 115:16);
  • Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Notice the last passage in particular, for it is a promise made by the Lord Jesus to all faithful believers. This is the promise of an everlasting inheritance here on earth, not a promise of life in heaven.

Saved How?

It is God’s intention to stop the present decline which now affects most aspects of human existence, before it goes too far. He will send His Son to save His people from destruction and to set up His kingdom on this earth.

The establishment of that Kingdom will, in time, restore this earth to the condition it was at the time of creation. This is what the apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost to those Jews who were willing to listen:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world  began (Acts 3:19–21).

Glorious Future

The physical earth will survive the time of trouble that is coming on this world and will yet have a glorious future. There are many descriptions of this time which is spoken about by God’s prophets and they are written to give us great hope and encouragement. For example, God says through His

prophet Isaiah:

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of

the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–3).

God’s Gracious Purpose

Dome of the Rock in JerusalemSee this article for the beautiful future God has Planned for the Earth.

A new temple is to be built in Jerusalem when the “restoration of all things” takes place

For now, we can satisfy ourselves with the knowledge that, even though the earth will yet experience a “time of trouble such as never has been known before”, God has a plan for this earth and He will surely bring it to pass. For it is God’s ultimate and declared purpose to fill this earth with His glory.

But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord… (Numbers 14:21);

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9);

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

By John Shepley

Does God Exist?

GOD DOES EXIST!

GOD DOES EXIST!

Who is God and how can we get to know him?Does God Exist?

“… anyone who comes to him [God] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). A tall order for the atheist admittedly – but the Bible gives us plenty of convincing evidence that God does indeed exist. In addition to this “intellectual” evidence, is “experiential” evidence – believers can see God at work in their own lives.

All people are without excuse not to know that there is a God, why is this?

Because the very evidence of God is all around us…. See Romans 1:19-20

“19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

We are all part of God’s creation so from within us and without we are surrounded by the very evidence of the intelligent design of an all wise, all knowing and all powerful creator.

Examining the intricate structure of our bodies (Ps. 139:14), the evident design in a flower, gazing up into the vastness of space on a clear night, these and countless other careful reflections on life surely make atheism incredible. To believe that there is no God, and that everything and everyone we see around us, came from nothing and no-one, is against all the laws of probability. Surely this requires more faith than to believe that He exists. Without God there is no order, purpose or ultimate explanation in the universe, and this will, therefore, be reflected in the life of the atheist.

There Is Only One God: The Explosion of the Trinity Myth
Deuteronomy 6:4,5 states: “The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. So the LORD’s unity is strongly linked with His being our God, the sole Lord and unrivalled Master of His people. It was the unity of God, and the imperative from it to love Him with all the heart, which was programmatic for the Jews’ daily living. This is why it was Jewish practice to recite these words several times a day, and also on their deathbed.

If there is only “one” God, as this passage clearly maintains, where does this leave the popular doctrine of theTrinity logo trinity? The trinity (symbolised by the logo on the right) is one of the greatest false doctrines of all time, in its claim that there are three “persons” in the Godhead. The word trinity is never even found in the Bible. The Bible teaches that God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit is His special power. Three separate entities – not “three in one” – as the confusing doctrine of the trinity would have us believe.

More About God
God is from Everlasting to Everlasting

See what Hab. 1:12 builds upon the fact of God’s everlasting nature: “O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die”. If we truly believe that we are His people, not those of this world, and that we are truly part of His eternal family, then His eternity becomes a guarantee of our eternal salvation.

God is the Creator
Because of God’s awesome creation and the power of the Word that formed it all, we should likewise stand in awe of Him and recognize the power of His word (Ps. 33:6-9). Because we are created in God’s image, the structure of our very bodies is an imperative to give ourselves totally to His cause (Mt. 22:19-21). Whatever bears God’s image – i.e. our very bodies – must be given to Him. “It is he who has made us, and [therefore] we are his” (Ps. 100:3). We must be His in practice because He is our creator. So it is not that we merely believe in creation rather than evolution; more than this, such belief in creation must elicit a life given over to that creator.

God Sees and Knows All Things Through His Spirit
The Old Testament character of Job knew this, and therefore, he commented, it was impossible that, he would lust after a woman, if he really believed (as he claimed he did) that God was omniscient: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl… [for] does he [God] not see my ways and count my every step? ” (Job 31: 1 – 4).

Likewise God had to remind Israel: “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?” (Jer. 23:24). The context is appealing to the people to quit their sins. We should labour to enter the Kingdom, because God knows absolutely every thought and action of ours and will ultimately judge them (Heb. 4:11-13).

God is a Real, Personal Being
“An ‘impersonal God’- well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him?” (C.S. Lewis, Miracles ). But the personal reality of God is startling and gripping and eternally demanding.

God is a real, physical being, that we must come to “know” as the following points prove:

  • “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  John 17:3 the words of Christ.3

So if we want “life eternal” then we must know God, therefore He must be a being that we can come to “know”.  (The Old Testament has been given to us principally for this very purpose)

Eg. His character is revealed to us in the Old Testament as a response to Moses’ request to see the “glory of God” in Exodus 33:18, in Exodus 34:5-9 he is granted his request as follows: 

“And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us…”

  • It is a fundamental tenet of Christianity that Jesus is the Son of God. If God is not a real being, then it is impossible for Him to have a Son who was the “image of His person” (Heb. 1:3).
  • Further, it becomes difficult to develop a personal, living relationship with ‘God’, if ‘God’ is just a concept in our mind. It is tragic that the majority of religions have this unreal, intangible conception of God.
  • As God is so infinitely greater than we are, it is understandable that many peoples’ faith has balked at the clear promises that ultimately we will see Him: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8).
  • Jesus tells us that we should not swear, because “he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it” (Mt. 23:22). To “sit” one must be a physical being.
  • The faithful are promised that they will inherit God’s nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
  • We will be given a body like that of Jesus (Phil. 3:21), and we know that he will have a physical body in the Kingdom.
  • The doctrine of the personality of God is, therefore, related to the Gospel of the Kingdom. There can be no sensible concept of worship, religion or personal relationship with God therefore until it is appreciated that God is a real being and that we are made in His image. We need to develop His mental likeness now, so that we may be made fully like Him in the Kingdom of God.

What Does This Mean for Me? The Practical Implications
There is a vast difference between having a vague notion that there is a higher power, and actually being certain of what He is offering in return for faithful service to Him. Heb. 11:6 makes this point, we “must believe that he [God] exists” AND “that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”.

An awareness within us that there is a God, does not mean that we are automatically acceptable to God. If we seriously agree that we really do have a creator, we should “keep therefore his…commandments” (Dt. 4:39,40). As we search the Scriptures in order to do this, we will find that our faith in God’s existence is strengthened.

Personal Testimony
There are many times in my life where I have seen the hand of God at work. Times when I’ve been lonely, or ill, or have been faced with a situation where I could see no way out – God has always provided me with strength and solutions. A case in point is when I was thinking of being baptised. God manoeuvred the circumstances of my life in such a way that I now know – with the benefit of hindsight – that He was calling me, and encouraging me to dedicate my life to Him by being totally immersed in water.

Firstly, a strange twist of events led me to complete my further education in a Roman Catholic College. This had the effect of making me compare what the Bible taught with what others believed, and strengthened my convictions when I saw that my Catholic friends had no answers to the points which I raised with them.

God also brought me into contact with young people of my own age, who befriended me and helped me to become more involved in the Christadelphian Community. These events – compounded with the knowledge I had of Bible teachings, and the heartfelt belief that as Christ had died for me I should, therefore, follow his commands (Mk 16: 16) – compelled me to be baptised. Definitely the best thing I ever did!

Click on these links for more info on: ‘BELIEVING’ and ‘WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN BY BAPTISM’

The Rapture is not True Bible Teaching

The Rapture – True or False?

The Rapture – True or False?

There are many books available today which state that the Bible speaks of a time when a certain group ofThe Rapture is not True Bible Teaching people, will experience a removal from the planet earth to enjoy a blissful experience with Christ in heaven.  This period is known as the Rapture. While this is taking place the remainder of the world’s population will undergo, it is stated, the ‘Great Tribulation’.  The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that best selling publications such as ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, which advance such teaching, are astray from an understanding of the prophetic plan that God has revealed to man in the Bible.

THE RETURN OF CHRIST

In unmistakable and precise terms the Bible demonstrates that Jesus is to return to the earth, and with this we have no quarrel.  In Acts 1:11, the angel said to the disciples “…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  But for what purpose is he to return?  Before the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that God would give unto him the throne of David, that he would reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Shortly before his death, Jesus in response to Pilate’s question as to whether he was indeed the King of the Jews, explained “My kingdom is not of this world” (Greek kosmos – Order of things).

The Law of Moses, the order of things then in existence, was not the form of government over which Jesus is to rule.

However, implied in his answer nevertheless, was the teaching that he would be a king over a kingdom at a future period.  Other examples could be cited where the Bible confidently predicts that Jesus will return to earth to reign.

THE RAPTURE THEORY IS INCONSISTENT WITH BIBLE TEACHING ABOUT THE RETURN OF CHRIST

The Bible promises men and women a reward if they are obedient to the commandments that are contained in its pages for their guidance.  This reward is eternal life, not in heaven but on earth, for example.  “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the EARTH“. This being so, we would ask, how then will believers be “raptured”?  In fact nowhere in the Bible do we find the notion that believers go to heaven!  Furthermore, if Christ is to return to the earth, why should his followers go to heaven?  Ought they not to be with him on earth?  Jesus promised his disciples that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  This points emphatically to the revealed will of God to restore the former kingdom of Israel, in a day when people will call “Jerusalem the throne of the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:17).

THE GREAT TRIBULATION

This phrase is taken from the 24th chapter of Matthew’s gospel and without any doubt refers to an event which has already happened!  So confused are the modern day writers of Bible prophecy that they mistakenly attribute events which have already transpired to a time which is yet future.  Another example of their jumbled views is that the Book of Revelation is declared by them to have an almost totally futuristic content, whereas in reality the visions given to the Apostle John were for the express purpose of revealing those things which would “shortly come to pass”, ie. events from AD 96 up to the time when the climax of world events would usher in the reign of Christ.

“CAUGHT UP TOGETHER… IN THE CLOUDS”

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he wrote about the time when the Lord Jesus Christ would return to the earth which, as we have seen, is consistent with other Bible passages.  He also explained that the hope of believers, resurrection from the dead, would be realised at this time.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord, therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).  

This passage has been used by many writers to indicate that the believers alive at the return of Christ to the earth will themselves be caught up to heaven.  But what does it really say? First it is necessary to note that Jesus is to descend from heaven and second, that the believers are to be ever with him.  If Jesus is on earth at this time then how is it possible that one can entertain the idea that the believers are to be removed from the earth to escape the ‘Great Tribulation’? Why then does the verse say “caught up together with them in the clouds“? Is this not a clear indication that some are to ascend to heaven?  Not so, for how can this be reconciled with those earlier principles that Jesus, with his faithful followers, is to reign on earth? What then does it mean?

There are two items which cry out for an explanation:-

  1. The phrase “caught up” in the original Greek implies transportation, not necessarily in an upward direction.  In Acts 8 the same phrase is used speaking of the miraculous removal of the evangelist Philip from Gaza to Asotus, a distance of some twenty miles.  It is very probable therefore that the verse in Thessalonians refers to the transportation of those living, along with the resurrected dead, to a specific place on earth, for the purpose of judgement, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
  2. The phrase “in the clouds“, may at first reading convey the impression of an ascent from earth, but again it is important to see how this verse can be understood in the light of other Bible teaching.  In Hebrews 12:1, the writer uses the words, “seeing then that we are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses” and as the context clearly shows, he is referring to the many wonderful examples of faithful men and women of bygone days who had believed God and looked forward to the reward promised by him.  It is this great cloud of believers that will be assembled, (possibly at Mt Sinai) for the purpose of being judged, thereafter to be ever with the Lord, on EARTH.

They will be in possession of immortal bodies having been adjudged worthy of everlasting life because of their obedience to the mind of God revealed in the scriptures of Truth.

However, for the many that are currently deluded by this false expectation of the Rapture, they will actually find themselves joining forces to oppose the returned Jesus, whom they now profess to serve, considering him to be the ‘Antichrist’ (2 Thessalonians 2:6-11).

We would therefore urge you to search the scriptures as did those in Berea (Acts 17:10-11), to see if these things are so, for it will be vital in that day that we have clearly understood what is soon to happen on the earth.

Click here for True Bible Teaching about Christ’s Return

The Resurrection of Jesus A Fact of History

The Resurrection of Jesus A Fact of History

The Resurrection of Jesus: Is A fact of History!

From its earliest beginnings Christianity has been based on a single central foundation, the proclamation thatThe Resurrection of Jesus Jesus was raised from the dead. He is, therefore, declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, Judge and Saviour of the whole of humanity. Because of this, the resurrection of Jesus is of vital importance.

Did Jesus rise from the dead?

If the resurrection did not happen in the manner described in the New Testament then the historical basis of Christianity crumbles away and virtually nothing is left. If, on the other hand, the resurrection really did happen, it is probably the most significant event in the history of the world from its creation to the present day.

Common Ground

Before considering the resurrection it is useful to consider the common ground between those who believe that the resurrection took place and those who deny it:

Jesus was a real historical figure. Everyone agrees on this because there are simply too many witnesses, both friendly and hostile. These include: – 27 New Testament documents from 8 different writers, large numbers of church fathers, 7 Roman historians (the earliest writing only a short time after the crucifixion), and the Jewish Talmud.

Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem somewhere around 30 AD. This is also testified to by contemporary writings including the gospels and epistles but also documents outside the Bible.

Jesus was buried in a tomb somewhere in or near Jerusalem. To believe otherwise would require a miracle equivalent in magnitude to the resurrection. As the body did not dematerialise on the cross and was not taken straight up into heaven, it must have been placed somewhere after the crucifixion.

This foundation leads us on to consider evidence for the resurrection itself.

The Empty Tomb

Three days after the crucifixion, the tomb of Jesus was empty.The Empty Tomb

The witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb are very powerful.

First, we have the witness of various disciples who saw the tomb empty:

“Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb, he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed” (John 20:3-8).

What is interesting about this witness of the disciples is that it is never presented as conclusive, or even as important. The reason for this is that there was no need for a human witness to the empty tomb at the time at which the gospels were written, because the witness of the whole population of Jerusalem – not to mention pilgrims from all over the known world – was that the tomb was empty.

The tomb was near Jerusalem. Anyone who wished to find out for themselves could go down to see it; to do so would take only a very short time. Yet Jerusalem was the cradle of the infant church; thousands of people were converted there very soon after the crucifixion:

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

This must mean that the tomb was empty; it would have been impossible to convince anybody, let alone the thousands who joined the emerging church, that Jesus had been miraculously raised to life if his body was still obviously inside its tomb.

A final witness to the fact of the empty tomb is given by the reaction of the authorities of the day. Here is the explanation of events to which they lent their weight:

“… Tell people his disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep… so they did as they were directed, and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day” (Matthew 28:13-15).

This story was current among Jews from the earliest times, and we have independent evidence of this. For example, Justin quotes a debate in which his opponent refers to Jesus as:

“One Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb… and now deceive them by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven” (Justin Martyr: Dialogue Against Trypho,108 [c.AD150]).

The story does, in fact, persist to the present day.

The important point about this explanation is that it would be unnecessary if the body of Jesus was still safely in the tomb. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn: The tomb was empty.

The Resurrection Appearances

The other main plank of the evidence is the witness given by people who saw Jesus alive after the resurrection. These include the following:

The Twelve

Jesus and his 12 ApostlesAfter the crucifixion, on their own evidence, they gave up hope. When Jesus was arrested his disciples ran away (Mark 14:50); after his death, they met in a locked room for fear of the authorities (John 20:19). Later they changed from broken and terrified men to confident preachers of the resurrection who took their message with them over the whole known world, 

despite intense dangers and, in the end, their own deaths. Something must have occurred to cause this great change. Their own witness is that they met the resurrected Jesus, saw him, touched him, and ate with him. The disciples were not easily convinced.

They did not jump to conclusions, even when they saw the empty tomb.

Thomas, for example, required the direct evidence of his own senses to convince him that Jesus had really risen:

“Now Thomas, one of the twelve called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said unto them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side I will not believe'” (John 20:24,25).

A week later, of course, Thomas did meet the risen Jesus, and was convinced. What is important about the difficulty of convincing Thomas was that he was no different from the other disciples. They were all hard-headed men, peasants, fishermen and a tax collector; it took convincing evidence to prove to them that Jesus really was risen. And that evidence was so convincing that the disciples were later prepared to be put to death rather than deny the resurrection of their Lord.

The Five Hundred Witnesses

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives a list of some of the resurrection appearances of Jesus. Among these is the following:

“Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6).

This appearance to over 500 people is a major witness to the resurrection. Lined up in single file, the witnesses would form a queue a third of a mile long (half a kilometre). The apostle tells us that most of the five hundred were alive in 55 AD, when the letter was written; there is no point in his making that statement unless his readers could cross-examine some of them and thus hear the evidence for themselves. Presumably some of the witnesses were apostles, or evangelists, and travelled around the various congregations.

James

Among the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection there are people who were hostile to Jesus as well as those who were friendly. One such witness was James, the brother of Jesus. During Jesus’ ministry his family refused to accept his claims to be a teacher from God. Jesus himself said:

“A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” (Mark 6:4).

They seem to have been slightly hostile towards him, and attempted, on at least one occasion, to prevent him from teaching (Mark 3:21). John’s gospel summarises the attitude of Jesus’ family with the words: “For even his brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5).

