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The Holy Spirit Gifts


HOLY SPIRIT GIFTS  –  Are they available today?

The Holy Spirit GiftsThe Bible is a true guide, and all its evidence points to the same conclusion — that the gifts of the Spirit were intended by the Lord as help for his church in its early years and only then; and having done their work, the gifts were taken away.

The Early Church and its problems

Let it not be overlooked that some outstanding divine help for those early preachers of the gospel was absolutely necessary. Think for a moment of the difficulties and hindrances against which they had to struggle.

They no longer had their Lord with them to inspire and direct personally the work he had set them to do. Nor were those preachers men of outstanding influence or reputation, but — with the exception of the apostle Paul — humble folk drawn from obscurity. Nor did they have the inspired wisdom of the New Testament to direct their efforts, for in those early days that part of the Bible was only just being written. There was no big influential body of opinion to support their efforts and bring pressure to bear on people in high places. Instead, at first, only scattered groups of new believers, without any set pattern of church affairs to guide their way of life.

But, on the other hand, there was plenty of opposition from suspicious Roman governors, and especially from a strong well-organised body of clever and evil adversaries — the Pharisees and the men of the temple. Swimming against such a tide of opposition and difficulty, how could those early disciples hope to make headway, unless the Lord equip them with the gifts of his Spirit? Without such help how could they cope with a task that was otherwise too much for them?

As mentioned earlier, the circumstances were very special and called for special men specially equipped for a great work. But once the Christian gospel was well launched on its course and making good progress, the need for the gifts was no longer there…

All the available Bible evidence supports this approach to the problem of Holy Spirit gifts.

Given through the Apostles only

The account in Acts of how the Holy Spirit came to the believers in Samaria (Acts 8) is very helpful on this question.

Philip, one of the early evangelists (but not the Philip who was an apostle of the Lord) had a highly successful preaching mission to the Samaritans. Hearing about this, the apostles in Jerusalem promptly sent Peter and John to confirm the good work and also to impart gifts of the Holy Spirit by laying hands on the new converts.

It is useful to enquire here, why Philip did not do this himself? He certainly had the Holy Spirit. Why didn’t he impart the gifts to the believers? Why was it needful for the Spirit to be given through Peter and John? The only explanation that makes sense is that the Lord had left authority for passing on the Spirit in the hands of His apostles only, and with no one else.

Special to the Apostles

This conclusion is confirmed by the story of Simon who saw big opportunities of money-making and influence here. He came to the apostles offering to pay them well if only they would give him the same power and authority:

“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:18,19).

It was not the Holy Spirit which Simon was trying to buy, but the power to pass on the Spirit’s wonderful gifts to others. Clearly, he saw this as a good business investment. But he had already seen miraculous signs done by Philip (Acts 8:6,7). Then why hadn’t he come to Philip with his commercial proposition? The only reasonable answer is this: he recognized that only the twelve apostles, and later, Paul, had been given power and authority to impart the Spirit to others.

Two Generations Only

It follows from this, that when the Twelve passed off the scene, there would be no one left to give the marvellous powers of the Spirit to others. The generation after the apostles would be the last to know the presence of such gifts in the church. They were bound to die out.

The witness of writers in the early church confirms this conclusion. In the first two or three generations of believers the memory continued of the remarkable powers which the Spirit imparted, and then no more.

Gifts Passing Away

This is the witness of the apostle Paul also. In 1Co 13, only a few verses after his long chapter about the Holy Spirit’s gifts of healing, knowledge, tongues, and so on, he declared plainly:

“As for prophecy, it will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge it will pass away” (1Co 13:8).

The pronouncement of this inspired apostle is surely decisive. The superhuman gifts of the Spirit were given to the church only for a time, until new believers were firm in the faith and a good sound pattern of Christian belief and living had been established. Today the completed Bible is all that is needed for that purpose. [As already mentioned, in the days of the apostles the New Testament was only gradually coming into existence. When the apostles died, few churches would have copies of a complete New Testament.]

Outpouring of the Spirit

The heading just above — “Given through the Apostles only” — was intended to indicate that no other men besides the apostles had this power and authority.

But there was, of course, another way of receiving the Spirit — by direct outpouring from heaven. This was most exceptional. Only four examples are mentioned:

  1. Our Lord, at his baptism (Mat 3:16).
  2. Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
  3. The assembly of thankful brethren (Acts 4:31).
  4. The household of Gentile Cornelius (Acts 10:44).

It follows that today those who claim to have received the Spirit’s gifts should have received them either by direct outpouring from heaven, or by laying on of the apostles’ hands.

The first of these was exceptional, even in New Testament times; and the second is no longer possible.

For those who today say they have this power, there is a problem here. How do they claim to have received the Spirit?

Always Temporary

It is worth noting that on all earlier occasions when God poured out his Spirit upon men, it was only for a while, and for a special purpose. Moses had seventy Spirit-blessed elders of Israel to aid his work (Num 11:24-30), but not so Joshua who succeeded him. Saul, anointed by Samuel, prophesied (1Sa 10:9-13), but later that Spirit was replaced by an evil spirit (1Sa 16:14).

During his ministry, the Lord Jesus gave the Spirit’s powers to the Twelve when he sent them out preaching (Mark 6:7,13), but some time later nine of them were unable to cure a boy who suffered from fits (Mark 9:17,18,28,29).

In the Last Days

The claim, sometimes made, that the Bible promises a revival of Holy Spirit powers in the last days, is correct, but the Scripture verses are often wrongly used, and nearly always misapplied.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).

The apostle Peter quoted these words at Pentecost (Acts 2:17), and applied them to Jews in Jerusalem in his time. If, as seems likely, there is to be a further fulfilment of these words, it can be expected to begin in Jerusalem as a blessing upon believing Jews, since the Joel passage specially mentions Mount Zion in Jerusalem (v 32); and then spread to believing Gentiles after the pattern of the bestowal of Spirit gifts in the first century.

This scripture would therefore throw considerable doubt on the claims of modern charismatic movements whose beginnings are claimed to be everywhere except Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Learn more here about The Holy Spirit of God





Like the Lord Jesus himself, his followers will be raised from the dead. Do not miss the fact that the passage quoted also tells usTHE CROSS OF CHRIST 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 every one 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?


The Cross of Christ – Part 1

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THE CROSS OF CHRISTWhen 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?

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 forever. 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 forever.

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 first fruits 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 first fruits; 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.



Click this link to learn more about Christ’s Soon Return

God Reveals Himself

God Reveals Himself

God Reveals Himself

God Reveals HimselfGod tells us all He wants us to know about Himself and His purpose, in the Bible.

The Bible is complete in itself. It consists of sixty-six sections (each one called a ‘book’).  It begins, in Genesis chapter 1, by explaining that God created the earth and all the things that live on it, including us.  When the work was completed, everything was described as ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).

Next we are told how this ‘very good’ state was spoiled when man disobeyed his Creator. But, to recover the situation, we are told how God then began a process that would repair the damage, and make all things ‘very good’ again, in the course of time.

Man was shown that he could be forgiven if he believed what God said, if he confessed his sins, and offered sacrifices that would teach him important lessons.

But he had to be willing to learn.

God’s solution

As the Bible progresses, this ‘way of salvation’ is made steadily clearer.  Generation after generation, mankind made the same mistakes as the first man Adam.  All humans failed to some extent, and sooner or later everyone died.  Then at last Jesus came, born of a woman and truly human as we all are, but begotten by the power of God.

He succeeded where we have all failed.

Unlike us, Jesus resisted all temptation and lived a perfect life.  Then he allowed wicked men to crucify him and he died, of his own free will, as the perfect sacrifice.

In that way Jesus put this troublesome human nature behind him forever, because God his Father raised him to perfect immortal life.  After that the apostles of Jesus went out into the world inviting everyone to follow Jesus, to believe his teaching and sincerely try to live the same way.

Those who obeyed this call would be forgiven and have the hope of enjoying eternal life when Jesus returns as King. Then the earth, which sinful men and women have so misruled, will be filled with God’s glory.

The Bible ends with beautiful descriptions of the earth and its people when that ‘very good’ state has been restored. Sin, pain, sorrow, and even death will be gone forever, and God will be praised by all (Revelation chapters 21 & 22).

Start to Finish

So the Bible tells the whole story, from beginning to end. For each period of history it gave men and women guidance as to the way they should live their lives.  In the period before Moses (before about 1400 BC), people such as Abraham:  “obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:5).

The Law given through

Moses:  (Exodus-Deuteronomy)

The Law of MosesThis God-given law added details to those basic principles of living so that the whole Jewish nation could be governed by them. When that Law was complete, all were warned:

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32).

Later, the great prophet Isaiah wrote:

To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).

The Coming of Christ

When the Lord Jesus was born, God’s revelation of what He is like reached a new phase, as the apostle explains:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1–2).

Jesus calls himself the ‘Alpha and Omega’ (Rev 22:13).  Alpha & Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  In any language, everything is said by using the letters of the alphabet or their equivalent.  So it is that God reveals everything that He wants us to know in and through Jesus, who said “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Jesus is God’s “Word made flesh” (John 1:14).  The last message sent to us from Jesus before he comes back as King is the Book of Revelation.  In it he warns that if we add to his words, God will add to us all the plagues described there, and if we take away from his words, God will take away our hope of eternal life (Rev. 22:18-19).

So, in the Bible, and perfected in the work of Jesus, God’s revelation to us is complete.

Warning & Encouragement

Sadly, many religious men and women in every age have not accepted this.  Some ‘added’ traditions that Jesus said “made the word of God void” (of no effect)” (Matthew 15:3-8). Others added visions and revelations that they thought they had received.  Others have ‘taken away’, either by rejecting parts of the Bible they do not agree with, or by neglecting them.  

Some people described in the Acts of the Apostles show us the right way:

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 (Acts 17:11).

We need to follow this example if we too wish to be a part of God’s Purpose.

By John Woodall

God's Kingdom on Earth

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART III

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART III

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”               Proverbs 29:18

God's Kingdom on Earth

Let’s now turn our focus to the believers, those that believe and have chosen to join themselves to Christ in baptism enter into a special relationship with God as sons and daughters.  What will they be doing during this Kingdom of God on Earth?

There will be a lot of work to be done by the believers who at this time will have been given immortality and will share the same nature as Christ and his powers.

Here is a range of jobs for the believers at this time:

  • There will be the work of Elijah in re-gathering all of the people of Israel still scattered throughout the world
  • There will be the work of cleansing and restoring the land of Israel
  • There will be the work of building God’s House of Prayer for all nations, which Christ himself will lead from Jerusalem
  • After God’s judgements have been executed upon all men, there will be a serious need for the world now in a mess to be re-organised
  • There will be the work of bringing all people and nations into subjection to Christ and his righteous rule over the earth
  • Preaching the everlasting gospel to all people as their only means of hope will be critical at this time
  • Organising all people left alive into village life, planting and building their own homes
  • As the earth will still be populated with a mortal people at this time there will still be issues and problems that need to be resolved
  • The believers principle role at this time will be as Priests and Kings of righteousness, this means they will teach and rule over the mortal population, perhaps having responsibility for a number of villages each


Israel God's Special PeopleThe work of Elijah is prophesied in Malachi 3:1

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

In Jeremiah 3:12-17 we have recorded the message that Elijah and the believers who will be assigned to work with him will regather the people of Israel scattered throughout the nations. This is what it says…

“Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger forever. 13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. 14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. 17 At 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.”

The actual work of re-gathering the people of Israel is prophesied in Ezekiel 20:33-44 where we read…

“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. 40 For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. 41 I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. 42 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers. 43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. 44 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Without the transportation systems that we have in the world today it will be a long and arduous journey for the people of Israel to literally walk their way back to the land of Israel.  While they are doing this there will be fierce resistance lead by the Roman Catholic Church who under their false teaching of a latter day ‘anti-christ’ will move large numbers of people (both the adherents to their false teachings and others who are and will be seduced to believe the same things) to the point where Israel will have to fight their way back especially through Europe where Catholicism is dominant.