Later on James the brother of Jesus (see Mark 6:3 for details of Jesus family) became a follower of Jesus, and rose to be an important figure in the Jerusalem congregation (Acts 15:13, Acts 21:18). The change is very marked: James changes from being a total unbeliever in Jesus to one of the chief apostles. The Roman historian Josephus tells us that James was put to death for his beliefs, being stoned by order of the high priest during the interregnum which followed the reign of Festus in AD 61. The Bible tells us that this change occurred because James met Jesus after the resurrection: “Then he appeared to James” (1 Corinthians 15:7).

The unbelieving brother, then, believed that Jesus was alive, because he could not deny what he had actually seen.

Paul

The other hostile witness to the resurrection of Jesus was Saul of Tarsus. Immediately after Pentecost, Saul was occupied in persecuting the emerging church, and imprisoning its members:

“But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3).

In the end, of course, Saul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and this convinced him of the resurrection so that he became a follower of Jesus. He changed his name to Paul and became an apostle, preaching the gospel on journeys throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area. Paul’s own comment on this is given us in 1 Corinthians 15:8,9:

“Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

What greater witness could Jesus have? One who actively persecuted the church of God – no-one could deny that he did do this, not even his enemies. What other explanation could there possibly be, then, other than that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead and changed Paul’s life so profoundly?

The Witness of the Early Church

The witness of the resurrection appearances sounds very clear, but we need to be sure that it was not invented later by clever men. The witness of the apostles was given to the early church, and the members of the early church testify to the truth of their statements by the way that they were prepared to suffer extreme persecution rather than deny the resurrection of Jesus. The early church had all the evidence laid out before it and found that evidence so compelling that its members were willing to die, in the most horrific manner, rather than deny their faith.

The Roman historian Tacitus describes the persecution that the early Christians suffered under Nero with the following words:

“Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed’ (Tacitus, Annals 15.14:6).

Other Roman writers give similar descriptions such as this one by Sulpicius Severus:

Nero“[Nero] therefore turned the accusation against the Christians, and the most cruel tortures were accordingly inflicted upon the innocent. Nay, even new kinds of deaths were invented, so that being covered in the skins of wild beasts, they perished by being devoured by dogs, while many were crucified or slain by fire, and not a few were set aside for this purpose, that, when the day came to a close, they should be consumed to serve for light during the night” (Sulpicius Severus, Chronicle).

Anyone who, after the reign of Nero, was found to be a follower of Christ, was put to death, usually by torture. But they could avoid death by recanting their faith. Here is a record from the second century which explains the procedure:

“If they are accused and convicted, they must be punished – yet on this condition, that whoso denies himself to be a Christian, and makes the fact plain by his action, that is, by worshipping our gods, shall obtain pardon on his repentance, however suspicious his past conduct may be” (Letter of Trajan [Emperor] to Pliny [Governor] – Pliny, Epistles -10.97:2).

The required sacrifice was a pinch of incense, offered on the altar of a Roman god.

It is difficult to imagine an easier method of escaping death by torture. But despite this the early Christians were noted for their determination not to avoid the most unpleasant deaths. Not only did few Christians deny Christ, but more and more people continued to become convinced of the truth of Christianity, despite the very real danger of an unpleasant death.

Clearly the evidence given by the apostles that we have read, was real and convincing to people at the time, in a much better position to check on that evidence than we are today.

Summary of the Evidence

The evidence for the resurrection consists of the same types of evidence that one might require for any other event in history. It consists of:

The physical (‘forensic’) evidence at the empty tomb;

The human witness of the resurrection appearances of Jesus.

This evidence is certified by the early church, whose witness is written in the blood of its early believers. Any explanation of events must give a satisfactory explanation of all of this evidence. The obvious explanation is the one given in the Bible, that the resurrection of Jesus actually did take place, and that Jesus is, therefore, still alive in heaven.

Alternative Explanations

Since the first century there have been a number of attempts to explain the evidence summarised above, in ways other than by the resurrection of Jesus. These attempts have all failed. Here is a summary of some of the more common of them.

The Stolen Body

The oldest alternative explanation of the empty tomb is the theory launched by the authorities in the first century, the theory that the disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep. This theory is preserved in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 28:13-15) and also in writings of the next century. This story is a significant piece of evidence in itself as it confirms the presence of a guard on the tomb.

Judea in 30 AD was a province subject to revolt and terrorism. It was no place for soldiers to sleep in the open: any soldiers who were not alert were likely to be killed by Zealots. It is thus unlikely that my guard would go to sleep, and inconceivable that they would sleep so soundly that a group of men large enough to carry away a dead body could roll aside the stone over the grave mouth (this itself would be a noisy operation) without at least one of the guard waking up.

More significant still is the condition of the disciples. Before the resurrection they were broken men, afraid and in hiding. Afterwards they were bold preachers of the gospel, who were prepared to turn the world upside down in order to preach the risen Christ. Not only that, but they were almost all put to death for their faith (probably John was the only disciple to die a natural death, and even he was exiled). None of them ever denied their faith in the risen Christ. It would take a group of several men to remove a body from a grave; if the body of Jesus had been stolen all of the men in the group would have known that the resurrection never took place, and at least one of them would have been expected to break down and confess in the face of certain and unpleasant death. If one of the disciples had confessed to stealing the body, we would certainly have known it, because the Roman and Jewish authorities would have ensured that it was reported. That it was not reported shows that it never happened, and that the disciples did not steal the body.

Finally, if the explanation of the empty tomb was that the body was stolen, the resurrection appearances could never have occurred. Over five hundred people saw Jesus alive after his resurrection. It is inconceivable that the whole five hundred stole the body together, so some of them must have been outside any conspiracy to deceive. This means that at least one of the resurrection appearances was real, and hence that the resurrection really occurred.

The Swoon Theory

This attempted explanation suggests that Jesus did not actually die on the cross, but simply fainted, and later recovered in the cool of the tomb.

This is highly unlikely on medical grounds. Jesus was nailed to a cross, which means that both his hands and his feet were pierced by the nails. He had been scourged, and a spear was thrust into his side. One significant fact about this penetration by the spear was that from the wound came “blood and water” (John 19:34). The least damaging way that this could have occurred is if the spear had pierced Jesus’ lung.

During crucifixion, body fluid would collect in the lungs, and it is this fluid that causes death by drowning if the crucifixion is left to its end. The body fluid would look like water and there would probably be some blood with it. However, for a spear thrust to pierce the lungs from below (as it would have to with the body on a cross) it would have to pass through other vital organs. If Jesus were not already dead, the spear thrust would have killed him. Even if, by some miracle, he survived the spear thrust, being left unattended in a sealed tomb, without medical care, food or water for three days would cause death.

Going into more detail here, the Gospel records show that Jesus was in a state of hypovolemic shock. This means that a person is suffering from losing large amounts of blood. Hypovolemic shock does four things:

  1. The heart races because its trying to pump blood that isn’t there;
  2. The blood pressure drops, causing faint or collapse;
  3. The kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left;
  4. Finally, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume (Lee Strobel: The Case For Christ, Zondervan, 1998, p196).

The gospel records strongly indicate that Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered to carry the horizontal beam of the cross to the execution site. Finally he collapsed and a soldier made Simon of Cyrene carry the cross bar for him. Later Jesus called out that he was thirsty, and a bystander offered him some vinegar. So because of the terrible effects of the flogging, there is no question that Jesus was in a critical condition even before the crucifixion nails were driven through his hands and feet.

At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum (cross beam) and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post, or stipes, his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion is an interference with normal respirations. In plain English, Jesus would have struggled to breathe. Accordingly, death results primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia, and probably – in Jesus’ case – a ruptured heart to boot.

Jesus’ death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier’s spear into his side. An eyewitness testified that he saw blood and water come from Jesus’ side, water and blood would only flow from the wound if the heart was ruptured (Samuel Houghton MD, University of Dublin, cited by McDowell: Evidence that Demands a Verdict).   It is believed that the crucifixion caused Jesus’ heart to rupture, and that this was the main cause of death. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence confirms that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross (W. D. Edwards, W. J. Gabel, and F. E. Hosmer: “On the physical death of Jesus Christ”, JAMA 255: 1455-1463).

Indeed, an eyewitness stated that blood and water came out of the pierced side of Jesus (Jn. 19: 34-35). Had Jesus have been alive when the spear pierced his side, strong spouts of blood would have occurred with every heartbeat. Instead the observer noticed semi-solid dark red clot seeping out, distinct from the accompanying watery serum. This is evidence of massive clotting of blood in the main arteries, and is exceptionally strong medical proof of death. The blood and water from the spear thrust is, therefore, proof positive that Jesus was already dead (Michael Green, cited by McDowell: Evidence that Demands A Verdict).

There would certainly be no possibility of any victim, who had somehow managed to survive crucifixion, carrying out what Jesus would have had to do to escape the tomb. He would have had to release himself from the grave clothes, roll aside the stone that covered the tomb from the wrong side, fight his way past the guard and walk seven miles to Emmaus for a resurrection appearance. All this would have had to be done with badly wounded feet and hands – and with a pierced lung. Not only that, but be would then have had to have fooled the disciples into believing that his new condition was that of eternal life, more vital and powerful than ordinary healthy life. This was simply not possible.

The Modernist Theory

This theory is put forward by many modern churchmen as an alternative to belief in a physical resurrection. It claims that the resurrection narratives were never intended to be taken literally, but were convenient religious myths intended to convey a deeper, but non-literal meaning. Modernists claim that the resurrection never occurred, but that the early church was propounding a belief in the lasting value of Jesus’ teaching and in the philosophical idea of renewal in the resurrection stories.

  1. There are three problems with the modernist theory:
    Modern European theologians may think in terms of myths expressed in such concrete terms, but such a concept was foreign to first century Christians. The early church was not made up of modern theologians but of ordinary uneducated people, farmers, peasants, slaves and fishermen. It is unlikely that such people would ever think of devising such a myth, and even less likely that they world express it in such realistic terms.
  2. People do not die for a convenient mythical expression of some philosophical truth. Instead they find some alternative mythical expression for the same truth. To fit the modernist philosophy of resurrection as renewal they could have chosen the renewal of vegetation in the spring or the lengthening of the day after the winter solstice.
  3. Finally it is not possible for an expression of a theological truth to produce an empty tomb, but the empty tomb existed and is testified by the Jewish authorities, which would have no vested interest in the mythology of resurrection.

The Wrong Tomb Theory

This is an ingenious theory which suggests that the disciples went to the wrong tomb and, finding it empty, assumed that Jesus was raised from the dead. The theory has several insuperable problems. First, it requires that all the disciples went to the same wrong tomb and none of them noticed their mistake; indeed, it also requires that none of the disciples ever discovered the error. Moreover, it requires that the authorities never discovered the error either. If the disciples had made a mistake, one would have expected the authorities to have made a public correction; one would certainly not expect them to invent a story about a stolen body. Third, the theory requires amnesia in Joseph of Arimithea. The tomb was built and owned by Joseph, who had intended it for his own use; one would expect him to remember where his own tomb was sited! Finally, the wrong tomb theory gives no explanation of the resurrection appearances.

The Collective Hallucination Theory

This theory suggests that the resurrection appearances were a psychological phenomenon caused by the intense desire of the disciples to see Jesus again, coupled with an expectation of the resurrection.

The first problem is that there does not appear to have been any such expectation. The gospels are full of explanations of why the disciples failed to understand that Jesus was to be killed and raised again from the dead (e.g. Mark 9:30-32). Second, the hallucinations were seen by over five hundred people at once, something that is very rare for any kind of psychological phenomenon. Not only that but the appearances continued for forty days and then ceased after the ascension, something else that is unheard of in hallucinations.

Finally, no amount of collective hallucination can produce an empty tomb, and we have irrefutable evidence that the empty tomb existed.

Conclusion

The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact, it really occurred. This tells us several things about the way that God is at work.

First, it shows that God intervenes in the world. Having intervened once, there is no reason to suppose that he has not intervened before and will not do so again. The resurrection is a proven miracle, and thus establishes that God does perform miracles.

Second, the resurrection shows God’s complete support for and approval of Jesus. It sets the seal of approval on Jesus’ claims for himself and validates them completely.

Most significant of these claims is the claim that Jesus will one day return to be judge of mankind, as we are told in Acts 17:31:

“[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world, by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Third, the resurrection of Jesus shows that God has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus, and that there is forgiveness for our sins, and finally it shows that death has been overcome. One thing that is certain about life is that we must die. But equally certain is the fact that Jesus rose to life again and became the first fruits of a body of faithful people who will also rise from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus gives hope and confidence to us all. If we are prepared to make Christ our leader in life, we can expect to follow him into life eternal. The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of this fact. Jesus promised those who believed that he would raise them from the dead when he returns to set up God’s kingdom (John 6; 1 Corinthians 15). There is overwhelming evidence which shows that he will return very soon.

Jesus wants us to be ready for his return by: believing that he rose from the dead, changing our lives by putting God first, and by being baptized (Mark 16:16; John 3:5).

Summary

Jesus wants us all to be savedDid Jesus rise from the dead? Belief in the resurrection boils down to our responses to two questions:

Was Jesus dead when he was taken down from the cross? – The medical evidence, and the testimony of eyewitnesses, says: “Yes!”

Was he seen alive after his death? The testimony of over 500 eye witnesses says: “Yes!”

WHAT IS YOUR VERDICT?

No such thing as a supernatural devil

Is the Devil a Supernatural Being?

Is the Devil a Supernatural Being?

No such thing as a supernatural devilMany religions believe there is a monster called the Devil or Satan, who is the originator of all problems and is responsible for the sins we commit. But the Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and that the Angels cannot sin.

This means it is impossible that there is any supernatural being that is opposed to God. We are questioning the supremacy of God Almighty by believing that such a being does exist.

The Source of Evil

There is a belief that good things come from God and bad things from the Devil or Satan. The ancient Babylonians believed in a god of good, and a god of evil. God’s response was “I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God beside me … I form the light and create darkness, I make peace, and create calamity: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:5-7, 22). God is the author, the creator of “calamity” in this sense. There is a difference between calamity and sin. Sin entered the world as a result of man not God (Romans 5:12).

God tells the Babylonians “there is no God beside me.” There is no source of power apart from Him. Thus a true believer in God cannot accept the idea of a supernatural devil or demons.

God: The Creator of Disaster

There are many examples of God bringing “evil” into people’s lives:

  • Amos 3:6 says that if there is calamity in a city God has done it.
  • Micah 1:12 says that “disaster came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem”.
  • Job recognised that “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). He does not say “The Lord gave and Satan has taken away”. Job commented “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). Job’s friends comforted him over “all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him” (Job 42:11 cp. 19:21; 8:3).

So God is the source of “evil” in the sense of being the ultimate permitter of problems in our lives.

The Orthodox Devil – illogical

“For whom the LORD loves He chastens … If you endure chastening … afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:6-11). This shows that trials given by God, eventually lead to our spiritual growth.

To say that the devil forces us to sin while at the same time bringing problems which lead to our developing “the peaceable fruit of righteousness”, sets the Bible against itself. Here the orthodox idea of the devil runs into problems. For example, the passages which speak of delivering a man to satan “that his spirit may be saved” (1 Corinthians 5:5), or “that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20). If Satan is really a being bent on causing men to sin, why do these passages speak of ‘Satan’ in a positive light?

The answer: an adversary, a “Satan” or difficulty in life, can often result in positive spiritual effects in a believer’s life.

The Origin of Sin

Sin comes from inside us. It is our fault that we sin. Remember, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) ~ sin leads to death. If it is the devil’s fault that we sin, then a just God ought to punish the devil rather than us. But the fact that we are judged for our own sins shows that we are responsible for our sins.

“There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him …For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders … All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:15-23).

The idea that there is something sinful outside of us which causes us to sin is incompatible with the teaching of Jesus. From within, out of the heart of man, come all these evil things. James 1:14 tells us how we are tempted: “each one is tempted when he is drawn by his own desires and enticed.” We are tempted by our own evil desires; not by anything outside of us. “Where do wars and fights come from among you?” James asks; “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure?” (James 4:1). Each of us has temptation generated by our own evil desires.

Paul Identifies the Source of Sin

Paul laments: “In me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells … For the good that I will to do, I do not do … if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:18-21). Paul does not blame his sinning on an external being called the devil. He located his own evil nature as the real source of sin: “it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with (i.e. within) me, the one who will to do good” (Romans 7:20-21). So he says that the opposition to being spiritual comes from something that he calls “sin that dwells in me”.

The Word ‘Satan’ in the Bible

1 Kings 11:14 records that “the LORD raised up an adversary (same Hebrew word elsewhere translated “satan”) against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite”. “And God raised up another adversary (another satan) … Rezon … He was an adversary (a satan) of Israel” (1 Kings 11:23, 25). God stirred up ordinary men not a supernatural being, to be a satan/adversary to Solomon.

Another example: Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem to die. Jesus turned and said to Peter “Get behind Me, Satan! … you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23). Thus Peter was called a satan by Christ.

Even God Himself Can be Called a ‘Satan’

Because the word ‘satan’ just means an adversary, a good person, even God Himself, can be termed a ‘satan’. There is nothing necessarily sinful about the word itself. God can be a satan to us by:

  • bringing trials into our lives,
  • or obstructing a wrong course of action we may be embarking on.

But the fact that God can be called a ‘satan’ does not mean that He Himself is sinful.

The books of Samuel and Chronicles are parallel accounts of the same incidents. 2 Samuel 24:1 records: “the LORD … moved David against them (Israel)” to make him take a census of Israel. The parallel account in 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that “Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David” to take the census. In one passage God does the provoking, in the other Satan does it. Therefore God acted as a ‘satan’ or adversary to David.