The up rise of the Anti-christ movement is prophesied in Psalm 2:1-6

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.  7I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

While the effect of this on the Jews trying to return to the land of Israel is described in Zechariah 9:11-17 where we read a little of how this resistance will play out…

“Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee; 13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. 15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. 16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. 17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.”

Here Ephraim which is the political term used in the Bible to describe the scattered people of Israel will be like an arrow fired through Greece (Europe), but it is the believers who will be with them described as “whirlwinds of the south” as this is the term used to speak of all the believers who will go forth with Christ from Sinai to bring judgment on the nations gathered around Jerusalem in the battle of Armageddon. 

Like Israel of OldJust like God was with his people Israel when they came out of Egypt which was a type of this ultimate and final coming out of the nations under Elijah so the believers as the Elohim (God’s mighty angels) will hover over the people of Israel. They “shall be seen over them” much like the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night was seen over the children of Israel in the wilderness as they left Egypt. 

This is the great and final deliverance of God’s people from the wilderness of the nations.  But as they travel back those among God’s people who are rebellious will be singled out and they will perish so that only a fully repentant and chastened people will enter the land of Israel under Elijah.

This resistance by the nations and the after affect of God’s Judgment on the nations at this time is spoken of in Jeremiah 25:30-33

“Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. (note similarity to Psalm 2 as this speaks of the same time)32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.”

From this passage we learn of the fatal mistake all those around the world who follow the Catholic Church will make in believing that the proclamation from Mt Zion that Christ has returned will be the work of anti-christ.  Their resistance will be judged and punished by God leaving the dead in that day from one end of the earth to the other.  There are at present approximately 1 billion Catholics in the world, but these will be joined by many of the religions who similarly falsely believe in this later day teaching of the coming of an anti-christ (Hal Lindsay in his book ‘The Rapture’ is responsible for leading many countless numbers of people to believing in this false Anti-christ teaching).


Following the battle of Armageddon fought on the mountains of Israel around Jerusalem, there will be vast destruction and the carnage of warfare to be cleansed from the land.

Firstly we read of the armies that come against Israel as follows:

Ezekiel 39:4-7

“Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. 6 And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.”

Concerning the nation of Israel we read these words in Zechariah 12:3-11

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. 4 In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness…

9And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. 11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.”

And again in Zechariah 13:8-9

“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”

So a great number, two thirds of the people who live in Israel now will be destroyed, those remaining, one third will finally acknowledge Christ as their Saviour and King.  But the land will need to be cleansed and restored.

We read of this work in Ezekiel 39:8-9

Weapons of War“Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. 9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:”

So it will take 7 years to cleanse the land of the weapons of warfare destroyed by God of the nations who come against Israel and it will take 7 months to bury the dead.

Ezekiel 39:11-112

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves inThe remnants of War Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. 12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.”

Seven years to clear the wreckage of war and seven months to bury all the dead.  Only when this is completed will the Temple of God described in Ezekiel chs 40-48 begin to be built.


In Isaiah 60:9-22 we read of the materials being brought to Israel and the Building of God’s Temple as described in Ezekiel chs 40-45…

“Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. 10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. 11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. 16 Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. 17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. 18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. 19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. 20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. 21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. 22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.”

God's Kingdom Temple

And in Isaiah 56:7-8…

“…their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.”


Despite the resistance around the world to Christ’s declared return and rule over all the earth from Mt Zion in Israel all nations will be brought into submission.  There will be a period of 40 years during which the work of Elijah, the building of the new Temple God’s House of Prayer for all nations and bringing the nations into submission to Christ’s rule will be completed.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 speaks of the work of bringing the nations into subjection like this…

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is accepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”

It is at this time that the “knowledge of the LORD shall cover the earth like the waters cover the sea” 

Isaiah 11:9

“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.”

This is the time when all peoples and nations on the earth will be made to come once a year to worship the LORD at Mt Zion.

Zechariah 14:16

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

And so the words of Isaiah and Micah will be fulfilled:

Micah 4:1-2

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”

What we have covered so far in this article is the work of the saints during the time following Armageddon to the commence of the rule of Christ over a new and reorganized earth.  Following this work….


In Revelation 5:10 we read that the believers in Christ who will be granted immortality following the Judgment of all believers will reign with Christ as “kings and priests”…

Revelation 5:9-10

“And 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.”


What will be the work of the “kings and priests” at this time.  Well firstly the believers are kings or rulers and priests or teachers of God’s righteousness.  They will rule of mortal man at this time and initially this will be a massive task as thy go forth in the midst of all the chaos in the world following the battle of Armageddon and the world wide destruction following the earthquake that shall shake all creatures living on the earth to restore law and order.  This will be God’s law and order, so this will be a new beginning for all mankind a time where there will be peace and harmony among the peoples of the earth.

The mortal population that has survived at this time will need to be organized into small rural communities who build their own homes and plant their own crops for food.

Several of the parables of Christ talk about the faithful who have followed him in “truth and spirit” will be rulers of villages or cities eg. Luke 19:16-18

“Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.”

As rulers of God’s righteousness they shall carry the law of God to the four corners of the earth, and like Christ they shall not judge or rule after their own sight but as it says of Christ in Isaiah 11:2-4

“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth…”

And as teachers of righteous they shall teach the people of God’s law and righteous saying to them “…this is the way walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:19-21.

And so the “everlasting gospel will be preached to the four corners of the earth in this day by the immortal saints of Christ.The Everlasting Gospel to be preached to all mankind

Revelation 14:6-7

“…having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

How will the immortal saints doing this work travel around?

This an interesting question.  Well let’s look to the Bible and see if we can find an answer.  In Acts 8:26-40 we have an incident with Philip that holds the answer.  Here Philip was with the “eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians” and he explained to the eunuch what he was reading from Isaiah.  When he had finished and the eunuch asked to be baptized, Philip baptized him.  Then we read this…

“39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: andPhilip taken and transported instantly he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.”

Now this is remarkable for it shows us that God can transport people instantaneously from one place to another as Philip was transported from being with the eunuch to Azotus approximately 25-30 kilometers away.

So the Saints ruling as Kings and Priest will have the power to travel instantaneously from one place to another, even from one side of the Earth to the other.  They could be doing their work by day in some part of the Earth and then at night be in the other side of the world eg. Back in Israel with Christ.


We read of this in 1 Corinthians 15:22-28…  (Taken from the NIV)

“24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he (God) “has put everything under his feet.” s Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him (God) who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

The work of the saints as Kings / Rulers and Priests / Teachers of righteousness shall continue for the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth before the final resurrection and judgment of those who have lived and died during this 1,000 year period.

This time shall be a time of true and lasting peace all over the earth with the inhabitants enjoying feast of fat things and wine on the lees as we read in Isaiah 25:6

“6And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”

This time is also spoken of in Revelations chapters 20 and 21 where man’s ability to do as he pleases shall be curtailed during the 1,000 years, there will be no opposition or opposing forces (“satan will be bound” Greek sig. adversary or those who would oppose Christ will be bound), at the end of this time mankind is given one final opportunity to choose to live according to God’s law or to rebel and be destroyed once and for all time.

After this final conflict with man, God himself shall dwell with man and there will be no more death or mortal people upon the earth.  Revelation 21:3-4

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

This is the time the Apostle Paul had a vision of describing it as “paradise” as he was caught up in a vision to the “third heaven”  ie. This will be the third political order of rule upon the earth.  Man is now ruling which is the first heaven if you like, Christ 1,000 year reign on the earth will be the second heaven and the third heaven is this time briefly described in Revelation 21.

Concerning this time the Apostle Paul was brought to say….

“…no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him” NIV

God's Kingdom shall stand forever

Your opportunity to be a part of this Great Hope of God’s Kingdom on Earth is right before you NOW!

But you must decide and you must take the steps necessary to be a part of this Great Hope.

May God Bless you in your search for the Truth of God’s Purpose.

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART I

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART II

God's Kingdom on Earth

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART II

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART II

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”               Proverbs 29:18

God's Kingdom on Earth

What changes will there be in living in the Kingdom age?


In Isaiah 2:1-4 we read…

“The 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 anymore.”

There shall be peace upon the earth as never before as we read in Psalm 72:1-7

Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. 2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. 3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. 4 He shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. 5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. 6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. 7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.”

Our lives will be quite different to today, peaceful and full of real purpose without greed, hunger or famine.


“They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”

This speaks of a rural way of life, a life of planting and eating the things we grow, of building our own home and living in it.  Major commercialism as we know it today will no longer exist, consumerism will be gone as people make and use the things they need to live.  A father teaches his children how to live and enjoy life, while giving thanks to God for all we have.

Compare this to how God ESTABLISHED Israel living in their LAND OF PROMISE.  This is what we read in Deuteronomy 6:4-9…

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee…”


Money as we know it today will be of no use at all, we may barter ie. Exchange goods we have ie. Grow for other goods we don’t have but someone else has grown or made etc…  This is what we read in Isaiah 2:10-21

“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. 11 The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. 12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: 13 And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, 14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, 16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. 17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. 18 And the idols he shall utterly abolish. 19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 20 In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; 21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”

The gold and silver (monetary) system man uses today will be useless at this time as it along with all its value will have perished in the destruction of all the major cities of the world.  And if everyone grows what they need to live and builds their own home in which to live they will have no need of a monetary system. 


Psalm 72:16 says “…an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains.”

So again changes will have taken place to the topographical nature of the earth, God will re-establish the conditions of the earth when He first created it and put man upon it.  It will be like a ‘garden of Eden’ as plants will grow plentifully even at high altitude and there will no longer be the rapid growth of thorns and thistles to choke the good plants out.

In Isaiah 25:6 we read…

“And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”

And so God has planned for us to enjoy life to the full with a “feast of fat things, and a feast of wines on the lees”  this was the very best wine.


Just think about it, the capitalism of this world enslaves us to its consumerism and monetary system, we have to work to get money to buy things we need to live etc… Whereas if we didn’t work we would have ample time to grow and build our own to meet our families needs.

This was not how God envisaged man’s life from the beginning.  How God settled the nation of Israel into their land is a good but not perfect by any means example of how God envisaged man living by providing for and spending time with his family.

We read this in Deuteronomy 6:1-2

“Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.”

All people will live in an environment that is not stressed by the ‘running to and fro’ of this world, which at the end of one’s life really accounts for nothing.  Better is it for a father and mother to live with their families together and not as ships passing in the night as both parents go to work and try to juggle all the issues and responsibilities that raising a family brings.


  • We read this in Isaiah 65:20-23

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them.”

The average life span will be increased.  We might recall that prior to the flood of Genesis the average age of man was closer to 1,000 years and so again if a man dies at only 100 years old he will be thought of as but a child.  And so disease will be greatly reduced, living environments will be much improved with the complete absence of stress. 

No one will labour in vain as they will eat the fruits of their labours and enjoy long and joyful lives.

One law with justice for all people with complete harmony around the world even within the animal world

This is what we read of in Isaiah 11:1-9…

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots (Reference to the Lord JesusThe Lion and the Lamb shall lie down together Christ): 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 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.”

All the earth will know of the one true God in that day and all will live in harmony under God’s law for all people both great and small.


We read of this in Zechariah 14:16-

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”


This is how life should have been from the very beginning and this is what was instructed to Israel by God in Deuteronomy 6:1-4

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, 11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; 12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.”

The very basis of life shall be God-centred and not man-centred and God will provide for all we need so that people can live full and complete family orientated lives in peace and harmony with all creation.

God House of Prayer for all PeopleBut what will those who have now believed and served their Lord do in the Kingdom of God on earth?

Well undoubtedly they have much to look forward to, a labour of love on the greatest scale with bodies that will no longer be subjected to all the vanities (tiredness and disease) of this current body of flesh and blood.  For they will have been transformed following the judgment of all believers to the immortal saints of Christ.

In our Part III of this article series we will look at the nature of the work that the saints of Christ will be engaged in during the 1,000 year reign of Christ.

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART I

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART III

God's Kingdom on Earth

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART I

God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART I

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”               Proverbs 29:18

God's Kingdom on Earth

So you believe in the Kingdom of God on Earth, but what will it really be like? 

Do you know enough about this to have a vision of this time whereby you actively look forward with earnest desire that the day would come tomorrow?

How can you be certain that you will even like this time?

I mean what is it you see yourself doing, what friends will you have, what family will you have etc…?

Knowing the answers to these types of questions can make the difference between fearing this time, to looking forward to it with absolute eager excitement and joy.

All the passages that speak about this time in the Bible portray it as a time of unspeakable joy, peace and happiness beyond anything we can even imagine.  As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  Cp Isaiah 64:4

So we have every reason to look forward to this time and pray earnestly that it will come soon on this earth.

But we won’t have this joyful expectation if we have lots of unanswered questions that confuse us and cause doubt to be present in our mind about this time.

To the faithful who read the Bible, God has given us the answer to every question we could possibly ask about what this time will be like.  Some answers give us a complete picture, some we can confidently take from precedents God has already established with His people Israel as He established them in their land as His people, His Kingdom nation on Earth as it were.

Other answers, especially those where the question is about things we have very little revelation in the Bible, we must resolve to accept what Abraham said of the LORD and what the Angels agreed with Abraham when he pushed for a number of hypothetical answers about the few righteous people who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the gross evil that was done by most of the people living in these two cities.  At the start of Abraham’s questions he said “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25.   The angels concurred with this and proceeded to explain that if a few righteous were found in Sodom and Gomorrah then the LORD would not destroy these cities for their sake.

Abraham took this right down to the family of his nephew Lot consisting of 10 people, and even for just 10 people the angels replied that the LORD would not destroy these two cities.  This shows us how gracious and merciful the LORD is.

Sadly, even amongst Lot’s family of 10, only 4 people were found to be righteous, and they were saved by the Angels ahead of the complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

So we too can have every confidence in the words of Abraham, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right!”  And so for the answer to some questions we must leave it at this and know that whatever happens the LORD shall do what is gracious, merciful, righteous and just for all.

But that said, most questions are answered for us in the Bible, so we can build a sound and complete vision of the time of God’s Kingdom upon this earth.

So let’s have a look at some of the questions we might have on this time of major transformation of the earth and life as we know it today.

Some key questions concerning this time might be as follows:


Okay, so let’s look at this first question and answer it from the Bible.


Dramatic Changes are spoken of in the Bible

  1. “Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel… and all the men thatareupon the face of the earth…”
  2. The first thing we learn is that when Christ returns there will be massive worldwide earthquakes that will effectively put an end to the life man now lives ie. Power sources will be destroyed; buildings (all above 2 stories according to some scientists) will collapse.  Just imagine the massive piles of rubble left in all the cities of man around the world. 
  3. Let’s have a look at the Bible passages that speak of this:
  • See Ezekiel 38:18-20

18And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face. 19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.

The trigger point for this global earthquake will be the return of Christ standing on the Mount of Olives facing all the nations that have gatheredMt of Olives Fault Line Depression there for battle.

It’s no surprise then that the Mount of Olives has a depression in the middle of it that is a fault line that runs directly down to the Dead Sea the earths greatest faultline of all that connects to all others that cirlce the earth.

  • See Zechariah 14:1-5

1Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then shall the LORD (represented by Christ) go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

The mount of Olives was the very place Christ was taken up into heaven from.  And as this was the last place he was seen, so he will reveal himself to all nations from this very spot and all nations shall shake at his presence.

Christ will come again

At this very same time of Christ’s intervention in the battle of Armageddon, the final work of Elijah will commence in regathering all the Israelites still scattered throughout the world (estimated at 6 million today).  Elijah’s work is spoken of in Ezekiel.

  • See Ezekiel 20:33-38

33As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Now you need to imagine this task upon the turmoil that will be raging throughout the world following the global shaking and destruction in all nations.  Transportation systems will have been knocked out, so the task of getting the scattered Israelites together and moving them will be a manual one.

But at this very same time the false teaching of the Anti-Christ (https://truebibleteaching.com/bible-teaching/342-the-anti-christ-revealed.html) will cause all mainstream religions to cry out that this is not the real Christ but Anti-Christ. This will cause nations everywhere to rise up against the proclamation of the real Christ to submit to his righteous rule.

  • Psalm 2 speaks of this time as follows:

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? (false teaching of anti-christ) 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed (Christ), saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us (this will be in response to Christ’s call for all nations to submit to him). 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Jeremiah also speaks of this time as follows:

  • See Jeremiah 25:30-33

Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. 31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD. 32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. 33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

This passage along with Psalm 2 paints a pretty grim picture of God at war as it were with the nations, in reality the nations will engage in warfare with Israel as they try by land to travel back to their Promised Land of Israel.

In another passage in Zechariah 9:11-15

“…and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth… 13 When I have bent Judah (Israelites in the Land of Israel) for me, filled the bow with Ephraim (Israelites scattered throughout the world), and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece (Europe), and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14 And the LORD shall be seen over them (as the pillar of cloud and fire in Israel’s wilderness wanderings from Egypt), and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. 15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue…”

Judah and Ephraim are here used to describe the Israelites in the land being ‘Judah’ and the scattered Israelites around the world being ‘Ephraim’, so we see that the cause of the people of Israel ie. the call for ‘Ephraim’ to return will cause the scattered of Israel throughout the world to return to the land of Israel, and as they do so they will be God’s tool of judgement on the nations who resist them.  God will fight for Israel just as he did for Israel of old coming out of Egypt to the Promised land.  In so many ways this coming out of Egypt is used as a type of the final coming out of Israel from the nations of the world.

After man’s final conflict in the battle known as ‘Armageddon’ the Lord Jesus will set about to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth.  This Kingdom will be centred in Israel in Jerusalem.  Above is an artist’s drawing of the Temple of God as it is described built around an elevated Mt Zion following the great earthquake described in Zechariah 14:3

Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

In this day the words of the Psalmist will start to be fulfilled:

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”  Psalm 48:2

Where Jerusalem is today will be completely changed, a vast flat plain will exist with a mountain in the centre, the new Mt. Zion as seen in the illustration below:

  1. Shows the Temple overlaid on Jerusalem as it is today
  2. Shows a view of the new Temple sitting on the plain where Jerusalem was with Mt. Zion elevated with the rivers of water described in the prophecies of Ezekiel 40-48
God's Temple overlaid on Jerusalem God's Kingdom Temple

At this time the building of the Temple of God will commence:

10And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. 11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. 12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 60:10-14

When this Temple as God’s “House of Prayer for all Nations” is finished all families of all Nations will be required to come once a year to worship the One True God there.

  • Zechariah 14:16-19

16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.

Remember massive changes will have taken place throughout the world as a result of the earthquake described in EzekielEarths Tutonic Plates 38:19-20

For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”

Given the nature of the fault lines in this region and how they join to all the major fault lines throughout the world (see map above left) some scientists have predicted that such a worldwide shaking of the earth could level every building above 2 stories.  Well this certainly seems to be the intent of the words in Ezekiel 38 ie. “…every wall shall fall to the ground.”

So with such a massive worldwide earthquake just imagine the devastation around the world, every major city will be a pile of rubble, dams will break, electricity will have been knocked out, communications will be knocked out along with international monetary systems, and no one will quite know where to start to try and put things back together.  In fact major cities around the world most likely will be abandoned as a pile of rubble.

So what have we discovered so far?

  1. There will be massive earthquake driven changes to the earth, resulting in major topographical changes to the land of Israel and catastrophic disruptions to the way people live around the world with every major city reduced to rubble.
  2. That the world at large led by the Catholic Church and all other mainstream churches will say that this is anti-christ and cause the world at large to resist the rule of Christ by which as a result many people all over the world will perish.
  3. That during this time Elijah will lead the people of scattered Israel back to the land of Israel which will be met by the opposition of the world so that these returning Israelites will have to fight their way back from all nations where they are still scattered.  As they do so they will become God’s “arrow” against the nations who resist and they shall be judged and subdued for doing so.
  4. God’s House of Prayer for all nations will commence to be built upon a new topographical Mt Zion.

When you have digested what we have learnt so far you should be ready to move onto the next Part II of this article series.

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART II

See: God’s Kingdom on Earth – What will it be like? – PART III

Don't just blindly follow others

Will you Escape or are you just following the Majority?

Will you Escape or are you just following the Majority?Don't just blindly follow others

(A Dangerous Majority)

It was a lovely clear, sunny day and Susan was doing a walk which was new to her. She had no map or compass but brief instructions on a sheet of paper. At the top of a high hill she followed the descent of a large group of ramblers, gathering speed because she wanted to get down before it went dark.

After about half an hour she realised to her consternation that she must be going in the wrong direction. The path was getting wider and wider, but according to her instructions it should have been a very narrow path.

The ramblers were doing a different walk!

Her mistake would have been avoided if, instead of following them, she had used a map and compass.

Susan needed to change direction.

The Majority are often Wrong!

Susan’s mistake was easy to make: she had followed the majority. Many people have commented that the majority can be wrong. For example Mark Twain said: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”. Scientists and philosophers have voiced similar sentiments.

More importantly, Jesus himself warned that in moral issues following the majority is potentially disastrous.

This is because the majority are heading to destruction:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.The gate is narrow Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).

So if we want to be on the right path to salvation we must enter at the “narrow…gate” and be on the “difficult…way which leads to life”.

Although not all minorities are right, time after time the majority has been found to be wrong.

❖Noah – In the days of Noah, people were not interested in God and did not believe Noah’s preaching, so when the flood came they were not in the ark when: “a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (I Peter 3:20). Just eight people listened and were saved from utter destruction!

❖Lot – Later, in the time of Abraham, the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God, and only Lot and his daughters were saved. Even Lot’s wife did not escape (Genesis chapter 19).

❖Joseph – Two generations later ten of Jacob’s sons ganged up on their brother Joseph and sold him into slavery and while that may have seemed the end of the matter, God was with Joseph and later he saved the majority that were against him along with the Nation of Egypt from starvation. (Genesis 37).

No wonder the Law of Moses specifically warned against “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice” (Exodus 23:2).

Despite those warnings, for most of the history of the kingdom of Israel the majority were disobedient and refused to believe the prophets sent by God.

The ultimate mistake made by a majority was when the Jewish people cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus.

The apostle Stephen describes this sad history in a speech just prior to his martyrdom:

“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:51–52).

Don’t Blindly Follow!

If we imagine that in the Christian era in which we live things are different, then we are wrong. Near the end of his life the apostle Paul warned Timothy that the Christian church would become corrupted (1 Timothy 1:19).

He had already warned about this:

“I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29–30).

This defection was to happen only one generation after the death of Jesus. Given this pathetic record of human rebellion it is inconceivable that nowadays the majority is right in spiritual matters. It follows that we cannot just go along with the crowd or even believe what religious leaders tell us.

Today most of us have access to a Bible and we need to read what God has said, not what people report Him as havingAccess to a Bible said.

Following to the letter the instructions in the Bible (like using a map and compass) we cannot go wrong. If we are heading the wrong way we need to repent NOW – change direction and walk in the way of life.

That means acting differently from the majority, just as the Bible counsels:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

We must not leave it too late, for Jesus is coming soon to judge the world, for God as the Apostle Paul said that God….

“…has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

World events today are a sign to us that, that day is coming soon!

We need to be found on the right track, walking in the right direction, when that Day Comes.

By Anna Hart

Why Does God Allow Suffering

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow SufferingSUFFERING is a problem in life that comes home to everyone. A child is born blind, deformed or mentally afflicted; and the question comes: Why? The child has done no harm.

A man or woman of fine character and in the prime of life is racked with pain in a hopeless disease that can only end in death. Why him? Why her? These are the people who can least be spared.

Millions in the world are suffering semi-starvation and disease in countries with vast populations and low agricultural productivity. Others perish or are made homeless in floods and earthquakes. Why should they suffer?

Pain, torture and death have been imposed on helpless millions by the tyranny of man and the destructiveness of modern war. Countless lives are lost in acts of terrorism, by brutality and hijacking. Accidents there have always been, but the scale of today’s disasters and natural calamities is often overwhelming: a passenger aircraft crashes; an oil rig blows up; fire traps hundreds in an underground train. People ask: Why does God allow it?

Does God care?