The Word ‘Devil’ in the Bible

Similarly with the word ‘devil’. Jesus said “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot …” (John 6:70-71) who was an ordinary, mortal man. The word ‘devil’ here simply refers to a wicked man.

Another example is found in 1 Timothy 3:11: The wives of church elders were not to be “slanderers”; the original Greek word here is ‘diabolos’, which is the same word translated ‘devil’ elsewhere. Thus Paul warns Titus that the aged women in the ecclesia should not be “false accusers” or ‘devils’ (Titus 2:3).

The words ‘devil’ and ‘satan’ do not refer to a fallen Angel or a sinful being outside of us.

Sin, Satan and the Devil

The words ‘satan’ and ‘devil’ are used figuratively to describe the natural sinful tendencies within us. These are our main ‘satan’ or adversary. They are also personified, and as such can be spoken of as ‘the devil’ – our enemy, a slanderer of the truth. This is what our natural ‘man’ is like – the very devil.

The connection between the devil and our evil desires – sin within us – is made explicit in several passages: ·

  • “As the children (ourselves) have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through (His) death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The devil is here described as being responsible for death. But Romans tells us that sin is responsible for death: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore sin and the devil must be parallel.
  • Similarly James 1:14 says that our evil desires tempt us, leading us to sin and therefore to death; but Hebrews 2:14 says that the devil brings death. The same verse says that Jesus had our nature in order to destroy the devil.
  • Contrast this with Romans 8:3: “God by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (that is, in our human nature), …He condemned sin in the flesh.” This shows that the devil and the sinful tendencies that are naturally within human nature are effectively the same.

It is vitally important to understand the Jesus was tempted just like us. Misunderstanding the doctrine of the devil means that we cannot correctly appreciate the nature and work of Jesus. It was only because Jesus had our human nature – the ‘devil’ within him – that we can have the hope of salvation (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15). By overcoming the desires of his own nature, the Biblical devil, Jesus was able to destroy the devil on the cross.

If the devil is a personal being, then he should no longer exist.

‘Our Sins’ = ‘the Works of the Devil’

“He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8), because sin is the result of giving way to our own natural, evil desires (James 1:14, 15), which the Bible calls ‘the devil’. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

If we are correct in saying that the devil is our evil desires, then the works of our evil desires, i.e. what they result in, are our sins. This is confirmed by 1 John 3:5, “He (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins”. This confirms that “our sins” and “the works of the devil” are the same.

Acts 5:3 provides another example of this connection between the devil and our sins. Peter says to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart?” Then in verse 4, Peter says “Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?” Conceiving something bad within our heart is the same as Satan filling our heart.

Personification

PersonificationHowever, the Bible does talk as if the devil is a person! Hebrews 2:14 speaks of “him who had power of death, that is, the devil”. The Bible often uses personification – speaking of an abstract idea as if it is a person. Thus Proverbs 9:1 speaks of a woman called ‘Wisdom’ building a house, and Romans 6:23 likens sin to a paymaster giving wages of death.

Our devil, the ‘diabolos’, often represents our evil desires. Yet you cannot have abstract diabolism; the evil desires that are in a man’s heart cannot exist separately from a man; therefore ‘the devil’ is personified.

Sin is often personified as a master (eg. Romans 5:21; 6:6, 17; 7:3). It is understandable, therefore, that the ‘devil’ is also personified, seeing that ‘the devil’ also refers to sin. In the same way, Paul speaks of us having two beings, as it were, within our flesh (Romans 7:15-21):

  • the man of the flesh, ‘the devil’,
  • fights with the man of the Spirit.

Yet it is evident that there are not two literal, personal beings fighting within us. This sinful part of our nature is personified as “the evil one” (Matthew 6:13) – the Biblical devil.

The devil is a common figure for our own nature; sin and temptation originate from within. The real arena of spiritual conflict is the human heart.

Practical Implications

If we grasp this, we will battle daily for control of the mind, we will strive to fill our mind with God’s word, we will read the Bible daily, we will be cynical of our motivations, we will examine ourselves, we will appreciate the latent liability to sin which we and all men have by nature. We won’t take the weakness of others towards us so personally; we will see it is their ‘devil’. Belief in a personal devil is so popular, because it takes the focus away from our own struggle with our innermost nature and thoughts.

The Gospel Message of Christ

Gospel Message of the Bible

Gospel Message of the Bible

Summary of the Teaching of the Gospel or Good News of the Kingdom of God as taught by Christ.The Gospel Message of Christ

This is God’s Purpose on this earth with many as will believe in Him.

The Gospel, as believed by all True Bible Followers of Christ, is listed herein in an orderly, systematic manner, with none of the beliefs contradicting any other belief. We believe this is as it should be, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (I Corinthians 14:33).

  1. God’s WORD, found in the Holy Bible, is the only source of information about our salvation.
    Hebrews 11:6, II Timothy 3:15-17, John 5:39, Romans 1:16
  2. God, our Heavenly Father, is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.
    Acts 17:27,28, Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 42:5, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 6:9
  3. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Saviour, our High Priest, our future Judge, and King.
    Matthew 3:17, John 3:16, Hebrews 4:14,15, Acts 10:42, II Timothy 4:8, Luke 1:30-35, John 18:37
  4. The Holy Spirit is God’s Power.
    Psalm 104:30, Genesis 1:2, Luke 1:35
  5. The earth, and all life on it was created by God.
    1. From the beginning, God had a Plan and a Purpose for the earth. His Plan involved how He would accomplish His Purpose, which is for the earth to be filled with His Glory, and for obedient men and women to bear His nature, that of Immortality.
      Isaiah 45:18, Numbers 14:21, Isaiah 11:1-9, Habbakuk 2:14
    2. God’s Plan was set in motion by the creation of the earth, which was accomplished by His angels, powered with the Holy Spirit. This creation took six days. At the end of the six days of creation, all creation was declared to be “very good”. God rested on the seventh day.
      Genesis 1:1-31, Genesis 2:1-3
  6. God revealed His Plan to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, along with instructions they were to follow. They were forbidden to eat of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. They were told that if they ate of it, they would DIE.
    Genesis 1:27-30, Genesis 2:15
  7. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, believing the Serpent’s Lie, “THOU SHALT NOT SURELY DIE”.
    Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:1-3
  8. Their disobedience was discovered, and they were informed of the consequences of their actions.
    Genesis 3:8-13

    1. The Serpent was cursed to be of the physical form he is today, and enmity, natural and spiritual, was established between man and the serpent. A future victory of the Seed of the Woman over the Seed of the Serpent was promised.
      Genesis 3:14-15
    2. Women were to experience sorrow in child-bearing, and be in subjection to her husband.
      Genesis 3:16
    3. The earth was cursed. Thorns and thistles were to mar the former beauty of the earth.
      Genesis 3:17-18
    4. Man was to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Adam was told “dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return”. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden to deny them access to the Tree of Life.
      Genesis 3:19,22-24
  9. The sentence, “dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return” resulted in Adam and Eve being estranged from God, and their condition being changed from “very good” to mortal. This mortal nature, along with the tendency to want to disobey God, has been inherited by all the descendants of Adam and Eve ever since.
    Job 14:1-4, Psalm 51:5
  10. Thus, the entire human race is condemned along with Adam and Eve. This condition is know as “Adamic Condemnation”, and unless removed, will cause a person to eventually die, and remain in the grave forever.
    Romans 5:12,16-19, Ecclesiastes 3:18-22, Romans 8:1-2
  11. God, in His mercy, provided Adam and Eve with an immediate remedy, a promise of permanent salvation, and instructions on proper worship.
    1. An immediate covering for their nakedness (sin) with the skins of animals.
      Genesis 3:21
    2. Included in the serpent’s curse, was the statement: “… I (God) will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman, and between thy (the serpent’s) seed and her (the woman’s) seed; it (the woman’s seed) shall bruise thy (the serpent’s) head, and thou (the serpent) shalt bruise his (the woman’s seed’s) heel.” This promise is known as the “Edenic Covenant”, the first portion of the “Everlasting Covenant”.
      Genesis 3:14-15
    3. Instructions on the principle of “remission of sins” through “the shedding of blood” as being the method of obtaining forgiveness from sins they commit.
  12. God revealed His Plan and Purpose for the earth to Adam and Eve, and they passed the information on to their offspring. One of their sons, Abel, obeyed, offering as God had instructed, but another son, Cain, offered “as he saw fit”. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. We learn from this that one cannot “worship God in their own way” and please God.
    Genesis 4:1-11
  13. God revealed His Plan and Purpose for the earth to the “faithful few”, referred to in the scriptures as “the remnant”. One such faithful was Abram, later to be called Abraham. God chose Abraham to be the one person through whom His Plan would be realized.
    Genesis 22:15-18, Psalm 89:34-37, Isaiah 51:1-8, Hosea 13:14
  14. In revealing His Plan and Purpose to Abraham, God made promises to him. Abraham also received instructions on beginning the practice of circumcision. Promises made to Abraham included:
    1. Abraham would become the Father of many Nations.
      Genesis 12:2, Genesis 13:16, Genesis 17:4
    2. Abraham would be a blessing to all Nations.
      Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:8
    3. Abraham and his descendants would inherit the land of promise (comprising the whole earth) for an everlasting possession. This means they would, of necessity, receive Eternal Life.
      Genesis 13:14,15, Genesis 17:8
    4. Through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus Christ, all the earth is to be blessed.
      Genesis 22:18, Acts 3:25, Galatians 3:16
  15. These Promises made to Abraham are known as the “Abrahamic Promises”, and along with the “Edenic Covenant” make up the “Everlasting Covenant”. God repeated some of the promises made to Abraham to:
    1. Abraham’s son, Isaac.
      Genesis 26:3-5
    2. Isaac’s Son, Jacob, who was renamed Israel. The descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel) are the 12 tribes making up the nation of Israel.
      Genesis 35:9-10, Genesis 35:22-26
    3. David, King of Israel. These promises made to David are known as “The Sure Mercies of David”.
      II Samuel 7:12-16
  16. Throughout the history of the Nation of Israel, prophets of God spoke and wrote of the Kingdom that was to come in fulfilment of the “Everlasting Covenant”. This covenant is also referred to as the “Covenant made with the Fathers”. These prophecies foretold:
    1. A Messiah, or Deliverer. A Saviour for Abraham’s Seed.
      Daniel 9:25-26, Isaiah 59:20, Romans 11:26
    2. A King to rule over the Delivered Seed of Abraham.
      Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:11,15, Luke 1:30-35
    3. A Kingdom, with a Capitol City, and territorial boundaries.
      Daniel 2:44, Revelation 11:15, Micah 4:1-2
    4. Subjects of the Kingdom: Immortal rulers made up of the faithful through the ages, and mortal subjects who submit to the rule of that Kingdom.
      John 17:3, Romans 2:7, Mark 16:15-16
  17. After coming out of bondage in Egypt, the Nation of Israel received The Law of Moses from God. This law covered details of offering animal sacrifices to God, in the prescribed manner. The purpose of the ordinances and sacrifices was to teach the Israelites about the sacrifice of their expected Messiah. Their Messiah was the subject of the “Everlasting Covenant”.
    Leviticus chapters 1-10, Hebrews 9:1-7, Hebrews 10:1-4
  18. When the time came, in God’s Plan, God sent forth His Son, Jesus, born of a woman, the Virgin Mary, made under the Law of Moses.
    Galatians 4:4, Luke 1:30-31
  19. At the age of eight days, Jesus was circumcised, as the Law of Moses required of all males born in Israel. Also, as the Law of Moses required of all mothers giving birth, his mother, Mary, underwent the rites of purification.
    Leviticus 12:1-4, Luke 2:21-22
  20. Jesus’ public life began at the age of thirty years, when he was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus’ baptism was required in order to “fulfil all righteousness”.
    Matthew 3:13-15, Luke 3:23
  21. After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit, came upon him, and he was publicly acknowledged as “God’s Son”, and that God was well pleased with his actions.
    Matthew 3:16-17, Psalm 2:7
  22. Jesus’ ministry lasted for about 3.5 years. He selected his twelve disciples, and preached “The Gospel of the Kingdom” throughout the region of Judea.
    Matthew 4:17,23, Mark 1:14, Luke 6:13-16, John 2:11, John 6:14, John 21:25
  23. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, accused of Blasphemy by the Jewish leaders, and put to death by crucifixion.
    Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 26:45-49, Matthew 26:63-65, John 19:15-18
  24. Jesus death by crucifixion was the fulfilment of the “Edenic Covenant” portion of the “Everlasting Covenant”, as foretold by the Law of Moses, and fulfilling the principle of remission of sins through shedding of blood. Jesus was the “Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world”. Jesus rejection and crucifixion was in accordance with God’s Plan, and not in opposition to it.
    Matthew 5:17, Hebrews 10:1-10, John 1:29, Revelation 13:18, Galatians 3:21-25, Genesis 3:15, Romans 15:8
  25. Jesus was buried, and three days later, rose from the dead.
    Mark 15:43-47
  26. After his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples, and then ascended to Heaven, to be at God’s right hand. Jesus is now in Heaven, functioning as High Priest over the Household of Faith.
    Acts 1:9, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 4:14-15, I Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:1
  27. As with the time of the birth of Jesus, when the “appointed time” in God’s Plan comes, Jesus will return to the earth.
    Acts 1:11, Acts 3:19-21, Hebrews 9:28, Matthew 24:30-31
  28. Seven days after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven, on the Day of Pentecost, the Christian Dispensation began with the outpouring of the gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus.
    Acts 2:1-47
  29. Since the Day of Pentecost, the required methods of worshipping God are different from the methods during the dispensation of the Law of Moses. The sacrifices we are required to offer are not animal sacrifices, but are our “reasonable service” to God. (Romans 12:1). We perform this “reasonable service” after we have complied with God’s requirements to begin that service. (Romans 2:11). These requirements are:
    1. A person must become aware of their condemned, lost condition, their need for Salvation.
      Acts 2:37, Ephesians 2:12
    2. A person must DESIRE the offered Salvation.
      Acts 2:37,41, II Peter 3:9
    3. A person must HEAR, BELIEVE, and UNDERSTAND the “Everlasting Covenant”, the Gospel of the Kingdom of GOD, and realize that only through this Covenant and Gospel is salvation offered.
      Acts 8:12, Revelation 1:3, Romans 1:16
    4. A person must OBEY the commandments of the Gospel: REPENT and be BAPTIZED.
      Acts 8:12, Romans 6:3-18, Galatians 3:26-29
    5. After baptism, run with patience, the race that is set before us.
      Hebrews 5:8-9, Acts 2:42, Galatians 6:7-8, Hebrews 12:1, II Peter 3:15, II Timothy 4:7-8
  30. Baptism represents a spiritual “death, burial, and resurrection”, in which we are baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. (Rom 6:3-5, Col 2:12). This baptism is an immersion in water. (Acts 8:35-39). When baptized into Christ, a person is then “in Christ”, covenanted under the “Everlasting Covenant”, and heirs to the promises made to Abraham that are to be fulfilled by Christ.
    Galatians 3:16,26-29
  31. When we are baptized into Christ, we are a “new creature”, (II Corinthians 5:17), no longer under “Adamic Condemnation, “, but have received “Justification” from it through Christ. (Romans 8:1,2) As a new creature, we begin our “race” for eternal life. (Hebrews 12:1). Our behavior during the race for eternal life will determine the success, or failure of the race, and whether or not we obtain eternal life. (Romans 2:5-10). During our race for eternal life, God requires us to:
    1. Continue to study in order to:
      1. Increase our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of God’s Plan and Purpose for the earth.
        I Timothy 2:15, I Timothy 3:16-17, I Thessalonians 5:21, John 5:39, Acts 17:11
      2. Increase our faith by study of fulfilled prophecy.
        John 14:29
      3. Be aware of the signs of the times from study of prophecy.
        Matthew 16:1-3
      4. Grow from “babes who feed on the milk of the word” to “full grown that consume meat of the word”.
        I Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:12-14
    2. Attend and take an active part in the regularly scheduled meetings of the local congregation.
      Hebrews 10:24-25
    3. Partake of the memorial bread and wine in memory of Jesus’ death when we assemble together on the first day of the week (Sunday).
      John 6:53-58, Matthew 26:26-28, I Corinthians 11:23-29
    4. Encourage each other in the congregation to “hold fast the faith once delivered unto the Saints”.
      Jude 3,20
    5. Not conform to the World, abstain from all appearance of evil.
      Romans 12:2, I Thessalonians 5:22, John 17:15
  32. During our race for eternal life, we are to do our best to be obedient to God’s will, with the ability that God has given to us.
    Micah 6:8, Philippians 2:1-3, Colossians 3:16, Romans 12:3
  33. We realize that our actions will often fall short of what is required of us. At those times, we can obtain forgiveness for our shortcomings, and weaknesses, through Jesus, our High Priest. To obtain such forgiveness, we must ask in the proper manner, with true repentance.
    Hebrews 2:17-18, Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 5:8-9, I John 1:9
  34. If a person “in Christ” dies, that person is considered to be “asleep in Jesus”, awaiting the resurrection at the return of Jesus.
    I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Romans 6:1-5
  35. At the return of Christ, the following events will take place:
    1. Those who “sleep in Jesus” will be resurrected.
      I Thessalonians 4:14-16, John 5:28
    2. Those alive, “in Christ”, will be gathered from throughout the world.
      I Thessalonians 4:17, Matthew 24:30-31, Matthew 24:40-42
    3. Those resurrected, and those gathered, will be assembled before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged according to their deeds.
      II Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:5-6
    4. Those judged righteous will be rewarded with Immortality, Eternal Life in Christ’s Kingdom.
      Romans 2:7,10, I Corinthians 15:50-57, II Timothy 4:7-8
    5. Those judged unrighteous will be punished with the “second death”, “everlasting punishment of destruction from the presence of the Lord”.
      Romans 2:8-9, II Thessalonians 1:8-9, Psalm 37:9-10
    6. Christ will establish his Kingdom, with Jerusalem as the Capitol city.
      II Samuel 7:12-17, Zechariah 1:17
    7. The rule of Christ will begin in Israel, and spread to include all the earth.
      Daniel 2:44, Daniel 7:27, Revelation 11:15
  36. Christ will be accepted by the nation of Israel as their long expected Messiah, Savior, and King.
    Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 8:22
  37. Christ will then announce that he is not only the “king of the Jews”, but also “king of all the earth”, and demand the nations submit to his rule. This is the first proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
    Revelation 14:6-7
  38. Christ’s rule will be resisted by many. Some of those resisting will think Christ to be the “Antichrist” they look for. Those nations who resist will be subdued by Christ and his immortalized Saints. The survivors will be taught and ruled by Christ and the Saints. This rule will last for 1000 years.
    Zechariah 14:1-21, Isaiah 66:22-24, Revelation 20:4
  39. During the 1000 years reign of Christ and his Saints, conditions for mankind, and the earth will gradually improve, effectively reversing the curse placed on the earth as a result of Adam’s disobedience. The earth will be restored to the condition of “very good”.
    Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 11:1-9
  40. After the 1000 years reign of Christ and his Saints, all enemies of Christ will have been destroyed, the last enemy is DEATH. The earth will then be “filled with the Glory of the LORD”, as God intended. Christ will then deliver up the kingdom to God and God will be “All and In All”.
    I Corinthians 15:24-26, Numbers 14:21
  41. The Bible does not teach, therefore we reject the following commonly held beliefs:
    1. We reject the false-doctrine of the Trinity. We reject the belief that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, that they are all three co-equal, co-eternal. We also reject the belief that all three are one.
      Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29, I Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, John 17:3
    2. We reject the belief that a person has an “immortal soul” that will continue to live on, after the person’s body dies, that such “immortal soul” continues to live on as follows:
      I Corinthians 15:47, Ecclesiastes 3:18-21, Ecclesiastes 8:10, Isaiah 40:6