The questions readily arise and on the surface they seem reasonable: yet a candid look at them shows that they carry certain implications. They imply that suffering in human life is inconsistent either with the power or with the love of God: that as a God of love He has not the power to prevent the suffering, or if He has the power then He has not the will, and is not a God of love. It is assumed that the prevention of suffering as it now affects the apparently innocent is something we should expect from a God of love who is also Almighty. Are these assumptions justified?

Facts of life

Some facts about life must be taken into account before we try to form a judgement:

  1. Man lives in a universe of cause and effect and the consequences of certain causes are inescapable. Fire burns, water drowns, disease germs destroy. These facts have moral implications. People live in a universe in which the consequences of what they do are inescapable, and therefore their responsibility for what they do is equally inescapable. Without this burden of ‘natural law’ man could do as he liked with impunity, and there would be no responsibility. God made the universe this way because He is a moral God who makes men responsible beings with freewill to choose how they will act.
  2. Man’s neglect and misuse of his own life has corrupted the stream of human life itself, and left evils which fall on succeeding generations. These, again as part of natural law, may manifest themselves as hereditary weaknesses and tendencies to disease. The very stuff of life may be affected as it is passed on from generation to generation.
  3. The consequences of man’s acts are not only directly physical. The social and political evils which they have created throughout history have left a gathering burden on the generations following. People today are caught in a net of the consequences of past history, and even when they try to right one evil, another is brought to bear:

“The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22)

Should people be saved from themselves?

Taking such facts as these into account, it must be asked, What is it we are really doing when we require God to remove suffering? Are we not asking that God should (a) suspend natural law, (b) divert the consequences of heredity, and (c) turn aside the effects of man’s inhumanity to man? Have we the right to expect God to save men from the consequences of human acts? Would it be a moral universe if He did?

‘Acts of God’

These questions can only be asked of situations when the hand of man is not involved. Earthquakes, tempests, famines and floods are called ‘acts of God’ because usually there is no other explanation for their occurrence. So if we look beyond human acts to natural disaster, we find that it falls upon all, innocent and guilty alike. As soon as we begin to question the suffering of innocent victims of these disasters another dilemma is raised. Are we saying that the calamities should be selective in their working, searching out only those who ‘deserve to suffer’?

An evil or a symptom?

Underlying all the loose thinking on the subject which has been surveyed so far is one basic assumption: it is that suffering is evil in itself. It is this belief that suffering is the essential evil that lies at the root of Buddhism. The Bible view is radically different: suffering is not evil in itself, but a symptom of a deeper evil. The scriptures portray suffering as a consequence of sin: not necessarily the sin of the individual who suffers, but sin in the history of man and in human society. Its origin is succinctly put by the Apostle Paul:

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

The sentence upon the woman after the disobedience in Eden says:

“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

To the man God says:

“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.” (Genesis 3:16,19)

The teaching is simple. With man’s disobedience there came a dislocation in the relationship between the Creator and the created; the relation between God and man is out of joint. The first sin brought a fundamental change which affects all with the evils which are common to man. Death is universal: God does not modify it for the particular individual. The Bible teaching is that men and women are left to their own ways and the working of nature’s laws, though there may be times when natural disaster is divinely directed as a judgement upon man and for the cleansing of the earth. The outstanding example is the flood in the days of Noah.

At the same time it is true that in the Bible, for those who seek to serve God, suffering takes on new meaning; they are in a new relationship to the Creator, and will learn to see tragedy in a new light. What is it?

A Godly man’s experience

The answer may be seen in the example of Job. Here is a devout man who meets with disaster in the loss of his flocks and herds – the source of his wealth; with terrible bereavement in the loss of all his children at one stroke; and then is stricken with a tormenting disease which separates him from men. Yet he says: “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). He recognises the important principle that he cannot claim good as a right: it is not for him to decide what God shall do.

The agonizing problem

The time comes, however, when the suffering is so unbearable that death seems preferable. In agony and bewilderment he asks, in effect: Why should a man live if it is only to suffer? Can God, who has made man, destroy him like a discarded plaything?

Job’s friends argue that there is a direct connection between a man’s sin and his suffering and they therefore contend that to suffer so greatly Job must have greatly sinned. Job is convinced of his own integrity: he is human, but he knows that he is not guilty of the sins they try to fasten upon him. Yet he has enough of his friends’ philosophy to feel now that he suffers unjustly. Has God chosen him to be set up as a mark to shoot at? Because, compared with others, his sufferings seem wholly disproportionate to any faults he can confess. To him it seems that his affliction can only mean that God has turned against him, and this moral problem adds to his bitterness. The “tents of robbers” prosper: why should the righteous suffer? If God is judging him, is it right that he should be judged by a standard human nature cannot reach?

The friends utterly fail to shake Job’s conviction in his own righteousness, and at last they cease to argue. But underlying Job’s contention is an ultimate faith in God, in spite of all the questionings, and a belief in God’s justice; and so Job reaches out to the hope that in another life, if not now, God as his Redeemer will vindicate him and be on his side. And so he introduces a new element in the argument when he looks beyond the grave to resurrection and reconciliation. That belief, hinted at in Job, is fully declared elsewhere in both the Old and New Testaments, and it gives a new perspective to the problem. Yet it does not in itself explain why men and women should suffer in this life.

God speaking to man

When the friends are silenced and Job has made his final speech, the young man Elihu comes into the argument. He shows that Job in his extremity has impugned the righteousness of God, but he also throws a new light on the problem. God speaks to men (a) through revelation, and (b) through suffering. God, by His own means, is communicating with men and women and bringing them to Himself (read Job 33:14-18).

God speaks to men, says Elihu, for their spiritual education, their guidance in life and their preservation from destruction. He “withdraws man from his purpose, and hides pride” from him, leading him away from his own self-assertive course of life, for pride is the source of sin. As to the other means of communication, Elihu says:

“He is chastened also with pain upon his bed,
and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
So that his life abhorreth bread,
and his soul dainty meat.
His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen;
and his bones that were not seen stick out.
Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave,
and his life to the destroyers.” (Job 33:19-22)

The description of suffering perfectly fits Job, and Elihu is saying that even he needs the chastening, reproof, discipline of the Lord – not for the specific sins alleged by his friends, for Elihu does not mention them, but for a more subtle fault. Elihu has already hinted at it, for it is the sin of spiritual pride, and only the experience of suffering can bring it to light so as to convict him of it.

God’s working with man

Suffering can, therefore, be part of the ways of God’s working with men for their own development and to bring them to a knowledge of Himself; and the outcome for Job was a new and intimate knowledge of God. He could say:

“I have heard of thee with the hearing of the ear:
But now mine eye seeth thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent
in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5,6)

This working of God with man must in its nature be individual: only the man who suffers can gain this as a personal experience. The larger problem of suffering remains, and the only answer to be extracted from the Book of Job is that man cannot question the majesty and wisdom of God: He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life, and His works are beyond man’s knowledge. It is this answer which is elaborated with such power and beauty by the Voice from the whirlwind in chapters 38-41. Man can only accept that the ways of God are beyond his judgement.

“Does Job serve God for nought?”

While, therefore, the Book of Job offers no simple answer to the problem of suffering, it has been raised to a wider level. Only by loss and suffering could Job know that he did not serve God for the sake of houses, lands, flocks and herds, or even children. He did not even serve for the sake of his own skin, his health and well-being. He worshipped God for Himself, and in spite of all the wild words which came from his stress of mind and body he had an ultimate belief in God’s righteousness and faithfulness. It was only when stripped of everything that he really knew that God was his only refuge, and in that discovery he was triumphantly vindicated against the slander of the Adversary epitomised by the three friends.

Job’s faith in God was put to the test under trial, and by trial it was tempered as steel. It was by his final acceptance of the wisdom of God, and by learning that faith could be developed through suffering, that Job came at last to the fuller knowledge of God.

Some conclusions

The conclusions to be drawn from what has been considered so far may be summarised as follows:

  1. Man lives in an ordered universe of cause and effect and must accept its consequences; and since sin entered into human life these must involve suffering. The suffering, however, may not be directly related to the sin of the sufferer but may result from the acts of former generations.
  2. At the same time it is the universe of a God of wisdom and love who can guide and control the suffering for those who seek Him in order to bring them to a deeper knowledge of Him.

A divine discipline

It is in the light of this latter conclusion that we may understand a passage in the Letter to the Hebrews based on a saying in the Book of Proverbs:

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees …” (Hebrews 12:5-12; Proverbs 3:11,12)

Read in its context, the passage expounds itself. Suffering and loss are common to man, but for the children of God they are directed by their Heavenly Father as a spiritual training, and as such are the expression of His love.

Does God suffer?

One stage more may be reached in the understanding of suffering. It is that God Himself is involved in the suffering of man, for out of His love He gave His own Son to die for them, and allowed him to suffer too. Jesus was wholly innocent, untainted by sin of any kind, yet he voluntarily laid down his life, suffering injustice and cruelty for the sake of his friends:

“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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Greater love even God could not have than to give His beloved Son to the suffering of the cross for the redemption of men.

It is true, therefore, to say that even God suffers, and it becomes possible to understand the saying of the prophet concerning God’s relation to Israel:

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them.” (Isaiah 63:9; see also Judges 2:16)

Why does God not intervene?

The God of Israel is not a remote, impassive First Cause: His Holy Spirit can be grieved, He can be moved with yearning compassion. He can love with an everlasting love. All these are scriptural expressions, and they reveal God as the supreme Personality who can from His holy transcendence enter into the lives of the men and women He has created.

People often ask: Why does God not intervene to stop suffering, to halt war, to prevent disease, etc.? God does, of course, intervene in human affairs; He has shown His power at many times in history. But there is a limit to this intervention: He has allowed man freewill, and He allows man to use that freewill – for good or ill.

God intervened in the history of His chosen people Israel and gave them special opportunities to worship Him and be His witnesses. He entrusted them with His revelation and with the promises and prophecies of a coming Messiah.

God sent His Son

So it was that, some 2,000 years ago, God intervened in the lives and history of man by giving His Son Christ Jesus to share in human suffering to the uttermost in order to bring about redemption from sin and death. Christ came in the life and nature of man; he shared our experience and endured the temptations from within and the afflictions from without that are the common lot of all mankind:

“It became him … to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings … 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.” (Hebrews 2:10-18)

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

In accepting suffering in obedience to the will of God he raised it to a new plane, and showed it no longer as the greatest evil but as a means to an end: for through suffering, in his perfect obedience to God, he overcame the power of sin in human nature, and so made possible resurrection from the dead to eternal life with the Father. In this he obtained perfection, a tried and tested faith, completeness in obedience, wholeness in the love of God and the service of man – an example to all his followers.

Perfect through suffering

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21-24)

And “having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). He is the author, the source, the cause, of a salvation men cannot attain for themselves, since on account of his sacrifice men and women who come to him for life are by God’s grace accepted as members of Christ. And so, as Christ rose the third day, there is spiritual resurrection to new life now for those who are baptized into him, and the hope of physical resurrection and a change to immortality in the day when he returns.

“Partakers of the divine nature”

If men and women were to become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), raised out of sin to a level where they could truly know God, enjoy eternal fellowship with Him and share His incorruptible life, then God alone knew how this was to be achieved consistently with His own majestic holiness. It was the way which required the gift of His Son to die on the cross.

If, then, God suffered, and if, in obedience to the Father, Christ suffered even to death, the whole problem of man’s suffering is raised to a new level. Without faith in God, suffering is an evil to be endured. With faith, and the example of the Son of God, suffering may purify and ennoble, and be a means by which God brings the sufferer nearer to Himself. It can be truly a divine education, the chastening of the Lord.

“All things new”

If God’s Son suffered, can men expect to escape? But beyond the suffering was resurrection, and beyond resurrection will come the kingdom of God when Christ will come to reign, taking to himself those who have already committed themselves as his followers.

This time for the kingdom to be set up is very close. But the Lord’s own words and many other prophecies make it plain that the coming of Christ will be preceded by great tribulation for the world, and no doubt also for his disciples:

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21,22)

But when the Lord Jesus Christ appears, he will cleanse the earth of all evil, put down all sin and selfishness, eliminate disease – and ultimately death. He will reign for God and remove suffering for ever. Then shall be fulfilled the words heard by the Apostle John on Patmos:

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:3-5)

For those who answer the call of God’s love, the way of suffering may be the way of life, and that is the ultimate purpose of the existence of suffering in the world. The call is still going out; there is still opportunity for all who are looking for hope beyond this present evil world, to find it – in the ‘good news’ of the Gospel.

Adapted from a pamphlet entitled The Gospel and Suffering, by L. G. Sargent.

All things work together for our Good

Everything Working for OUR Good

Everything Working for OUR Good

All things work together for our Good

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Whilst I was reading a commentary on Romans 8:28, I was reminded of the times when people reassure a hospital patient, or someone who has been in an accident, that they’re not to worry; that everything will be all right. On a first aid course, we are told to comfort the patient. Even if we were to fear the worst, our words are meant to instil confidence. We wouldn’t be so cruel as to say “you may lose a leg”, or “you may not recover from your heart attack”.

To give words of comfort is the best thing to do, knowing that the patient will soon be in safe hands although the outcome could be serious.

Real Reassurance

In the verse quoted above from Romans chapter 8, we have a different scenario. Paul is giving 100 per cent assurance to Christians.

Unlike ourselves at the scene of an accident, Paul spoke with authority. He was a man called by God, and well aware of the blessings brought about through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this knowledge, he could make the statement above with absolute confidence.

The assurance that Paul gives cannot apply to everyone. It is directed at those who love God, and to those who are called in line with His purpose.

If you love God then there is a real relationship: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (v14).

What does it mean to love God? It means to be obedient to Him and to obey His commandments:

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6).

Throughout his life, Paul was no stranger to suffering, persecution and hunger. He accepted these things because he loved God and through his conversion he had been called to God’s purpose. This purpose is that all the earth should be filled with God’s glory in a divine eternal Kingdom. So, for those who are called by God and are baptised into the saving name of the Lord Jesus, all things do work together for good. ‘Good’ is both the objective and the reward.

A Living Reality

However, it is wrong to think that our life will be without difficulties and disappointments.

Let us look at some passages from the Bible:

[Paul was] strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

These things I have spoken to you, that in me [Jesus] you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).The ‘good’ in Romans 8:28, is not how much wealth we have, or our comfortable home or good health. It is conformity to Christ and acceptance by him to a place in the kingdom of God.

Elsewhere in the chapter, Paul writes:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (v29–30).

We also have examples in the Bible of the glory still to come in the kingdom of God. Consider the last words of David:

He shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain. Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; will He not make it increase? (2 Samuel 23:4–5).

There are two especially important words in verse 5: ‘although’ and ‘yet’.

We know that David sinned before God and that he was punished. So, he says that although his house was not perfect, yet God still made a covenant with him. So, to this man who loved God, all things were working together for good.

A Living Pattern

In the Letter to the Hebrews we find the greatest example of all things truly working together for good.

This is in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1–2).

In summary, the writer is exhorting us to prepare ourselves properly as if in a race. In doing so, we copy and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

The writer lists just some of the dreadful things that the Lord endured, when he was put to death on the cross.

And he did it by faith in the promise of God, by which (in faith) he saw the joy before him, and encouraged by this prospect he was sustained and triumphed, and is now at his Father’s side in heaven.

We may not be asked to give our lives, but we do have the example of the Lord Jesus to follow. If we do this faithfully, then when the Lord returns to establish his Father’s kingdom, we may be invited to share in the glory that will follow.

We will then be able to fully appreciate just how all things really will have worked together for good, to those who love God.

By Roy Soffe

Do You Want to Live Forever



A happy couple growing old together through life is what most of us dream of. Do You Want to Live Forever

But is that all there is?

Wouldn’t you like to live forever young?

The prophet Daniel was inspired to foretell the resurrection of the dead at the coming of Jesus and called it an awakening from the dreamless sleep of death. Then he adds that only some of those raised from the dead will be made immortal. Here’s what he said:

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt (death again). Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:2,3).

Jesus expands on this Old Testament teaching as follows:

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41–43).

Many shall Awake

After the resurrection, the faithful will be rewarded with eternal life (perfect life that lasts forever), but in these words there is also an important warning. Those judged unfaithful will experience ‘shame and everlasting contempt’. Please note that the verses do not say they will suffer eternal pain.

In fact the Psalmist says this:

“The wicked shall return to Sheol (the grave), all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17 ESV).

“Hell” or “Sheol” are names that just mean the grave and what we are being told is that people who are rejected at the judgement in the last days will just die again. Their fate will be that of “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9) and their bad reputation will be always remembered as a warning.

Jesus was once asked a trick question about the resurrection concerning who will be married to whom in the future age. His answer tells us much about the blessings of immortality:

“Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34–36).

Equality with angels! Not ever dying or being sick or sad again! This is what God offers to us, if we will believe the truth of His word really try to remain faithful and obedient to His word of truth.

New Nature

We are not thinking of living for ever with the weak sinful nature we have at present: that would not be a blessing at all. Angels enjoy a perfect quality of life in total obedience to God:

“Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word”  (Psalm 103:20).

God promises that those who try to please Him now in their weak mortal state, will enjoy perfect sin-free lives helping forward God’s purpose in His kingdom when Jesus is here as King.

We can be sure that if we really want to serve God properly, and for ever, He will make it possible for us. Here are two more of these promises:

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24–25).

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Revelation 19:6–9).

God’s Gift

God's Gift to us AllImmortality will be a free gift from God, we can never deserve it. All that we actually earn is death, but God wants us in His kingdom and He wants to forgive our failings. The apostle Paul, writing about Abraham, says this about his faith:

“It was accounted to him for righteousness.”

“Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:22–25).

God will count us righteous in His sight if we have a faith like Abraham’s and act accordingly. God wants us to be baptized into the saving name of Jesus, so we can be covered by his sacrificial death. And Paul’s chapter about baptism ends with this summary:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

But let us not ignore something else that Paul said, earlier in this letter:

“[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality” (Romans 2:6–7).

But to get eternal life, we have really got to want it, and must reach out to God for the salvation that He has graciously provided. As Jesus said, we must ‘hunger and thirst’ (Matthew 5:6) after the things that are right with God.

John Woodall

The Lord's Supper

Do This in Remembrance of Me – The Last Supper

Do This in Remembrance of Me – The Last Supper

The Gospel of Mark describes how Jesus and his twelve disciples journeyed from Bethany to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.The Lord's Supper Jesus sent two of his disciples on ahead to prepare a special place for their meeting. It is impossible that the strange instructions, which Jesus gave for finding the room, were to prevent Judas from knowing the location in advance and informing the High Priest. In this way Jesus was able to celebrate the meal with his disciples without being disturbed.

“So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you…” (Mark 14:13 -16). .

In Israel it was a woman’s task to collect water from the wells and so it would have been easy for the disciples to recognize the man carrying the water pitcher as Jesus had described. This is an example of how Jesus could foretell future events before they happened. So, just as Jesus said, the man led the disciples to the upper room where they would celebrate the Passover together.

Although the hour was late, and darkness had fallen by the time the disciples entered the room, they were with their master Jesus, described in the Gospel of John as ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus knew that very soon he was to be handed over to evil men to be crucified and so he was under immense mental pressure. We read in the gospel of Luke that, at this time of great trial, Jesus really needed the fellowship of his disciples and so he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ (Luke 22:15).

The disciples didn’t understand the words ‘before I suffer’ because they were too busy arguing amongst themselves about who was to be the greatest (Luke 22: 24). John explains how Jesus gently corrected them by his own example. When the supper was ready, he took the role of a servant and, taking off his outer clothing, he picked up a towel and poured water into a bowl. He then began to wash the feet of each of his disciples and to wipe them with the towel he had tied around his waist (John 13:4-5).

“While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, tell you the truth, one of you will betray me-one who is eating with me.”  They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I? It is one of the Twelve, he replied, one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”  (Mark 14:18-21).

As the night grew on, Jesus knew that it would soon be time for Judas to leave and fulfill his evil work. He knew that it was his last opportunity to spend precious moments with his disciples, but it filled him with sadness that one of them had chosen to betray him. The thoughts of Jesus are expressed in the Psalms,

“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”  (Psalms 41: 9).

It would have been with great sadness that Jesus, fully aware of Judas’ intentions, gave the bread to him and said, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly’ (John 13:26-27).

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take it; this is my body. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:22-24).

The apostle Paul, by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ, focused upon the importance of this simple feast of bread and wine:

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which. Is “for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the up, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11 :23-26)

The simplicity of the memorial meal instituted by Jesus is in stark contrast to the complicated ritual of the Passover. In fact the bread and the wine had their origin two thousand years before Jesus in the offering of Melchizedek, king of Salem.

‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God , Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” (Genesis 14:18-20).

The Bible speaks of Jesus as ‘a priest forever. in the order of Melchizedek’ (Hebrews 7:17). This is because the necessity of Jesus’ priesthood preceded both the Passover and the Levitical Priesthood.

The Bread

The actual supper followed this order of events. First the bread was prayed for and eaten followed by the wine. 

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.'” (Mark 14:22).

The bread represented the body of Jesus but was not literally his body. John speaks of Jesus as “the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41). This is referring to God’s special plan with Jesus his son as saviour of the world. The Psalmist describes Jesus as ‘the son of man you [God] have raised up for yourself (Psalm 80:17). Like the bread that the disciples were about to eat, Jesus’ body had been specially prepared (Hebrews 10:5).

The bread at the last supper had almost certainly been prepared without leaven – a kind of yeast used to make bread rise. The Bible often uses ‘leaven’ as a symbol to represent sin. Just as the bread had no leaven, so Jesus had no sin. 

“but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -yet was without sin”  (Hebrews 4:15).

Just as Jesus broke the power of sin in his own body, so he also broke the bread. The bread represented how Jesus defeated sin by his perfect life and his obedience to his Father – obedience even to the point of death. Jesus then gave the bread to his disciples to teach them that all those who believe in Jesus, and are baptised into him, ‘have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10).


We cannot discuss the connection between the bread and wine and fellowship without first mentioning baptism. 

Baptism is itself an act of fellowship on our part. It is an identification of our fellowship with the death (and life) of Christ: ‘having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead’ (Colossians 2:12)

The starting point of the following discussion of fellowship is that just as the disciples had been baptised before eating bread and wine with Jesus, so must we be. (see John 3:5).


The bread symbolises the fellowship the disciples shared with Jesus’ victory over sin and death. It is eaten as a sign of shared fellowship with Christ.

‘One loaf. one body’ (1 Corinthians 10: 17) Bread is made up of many individual grains of wheat which are ground together to make one loaf. As Paul said “we, who are many, are one body, for we are all partake of the one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:17). Jesus was showing his disciples that our fellowship is with him and with the Father.

‘And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ’ (1 John 1 :3).

Jesus carefully took bread., and blessed, and broke it, then gave it to each of them individually. In the same way, our fellowship with Christ is an individual fellowship. If vie personally are walking in light, then we have fellowship with Christ as symbolised by the bread. If we share this loaf with others, our fellowship with them is dependent upon them also walking in light. 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1 :7). 

Our fellowship with Christ, and with one another, is dependent upon our faithful walking in the light. So therefore we must be careful how we live our lives to ensure our fellowship with Christ in the breaking of bread. Note that in the above verses we see that secondary to the main element of fellowship, that is fellowship with the Father and his son, Christ, there is also the question of’ fellowship with each other.

The question of fellowship can be difficult -and is a question of balance. But the Bible does provide guidelines: Firstly we can see that even in New Testament times fellowship was not extended to everyone:

“But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”  (1Corinthians 5:11)

Paul was here instructing the church in Corinth not to have fellowship with one brother who was in a sexually immoral relationship. The church had to bar him from eating with them for a time so that he would repent and be restored. In the second letter to Corinth we see that Paul’s medicine worked the brother did repent and was restored (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

This case of suspending fellowship was for wrong deeds, but Paul also applied the same medicine in the case of wrong teaching (compare 1Corinthians 5:5 with 1 Timothy 1 :20).

The apostle John, following on from his words on fellowship (1 John 1:7 as above), and right lifestyle (1 John 1:8 -2:17), also had a warning on right teaching (1 John 2; 18-27).