      1. We reject the belief that a good person’s soul goes to Heaven (God’s dwelling place). The scriptures never promise Heaven to anyone, at death, or after judgment.
        Matthew 5:5, Psalm 37:9,11,22,29 Psalm 115:16
      2. We reject the belief that a wicked person’s soul goes to a “burning hell” for punishment. The scriptures never promise eternal punishing to anyone, at death, or after judgment.
        Genesis 37:35, Job 14:13, Psalm 49:14, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Isaiah 66:22-24, II Thessalonians 1:7-9
    3. We reject that the “Devil” and “Satan”, found referred to in the Bible, is a person or fallen angel.
      I Timothy 3:11, Titus 2:3
    4. We reject the belief that Gifts of Power of the Holy Spirit are available to us today, as they were during the first century when the events recorded in the New Testament were being done.
      I Corinthians 12:27-31, I Corinthians 13:8,13
    5. We reject the belief that the body of Christ (His Ecclesia = Greek ‘called out ones’) is the “spiritual” kingdom preached by Jesus and the apostles, and foretold by the prophets.
      II Samuel 7:12-16, Luke 1:30-33, Ezekiel 37:15-28
      (pay particular attention to v. 25, “wherein your fathers have dwelt”. No such “spiritual kingdom” existed in those days. It refers to a physical kingdom, not a spiritual one.)

Learn here how you too can be a part of this great HOPE

Glad Tidings Magazine

How Confident is your Faith?

How Confident is your Faith?

We all have faith. Not everybody recognises this, but it’s true. We can’t exist without faith.

When you go out in the morning, you have faith that the bus will turn up, or the car will start. You have faithHow Secure is Your Faith that the shops will be open. If you had no faith, you wouldn’t bother getting out of bed.

Of course, your faith is based on facts – it’s not blind faith. Suppose you want to go into town. You could sit down by the side of a random road and wait for the right bus to come along – that would be blind faith.

You’d probably be waiting for a long time. Or you could look at the timetable to check where and when the bus goes, then wait at the bus stop at the right time – that’s faith based on facts. And that way you’d be much more likely to get to town.

The point is, as you stand and wait at the bus stop you don’t know for certain that the bus will turn up, but you have faith that it will, based on your knowledge of the facts.

The Christian life is also a life of faith. This is not blind faith, but confident faith based on knowledge and experience.

Christian Faith

A friend once said to me, “I wish I had your faith!”

This was a very sad thing to say – it implied that my faith was somehow out of reach for him. That’s not true. I think what he really meant was, “I’d like to have your faith but I’m not prepared to give it a go.”

Faith in God is not difficult to achieve. The apostle Paul puts it succinctly:

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

That’s all there is to it! Read the Bible with an open mind and a teachable attitude. God’s word will then do its job and it will instil faith. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.

Here are three ways in which it can do this:

1 – Fulfilled Prophecy

“You are My witnesses”, says the LORD, “and My servant whom I have chosen. That you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me” (Isaiah 43:10).

In this chapter God is talking to the people of Israel. He is saying, if you want evidence of My existence just look at yourselves!

Whatever you think of the Jews, you cannot deny that they are a remarkable people with a remarkable history.

The Middle East home of the Jewish People of GodThe Bible is largely concerned with the story of the Jews, from its beginning with Abraham 4,000 years ago, right through to a time that’s still future to us. It tells us about the blessings that were promised to them; their failings, faithlessness and folly; God’s patience and love for them; their disasters and triumphs. We can marvel at the numerous prophecies that God gave concerning them, many of which have been fulfilled in staggering detail, while others are being fulfilled at the moment and some still remain to be fulfilled.

As you read these prophecies and see their fulfilment, it will require an enormous feat of cynicism to deny that you can see God Himself at work. The prophecies concerning the nation of Israel are just some of the amazing prophecies in the Bible which have been fulfilled, and are still being fulfilled.

2 – Superhuman Wisdom

God gave the Jewish nation a law, which we know as the Law of Moses.

It’s contained in the books of Exodus through to Deuteronomy. To modern readers, much of the Law of Moses might seem curious at first sight.

However, it is increasingly recognised as being far ahead of its time, for example in terms of medical practice, public health and economic legislation.

Moses told Israel:

“I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them… Be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’.” (Deuteronomy 4:5–6).

The Law of Moses is just one example of how the Bible contains knowledge about the world and how it works, that was well ahead of its time.

3 – Written That You Might Believe

The Gospel of John has a lot to say about belief – which is another word for faith. John focuses on eight particular miracles of Jesus, which he calls ‘signs’. These signs are each accompanied by teaching, and usually John takes pains to point out how the sign made people believe in Jesus. Then towards the end of the Gospel he addresses the reader:

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31).

The miracles Jesus performed were compelling aids to faith, for those who witnessed them. And here we are, 2,000 years later, able to read for ourselves the things that Jesus did and taught, and make up our own minds.

Being Certain of Things You Can’t See

Hebrews chapter 11 is often called the ‘faith chapter’, because it is all about faith – what it is, why it is essential, and how to get it. The chapter starts by explaining this about faith:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

What exactly does that mean?

Another translation puts it:

“Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.”

The chapter goes on to list great men and women of the Bible who lived by faith. Noah believed God when He said He was going to flood the earth, and so he built a massive boat on dry land (no doubt to the derision of his neighbour’s), and was saved when the Flood washed them away. Abraham left his comfortable life in the civilized city of Ur, in order to become a nomad in the dangerous outback of Canaan, because God made him promises of future blessings and he believed them.

Moses turned his back on the life of a prince in Egypt, and instead led the slave-people of Israel to the Promised Land.

What marked out these special people was that they looked beyond the everyday, the things that reoccupied everyone else. They listened to God, believed Him, and did extraordinary things. The attitude of faith is summed up by Paul:

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Christians live by faith. They follow Jesus’ instruction, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

The things they believe and the things they do might make little sense to people who don’t share that faith – but it’s always been that way!

Waiting for the Bus

The Christian’s faith is not blind faith; it’s based on reason and gives great cause for excitement. The Bible provides ample reason for faith.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see a group of people waiting at a bus stop. You can’t see a bus, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t coming. It means they’ve looked at the timetable and they know what they’re waiting for. They are acting in faith.

Imagine that this particular group of people is very happy and excited.

Wouldn’t you stop to see what they are so excited about?

By Chris Parkin

Glad Tidings Magazine

True of False Teaching?

Is Satan a fallen Angel?

Is Satan a fallen Angel?

Mainstream Churches would have us believe that there is an superhuman evil force atTrue of False Teaching? work in this world and that this is due to a ‘fallen angel’, but is this true?

Where in the Bible does it teach us this?

Well there is only one passage in the Bible that those who believe such a thing turn you to and that is:

The Bible Passage

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14

What some would have us believe:

This verse is used to prove that Satan is a fallen angel. A S.D.A. book of official doctrine puts it this way:

“As to Satan, or the devil, we hold the uniform teaching of the Word to be that he is definitely a personal being – the supreme adversary of God and man . . . He was, however, once an angel of light, the highest of the angels. He was named Lucifer, son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12-14). But he fell from his high estate (Ezekiel 28:13-18; Luke 10:18; John 8:44), and drew down with him a host of angels, first unto disaffection and then into open rebellion against God and His government . . . “1

True Bible Teaching is:

  1. This passage nowhere mentions the terms “devil”, “satan” or “fallen angel”. The argument in support of a fallen angel is, therefore, an inferred
  2. Lucifer is identified in the narrative, but not with a rebel angel. It is explicitly stated: “Take up this proverb 2against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased!” (vs. 4). (The preceding chapter is a prophecy against Babylon itself, but now the prophecy is directed against the king of Babylon).
  3. Some questions require answering:
    1. Is Satan really accompanied by the noise of viols (sound of harps, R.S.V.)? (vs.11).
    2. Is Satan to be covered by worms in the grave (vs. 11) or is he not rather to be cast into the lake of fire? (Revelation 20:10).
    3. Why is Satan desirous of a place “in the sides of the north”? (vs. 13).
    4. If Satan is a rebel angel, why is he called “the man”? (vs. 16).
    5. Why did Satan say, “I will ascend into heaven” if in fact he had access to heaven until 1914? (As J.W.’s assert.)
    6. What land has Satan possessed, the destruction of which merits him dishonourable burial? (vs. 20).
    7. Where are Satan’s people buried? (vs. 20) Is not the lake of fire said to be the common receptacle of Satan and his cohorts?
    8. When did Satan have charge over a prison, refusing to let the people go home? (vs. 17 R.S.V.).
  4. Lucifer means “Day Star”(R.S.V.) and the verse employs the figure of the brilliant planet Venus which appears low in the sky just before dawn and climbs higher and higher inThe Sun went down on Babylon the sky until unseen in the daylight.3 The same bright planet is also an “evening star” seen at sunset and going lower and lower until lost beneath the horizon. Hence the figure of Lucifer, king of Babylon, rising in power to his zenith and saying in his heart “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (which parallels the arrogance of another king of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar – who said: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). The “evening star” seen at sunset going lower and lower until lost beneath the horizon portrays the demise of Lucifer – “brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (vs. 15).
  5. “Ascending to heaven “is a Biblical idiom for increase in pride or exaltation, and “falling from heaven”, an idiom for complete humiliation. See Jeremiah 51:53 (refers to Babylon); Lamentation 2:1; Matthew 11:23 (refers to Capernaum).

Footnotes:

  1. Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine: An Explanation of Certain Major Aspects of Seventh-day Adventist Belief, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Ass., 1957), pp. 618, 619.
  2. The “proverb” was a “taunting speech” (mg.) in which trees spoke (vs. 8), and the dead in hell were made to speak when the king died with his pomp and glory. (vs. 9-10).
  3. See James Hastings (ed.), Dictionary of the Bible, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1963), p. 936. The Amplified Old Testament, (Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), comments in a footnote to Isaiah 14 as follows: “. . . the application of the name Lucifer to Satan, in spite of the long and confident teaching to that effect, is completely erroneous. . . . Nowhere in the Bible is Satan called Lucifer. The misapplication of the name has existed since the third century A.D., and is based on the false supposition that Luke 10:18 is an explanation of Isaiah 14:12 . . . It is the satanic king himself who is being addressed.” p. 503. The J.W.’s, for example, have recognized the force of these arguments and now no longer in their official publications refer to Satan as “Lucifer”, nor is Isaiah 14 cited in support of their belief that Satan is a fallen angel.
Does Satan Exist?

Is there a supernatural ‘‘Satan’’?

We take a look at some of the passages that same would take us to, that on the surfaceDoes Satan Exist? seem to speak of a supernatural satan, but do they?   The Bible does use the word ‘satan’ and ‘the devil’ but let us look at these passages and see what or who they refer to?’

Firstly the word ‘satan’ is a Hebrew word transliterated into our English Bible, this means that the translators saw this word in the Hebrew and chose to leave it in the Hebrew rather than translating it into it’s English equivalent meaning of ‘adversary’ or ‘opposer’.  Straight away upon discovering this would should have alarm bells ringing in our heads as to why they would do this?  But on a closer look we find it is actually worse than this as we discover that the translators have only chosen to transliterate this word into our English Bible when it seemed to them that it might refer to something that they already believed in ie. A supernatural evil being.  We find that in most places where it is clearly not talking about such a thing they have translated it correctly to the English ‘adversary’.

Let us now look at some of the passages where the translators have chosen to transliterate this Hebrew word into our English Bible.  We need to start with the Old Testament because ‘satan’ (though never ‘the devil’) is mentioned there in a way that on first reading might seem to support such a belief in a supernatural evil.

In the Old Testament there are two clear examples where someone called ‘Satan’ appears, but when you think about the background to the story it is clear that ‘Satan’ is a character in a kind of drama set in a tribunal, or a court of law. In these ‘dramas’, ‘Satan’ represents the opposition to God’s ways that was coming from men and women at the time. Real situations are described in a dramatic way, as in a play.

Satan in the Book of Job

Job was the most godly person of his time. He was also very rich and powerful. It was natural for envious minds to suggest that Job only served God because God rewarded him with the good things of this life.

The ‘sons of God’ (Job 1:6) are worshippers of God: we are not told whether they are angels or humans.

A character called Satan appears in the early scenes of the drama (the first two chapters of the book) to challenge Job − that is, to be a ‘satan’ (or adversary) to him. Satan makes his suggestion openly, and God gives him the power to test this out. Then, in plainer language from chapter 3 onwards, we see how Job trusted in God and survived the test, in spite of his friends who echo Satan’s accusations.

It seems that it was their envy that had been dramatised in the earlier chapters. For, in chapter 42:11 his family console him for all the trouble that the LORD had brought upon him.

The Satan character, having played his part, has disappeared, and the friends are reconciled when Job prays for them.

In Isaiah God says:

I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

The idea of a rival god who is responsible for evil is quite wrong.

Satan in Zechariah Ch. 3

This prophetic book was written at a time when Jerusalem was being rebuilt after it was destroyed by the Babylonians. There was much opposition from Samaritan people who were transported into the area after the Jews were taken away. In the purpose of God, however, this opposition would be defeated, and the rebuilding of the Temple would succeed. Ezra chapter 4 describes this in plain language. Zechariah 3 is a vision which shows this contest in the form of another play or drama. Here the Satan character represents the opposition from these Samaritans, who would be ‘rebuked’ by the angel of God. The High Priest would then change his working clothes to Priest’s robes, and the Temple  services would start again.

This was the meaning at the time.

More importantly, the chapter is also a wonderful prophecy of the crowning of Jesus as our perfect High Priest. Jesus was born about 400 years later. The Hebrew name ‘Joshua’ means the same as ‘Jesus’.

Both names mean ‘Yah shall save’, (‘Yah’ is a short form of God’s name ‘Yahweh’).

Joshua’s garments were soiled – building is dirty work. This represented human nature which as we have seen is ‘dirty’ stuff. When Jesus was here he had the same nature as we do, but because he always pleased God he was raised to life again with God’s nature – like the High Priest changing his robes for clean and splendid ones.

Satan tempts Jesus

Now we go to the New Testament to see how Jesus’ temptations are shown in the same dramatic way – Jesus versus the devil or satan.

These temptations of Jesus are recorded in three Gospels (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)

which shows how important they are. If we forget what the Old Testament tells us about temptation, they do seem to say that an evil super-human being visited Jesus. But here we have one more Bible ‘drama’.

Remember − when we asked where opposition to God comes from, the answer in plain (not picture)

language was always “from human nature”. Jesus shared this nature. Look at Luke 4:6, where the devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment. This could only happen in his own mind, because even from space you can only see half of the world.

This satan offered Jesus all the glory of these kingdoms:

Then the devil, taking him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to him, “All this authority I will give you, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whoever I wish. Therefore, if you will worship before me, all will be yours.”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’ ” (Luke 4:5–8).

Notice that the tempter says “this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whoever I wish”. Just ask the question:

“Who has the world been promised to, and who has the right to share it with others?” The answer is in Psalm 2:8-9; Luke 22:28-30 and Revelation 2:26-7.

The world has only ever been promised to Jesus, and he was so sure of it that he promised his followers a share in it.

This temptation therefore was in his own mind, as were the others. Temptations came into Jesus’ mind because of his human nature, but he always overcame them by recalling the words of God. This is the example that he gives us, showing how we too should resist temptation.

By John Woodall

Christ on the cross

WHY DID CHRIST HAVE TO DIE?

Mel Gibson’s film: The Passion of the Christ has brought the horrors of RomanChrist on the cross floggings and crucifixion back into the public eye.

But why did Jesus really have to die?

When our thoughts turn to the cross of Christ what sort of mental picture do we have? Do we see the cross as something ennobling and glorious? Do we have warm sentimental feelings about crucifixion?

Crucifixion
In reality it was a stark and hideous spectacle. Crucifixion must surely be one of the most monstrous of all human inventions. Scourging sometimes preceded crucifixion. The condemned man was whipped with thongs of leather to which pieces of bone or metal had been attached. There were times when people died as a result of scourging. Next the victim was nailed, through hands and feet to a wooden cross which was then lifted to a vertical position and fixed firmly in the ground. Then he was simply left to die. He was not killed — just impaled in a position from which escape was impossible and left there until death overtook him.

By sheer animal instinct the man would struggle to keep alive although life meant torture. Under its own weight his body would slump forward constricting the lungs and restricting breathing. But again and again, despite the intense pain in pierced hands and feet, he would heave his chest upwards to draw breath — and keep alive. Ultimately death would come as a relief but only after hours and hours-often days-of indescribable agony. The Lord died after six hours on the cross, and Pilate was amazed that he had died so soon (Mark 15:44)

In the days when the Romans ruled, crucifixion was regarded with revulsion and disgust. The offender — usually a dangerous political enemy or an incorrigible criminal — was raised aloft and placarded before the people as a grim warning that disobedience does not pay. Those who witnessed the ghastly spectacle usually took the lesson.

Of the Lord Jesus Christ it is written that he “endured the cross despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2}. It was such a shameful death that some contended that Jesus could not have been the Son of God because God would never have allowed His Son to die such a vile death.

Jewish Intrigue
The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was a combined operation — The Jews made the plans and the Romans carried them out.

When the Jews first became aware of the presence of the Lord Jesus, they were hopeful and excited. The Romans had robbed them of their independence and they resented it. They wanted a king of their own, and Jesus of Nazareth as they called him, seemed a likely candidate for this office. He seemed to have alI the qualifications!

Although the Lord Jesus was –and still is– destined to be a king, other matters had to be dealt with first. Especially important was the need to preach repentance and personal holiness, as the Lord did early in his ministry in the Sermon on the Mount. The Jewish leaders did not appreciate this emphasis on moral integrity. They felt rebuked not only by his words but also by the awesome holiness of the Lord’s character. Also they were envious of his popularity with the common people.

Roman Suspicion
This popularity was an embarrassment for another reason too. The leaders no longer thought of Jesus as a prospective king, but the common people still seemed attracted to this idea. The excitement of the crowds could make the Romans suspicious, and the Jewish leaders were afraid that they might “take away both our place and nation” (John 11:47,48)

How then could they get rid of him? First they had to persuade themselves and their fellow Jews that there were good reasons for removing this man. The real reasons — envy of Jesus and fear of the Romans — could not be broadcast though attempts to conceal them were not remarkably successful. What then should the “official” reason be? After a deal of bungling because the false witnesses whom they had suborned kept contradicting each other, they found a charge that would make them appear as men of high principle: Jesus had claimed to be the Son of God. Although the claim was true they called it blasphemy, and blasphemy was punishable by death. His fate was determined.

But there was still a problem. The Romans were their overlords, and only those whom the Romans condemned could be put to death — and then only by the Romans themselves. So they had to persuade the Romans to kill him. It would have been no use their complaining to the Romans that Jesus of Nazareth had claimed to be the Son of God. The superstitious Romans might even have honored him for this high claim; certainly they would not have thought of it as a capital charge. So with tongue in cheek the Jewish leaders reported to Pilate the Roman governor, that this man claimed to be the king of the Jews, whereas they acknowledged no king but Caesar. He was therefore, they argued, a threat to the Roman government. If you let this man go, they said to Pilate you are not Caesar’s friend. (Remember that not so long before this they would have welcomed Jesus as a king because they wanted to be independent of Rome)

Of course Pilate could see through their guile, yet he was forced to give in to their demand lest he himself should be reported to Caesar for disloyalty.

So Jesus was crucified.

Conspiracy against the Son of God

 The crucifixion of Christ was no small operation. It is not usually appreciated how many people and how many types of people were involved. Representing the Romans were Herod the king, Pilate the governor, a centurion and some common soldiers Two rival Jewish parties were also involved — Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees consisted largely of narrow-minded intensely religious scribes; whereas the broad-minded, pleasure-loving priests belonged to the Sadducees’ party. Also there was a treacherous apostle named Judas, a seditious killer name Barabbas. and a little army of Jewish accessories in that bizarre assortment of enemies.

See how opposite types were drawn together. Normally Jews and Romans hated each other, and so did the Pharisees and Sadducees. Indeed Pilate and Herod were enemies until the trial of Jesus. It was a strange mixture of peoples that conspired together to put the son of God to death. Differences were sunk because there was a formidable common enemy.

The Challenge of Jesus of Nazareth
The enemy was the only completely righteous man who has ever lived. To each man, to each group of men, he was a person who did not belong. Despite their differences, all these people felt easier in each other’s company than in the company of this man. This motley crowd of sinful people had nothing in common with Jesus, the uniquely righteous man. Jesus was a challenge to the world: his teaching and the quality of his life were a rebuke to all men.

Jesus is still a challenge to the world. All who belong to the world are on the side of the crucifiers. If we belong to the world, we are in the same class as those who crucified Christ. What a shocking commentary on human nature: when the righteous Son of God lived on this earth people decided that they would be better off without him-they plotted to get rid of him! And once they had made up their minds, they would stop at nothing — lies, hypocrisy, illegal trials, bribery, false witnesses, blackmail, torture, murder.

Those who simply blame the Jews are missing the point. The point is that, given the circumstances, any other nation would 0have acted in the same way. Perhaps, in this sophisticated age, the details of the story might have worked out differently. But the motives and the end would have been the same.

Human beings just cannot tolerate a person whose one ambition in life is to obey the laws of God. To express it in another way: human beings reject the standards required by God. They prefer to obey their own human instincts. And what are these instincts? Let the Lord Jesus tell us:

“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

And Paul completes the description of human nature:

“. . . Jews and Gentiles . . . are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God . . . there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18).

A revolting picture — of us!

Man’s Estrangement from God
The sad story of man’s estrangement from God goes right back to Adam and is told in the early chapters of Genesis. The first fact presented in the Bible is that God is the Creator. He created the heaven and the earth, and everything on the earth, including man. The creation of man is summarized thus:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

Now consider. Because God is the Creator of heaven and earth and all that they contain, everything belongs to Him. And because He is the Possessor of everything, He is in charge. His word is law. So when God put man into a garden which He had prepared for him, it was altogether reasonable that He should have given him instructions concerning what could be done and what could not be done. (How strange that this should need saying at all!) God’s instructions were:

“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).

The Tragedy of Eden
Genesis 3 continues the narrative. It tells of the disobedience of Adam, and the consequences of this disobedience. God pronounced the death sentence upon Adam:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19).

The effect of this upon the rest of humanity is stated by Paul:

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Like begets like. Adam disobeyed and became a sinner, and all his children follow him in the way of sin. The Scriptures declare, and we know from personal experience, that there is in all human beings a strong tendency to defy the law of God. Adam was condemned to death, and his descendants, the sin-stricken human race-all who are “in Adam”, to use a Scriptural expression-are likewise subject to death: “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

Sin and Death
The Scriptures themselves emphasize the fact that man is subject to death because of sin. Romans 5:1 2, quoted above, is just one of many passages that stress this relationship between sin and death. The oft-quoted Scripture, “The wages of sin is death”, occurs in the next chapter of Romans (6:23), and in the chapter after that it is stated that “the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death” (7:5). And so on…

Who was right-God or Adam? Obviously God was right. Despite a clear warning, Adam broke God’s law and paid the penalty. Yet the verdict of man is that Adam was right and God was wrong. People do not usually say this in so many words, yet by action and attitude they show that their respect and sympathy are for Adam, not God. They express this attitude in two ways: (1) by condoning sin; (2) by resenting death.

Man’s Just Reward
All human beings demonstrate by their own deeds that they approve of the way of disobedience. Already we have looked at the teaching of Scripture concerning human nature. Many blatantly and deliberately reject God’s laws; others simply do what they want to without ever taking God’s laws into account; others profess to fear God, but find excuses to justify doing what they want to do, instead of what God requires of them. Even the few who really try to serve God feel dissatisfied with their efforts: the gravitational force of sin drags them down.

“All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

All reject death. They resent the death sentence that God pronounced on the human race. To many it seems that, instead of receiving the just reward of their deeds, they are being cheated. Even if he were not a sinner, man could not reasonably claim the right to live for ever. Yet sinful human beings seem to regard death as an unjust and cruel imposition.

Indeed, many people deny that death takes place at all. Although all the evidence points the other way, they say that death is only an appearance-not a reality. When a man dies (they claim) life really begins. They regard death as the gateway to a richer and fuller life.

This is utterly contrary to the teaching of Scripture. As we have seen, the Bible teaches that death is a punishment. It was never intended to be something pleasant and attractive. According to the Bible, when a man dies “his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4); and “the dead know not anything” (Eccles. 9:5). To put it simply: death is the cessation of life.

Although man keeps fighting against God throughout his life-by continuing to sin and by rejecting death-God wins decisively in the end, and man returns to his native dust. God did not say in vain, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.

Why was Jesus Christ Crucified?
Jesus Christ was crucified because the Jews hated him and wanted to get rid of him. This is one obvious reason. But surely God could have stopped them from committing this terrible crime, and at the same time have spared His Son the pain and shame of crucifixion? Obviously God was powerful enough to intervene and prevent the crime. And yet, although the Lord Jesus prayed three times to his Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me. . . “God did not intervene. If God’s principles were to be upheld and His purpose fulfilled, intervention was not possible. God’s plan required that His sinless Son should be crucified.

But how was God to fulfil His good purpose in a world governed by man’s disobedience and wickedness? God’s wisdom found the way. Whilst it would seem that sinners would triumph in putting Jesus to death, in reality God would surely fulfil His purpose despite man’s wickedness, indeed by turning it to good account. Peter puts it like this:

“(Christ) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).

Saving Man from Sin
At the very time that man was doing his worst for God by murdering His Son, God was doing His best for man by using the death of His Son as a means of bringing wonderful blessings to the human race.

Two quotations here remind us what the first of these blessings was:

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). “Now once in the end of the world hath he (Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).

The death of Christ was therefore God’s way of saving man from sin.

Redeeming Man from Death
We could easily work out for ourselves what the other great blessing is. Because the death of Christ saves men from sin, we should expect it also to save men from death, the consequence of sin. And this is precisely what the apostle John says:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-16).

The first part of this quotation refers back to an incident which we hope to discuss later. But the vital message is easy to understand: the death of Christ presents man with an opportunity to live forever.

Everlasting Life
The basic facts relating to God’s gift of everlasting life, though wonderful beyond words, are not difficult to understand. Think first of the Lord Jesus himself. He died and his body was put into a tomb-a man-made cave, hewn out of a rock. Then, three days later, the great stone that had closed the mouth of the cave was rolled away by superhuman power; by God’s mighty power Christ was raised and came forth to live for ever.

The importance of the Lord’s resurrection is emphasised in 1 Corinthians 15. It is the foundation fact upon which the Christian hope is based:

“Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

Like the Lord Jesus himself, his followers will be raised from the dead. Do not miss the fact that the passage quoted also tells us that the resurrection of Christ’s followers will take place when he comes again.

This is not the whole story. After his resurrection, the Lord Jesus proclaimed triumphantly: “I am he that liveth, and was dead . . . ” (Rev. 1:18). But he did not stop there. He continued: ” . . . and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” He was therefore making a double claim:

  1. That he had been raised from the dead; and
  2. That he would never die again.

And so it will be with those “that are Christ’s”. Not only will those who have died be raised from the dead when their Lord returns: they will also receive eternal life, “the gift of God”.

The blessings of resurrection and immortality are therefore promised to the Lord’s followers because he himself surrendered to God’s will and died upon a cross. The facts are clear, though the reason for them involves much that is deep and wonderful.

The Followers of Adam
Think now of Adam as the leader of a great procession. The whole human race is following him along the broad way of disobedience and sin. Many people stride eagerly along this attractive road, and a few tread reluctantly. Most people, however, would neither think of themselves as eager or reluctant followers of Adam. They never release that they are following him at all. They simply do as they please. But pleasing self instead of pleasing God is sinning: so, all unknown to themselves, they are a part of the Adamic procession.

There comes a point when some of Adam’s followers begin to see the unwelcome destination towards which they have been moving. When death looms large before them they start dragging their feet, but all to no avail. Although they are not willing to die, death claims them.

The Lord Jesus was different. He always resisted sin, and he accepted death. Thus he declared by his life and his death that Adam was wrong and God was right.

To accept death as the just reward of one’s sins is exceptional. But to accept death without ever having sinned marks out the Lord Jesus as a unique person.

“The man, Christ Jesus”
If Jesus had an altogether superior nature to the rest of us, the lesson would not have been so impressive. But the Scriptures assure us that he possessed a nature just like ours. It is easy to be misunderstood, so let us spell out the facts in simple language.

The Lord Jesus had no human father. He is called the Son of God because God was truly his Father. The power of God, called the Holy Spirit, caused his mother, a member of the human race, to conceive and give birth to a son-the Son of God:

“And the angel answered and said unto her (Mary), The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

“Like unto his brethren”
The Son of God is now immortal (he partook of “the divine nature” after his resurrection), but in the first phase of his existence he shared our human nature:

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, this is, the devil . . . For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:14-18).

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

The fact that the Scriptures lay so much emphasis upon this truth is the measure of its importance. It is strange that so many people indignantly reject the Bible teaching that, in “the days of his flesh”, our Lord had a nature like ours. His temptation in the wilderness was not play-acting: it was real. The suggestions were attractive. He had to struggle to resist them; and it was likewise a struggle to accept death.

Yet, by resisting sin and accepting death, the Lord Jesus repudiated Adam and came down decisively on God’s side in the great controversy.

Christ’s Conquest over Sin
In his life and in his death, the Lord Jesus had honored his Father and declared Him (not Adam) to be righteous. Thus in character he was perfectly in accord with the will of his Father. He honored God like a true Son. And God honored him, raising him from the dead and making him immortal.

Think now of the Lord Jesus as the leader of another procession-a much smaller one. To his disciples he said:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

Do you see the picture? In the lead is Jesus himself-going to the place of crucifixion. Following him is a procession of people who have opted out of the Adamic procession. Each is bent under the burden of a cross; each is a volunteer for crucifixion. These have also decided, like their Leader, that God is right. They are going to die with Christ that they might live with him.

Baptism — A Burial with Christ
It is by baptism that people demonstrate that they have decided to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is stated in Romans 6:

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:1-6).

See how the baptism of a believer unites him with the Lord Jesus Christ. He dies with him. In the figurative language of the chapter, he is crucified with him. He is crucified to sin-he renounces his former way of life-and the life that he lives after baptism is a new life, like that of the resurrected Christ.

Changing Sides
To recall a conclusion that was presented earlier: all who belong to the world belong to the people who crucified Christ. We have just seen that baptized believers are crucified with Christ. They must therefore have changed sides. The crucifiers now become the crucified; the persecutors are persecuted.

This change happened dramatically to the man they called Saul of Tarsus. There was a time when he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). So intimately did the Lord Jesus identify himself with his disciples that he intervened and rebuked Saul, saying: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” In response to Saul’s enquiry, the Lord said: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:4,5).

When Saul was converted, he was required to suffer persecution. The Lord said: “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). And how he suffered!

Crucified with Christ
Later Saul (whose name had been changed to Paul) wrote to the Galatians:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (2:20).

More light is shed on this subject by another passage from Galatians:

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (6:14).

Paul is involved in two crucifixions here: (1) “the world is crucified unto me; (2) ” . . . and I unto the world.” The second crucifixion is easy to understand. Paul is crucified (figuratively speaking) by the hostile world because he is a follower of Christ. But what about the first crucifixion? Paul-and other believers-are crucifiers of the world. How can this be?

The answer is that, as well as being outside of us and around us, the world is inside each one of us. Human desires are called the world (1 John 2:16). This world within us, which is also called “the flesh” has to be crucified. Thus in Galatians 5:24 Paul says:

“They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

Disciples must therefore prepare for confrontation with the world on two fronts. They have to crucify, or destroy, their ungodly tendencies; and they have to suffer the hostility of a world that hates them because they hate sin. The hostility of the world shows itself in various ways. Sometimes it takes the form of physical assault; sometimes it is petty persecution; invariably there are indications that the people of the world do not appreciate the company of true Christians.

Representative — not Substitute
The fact that Christ died for our sakes is an important part of New Testament teaching. But let us get one thing clear: although Christ died for us, he did not die instead of us. As we have seen, Christ’s followers have to die with him. This is the meaning of baptism: ” . . . our old man is crucified with him” (Rom. 6:6).

When God pronounced the death sentence on mankind in Eden He was upholding His own righteous law. If He were to waive this sentence, He would, in effect, be saying that sin does not really matter after all. So the sentence of Eden stands and God requires that each of us must die.

Sooner or later death overtakes all men: but God encourages us to recognize our own degraded and hopeless condition and anticipate the death sentence. We must volunteer for crucifixion.

Now think of Christ. He is our representative, who identified himself with the human race in suffering, in temptation, in mortality. Although he never sinned, he carried the great burden of other people’s sins, with their painful and shameful consequences. Isaiah the prophet expresses it like this:

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa. 53:5-7).