John expands this warning in 1 John, chapter 4:

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit. that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world”  (1 John 4: 1-3).

John was so concerned about this false teaching that he repeated the warning in his second letter: ‘Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.’ (2 John 7)

We can draw two major conclusions from these warnings: .Firstly that John wanted the believers to avoid fellowship with false teaching as well as with false practice. Secondly that he was particularly concerned with false teaching about Christ.

This is not the place for a detailed analysis of what the particular false teaching was, but note that John does not instruct the believers to avoid fellowship with those who deny that Jesus Christ came ‘in a body’. (Even the Jews and Romans recognised that Jesus came with a body or they would not have nailed that body to a cross). John’s concern was more subtle: with those who deny that Jesus Christ came ‘in the flesh’.

The writer to the Hebrews made clear that Jesus coming ‘in the flesh’ meant more than just coming ‘in a body’: 

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death -that is the devil For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, Because he himself suffered hen he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  (Hebrews 2:14-18)

(see also Matthew 1:1, Mark 13:32, Luke 2:6, 2:40, 2:52, John 4:28,20:17, Hebrews 4:15,5:7-8)

If our fellowship is truly first of all ‘with the Father and the Son’, hen, as John argues, we should not be sharing this fellowship with anyone who teaches wrong things about the Father and he Son.

One thing in particular which is very relevant today is that any Christians do not truly believe the doctrine that Paul says is ‘first importance’, that ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Yes, they will say, Christ’s body died, but not Christ himself. any, if not most, Christians today believe and teach that Jesus went elsewhere as a spirit while his body was in the tomb for 3 days. He himself, they teach, did not die.

But the Lord Jesus himself says: ‘I was dead’ (Revelation 1 :18)

Just as John and Paul withdrew fellowship from those who had wrong actions, in the same way both apostles taught that we are not to turn a blind eye to serious wrong teaching – even if it would be more convenient for us to do so.

However what both apostles are talking about are wrong teachings about the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Not every difference of opinion is a basis for such drastic action. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul reprimands them for not sharing fellowship as one. One of the arguments he uses is that they should not have a double standard for baptism and fellowship:

“For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body”  (1 Corinthians 12:13)

This argument of Paul’s still makes sense today: if someone has truly been ‘baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?’ (Romans 6:3), then we cannot refuse to break with them the bread that ‘proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes’ (1 Corinthians 11 :26).

The opposite of this is also true. If someone has not been truly baptised into the death of Christ’, or for example was baptized without understanding that Christ truly ‘died for our sins’ (he himself, not only his body died) then we are doing them no favour by extending bread that is secondary to be taken as a reminder of our baptism.

The Wine

“Following the bread, Jesus took wine and gave it to his disciples to drink: ‘Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”  (Mark 14:23-24).

Like the bread, the wine was not literally the blood of Jesus, but it represented his blood. Jesus was the ‘true vine’ (John 15:1), who, though crushed like grapes in the winepress, was preserved by the Spirit of God within him. It is important to understand what blood meant to the people of Israel. Under the old law of Moses, the Israelites were prohibited from eating blood because it was the life source of the animal.

“But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.”  (Deuteronomy 12:23).

In the same way, the wine represented the blood of Jesus that was poured out for us, but also his perfect life and sinless obedience to God.

‘He poured out his life unto death’ (Isaiah 53: 12) ‘And became obedient to death -even death on a cross!’ (Philippians 2:8).

Because of the sinless life of Jesus, all those who believe and are baptised into him are covered by his righteousness. Our sins are forgiven because of him. This is what he meant when he said:

‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:28).

The wine is symbolic of the blood of Jesus through which we receive forgiveness and remission of sin. “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement- for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).

The shedding of the blood of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was essential for the forgiveness of sin as the book of Hebrews says “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’’ (Hebrews 9:22).

Jesus spoke of the shedding of his blood as “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The New Testament of which Jesus spoke was the covenant referred to in Jeremiah, “The time is coming, declares the LORD, when twill make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

” It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though was a husband to them, declares the LORD.”

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the LORD.  I will put my aw in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their wickedness, and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31 :31-34).

The blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sin. When our sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ they are gone, forgotten, and never to be remembered. God has said that as ‘far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us’ Psalm 103:12). God has promised that when we are forgiven through the blood of Christ, he will not remember our sins anymore (Hebrews 10:17).

This is very important because it frees us from the burden of guilt for all the sins we commit. When our sins are forgiven. they are totally removed, and gone forever. This wonderful freedom is one of the great comforts which we can know in Christ Jesus our Lord.

At the table of the Lord

These are the things which we remember as we take the wine and “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).

With these deeply personal considerations before us, we need to examine whether we are walking in the light and to acknowledge and confess our sins, the partaking of the bread and the wine is a very serious matter.

The apostle Paul warns us, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

“For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11 :27-29).

It is important that we examine ourselves. This is a very personal matter which occurs between us and our God. It is an examination of our own lives not the lives of others. This self examination is essential before we dare to partake of the bread and the wine.

An important thing to remember, and use as a guide when we are examining ourselves before God, is that ‘he who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy’ (Proverbs 28: 13). So not only must we confess our sins before God, we must also forsake them. In other words, we must say in all sincerity, I am sorry, please forgive me, I will try not to do it again In this way we remember Jesus week by week, for “whenever you [we] eat this bread and drink this cup, you [we] proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11 :26). It is critical that we remember Jesus in this simple feast regularly, preferably, as the apostles did in the first century, weekly until the time when our Lord will share it with us in his kingdom.

“I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25).

The memorial feast was both the institution of a memorial and a long term prophecy. By the sharing of these simple symbols of his death, Jesus looked forward to his resurrection. He was sustained by the “joy set before him” and “endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). He saw beyond the suffering of the cross to the day when the “wedding of the Lamb” would be celebrated- with his disciples (Revelation 19:7). This was what Jesus meant when he said; ‘I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it a new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ (Matthew 26:29)

Until that day we are commanded by Jesus to keep this ceremony in remembrance of him. Also we are promised: ‘You are my friends if you do what I command‘ (John 15:14)

Therefore let us with thoughtful care and self-examination remember Jesus in the bread and the wine as he has commanded and let us rejoice that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).


“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you,’ do this in remembrance of me. II In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11 :23-26 NIV)

Do Christians Need a Priest?

Do Christians Need Priests?

Do Christians Need Priests?
Bible Teaching About Church Organisation

FOR many people the organisation and traditions of religion create large barriers to its acceptance. Believing that God can be worshipped acceptably by anDo Christians Need a Priest? individual in a forest or on a mountain-places which bring readily to mind His awesome creative power – they shy away from grand robes and imposing buildings. When it is suggested that somehow God cannot he properly worshipped other than through a human intermediary and according to set rites, their worst fears are confirmed. The hierarchy of priests (cardinals, archbishops, bishops, canons, etc.), is confusing to them and also suggests that there are two categories of worshipper – priests and lay people. Possibly, even that those who claim to be ordained by God are more favoured than everyone else.

Churchmen argue that priests and the church speak on God’s behalf; they interpret God’s commandments for men, and plead with God on man’s behalf; only they are allowed to bless the sacraments of communion: the bread and wine shared by worshippers in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. They claim that today’s priests are the rightful successors to the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles; that God speaks today through the church as He spoke in earlier centuries through prophets and apostles.

What can we make of these claims? Has God commanded that He should be worshipped only through the mediation of human priests? Do men today have the right to speak for God? Are there two categories of worshippers, the priests and the laity?

A Reliable Authority
To answer these questions we need to have a reliable source of authority, something that is totally trustworthy, having stood the test of time. Priests speak with the authority they believe they receive from their church. The churches claim their authority direct from God Himself. But we are not interested in claims alone. We need some reliable evidence.

If God has declared anything about how He should be worshipped, that would surely be the reliable authority we are looking for. And God has spoken! The Bible claims to be the written word of God. Nor is this only a claim. If it was, it would be no different from the churches’ claim to speak on God’s behalf. God’s word contains various tests so that His claim can be proved.

God Does not Change
Primarily there is the evidence of fulfilled prophecy (for more information on this subject see the booklet in this series: Bible Prophecy). God revealed to His prophets certain events long before they happened. Their words also had a further importance:

“If a prophet arises among you . . . and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

Look how crucial this passage is. In times past God revealed His mind to certain men and women. Their words could be tested. What they spoke about future events had to be fulfilled if they were truly speaking for God. More than that, if they contradicted previous messages from God, they were clearly false prophets – for God does not change This establishes an important principle. God has revealed His purpose for mankind, and this is verified by the tests He provided. Anyone who speaks today and contradicts the teachings in His word cannot claim that His authority lies behind what they say. The Bible thus becomes an important source of authority on religious matters today – it is the living Word of God.

This question of authority is crucial to our consideration. True believers in Christ accept only one authority, the word of God. Christ was “the word made flesh” (John 1:14). He always upheld and never contradicted his Father’s word. His followers must aim for nothing less in their own worship. Let us therefore approach God’s Word reverently to see what is revealed about the priesthood, and about the organisation of believers in Christ. In this way the claims of churchmen for themselves and for their churches can be tested.

Priesthood in the Old Testament
In the beginning of the Bible record God spoke directly with some men and women by means of His angels. He did not command the establishment of a priesthood until after the descendants of Jacob were delivered from slavery in pagan Egypt and led by Moses to the land of Canaan. During their forty year journey, they were being welded into a nation-and into a religious congregation. Stephen spoke to the Jewish leaders of his day about “the church in the wilderness” under the leadership of Moses, through whom God provided laws to govern their national life (Acts 7:38).

“The church” was not a special building for their worship, it is a term used to describe the whole group of people separated to God. As it is a word connected in modern use almost exclusively with a building, it may help to understand its true meaning to learn that the word in the New Testament’s original language (Greek), was ekklesia. Our English word “congregation” is a good translation of it: a group of people gathered together for a special purpose. Because the “congregation in the wilderness” consisted of God’s people, all their laws had a spiritual purpose, and were to be taught and maintained by His representatives. God chose the tribe of Levi out of their twelve tribes to fulfil this role.

The reason for choosing Levi was important. Moses had been called up into a mountain to receive the nation’s laws. In his absence from their camp, the people called for a festival. During their revelry they gave golden jewellery to Moses’ brother Aaron, and he made a golden calf, like the gods worshipped in Egypt. Returning from the mountain when the orgy was at its height, Moses was distressed by their behaviour, and immediately took charge. Calling out, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”, he determined to purge the camp of all the revellers who had turned away from worshipping God to worship the golden calf.

Levi’s sons responded immediately, and Moses was able to say to them, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord” (Exodus 32:29). The tribe of Levi thus became responsible for instructing the nation in the things to do with God and His ways. The nation had shown itself to be weak and with a tendency easily to turn away from God. The Levites had shown their faithfulness to Him in a time of trial and now had to show the same judgement through their lives for the benefit of others. They were to act as intermediaries between a faithless people and a “God of mercy, yet of holiness”.

Man Separated from God
God indicated His close involvement with the nation of Israel when the glory of His presence occupied part of the portable Tabernacle, and later the more permanent Temple – centres for the nation’s worship. The Most Holy Place, as this part was called, could not be entered regularly by anyone. It was a room wholly set aside for God. Though He was among His people, the perfection of His character and the sinfulness of theirs did not allow free and open concourse between them. Just once each year the High Priest was allowed to enter, but only after rigorous and careful preparation.

By the sacrifices and offerings commanded under the law, and by the priests’ involvement with them, the people were constantly to be reminded of God’s holiness, and that He cannot be approached casually or insincerely. The chief priest wore on his forehead a small gold plate inscribed with the words, “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). Together with his clothing, it was meant to represent the attitude of mind necessary in priest and people if they were to be acceptable to God.

A close consideration of all the Old Testament teaching concerning the priesthood reveals the following important aspects:

  1. God is pure and holy – He cannot be approached directly by sinful men and women.
  2. Angels were employed by God to communicate with mankind.
  3. The priesthood was commanded by God only when there was a group specially prepared to worship Him, and with laws controlling that worship. These people formed a “church”.
  4. The priest was a man from a family chosen by God and separated from the people.
  5. Men and women who wanted to repent of their sins and receive forgiveness had to employ the services of a priest who would assist them to offer a sacrifice.
  6. The presence of God was located in the inner portion of the tabernacle and temple. Only the High Priest could enter once a year, after special preparation.
  7. The priest had to be washed clean before he could mediate for the people, and he had to offer for his own sins first.

This last aspect is specially important. Though the Levites had shown great promise in the matter of the golden calf, they were really as sinful as the rest of the people. When Israel’s history unfolds in the Bible record, the priests become as involved in the nation’s transgression as those they were meant to be teaching, and often can be found leading the nation in false worship. What was needed was a representative for man, sharing all his propensities to sin, but perfectly obedient to the commands of God. A man like that could fulfil all the requirements for priesthood: chosen by God and separated from the people.

Priesthood in the New Testament
The apostle Paul, commenting upon the law given through Moses in his letter to the Galatians, described it as a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ’ 13:24). In every aspect, the law declared its inability to bring salvation to sinful mankind. A sacrifice had to be offered every time someone sinned. All this did was constantly to remind man that sin separates him from God. There was no provision in the jaw for finally removing sin from the earth. Anyone carefully meditating upon the law’s significance would realise the urgent need for a Saviour from sin.

This need was met when Jesus was born. He was given that name, as an angel declared to Mary’s husband Joseph, because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus fulfilled all the requirements that the priests under the law were unable to achieve. Where they were weak, he was strong. He was subject to the same things that caused their weakness: he knew the temptations they had to grapple with. But they often gave in to temptation. Jesus never did. He shared his physical nature with them: an ageing body, susceptible to tiredness, injury, disease and, ultimately, death. But, instead of focusing his mind on himself and his needs, as this weak nature has for the rest of mankind, Jesus’ mind was devoted completely to the things of his heavenly Father. Where sin has ensnared all the rest of humankind, Jesus never succumbed. Men have constantly failed; Jesus was supremely victorious.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, is how Paul described the state of mankind (Romans 3:23). But Jesus “committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips” (1 Peter 2:22). His victory over sin and death was complete when God raised him from the dead – to die no more. He is “a priest for ever” (Hebrews 7:17).

The Perfect Priest
Here is someone ideally fitted to be a priest:

  1. Jesus came into the world as a human being and lived amongst men and women.
  2. He learned real obedience to the Father through the suffering he endured.
  3. He overcame every temptation, lived an utterly sinless life, and offered himself completely when he submitted to death on the cross.
  4. Since Jesus was undeserving of death, God raised him from the grave and gave him a nature that cannot perish or die; he is now immortal, and lives and reigns with God.
  5. Because he shared our humanity, he can sympathise with our trials and problems.
  6. Having himself overcome similar trials, he can offer a share in his victory to those willing to associate themselves with him.

These factors set Jesus aside from every other person who has ever lived. As these are the qualities of true priesthood, there can only be one priest. The Jewish priests of Jesus’ day should have seen that he fulfilled the requirements for priesthood where they had manifestly failed. With a blinding pride, however, they saw none of this, and were among the leaders of the group intent on putting him to death. Because they should have known better, and should have taken the responsibility of priesthood under the law more seriously, Jesus called them “blind guides” and “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 15:14; 23:27).

He scathingly denounced them for their hypocrisy. He warned the people against them, because they “like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats at synagogues at id the places of honour at feasts” (Luke 20:46). Jesus’ attitude to their pride is part of the answer to our question about the justification for two ‘levels’ of worshipper; humility, not pride, must be the characteristic of the true follower of Christ: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

The true church, based on Biblical principles, is a congregation of men and women with no hierarchy, devoted to the worship of God, and honouring the sacrifice made on their behalf by the Lord Jesus Christ. Through him only can they acceptably approach God in prayer.

In Jesus the Jewish law was both fulfilled and replaced. His work had also been anticipated by the provisions in the law, but its complete objective could not be achieved by any of the Levite priests.

Christ in Contrast to the Law
1. Jesus was chosen by God to be High Priest. After Aaron had first been appointed High Priest under the Law of Moses, all subsequent holders of that position were eldest sons, taking over on the death of their fathers. They were thus chosen “by the will of man”, not by the will of God. They could only approach into God’s presence once each year. Jesus now lives for evermore, and always sits in the presence of God:

“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).

  1. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice, once and for all. Under the law sacrifices had to be offered again and again. The Jewish priests had to recognise their own sins by offering first for themselves before they could officiate on behalf of the people:

“He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered himself” (verse 27).

  1. Jesus was able to replace the law by perfectly fulfilling it, and by being totally obedient to his Father’s will:

“Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second . . . In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete” (Hebrews 8:6,7,13).

  1. Jesus conquered sin, and true believers can receive forgiveness of sins because of his victory:

“Christ has entered, not . . to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly . . . for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26).

One Mediator
His priesthood is unique, and no human being can achieve what he did. He said himself, speaking first of all to his disciples who could have greater claim to represent him than anyone else: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6}. In unmistakable terms, the apostle Paul confirms this true position:

“There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5,6).

Furthermore, Paul wrote these words in a section of his letter to Timothy dealing with the organisation of the believers in Ephesus. Had he wished there to be a category of believers with special duties to represent God to man, here was the opportunity to say so. Instead, he clearly states that Jesus alone fulfils this function.

Many churches today claim that only an ordained priest can bless and distribute the bread and wine, end that only bishops can ordain priests. The New Testament certainly records the first occasion bread and wine were shared by the disciples in Jesus’ presence, and later how the apostles described the believers’ duty to meet regularly for this purpose. But it never suggests that the person presiding over this memorial service has to be specially ordained – in fact there is no mention of such a person, only of the command to believers: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this wine you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

It must be noted that this command specifically places a responsibility on individual believers, whether meeting on their own or in company with others, to take bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. The practice of some churches to restrict the sharing of wine to the priests only, finds no place in the Bible record.

The Organisation of the Early Church
Having seen that the Jewish priesthood was replaced by the work of Christ, we must now turn to consider how the early believers organised themselves. Did the Lord’s apostles command the establishment of a human priesthood modelled on that of Christ’s? Did they instruct that special buildings, intricately decorated, should be erected; that there should be special robes, or special phraseology to make worship acceptable? Were there to be special functions for certain believers?

The New Testament account of the early Christian church reveals an active, lively, and rapidly growing community. Although believers performed many different functions, there were no distinctions in terms of status:

“For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4,5).

Through all that was written during this exciting period, and while the gospel message was scorching through the Mediterranean world assisted by the communication systems provided by the Roman Empire, there was clearly great concern that no one person, or group of people should dominate the fellowship of believers. To suggest otherwise would effectively dethrone their Lord, for:

“Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour” (Ephesians 5:23).

Service is the Keynote
Jesus’ own words to his followers should be the guide in these matters. He taught all of his disciples to be servants, and there was to be no differentiation in terms of rank. He set the example himself when he washed the feet of his disciples-in his day the most menial task of the most insignificant slave: “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). He also warned his followers about the dangers of treating some men or women differently from others. They had seen, as he had, the corruption of the Jewish leaders in their day. Jesus warned his own followers not to fall into the same trap:

“You are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ” (Matthew 23:8-10).

Elsewhere in his teaching, Jesus upheld the family unit, and spoke about the need for children to respect their parents. He was therefore clearly talking on this occasion about their religious organisation needing to be founded as a brotherhood. His words here concerning fathers relate to the practice of calling religious leaders “father”, showing how alien it is to Christ’s ideal of the relationship between believers. To do so in the face of Jesus’ own teaching is an affront to the majesty of God Himself.

The Family of Believers
The idea of a family is a very useful way of understanding how the early believers organised themselves in accordance with the advice of Jesus and his apostles. God was their Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ their Saviour, the head of their community. But like a normal, human family with older and younger members, where those who are more experienced take a greater share in the daily responsibilities, so in the early Christian congregations there were elder and younger members. Certain responsibilities were given to the elders, but they were not to lord it over the rest of the congregation. They were to “treat younger men like brothers . . . younger women like sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1,2).

Yes, there were different tasks, and different responsibilities according to circumstance, but the first century congregations knew nothing of the distinction between priests and laymen, so common in today’s churches. The selection of elders to look after each congregation was the responsibility of the members in that place. Paul wrote to Titus, in Crete, and told him to: “appoint elders in every town” (Titus 1:5). It would presumably have been possible for Paul to have given a list of appropriate names. But this would not have helped believers elsewhere, or in a later age. So that the task could subsequently be done by the members of any congregation, Paul set down the qualities that fit a man to be an elder:

“Men who are blameless, the husband of one wife, whose children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate” (verse 6).

Elders, Bishops and Deacons
These elders, sometimes called “bishops” (meaning shepherds or overseers had, as we have seen, responsibilities towards their fellow believers. The bishop’s role was that of a shepherd. He was not in Jesus’ place in the community, but had to display the same concern for the “flock” – of which he was also a part.

Other tasks, also of service, were entrusted to men and women qualified to fulfil them. Whereas elders’ responsibilities were directed more to the spiritual needs of believers, “deacons” were involved with their physical needs. In the New Testament only the Lord Jesus Christ is recognised as a priest. Nor do any of the descriptions of the work of elders, bishops or deacons suggest that these had any priestly function. None of the other church “offices” are Bible terms either: they have all been invented by men.

Nowhere do the Apostles mention the sort of building believers should meet in. On one occasion the apostle Paul joined a group of worshippers who met by the riverside. Everything he had to say about this group, and others like them, commends their practices. Nor are special clothes mentioned. The only time there are references to what worshippers should wear, there are strong indications that clothes in flamboyant colours or costly materials should be carefully avoided (1 Peter 3:3,4, for example).

Another distinction between clergy and laymen in many churches today is that the clergy receive payment for their work. In the first century, those involved in the spiritual welfare of the community were entitled in principle to material or financial support. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this. He said: “Do we not have the right to our food and drink? The Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:4-14). Nevertheless, Paul recognised the possibility of corruption entering into the community through this provision, and declared about himself: “I have made no use of any of these rights in my preaching I make the gospel free of charge . . . I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (verses 15-23).

The history of churches where payment has been made to its clergy unfortunately bears out the apostle’s concerns. In the Middle Ages the churches were extremely corrupt, and many priests became infinitely more wealthy and powerful than the members of their congregations. The problem still exists today. Scandals involving church finances occur only too regularly. A return to the New Testament principle of “the right to food and drink” for those “who proclaim the gospel” would help to prevent many of these crimes.

The Work of the Apostles
It is important to recognise that these arrangements for each congregation to elect ministers (i.e., servants) from within its own membership were being made when the apostles of Jesus were still active among the infant church. In the absence of a reliable written account of the work and teachings of Christ (for the gospels were not widely available in their present form until towards the end of the first century A.D.), the apostles were inspired witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. On them rested the power of God, His Holy Spirit. It gave them ready recall of all that Jesus did and said; and by it they were able to work miracles to reinforce the truth of their teachings, as Jesus had.

Once the New Testament account was complete, man had in his possession, together with the books of the Old Testament, a book that contains all that is necessary to teach him about God’s offer of salvation:

the holy scriptures . . . “are able to instruct you to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Each believer becomes individually responsible to God for the answer he makes to the call of the gospel. As the Psalmist wrote: “None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (49:7) Through the word of God man learns of His offer of salvation. Others may assist him to grow in his understanding. But once he comes to an appreciation of the saving work of Christ and the faithful response he should make, he stands on his own before God. His only mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Apostolic Succession
But, it has been argued, the apostles were leaders of the Church; they acted in Christ’s place. To the extent that they witnessed to him, and preached the same gospel message, this is true. But the apostles, even though they had the power of the Holy Spirit, did not act as mediators on behalf of other men and women, as priests today claim for themselves. We have seen that the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the apostles’ lives was to guarantee the truth of their witness. As this was no longer necessary once the scriptures were complete, there was also no need to provide for a succession of men to take on the role of apostles. Nowhere in the Bible record can we find apostleship being passed on to a new generation.

It is sometimes claimed that the practice of “laying on hands” provided divinely appointed successors to the apostles. But the term has a variety of meanings, many of them unrelated to the idea of succession, such as identification with an offering, or the award of a blessing.