The question is sometimes asked: Why did Jesus have to die such a painful and shameful death? One reason is because he bore the sins of others: he bore the sins of all who identify themselves with him. The pain and the shame of the cross are the just reward for their deeds. The penitent thief recognised that he deserved crucifixion (Luke 23:40,41), and so must all true Christians. By crucifixion our Lord placarded before the world what human nature deserves.

Christ is our representative. He identified himself with human nature in life and in death. And we must identify ourselves with him. With him we must die; and with him we shall be raised to a life over which death has no power.

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:11,12).

The Brazen Serpent . . . The Lamb of God
In John’s Gospel the Lord Jesus is described as a lamb:

“Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In the same Gospel, the Lord Jesus compares himself to a brazen serpent: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (John 3:14).

A greater contrast it would be impossible to imagine. Lambs are attractive, innocent and of great value. Serpents are repulsive, vicious, dangerous. If our Lord had not compared himself to the brazen serpent, we would never have dared to do so. How remarkable that both these creatures, the lamb and the serpent, should be used as symbols of the Lord Jesus in his death. This may help us to appreciate that there are truths here which need to be understood. Do not miss the fact that the comparison is with a brazen serpent-a harmless image of a creature with an immense potential for evil.

The story of the brazen serpent is told in Numbers 21. The children of Israel had brought the wrath of God upon themselves by their incessant grumbling about God’s good gifts. God sent fiery serpents amongst the people and many of them were bitten and mortally wounded. Then, in compassion, God instructed Moses to make a brazen serpent and to set it upon a pole in the midst of the stricken multitude. Those dying Israelites who deliberately turned to look at the brazen serpent were healed.

The Law of Moses Could not Save
There are important lessons in this true story. First, it demonstrates the impotence of the Law of Moses to save people from death. And there was nothing that the Law could do to meet this calamitous situation. As we should expect, the God-given Law of Moses was a just and wise code of laws. Those who kept the Law were promised rich blessings. The trouble was that man was simply not good enough to fulfil the reasonable demands of the Law:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20).

But the rituals and ordinances of the Law of Moses were very instructive. The Law in fact reflected God’s love and concern for man. It was “our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). The Law prepared the discerning Israelite for–and helps us to understand–the atoning work of God in the death of His beloved Son.

Faith, Grace . . . and the Love of God
Until people learn the humbling fact that they are sinners who deserve to die, salvation is impossible, but to those who are aware of their wretchedness these gracious words apply:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 3:21-24)

So the incident of the brazen serpent is a dramatized parable demonstrating that there was no power in the Law of Moses to save humanity from the serpent bite of sin. That is why God provided His only begotten Son.

But why does the Lord compare himself to a serpent, of all creatures? The Son of God came in human form. In character he was perfect, yet he had inherited from Adam a “serpent” nature-a nature which could be tempted to sin. This nature was the cause of the trouble. It had to be cursed and crucified.

To hang a person on a tree, pole, or cross, was a symbolic act. It was the Hebrew way of cursing the one who was “lifted up”. In the words of Scripture: “He that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23). In comparing himself to the serpent on the pole, the Lord was teaching that salvation from death could only come by cursing and destroying human nature with its potential for rebellion against God’s authority. The Lord Jesus, an innocent bearer of this rebellious nature, showed what to do with it. He crucified it, and he invited others to do the same.

The Passover
The “Lamb” is another symbol that takes our thoughts back to the Old Testament-to the Passover in Egypt, the beginning of the history of Israel as a nation. First came that series of plagues, culminating in the death of every firstborn in Egypt. There was no automatic exemption for Israel. They were required to kill an unblemished male lamb, eat its flesh and sprinkle its blood upon the lintels and doorposts of their houses. Only if they did this were their firstborn children spared when the Egyptians were destroyed (see Exodus 1 2).

The ultimate outcome of this amazing demonstration of divine power-power to destroy and power to save-was the deliverance of the whole nation from Egyptian bondage. To ensure that the children of Israel never forgot this mighty deliverance, God instructed them to commemorate the Passover annually. Each family procured for itself a lamb, which was slain and eaten in circumstances that would provide a vivid reminder of the deliverance from Egypt. Generations as yet unborn would have reason to thank God for that fateful night.

In New Testament times the Jews were careful to observe this annual Passover Feast. No detail was neglected; indeed they did more than was required. Yet there was no gratitude in their hearts. At the very time that the priests and rulers were making elaborate preparation to keep this feast — a feast designed to show their gratitude for a mighty deliverance — they were plotting to put God’s only Son to death.

A Greater Deliverance
But God was making His plans too. All unknown to themselves, these plotting priests were making preparation for the offering up of the greater Passover Lamb-the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. His death would provide deliverance from a bondage far more grievous than that of Egypt-the bondage of sin and death.

What is the lesson of the Lamb? Pure and precious, it represents the best that man can afford. The best is offered up to God. Everything that is truly good comes from God and belongs to God. Men are required to offer up to God all that is worthy in themselves, and all their treasured possessions and above all life itself. The paschal lamb was not offered instead of the offerer. It represented his best, and was a token of his own complete surrender to God. By eating the flesh of the lamb, the Israelites symbolically identified themselves with it. Its blood was, in a sense, their blood, which means that its life represented their life. By this ceremony they declared that they were not their own-they were offering themselves to God. And God recognised them as His own and delivered them.

So too with the Lamb of God. Conscious of his need for help, he sought it diligently from his Father-and received it. All his virtue and the perfection of his character had come from God and was offered up to God. We are invited to admire his perfection, to identify ourselves with him and through him to offer ourselves up to God. Like Israel of old, God will then recognize us as His redeemed people, “not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18,19).

Identification with Christ
The initial act of identification with the Lord Jesus is baptism. But God knows how foolish and forgetful human beings are, and just as He instituted for Israel the annual Passover lest they should forget, so He has provided Christians with a means of remembering that they are a redeemed people. Lest they should forget that their Saviour died for them, disciples are required to eat bread and drink wine, symbols of the body and blood of their Lord. This rite is a symbol of identification. “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). From the days of the Apostles, believers have celebrated this memorial feast week by week.

The brazen serpent symbolizes the destruction of what is evil, and the paschal lamb symbolizes the giving back to God of what is good. Together they sum up all that was accomplished by the death of Jesus, and all that is required of his followers.

Human nature is evil and offensive to God. It must be destroyed. This is the lesson of the brazen serpent. But life itself, and every good gift, has come from God and must be given back to him in sacrifice. This is the lesson of the paschal lamb.

Dedicating our Lives to God
People are reluctant to dedicate to God life and all that is good. Yet how can they be losers when they give back to the Creator that which is already His? The Lord Jesus urged his disciples to believe and act on the principle that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25).

In life and death Jesus upheld this principle himself and proved it to be true by his glorious resurrection. He invites us to follow him through death to everlasting life. Dare we reject so gracious an offer?

By PETER WATKINS

Why the Bible is Reliable

Why the Bible is Reliable

Why the Bible is Reliable

Why the Bible is Reliable

Many scoff at the Word of God. The Bible says that even in the “LAST DAYS” there would be scoffers asserting, “Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the Creation.”  (2 Peter 3:4).  Although all life is miraculous, and day and night are a wondrous phenomena: yet man thinks it impossible that the Great Creator could have handed him a divine Handbook explaining His purpose with the earth and man upon it.  In other words, divine power is limited to man’s own punt understanding.

But have you ever thought over the claims of the Bible to be the Word of God?  Just for a few moments, consider this brief evidence:

First, its Antiquity: The excavator’s spade is a great testimony to the truth of the Bible. The gaunt ruins of Babylon may be seen today – deserted, for the Arab will not pitch his tent there. (see Isaiah 13:19-22).  In the sea around Tyre can be seen remnants of ancient pillars of Tyre, the old maritime city.  Fishermen spread their nets upon them just as Ezekiel said they would do (Ezekiel 26:1-14).  Some years ago, the record of Joshua of the city of Jericho was ridiculed. But in 1934 Professor Garstang uncovered the city and found evidence of it having been burnt (ch. 6).  Likewise Edom, Moab, Ammon and Palestine itself, abound with evidence that the Bible record is true.

Then its Harmony: Thought written by more than forty writers over a period of 1,800 years, its sixty-six books all agree.  There are 333 prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus Christ, whilst the New Testament quotes 278 references, word for word, in the Old Testament; 100 partly word for word, and 124 incidents mentioned therein.  In fact, our Calendar commences with the birth year of Jesus, who, in turn, endorsed the story of Adam and Eve, the existence of Abraham, David, Solomon, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Moses and Noah, whilst the apostles likewise endorse many of the other early Bible characters.  Also, on a memorable walk to Emmaus, Jesus told the two astonished disciples of himself, when he “beginning at Moses and ALL THE PROPHETS he expounded unto them in ALL THE SCRIPTURES the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27).

Now For its Divinity:  The Bible does not elevate man, but God. It tells of Moses, the great leader of Israel, of his indiscretion at Meribah (Numbers 20:12).  It takes David, the honoured king of Israel, and exposes his sin with Bathsheba, and leaves the world to scoff. It tells of Hezekiah’s weakness in showing his riches to the king of Babylon (Isaiah 39).  It tells of Solomon, the wisest man of his day, how he fell from his high estate in spite of all his wisdom – for he left God for a time.  Any ordinary biography – if of man – would at least have endeavored to cover up the deficiencies of its famous characters.  About 2,000 times the Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord”.  It is the only book which can peer into the future with unerring glance. Seven hundred years before Jesus came, Zechariah foretold that the Lord Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on an ass (Zechariah 9:9).  One thousand years earlier; the Psalmist foretold Jesus’ death in detail, and by a form of punishment which was then unknown to the Jews – crucifixion (Psalm 22).  Hundreds of the Bible’s prophecies speak similarly.

Note its Preservation:  Although so ancient, the Bible remains impregnable.  Take all the books under 50, 100, or 500 years old, out of a library, and how few would be left. But the Bible remains.  It has been publicly burnt, in the endeavour to exterminate it.  It has carried the death penalty for its possession.  Three of the oldest manuscripts from which the Bible has been translated, the Vatican, Alexandrian, and Sinaiticus, take us back to the fourth century, whilst Tatian’s Diatessaron is likewise an ancient summary, presenting a summary of the four Gospels.

Thus there is no other book in the world which has been preserved in a like manner.  And in 1947 its authenticity was placed beyond doubt by the discovery near the shores of the Dead Sea of many ancient scrolls dating back to the century before Jesus.  Some contained complete books of the Bible, such as the book of Isaiah, and many other portions of Scripture, and these were almost word for word with our present translated Bible.  Thus God, in His wisdom, has seen fit in these “LAST DAYS” to endorse the truth of His Word, and to confirm the prophecy of Habakkuk (ch. 2:3), “At the end it shall speak and not lie.”

See its Circulation:  The Bible still remains the world’s “best seller”.  It has been translated into about 1,100 languages with a yearly production of about thirty million copies. It adapts itself to all environments and all nations.  Colporteurs in many countries carry it through fire and flood, desert and city, through countries hospitable and inhospitable.  What other book has called forth the energies of men and women in this way?   None.

Now its Power:  One quotation will suffice to show how it was written “Holymen of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21).  This same Spirit has often moved even wicked men to utter that which of themselves they would not do, as witness the record of Balaam (Numbers 23:5).  Then again, never do we hear of a book – say – on geography, or medicine, having changed a sinner, but the Bible changes lives.  It humbles a man and shows him the need of God and His Son.  As Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword”.

And its Freshness:  The Bible is always ahead of the newspapers always up to date. Age has no effect upon it, but how different with other books.  Just think! How few books after, say, 50 years, are still standard textbooks.  Who would care to study Medicine, Engineering, or Science from such books?  They would be obsolete.  But the charm of the Bible lies in its sufficiency for our daily needs and every circumstance.  In vain the infidel has endeavored to overthrow it, to discredit it, to deny its power – but the infidel sleeps in the dust – the Bible still marches on.

Watch its Prophecies:  There is not a journal in the world which can unerringly forecast the events of a day ahead.  But the Bible foretells events centuries before they happen.  Five hundred years before Jesus came, Isaiah foretold his sufferings (ch. 53). Daniel foretold the appearing of the Messiah nearly 500 years before he came (ch. 9). Micah foretold the very place where Jesus would be born (Micah 5:2).  Jeremiah foretold the dispersion of the Jews and likewise their regathering – the commencement of which we have lived to see (ch. 32).  Jesus himself foretold the downfall of the Turkish Empire (the great river Euphrates, Revelation 16:12, 17).  So the Bible is true – is God-breathed – and is God’s Handbook to man.

Today, and Tomorrow:   Test the Scriptures with what is happening in the world today.  We live in an age which is unparalleled in the history of the world for its problems: Fear, economic chaos, war preparation on a gigantic scale, and taxation burdens as never before. Jesus foretold this in Luke21:25-26.  Then we are told that just before the return of the Lord Jesus, Israel would come home from their long dispersion and that the Arab nations around them would close in on them and that ultimately Russia, the “king of the north” would take the Holy Places in Israel (Ezekiel 36:2-5).

Again, the LAST DAYS of human government would be noted for a general march to WAR, which would not stop until Armageddon was reached.  Has not this been so ever since 1914?  The two world wars of 1914 and 1939 have but paved the way for a THIRD and (we believe) a FINAL conflict which brings the Lord Jesus prominently before all peoples (see Revelations 16:14-16).

Further, this outstanding Age of War would also be noted for the universal cry of “Peace and Safety” (1Thessalonians 5:1-3) which precedes “sudden destruction”.  Has this not been so?  The great Peace Organisations of our times have been unique in the history of the world.  The League of Nations of 1920 was composed of 62 nations.  The League Palace at Geneva was sumptuous and contained thousands of books and essays on how to keep the peace, but all failed, and the 1939 war eventuated.  Now the United Nations Organisation has taken over the role of World-Peacemaker with over a hundred nations, but still the drift to war goes on.  The Bible is true.  It stands as an impregnable ROCK, a divine testimony from the Most High, and a witness to human failure.  So it assures us that our days will see the most glorious transformation of all time, for “in the days of these kings, shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). That wonderful Day is near at hand.

READER, believe God’s Word; accept its message!

Believe in its glorious pages; repent and be baptised, and wait for the Lord’s return now so near (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3; Mark 16:16).

If you would like to find out more about the Bible’s message for you, then please go to our website and explore the True Bible Teaching concerning the Purpose of Almighty God with this earth and your opportunity to be a part of it.

God’s Plan for the World

 

The Centre of the Bible

The Centre of the Bible

The Centre of the BibleThe Centre of the Bible

The truth is there are 31,102 verses in the King James Bible.  Therefore there is no single middle verse.  You cannot have a middle verse with an even number of verses.  However there are two middle verses. These would be verses 15,551 and 15,552 (Psalms 103:1-2.) 

PSALM 103:1-2

BLESS the LORD, O my soul:  and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

These are the middle two verses of the King James Bible.  Both verses start with “Bless the LORD, O my soul”.  Verse 1 continues – and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Verse 2 concludes with – and forget not all his benefits.  These are powerful words coming from the two center verses of the Book.  

Now let’s count the words in these two middle verses.  There are twenty-eight.  That’s seven quadrupled (7 times 4) instead of seven doubled (7 times 2.)  Here we have seven compounded twice as much.

Now let’s see if we can find some middle words in the center of God’s middle verses.  Yes, I see four (bless his holy name.)  There are twelve words on one side of this phrase and twelve words on the other side.  So the King James Bible has bless his holy name right in the center of the two middle verses!

This phrase also has exactly twice as many words (12) on each side of it.  God loves the number twelve also.  Next to the number seven, it is his favorite number.  He uses it a lot in his word.  For example there were twelve apostles and twelve tribes of Israel. There are twelve manner of fruits bared by the tree of life.  It is the number of authority and power.  What else would you expect in the center of God’s Holy Bible?  Bless his holy name. 

PSALM 138:2…I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

 

Total Books in the King James Bible66
Total Chapters in the King James Bible1,189
Total verses in the King James Bible31,102
Total Books in the Old Testament39
Total Chapters in the Old Testament929
Total verses in the Old Testament23,145
Total Books in the New Testament27
Total Chapters in the New Testament260
Total verses in the New Testament7,957
Middle Book in the King James BibleNone – There are 2 – Micah & Nahum
Longest Book in the King James BiblePsalms
Shortest Book in the King James Bible2 John (verses) & 3 John (words)
Middle Chapter in the King James BiblePsalm 117
Longest Chapter in the King James BiblePsalm 119
Shortest Chapter in the King James BiblePsalm 117
Middle verse in the King James BibleNone – There are 2 – Psalm 103:1 & Psalm 103:2
Longest verse in the King James BibleEsther 8:9
Shortest verse in the King James BibleJohn 11:35

 

Note:  Total verses: 31,102.  3+1+1+0+2 = 7

(completeness, spiritual perfection, pure)

The following statistics apply to the 1769 edition of the 1611 King James Bible:

All word counts are the work of computer programmer Dave Whitinger.  I have checkedand doubled-checked his counts with a manual count in 10 of the 66 Books and they all match perfectly.  Therefore I believe these word counts to be 100% accurate (I hope.) 

Old Testament

BookChaptersVersesWords
1Genesis501,53338,262
2Exodus401,21332,685
3Leviticus2785924,541
4Numbers361,28832,896
5Deuteronomy3495928,352
6Joshua2465818,854
7Judges2161818,966
8Ruth4852,574
91 Samuel3181025,048
102 Samuel2469520,600
111 Kings2281624,513
122 Kings2571923,517
131 Chronicles2994220,365
142 Chronicles3682226,069
15Ezra102807,440
16Nehemiah1340610,480
17Esther101675,633
18Job421,07018,098
19Psalms1502,461 *42,704
20Proverbs3191515,038
21Ecclesiastes122225,579
22Song of Solomon81172,658
23Isaiah661,29237,036
24Jeremiah521,36442,654
25Lamentations51543,411
26Ezekiel481,27339,401
27Daniel1235711,602
28Hosea141975,174
29Joel3732,033
30Amos91464,216
31Obadiah121 669
32Jonah4481,320
33Micah71053,152
34Nahum3471,284
35Habakkuk3561,475
36Zephaniah3531,616
37Haggai2381,130
38Zechariah142116,443
39Malachi455 1,781

 

New Testament

BookChaptersVersesWords
40Matthew281,07123,343
41Mark1667814,949
42Luke241,15125,640
43John2187918,658
44Acts281,00724,229
45Romans16433       *9,422
461 Corinthians16437       *9,462
472 Corinthians13257       *6,046
48Galatians6149       *3,084
49Ephesians6155       *3,022
50Philippians4104       *2,183
51Colossians495       *1,979
521 Thessalonians589       *1,837
532 Thessalonians347       *1,022
541 Timothy6113       *2,244
552 Timothy483       *1,666
56Titus346          *896
57Philemon125          *430
58Hebrews13303       *6,897
59James5108  2,304
601 Peter5105 2,476
612 Peter361 1,553
621 John51052,517
632 John113  298
643 John114  294
65Jude125   608
66Revelation22404 11,952
66Bible Totals1,18931,102788,280

 

*The book of Psalms has superscriptions under some of the Psalms (chapters.) These were not counted in this chart because they are not in the verses.  Also Psalm 119 has the Hebrew Alphabet translated into English.  Even though these words are not in the verses they were counted because they are scattered throughout this Psalm (Chapter.) 

The fourteen epistles of Paul are sometimes accompanied by subscriptions at the end of each letter.  These were not counted because they are not in the verses.  They are credited to Euthalius, a bishop of the 5th Century.  The wording has slightly been modified during the process of time.  Some of them seem to disagree with the text. 

SUMMARY OF KING JAMES BIBLE STATISTICS:

Total Books – 66  Total Chapters  1,189 Total Verses…31,102

Total words in the 31,102 verses – 788,258 (not including the Hebrew Alphabet in Psalm 119 or the superscriptions listed in some of the Psalms)

Total words in the Hebrew Alphabet in Psalm 119 – 22

Total words on the cover – 2 (HOLY BIBLE)

Total words in the Book Titles – 85 (the full titles as written in the 1611 edition – 374)

Total times the word “CHAPTER” is listed – 1,034 (in 5 books the word is not listed because they only have one chapter)

Total times the word “PSALM” is listed – 150

Total words in superscriptions (sub-titles) of Psalms – 1,034

Total words in subscriptions (concluding remarks) in the epistles of Paul – 186

Total words in Testament dividers – 6 (The Old Testament, The New Testament)

Total words in Table of Contents – 94 (the Book Titles, the Testament dividers plus the phrase Table of Contents) If you use the full titles as in the 1611 edition – 383

Total words either on the cover or the first page explaining which Bible you have:

  1. A)   Authorized Version – 2or
  2. B)   King James version – 3or
  3. C)   King James Bible – 

Can you see now why there are so many word counts floating around?

BIBLE STATISTICS (King James Authorized):
Number of books in the Bible: 66

Chapters: 1,189
Verses: 31,102
Words: 783,137
Letters: 3,116,480
Number of promises given in the Bible: 1,260
Commands: 6,468
Predictions: over 8,000
Fulfilled prophecy: 3,268 verses
Unfulfilled prophecy: 3,140
Number of questions: 3,294
Longest name: Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1)
Longest verse: Esther 8:9 (78 words)
Shortest verse: John 11:35 (2 words: “Jesus wept”).  This is the King James Bible.  Some Bibles might be Job 3:2 (Job said.) but King James has that as “Job answered” which is longer than Jesus wept.
Middle books: Micah and Nahum
Middle verse: Psalm 103:2-3
Middle chapter: Psalm 117
Shortest chapter (by number of words): Psalm 117 (by number of words)
Longest book: Psalms (150 chapters)
Shortest book (by number of words): 3 John
Longest chapter: Psalm 119 (176 verses)
Number of times the word “God” appears: 4,094
Number of times the word “Lord” appears: 6,781
Number of different authors: 40
Number of languages the Bible has been translated into: over 1,200

OLD TESTAMENT STATISTICS:
Number of books: 39

Chapters: 929
Verses: 23,145
Words: 602,585
Letters: 2,278,100
Middle book: Proverbs
Middle chapter: Job 20
Middle verses: 2 Chronicles 20:17,18
Smallest book: Obadiah
Shortest verse: 1 Chronicles 1:25
Longest verse: Esther 8:9
Longest chapter: Psalms 119
Largest book: Psalms

NEW TESTAMENT STATISTICS:
Number of books: 27

Chapters: 260
Verses: 7,957
Words: 180,552
Letters: 838,380
Middle book: 2 Thessalonians
Middle chapters: Romans 8, 9
Middle verse: Acts 27:17
Smallest book: 3 John
Shortest verse: John 11:35
Longest verse: Revelation 20:4
Longest chapter: Luke 1
Largest book: Luke

 

The Fool has said there is No God

All People Everywhere Are Without Excuse

All People Everywhere Are Without Excuse

We all tend to make excuses for ourselves…

Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. But God had given them clear instructions. The Fool has said there is No GodWhen He reveals His will to us, we have no excuse for disobeying. Jesus said: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).

IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE

The eternal power and deity of God are observed by all.  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18-21).

All people everywhere are without excuse

Even those who do not know the Scriptures are without excuse because, all around them, they can see ample evidence of the eternal power and deity of God. This should cause them to seek God. Israel was told that even in captivity they could find God if they diligently sought Him: “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). God has promised:  “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7,8).

Ignorance is no excuse. The evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming, and God has promised that those who truly seek Him will find Him.

PREOCCUPATION IS NO EXCUSE

Many people who might believe in God are so occupied with their daily lives that they neglect to seek God and to understand His Purpose with us.  Unlike the treasure of this world, the HOPE of Salvation is a Treasure of incalculable everlasting value.

Now is our day of opportunity to seek God and to respond to His invitation to join Christ in His Kingdom and to enjoy everlasting joyful life.

“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five The Lords Supperyoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper” (Luke 14:16-24).

The man who gave the great supper represents God. The supper represents the spiritual blessings God has prepared for us. It is an honour when someone invites us to a banquet. What a great honour to be invited to the supper of the Lord.

God gave advance invitations to the people of Israel through the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures. When all was ready, He sent His Son to call His people to the feast. But the religious leaders and scholars of Israel were so preoccupied with worldly pursuits that they did not value spiritual manna. To such people Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him” (Matthew 21:31,32).

Although the guests had been invited beforehand, when the time came, they all began to make excuses! What an insult to the one who had invited them!

Three examples are given of excuses offered. They all indicate preoccupation, self-centeredness and indifference to this GREAT invitation by a GRACIOUS God.

“The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.'”

When someone makes an important purchase, he is excited about it and wants to examine and admire it. Everything else tends to be neglected for a while.

It is interesting that different verbs are used in the three examples. In this case he says “I must go and see it.” In his mind this was absolutely essential even though it prevented him from attending the great feast to which he had been invited. He was self-centered and very short sighted. He just had to go see that new piece of land he had purchased.

This represents people who give priority to their possessions and are so occupied with them that they neglect to serve God. This reminds us of the parable of the sower: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

“And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.'”

The first man was a proud property owner. This man is a busy businessman. He does not say “I must go,” he says, “I am going”! He was already on his way. The first man was preoccupied with his property; this man is preoccupied with his business.

Obviously, both the viewing of the property and the testing of the oxen could have waited until the next day. The great feast simply was not important to these men. Their own affairs were more important than the affairs of God. Material possessions were more important than the eternal blessings of God.

This is also true of many today. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

“Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'”

The first man said, “I must go” do something else. The second man said, “I am going” to do something else. This man says, “I cannot come”! It was simply impossible for him to come, because he had just been married. Once again, it was just an excuse, given because he did not value the invitation.

This represents people who let preoccupation with family prevent them from serving God. Jesus warned: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). He also promised: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).

None of those who had been invited were coming! The master of the house was furious. God will be angry with us if we undervalue the spiritual blessings He offers, if we are preoccupied with worldly affairs, and neglect to come to His feast.

The prior invitation had been given to a select few, the people of Israel. Now the invitation is for all.

Going out “into the streets and lanes of the city” and bringing in “the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind” represents the gospel being preached to the unlearned among the Jews. Jesus prayed, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes” (Matthew 11:25).

Going “out into the highways and hedges” represents the gospel call to the Gentiles. When all believers among the people of Israel have accepted Christ, there is still room in the banquet hall of God. The Gentiles are also invited to the feast of God.

Jesus told the Jewish leaders who rejected Him: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). After commending the faith of a Roman centurion, Jesus said: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11,12).

The Gospel is the Power of God Unto Salvation

Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). As Paul went from city to city preaching the gospel, he first gave the Jews an opportunity to hear, then he preached to the Gentiles: “When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles” (Acts 18:5,6). “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).

WE HAVE NO EXCUSE

The invitation to the great spiritual feast prepared by God has gone forth to all men. It echo’s down through the ages and comes to US!  TO YOU right NOW!

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”(Revelation 22:17).

Let us not make excuses, let us not be short sighted and preoccupied with the affairs of this world.

Let us accept the invitation, and give time to learn of God and His Purpose so that we too may join with the faithful of old in a new world of joy, peace and eternal happiness in the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Learn here about God’s Kingdom on Earth

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Image

The Destiny of the World

Introduction

It may appear that we are masters of our own destiny; that we determine our own future and shape our own world. It may appear that there is no God; that there is no Divine intervention in human affairs and that the Bible is merely a crutch for the faint hearted. 

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Daniel 2 – The Authority of Bible Prophecy

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageRemarkably, Bible prophecy has foretold our future for 2,500 years and it reveals that the destiny of this world is something we have no control over at all. In fact, Bible prophecy is simply the mould into which history is poured.

The purpose of God, as far as the earth is concerned, is clearly revealed in a remarkable prophecy contained in Daniel chapter 2, which speaks not only of the destiny of the world, but also vindicates the authority of the Bible.

Daniel 2 speaks of a dreadful nightmare experienced by the most powerful monarch of the earth in those days, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, in the year 605 BC. Babylon was an immensely strong city which ruled over a great empire stretching from the Persian Gulf up through the Mesopotamian basin and down through Israel into Egypt.

Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and had taken many Jews captive, including the a man named Daniel who was a member of the royal household of Judah in Israel. Daniel was also an exceptional prophet whom God used to convey many prophecies of future events to take place on the earth. 

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

One night king Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a terrifying dream in which he saw a mighty colossus – a warrior standing and staring down at him. It is described as an

“image whose brightness was excellent… and the form thereof was terrible.”

The image of this man was made up of several segments. It had a head of fine gold, its chest and arms were made of silver, its belly and thighs were of brass, its two legs were of iron and its feet and toes were made of a mixture of iron and clay. As the king watched he saw a stone which had been cut out of a mountain without hands. This stone flew through the air and struck the image with tremendous force upon its feet, destroying the image. The stone then ground the remains of the image to powder which was blown away by the wind. The stone then grew until it became a tremendous mountain which filled the whole earth.

As we can imagine, the dream and its violence agitated the king, and he sought for someone to interpret the dream. The prophet Daniel was the only one who was able to give the interpretation, because God had specially revealed it to him.

This dream and its interpretation given by God over 2,500 years ago convey a precise overview of the future destiny of the world, running in sequence from the days of the Babylonian Empire to the ultimate establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth. The key to understanding it is given in the 28th verse:

“God in heaven… maketh known to the king what shall be in the latter days.”

This dream was given by God to explain future world events. 

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The Dream Explained

The Image
The dream described two opposing powers. The first was the image of a man made up of a number of sequential metals. Daniel explained that this image was used by God to represent various empires of men that would have rule over the earth.

THE HEAD

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream Image  He showed that the head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom.

 

THE BREAST AND ARMS

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageAfter Nebuchadnezzar would come another kingdom represented by silver, and then a third kingdom of brass.

 THE BELLY AND THIGHS

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageBabylon was overthrown by the Medo-Persian empire which in turn was overthrown at the hand of Alexander the Great, the founder of the Grecian world empire.

 THE LEGS

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageThe Greeks were subsequently overthrown by the Roman armies, represented by the legs of iron. It is interesting to note that just as there were two legs, so the Roman empire developed into two separate entities, the Eastern and the Western Roman Empires. In the vision the iron legs were never overthrown – they just slowly merged with the clay of the feet. This development can be clearly identified within the Roman empire. It was never formally overthrown but disintegrated through its own decadence (see Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”). However, whilst the military power of Rome disintegrated, Roman religion did not. It was re-consolidated hundreds of years later in the form of the Holy Roman Empire, and this (iron) influence still remains today.

THE FEET AND TOES

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageThe coalition between iron and clay in the feet and toes of the image represents an alliance between Roman Catholicism (iron) and world political powers (clay) which will arise in the “latter days”.

The Stone

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream ImageThe second power mentioned in this vision, which destroyed the image of the empires of men, was a stone cut out without hands which became a mountain and filled the whole earth. This represents the Lord Jesus Christ who is described in scripture as a stone. Daniel explains that God’s kingdom would come, and after breaking all other kingdoms into pieces would be established forever. It is interesting to note that this kingdom is depicted as being an international kingdom on earth. The fact that the same language is used of this kingdom as of those preceding it indicated it will be a kingdom in the same manner the preceding empires were kingdoms, but with a difference:

KingJesus Christ
Luke 1:21-32

21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25  Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

AdministrationThe Righteous
Revelation 5:9-10

9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Capital CityJerusalem
Jeremiah 3:17

17At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

TerritoryWhole Earth
Revelation 11:15

15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.

LawsGod’s Ways
Isaiah 2:1-4

1The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

SubjectsAll Nations
Daniel 2:44-45

44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

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Conclusion

Daniel chapter 2 is a remarkably accurate overview of 2,500 years of world history. Just as the predicted empires and events transpired with great accuracy as Daniel foretold, so we are confident that the last phase of the dream (the conquest and victory of the stone power) will also occur and that the Kingdom of God will be established upon the earth. This prophecy outlines the destiny of the world.

History itself has vindicated these words in the course of the last 2,500 years.

The rest will surely happen.

OUR COMMUNITY:

There must be many people who feel that there is something outstandingly significant about the person and the teaching of Jesus Christ. Yet when they survey “Christianity”, both in its history and its modern forms, they find a wide variety of churches and communities, all with their differing foundations, teachings and practices. Feeling bewildered by the existence of so many groups claiming the name “Christian”, they may well give up the quest for “the truth” as hopeless.

This short article is written to draw the attention of the interested enquirer to the existence of a community of believers in Christ, calling themselves “Christadelphians”, organized in groups found throughout the world. Wherever they exist they have a fellowship founded upon an agreed basis of beliefs. Fundamental to their faith is the principle that what Christ and his apostles taught in the first century was truth, and it is still the truth today. The Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are their sole authority.

AN APOSTOLIC FELLOWSHIP:

The community has no paid ministry, no robes or elaborate ceremonies, nor has it any “head of the church” or legislative council. Their ecclesias (the New Testament word for ‘church’) organize their own affairs, though the pattern is similar everywhere. Like the “elders” of New Testament times, members are appointed to manage the affairs of the ecclesia and to preside at its meetings.

At the meeting for the “breaking of bread” on “the first day of the week” there are hymns, prayers, readings from the Scriptures and an exhortation. The bread and the wine circulate among all the “brothers and sisters” present. Voluntary collections are taken to meet all the expenses. If some of the early followers of the apostles in the first century could attend such meetings, it is believed that they would immediately recognise what was going on, for it is patterned on New Testament worship.

Like Jesus’ early disciples, they also proclaim his message of life to all willing to hear; they instruct their children and young people in Sunday Schools and Youth Groups, and promote the life of faith and prayer, and obedience to Christ’s commands, among their members.

THE NAME ‘CHRISTADELPHIAN’:

In the early days, members found that to preserve their identity they had to give themselves a name. “Christadelphians” was chosen because it means “brothers (and of course sisters) in Christ”. It has been used to distinguish our community for more than 120 years.

DISTINCTIVE FOUNDATION:

But why should the Christadelphians deserve any more attention than other groups of “believers”, many claiming to be based on the Bible?

The brief answer is this: their understanding of the teachings of the Bible is quite different from that of other denominations. The difference arose from the conviction of one, John Thomas, that the teachings he was encountering in “Christendom” 150 years ago did not truly represent the faith of Christ and his apostles. Persuaded that the truth must be sought only in the Bible, he embarked upon a conscientious study of the Scriptures. He made no claim to any vision or personal revelation.

He eventually came to an understanding of “the gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12) which was different in a number of important points from that of the churches and other religious sects. His labours attracted the support of others who were convinced of the validity of his conclusions. This understanding of Bible truths has been rigorously tested by free enquiry for 150 years. The distinctive views of the Christadelphians today are the result of this process.

THE WHOLE BIBLE:

What is this message of the Bible, and why is it different from popular “Christian” ideas?