When Moses was specifically commanded to appoint Joshua to succeed him, God said: “Lay your hand upon him . . you shall invest him with some of your authority” (Numbers 27:18,19). The history of the nation soon shows that the people were to look upon Joshua as they had once viewed Moses. If the laying on of hands in the New Testament has only this special meaning, we should expect to find apostles being replaced as they died, if not before. But they were not. The apostle James died quite soon after the ascension of Jesus (Acts 12:2), and there is no mention of a replacement for him. We have already seen that the election and appointment of elders was made specifically with the consent and approval of each individual congregation, and not directly by the apostles.

After the Apostles
Evidence from early church history indicates that it was not until the middle of the second century A.D. that the practice developed of separating bishops from elders. Bishops were elevated to a position where their role was that of master or lord rather than servant. At about the same time there were signs of the emergence of a separate priesthood which began to assume certain features of the Jewish priesthood. Elaborate rituals developed connected with religious services and in the ordination of church officials. Soon there were the special buildings, clothing and language that so mark out much of religious activity today Though contrary to Bible teaching, this was not a wholly unexpected development. Even during the period when the apostles were active there was a constant struggle to prevent the intrusion of both Jewish and pagan practices into the infant Christian community.

Jesus and his apostles warned about the emergence of “false teachers”, “false prophets”, and even of “false Christs”, who would deceive many and turn away disciples after them (Matthew 24:4,5,11,24). Paul showed that false teachers would arise from within the church itself: “From among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30). Towards the end of the first century, the apostle John wrote: “As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). The term “antichrist” refers not only to those who openly oppose Christ’s teaching, but also to those who claim to represent him, yet who, by their teachings and practices, actually oppose him.

These warnings are just as important today. Any survey of the history of Christianity shows how the simple faith and practices of the apostles and their fellow believers have been corrupted. The only way to ensure compliance with them is to examine modern beliefs and behaviour in the light of Bible teaching.

Living Sacrifices
Learning that present believers do not act as priests, interceding or offering on behalf of others, we can recognise only the Lord Jesus Christ as priest for his church. However, there are aspects that formerly were part of the priesthood that believers now have to fulfil on their own behalf. As the Levites were “taken out” of Israel to serve God under the law of Moses, so the believers in Christ are “taken out” of the world to be a selected company to offer praise unto God:

“Through him (Christ) then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

These passages teach that so far as the believer is concerned, there is to be no separation into that which is “holy” and that which is “profane”, for the whole of a true Christian’s life is dedicated to being “holy”. What is specially significant is that the believers themselves are instructed to do the “presenting”. No priest can do this for them. Prior to their conversion, whether they were pagans or Jews, this act of offering a sacrifice would have been the privilege and responsibility of a priest. But Christ’s disciples are to make sacrifices now in acts of self-denial to demonstrate their allegiance to Jesus and his future rule over God’s kingdom on earth. They forsake the things of the present world because of their commitment to the world to come. Jesus’ sacrifice, offered once for the benefit of all who will avail themselves of it, is the guarantee that a life of service now will be rewarded when he comes back to the earth.


A Religion that makes sense

Christian Disciples

Christian Disciples

Christian Disciples


The English word ‘‘Christian” is the Greek word ‘Christianos’ signifies ‘a follower of Christ, a Christian.

The English word “Disciple” is derived from the latin noun ‘discipulus’ it signifies ‘a learner or scholar’.

Anyone who calls themself a “disciple” is declaring to others that they are a student who’s object it is to learn.

The word “Disciple” is used only once in the Old Testament  in Isaiah 8:16

Hebrew is ‘limmuwd’lim-mood  and signifies instructed, learned, taught, disciple.

Greek is ‘mathetes’ math-ay-tes  and signifies a learner, pupil, disciple.

Putting the two together we have  Followers of Christ’s Teaching  This then is what a Christian Disciple is, but what does it mean?

One writer on this subject (John Thomas) has this to say.

“Hence a church of disciples is an assembly of learners; and a church of Christian disciples is an assembly of persons who believe the things of the Kingdom of God, and of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, thus believing, have been immersed into Christ and patiently continue in the faith and well doing of their vocation, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting all things revealed in the scriptures of truth.  Such were the disciples first called Christians at Antioch.

Key occurrences of the word “Christian”

Acts 11:26  re: Barnabas and Paul at Antioch

“And it came to pass, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the ecclesia, and taught much people; and that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

Act 26:27  re: Paul before Agrippa

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest.  And Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.”

1 Peter 4:12-18

“12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

“our fiery trial”

“suffer as a Christian, be not ashamed, but glorify God in this name or on behalf of this name”

Yet today some might tend to despise or shun the name Christian because it is used so widely by any who would claim to be followers of Christ irrespective of whether they have a true understanding of “the way, the life, and the truth” that Jesus taught.

Numerically the greatest number of those claiming this title belong to Apostacy among whom there is a “strong delusion at work” that has its origin in catholicism.

How did this name come about?

The Bible Dictionary:

Origin of name, formation seems to be Latin, where plural nouns ending in ‘iani’ may denote the soldiers of a particular general eg. Galba’s men were known as Galbiani.  In the late 1st century AD at least Caesariani was used of Caesar’s slaves and clients, and in the Gospels we meet the Herodianoi, who may have been partisans or clients of Herod (Herodians Mark 3:6, 12:13, Matthew 22:16)

Christian, therefore may have originally been thought of as ‘soldiers of Christ’ or of the ‘household of Christ’

Peterson argues that the contemporary persecution by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1) evoked the name Christian as a parallel to their foes, the Herodians.

However the name developed, it seems clear that it was not a name invented by the believers, but rather a name given to them by the pagans of Antioch.

Peter clearly considered it a name not to be ashamed of and rightly so in that it embraced the very name of its “…captain or author and perfecter of our faith” our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ when speaking to those who would “follow” him uses the Greek word; ‘akolutheo’ (ak-ol-oo-theh-o).  This Greek word signifies ‘to be in union’ and ‘a road’.

The meaning is ‘to be together on the same road, to accompany in the same way or direction’

Of this word Bullinger writes that they are;  ‘following, attending as a follower or footman, to follow one, to go after as a soldier, servant or pupil’.

So in the first place Christian Disciples are to be ‘followers of Christ.  Christ him self has told us just what this means.

Key verses from Christ to “follow” him

Matthew 8:22

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

(Lk 9:61  And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.)

Matthew 16:24

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mt 19:21

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

John 10:4

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

John 10:27

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Revelation 14:4

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 

And from the words of the Apostles:

Romans 14:19

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

1Thessalonians 5:15

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

1Timothy 6:11

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Another key word associated with the followers of Christ is “love” for Christ said:

John 13:34

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Key verses on the “Love” of true followers

“Love”  is the Greek ‘agape’

agape(ah-gah×pay), the principal Greek word used for ’love’ in the nt.

Bullinger says:  “agape, a word not found in the profane writers, nor in Philo and Josephus, nor in Acts, Mark, and James.  It is unknown to writers outside the NT.  Philanthropy was the highest word used by the Greeks, which is a very different thing to agape.  Philanthropy in its full display was only giving to him who was entitled to it his full rights.  Agape denotes the love which springs from admiration and veneration, and which chooses its object with decision of will, and devotes a self-denying and compassionate devotion to it.  Love in it s fullest conceivable form.”

Matthew 22:37

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…and Thou shaltFollowers of Christ love thy neighbour as thyself.

John 13:34

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 14:15

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 15:9

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:35

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:39

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 13:10

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Ephesians 3:17

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Philippians 1:9

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 

2 Thessalonians 2:10  (re: “strong delusion” or “working of error” RV)

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

1 John 2:5

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

1 John 2:15

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 4:17

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.  He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

There is another key word associated with the true followers of Christ and this is a word used by the Apostle Paul to speak of the “power” or “energy” at work within the life of a Christian Disciple who has given their life to be a true follower of Christ in word and action.

Key verses on the “power” of true followers

“power”  Greek ‘dunamis’

Bullinger says: “natural capability, inherent power; capability of anything, ability to perform anything; then absolutely, not merely power capable of action, but power in action.  The Power of God, is the power which manifests itself in all the modes, esp, in His redeeming work, where God is at work, revealing and carrying out the plan of salvation.”

Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you… 

Acts 4:33

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 

1 Corinthians 2:5

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 

1 Corinthians 4:19

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

1 Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Ephesians 3:7

Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Ephesians 3:20

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

1 Thessalonians 1:5

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

2 Thessalonians 1:11

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 3:5

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Along with this word we have the words of Moses about those who would be the true Israelites of God.

Psalm 92:4

“For thou Yahweh hast made me glad through thy works, I will triumph in the works of thy hands.”

And so it is that God himself through His Word of Life the Bible works in the very lifes of those who follow Christ, moulding them like a potter to be like the very image of His dear son.

Philippians 2:13

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do ofhis good pleasure.”

Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will performit until the day of Jesus Christ.”

And so if we are Christian Disciples after this pattern then we can look forward to our Lords return with rejoicing in our hearts.

Concluding words from a writer on this very subject:

“These Christian disciples shone as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life.  They counted not their lives dear unto them: but hazarded everything, reputation, liberty, wealth and friends, for the Word’s sake.  Their treasure was in heaven; therefore their anchor was within the veil.  The icy coldness of their old nature was thawed into the genial sympathies of the new man by the benevolence of God.  Heart clung to heart, and hand joined in hand, the expressive symbol of unity and love.  We want to behold a Church of Christian Disciples such as these; we fear that such an one is yet a stranger in our world.  When such a community of churches is restored, we shall glory in it as a Reformation in verity and deed.”

By John Thomas

Is this the Christian Disciple you are working to be???

Calling on the name of the Lord

Calling on the Name of the Lord

Calling on the Name of the Lord

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord? There are several Bible verses which mention this, but they are not wellCalling on the name of the Lord understood. For instance, it is common for church leaders to quote verses like:

Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

They interpret this as saying that anyone who calls out to Jesus is saved, from the moment they confess to being his followers.

Another type of ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ which is taught by some, is where people are told to accept Christ as ‘their personal saviour.’ This is done in response to a rousing sermon, after which members of the audience are invited to come forward and declare this to the congregation. If they do, they are said to be saved.

But if we want to be saved, we need to do more than just walk down the church. We will see this as we examine what the Bible teaches.

Worshipping God

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, we are told that Abram built an altar between Bethel and Ai where he “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8).

When Abram returned from Egypt, he returned to that place and again, “Abram called on the name of the LORD” (13:4). It was the same with his son Isaac (Genesis 26:25).

Clearly this ‘calling’ is linked with worship, perhaps in the form of prayer using God’s name, which may well be how these early faithful believers worshipped Him.

For Everyone

In the writing of the prophet of Joel we find this verse:

It shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said (Joel 2:32).

Joel was a Jewish prophet but he spoke about Jews and Gentiles calling on God’s name. When that very passage was cited by the apostle Peter, in Acts 2:21, it becomes clear that calling on God’s name requires some particular action. Peter’s audience responded by asking:

“Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38).

The apostle Paul makes the same assessment of what is required. As a persecuting Pharisee, he had pursued all those who called on the name of the Lord (Acts 9:14), but when he encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus he was told this:

Now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:15–16).

Belief and Baptism

When Paul wrote to the believers in Rome about calling on the name of the Lord, this is how he summarised the challenge to all who want to be saved:

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

He was thus reminding them of the teaching of Jesus:

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).

We are saved by the grace of God, not because of the things that we do, as the apostle Paul says elsewhere:

Even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Ephesians 2:5).

But we are expected to respond to the grace that God shows towards us.

Actions, Not Words

The Lord Jesus made this very clear:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).

So ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ is not just confessing belief; it means something deeper. It involves being baptised into the name of Jesus, and then living a new life in him and keeping him always in mind.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1–3).

This means NOT doing some things:

Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth (v5–8).

And DOING some things: Seeking to reflect the character of God and taking the life of Jesus as our example:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (v12-14).

Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, is not just claiming to follow him. It means being baptised to show our obedience and allegiance to him. It means seeking to do his will, and following his example in our own lives.

By Grahame A. Cooper