It arises from the important principle that the Bible must be understood as a whole. It is easy to uphold certain teachings by accepting some parts of the Scriptures and neglecting others. For instance, it is popular today to dismiss much of the Old Testament. Yet these documents – the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets – were accepted by Jesus and his apostles as “the word of the Lord”. The Bible is a unity: the revelation of God for mankind begins in the pages of the Old Testament and is continued and expanded in the New. The “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) is to be derived from the whole book.

Christadelphians accept that all of the Bible is the wholly inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). They therefore read it carefully and regularly. A reading plan, called the Bible Companion, enables them to read the Old Testament once in a year, and the New Testament twice.

There is another point of great importance: if man is truly to understand the Bible, he must be prepared for the fact that it is absolutely frank about all issues, and primarily about ourselves. It is the most realistic book in the world, confronting the stark issues of life without wishful thinking. Human problems, both of the race and of individuals, are frankly assessed. The origin of the problems is explained and so is the solution to them. The Bible is the only source in the world to do this in harmony with the facts of history and of human life.

THE GOOD NEWS:

The Bible, as we have seen, exposes all the weaknesses of human nature and its perishing in the grave. But that need not be the end, for the Gospel is a message of hope. It is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), deliverance from sin and its consequence, death. That is why the Biblical Gospel is “good news”.

Its message is an appeal to the individual man and woman for “repentance”, and then a promise of life. God does not desire that any should perish, says the Apostle Peter, “but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). What is meant by repentance is partly explained by the Apostle Paul’s statement: “that they should come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Having realised “the truth” about himself, and God’s redemption in Christ, the believer is called upon by God to “have another mind”. Repentance is not a sudden emotional upsurge, which may pass as quickly as it has arisen, but a sober assessment by the believer of his true position, his acknowledgement of this in confession of sin to God, a prayer for forgiveness and a resolve to re-direct his life in harmony with the commandments of Christ.

The Holy Spirit of God

THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD

Power or Person?
Many men and women who have read the Bible and listened to Christian teachers haveThe Holy Spirit of God been puzzled about the Holy Spirit. Who or what is the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit a God, or a part of God? What is the truth?

In order to answer these questions, we will turn to the Bible itself as the only authority. Please turn to the Bible passages mentioned in this booklet to confirm the truth about the Holy Spirit for yourself.

Not a Mystery
When questioned about the Holy Spirit, many religious teachers today reply that it is a mystery, and that we should not seek to understand in detail what it means. They will often say that believers must accept their explanations, ‘in faith’, without requiring a logical explanation.

This is just an excuse. Comments like this overlook the passages in the Bible which show that the mystery of God has already been revealed through the work of Jesus Christ:

“Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure” (Ephesians 1 :9)

“The mystery. ..now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations” (Romans 16:25-26)

“The mystery which… has now been revealed to his saints.” (Colossians 1 :26)

These are not, the only Bible passages which show that the ‘mysteries’ of religion have now been revealed (see also Romans 11 :25; Ephesians 3:3; 6: 19; Colossians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 15:51). If the Bible repeatedly says that now there is no ‘mystery’ in the fundamental teachings of the gospel, then we can be confident that the truth about the Holy Spirit also can be found in the Bible, if we read through it and look for ourselves.

Never did any disciple of Jesus say, “this is a mystery, so do not try to understand it”. Instead they took pains to show their hearers logical explanations of the things from the Bible.

The Spirit of God
Many times throughout the Bible, the word ‘spirit’ is referred to as “the spirit of God”. The very beginning of the Bible says that “the spirit of God was moving over the waters” (Genesis 1:2) as God was about to create everything on earth.

The spirit spoken about in the Bible is of God. It is God’s spirit, something that belongs to him, and comes from him. That is why the phrase “the spirit of the Lord” appears so many times in the Bible. (For example Isaiah 11:2, 40:7, 61:1; Micah 3:8).

The spirit of God summarises many things about him. The Hebrew word (ruakh) translated “spirit” in the Old Testament of the Bible in the first sense means “breath” or “power”. God’s spirit is therefore His “breathing”, the very essence of God, reflecting His mind.

God’s actions are reflected in how He thinks, much like with us as human beings. In the Bible man’s spirit shows how he is. We think of something, and then do it. For example, our ‘spirit’, or mind, responds to the hunger in our stomach, and we will seek out some food. This explains why the Hebrew word for spirit can mean all of these English words: breath, mind, and power. Our spirit – the essential us – refers to our thoughts, and therefore also to our actions which reflect the thoughts or disposition of our mind.

On a far more glorious scale, God’s spirit is the same; it is the power by which He displays His essential being, His character and purpose. God thinks and therefore does things: “Surely as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand” (Isaiah 14:24).

The Limitless Power of God
God is all powerful. He is the creator of the world. In contrast to other so-called gods worshipped throughout the ages, the God of the Bible is the only true God.

“The Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting king. He has made the earth by his power, He has established the world by His wisdom.” (Jeremiah 10:10-12)

God used His power from the very beginning, when He created the world and everything in it. God continues to be in control of the world by this same power which was used to create people and animals.

“I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on. the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper unto me.” (Jeremiah 27:5)

Because God by His very nature is powerful, His spirit is powerful. We as human beings have some power, but ours of course is limited. We have the power to carry out only some of the actions that we desire. God has an ability that we do not. He can give His power to human beings.

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

Sometimes, this gift of power is called the spirit.

Power and Spirit
God’s power or spirit given to one of His prophets is spoken about in the following way:
“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of justice and of might” (Micah 3:8)

The spirit gave power to the prophet Micah as he spoke God’s word. Many others in the Bible received power to do various miracles, or to show signs to people that God was with them.
Greatest of all, Jesus Christ received power from God, the Holy Spirit, to accomplish good things.

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
This power was a gift of God to His son, Jesus Christ. The power was the Holy Spirit.

The above passage speaks of Jesus being anointed with the Holy Spirit. Earlier on in the Bible, the time when the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus is described. This was just before Jesus began to preach. John the Baptist baptized him in the Jordan River. Immediately afterwards, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, as God spoke in the following words.

“You are my beloved son; in. you I am well pleased.” (see Luke 3:21-22)

The power of the Holy Spirit was at work in the life of Jesus even before this. Before he was born, an angel of God appeared to Mary his mother. The angel told her that she would have a special son, who would be called the Son of God. When Mary asked her how this would be, since she was a virgin, the angel replied:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that holy one who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

The miracle of the birth of Jesus was brought about by God’s power, called in this verse “the power of the highest”, and also revealed as the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is never called “the son of the Holy Spirit”, in the Bible, he is only known as the ‘Son of Man’ (by Mary), or ‘Son of God’, because it was God’s Holy Spirit that worked the marvel of his birth. It was God’s desire that a son be born; therefore He carried it out by His spirit.

What is Spirit?
As we have said, “spirit” is more than God’s power. It is a part of God, just as air in the lungs is a part of human beings.

Jesus explained:

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).

Spirit in the Bible is also associated with God’s mind, and His thinking, and the words that proceed from him.

“Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or as His counsellor has taught him”, (Isaiah 40:13).
Later, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul quoted these words as follows:

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?” (Romans 11:34)

God’s mind and His word have great power. What He proposes to do in His mind, and the words of His mouth, always come to pass. In the beginning, God said, “let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3). We do not understand how God accomplishes this, but we can see what was done. The Bible uses the same Hebrew word (ruakh) ‘spirit’ or ‘breath’ in the sense of “mind” when Abraham’s son Isaac, and his wife Rebekah were unhappy with Esau their son because he did things they did not approve of.

‘They were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah” (Genesis 26:35).

Again “mind” is the same Hebrew word (ruakh) ordinarily translated as “spirit’, “breath” or “wind” in the Old Testament. There is also an association in the Bible between God speaking and His spirit. When God speaks, it is done. His words have power.

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth… For He spoke, and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:6,9).

The word “breath” above is the same word in the original language that is often translated “spirit” in English. God’s words have power, and whatever He says is done. The same word is also related to the words “wind” or “breeze”, as well as “breath”, as we have seen before. The Bible says that Adam and Eve heard the voice of God in “the cool of the day.” (Genesis 3:8) Again the word “cool” in the original is the same as the word for “spirit”. It was the time of the day when there was a wind or breeze running through the garden. God’s spirit is like wind. We cannot see it, but we can see its effects. The wind blows through the trees, and we see the leaves blow, though we do not see the wind. God acts in the earth, and we see His power in what He brings to pass.

The word used for spirit is translated as “breath” or “wind” in a number of Bible passages. (For example Genesis 7:15; Exodus 10:13,19; Numbers 11 :31; 2 Samuel 22:16; 1 Kings 18:45; 19:11; Job 4:9)

Church Teaching about the Holy Spirit
Many Christian churches and leaders today say that the Holy Spirit is a person -one of the persons of what they call the Trinity -composed of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, This term is not found in the Bible, and was a teaching introduced into the church only 300 years after Christ.

.If this teaching is true, then we must find it clearly taught in the Bible, God’s word, The Bible should be our only authority. Although the terms “Trinity” and “God the Holy Spirit” are never found in the Bible, there are some passages which have been taken as supporting this teaching, Let us examine some of these to see for ourselves.

(1) “The Holy Ghost”
In the King James Bible the holy spirit is sometimes called “the Holy Ghost”, Surely a ghost must be a person? In fact this is just antiquated English -no modern Bible has this translation.

(2) Capital letter ‘S’ for “Spirit”
Another common misunderstanding is the capital letter “S”, often used in English Bibles with the word “Spirit”, Usually in English a capital letter means that what is referred to is a person (for example capital ‘J’ for John), But in the Bible this only reflects the fact that Bible translations are generally sponsored by churches which teach the Trinity -and naturally therefore those churches wish their translations to reflect this belief. But in the original languages of the Bible such a distinction is entirely lacking.

(3) ‘He’ and ‘who’
Another reason, in English Bibles, why people think that the Holy Spirit is a person is because in modern versions (such as NIV or NKJV) the “it” referring to the Holy Spirit in older versions has been changed to “he”. Likewise in many modern Bible versions “the Holy Spirit which” (a power) becomes “the Holy Spirit who” (a person). As with the capital letter ‘S’, such a distinction is unknown in the original Bible languages.

The Greek words that the translators have rendered as “he” or “who” in English versions are not necessarily used for a person in the original language. These words can also be translated as “it” and “which” as well. The choice of “he” or “it” should be determined by Bible teaching on God’s spirit.

(4) Grieving the spirit
There is one passage in particular in the Bible that has suggested to many people that God and His Spirit are separate, and which speaks of “grieving” the Holy Spirit. How, it is asked, can the spirit be grieved if it is not a person? Firstly it should be noted that the passage does not just say “the Holy Spirit’ but “the holy Spirit of God”: 

“And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30)

This is normal Bible language. Compare a similar statement:

“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit” (Daniel 7: 15)

This does not mean that Daniel, and his spirit, were separate persons. It only tells us that Daniel was grieved in his heart, or mind. The same is true of God being grieved in His spirit.

(5) The Elders in Ephesus
The apostle Paul helped establish new congregations of Christian believers on His missionary journeys. Elders were appointed to take responsibility for organising and serving each group of believers. Speaking to one of these groups of elders, Paul said:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)

Did the Holy Spirit as a person make these elders overseers? Or was it God’s power -the Holy Spirit –upon those people who appointed the elders? Turning to the Bible for our answer, we find that:

“when they (Paul and Barnabas) had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord”. (Acts 14:23)

It was Paul himself who had appointed them, aided by God’s power of the Holy Spirit in the selection. Again, when the same apostle Paul wrote to Titus he instructed,

“for this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.” (Titus 1:5)

Therefore, it was not the Holy Spirit as a person that appointed overseers, it was the apostles and leaders of the early Church who did so, aided by the gift of God’s power, the Holy Spirit.

Another example of a Bible passage that appears to speak as if the Holy Spirit is a person is when it was prophesied that the apostle Paul would be arrested:

“As we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” (Acts 21:10-11)

Was it the Holy Spirit as a person who made the pronouncement that this would happen, or was it God’s power of the Holy Spirit that gave the knowledge to the prophet to say these things?

(6) “Sent from God”
The Holy Spirit is often shown in the Bible to be sent from heaven. It is certainly true that the prophets did not speak their own words. They spoke the words of God. The Holy Spirit was sent from heaven as the power that gave them the words of God.

Consider the following:

“To them (the prophets) it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” (1 Peter 1:12).

The Holy Spirit was sent from heaven that the prophets might preach the gospel. God’s words were given to them by God’s power.

The same was true of Jesus Christ, who said of himself:

.”the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4: 18).

The spirit of the Lord upon Jesus was not a person, but rather was the gift of the Father for doing good, and carrying out His purpose.

It was God who sent His Holy Spirit. Clearly, someone who sends something is greater than the thing sent. God controls His own spirit, and it was given as a gift to those that He chose. This is why the Bible also refers to “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38; 10:45; Hebrews 2:4)

Therefore we come to the conclusion that prophets who spoke saying “thus says the Holy Spirit” were telling their listeners that the word was not their own. It was by God’s power that future events were known and revealed, or miracles were performed, including the prophecy of Agabus about Paul.

(7) “The Comforter”
There is one final passage where the Bible does seem to speak as if the Holy Spirit were a person. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as “the comforter” in the gospel of John:

“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. ” (John 14:25-26, King James Version)

We notice first that Jesus said that the Father would send the comforter. This is the same as other examples of God sending his spirit, or power, or breath into the world.

Secondly, the purpose of the comforter was so that the disciples of Jesus would be able to remember what he had said after he had ascended into heaven. What was it that would help them remember? Was it a person, or was it rather God’s power of the Holy Spirit that would bring their master’s words to their remembrance, and thus comfort them?

In practice, what was it that was given to the disciples of Jesus Christ after he rose from the dead? It was the gifts of the Spirit.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The disciples of Jesus gathered together in Jerusalem after Jesus had ascended into heaven.

“Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2-4)

The promise of Jesus had been kept. The Holy Spirit was given to his disciples. In this case they were given a specific ability -to speak in other languages. The day when the. Holy Spirit was given was during a feast when Jews throughout the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem celebrating Pentecost.

“Then they were all amazed and marvel/ed, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?’” (Acts 2:7-8).

The Holy Spirit, God’s power, gave them the miraculous power to speak in other languages just at the right time. People from allover the world were able to hear the good news that the disciples had to tell them about the risen Christ.

Other abilities were given to the disciples. The apostle Paul when writing to the Corinthians mentions a number of different gifts:

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

God’s gift of the power of the Holy Spirit showed itself in various abilities. The Holy Spirit truly was power, a power be used to bring mankind to God through the gospel, and consolidate the early churches of Christianity in the faith. Paul speaks of it in another of his letters:

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “(Romans 15:13).

We can see why Jesus called the Holy Spirit a comforter. It increased their hope for a better life in the future, a life in the kingdom of God, as Paul had preached. (Acts 28:30-31)

The Holy Spirit was both a comforter, and a witness to the truth of the preaching of the apostles of Jesus. It was power given to them to show various miracles that confirmed that God was with them. This was one of the reasons that Christianity spread so quickly in the first century. Paul spoke of this also, a few verses after the quotation above, as follows:

“I have reason to glory in Jesus Christ in the things which pertain to God… in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:17,19).

God was using the Holy Spirit to bring about His purpose, to save those of mankind who would listen to the good news that was offered to them.

“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what l please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

Was this Holy Spirit a person? No, it was, and still is, the power of God, used to accomplish His purpose in the earth.

Does Having the Holy Spirit Guarantee Being Saved?

Some Christian groups teach that possession of the Holy Spirit will lead a person or a community of people to all truth, and that reading and studying of the Bible is secondary. 

Is this true? Does the Bible say that having a gift of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee that one will be saved?

Quite the opposite is true. The Bible specifically says those who have received God’s gifts and powers may very well fall away from the way of God, and find no way to repent:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

These are serious and sobering words. The gift of the Holy Spirit would not lead a Christian automatically in God’s way and keep them in the way of truth. Paul the apostle wrote to one group who were not putting God’s spiritual gifts to best use and in fact were misusing them. (1 Corinthians 14:19). There must be something besides the gift of the Holy Spirit to help a believer stay within the right way.

What Must We Do To Be Saved?
There were some Jews who the apostle Paul and travelling companion Silas preached to during his missionary journeys. These Jews were already well acquainted with the Old Testament of the Bible, the Jewish scriptures. The gospel that Paul preached to them was something different from what they had understood in the past. However, being Jews just as Paul was a Jew, they both used the same scriptures. Paul used the Old Testament to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah that the Jews were looking for.

These Jews lived in a city called Berea. Paul arrived there after other Jews at Thessalonica had rejected him and forced him run for his life by night,

“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.” (Acts 17: 10-12)

Notice what it was that changed the lives of these men and women to believers in the gospel. It was the preaching of Paul and Silas, followed by checking in the Bible for confirmation of what was said. 

Having the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit was not the means to save someone. Rather, it was a belief in the good news of the kingdom of God, (Acts 19:8; 28:23), and being baptised as commanded by Jesus Christ (Mark 16: 15-16), and as was practised by the apostles during all of their preaching. (Acts 2:38, 41; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16).

Conclusion
The Holy Spirit is the very breath of God, the power by which He accomplishes His purpose with mankind. It is associated with many special things that He has done, including the miraculous birth of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God gave the Holy Spirit as a special gift to many men of old, including prophets and apostles who spoke and wrote down His word. Greatest of all, the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus, who healed many people, as he himself said, by the spirit of God. (see Matthew 12:28).

Although the Holy Spirit was given to first century believers it was no assurance that they would be saved. Instead Christians had to understand and believe the gospel of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins, being baptised in water.

Please read the Bible for yourself. Find out whether these things are so.

By MIKE BULL