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Month: October 2016

Babylon the Great

Babylon the Great

 

babylon-the-great

Babylon the Great

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me (the John class, representing the Lord’s people still in the flesh here at the end of the gospel age, i.e., during its Harvest), saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Rev 17:1, 2

“As originally planted by Jesus and his apostles, the church was a `chaste virgin espoused to one husband, even Christ.’ For some time she maintained her purity and suffered persecution of the world, but gradually became enamored of the world and the prospects it offered, and finally united with it, constituting the system of Papacy. This system church, living in union with the world constitutes `the abomination’—`the harlot,’ and the name Babylon, meaning confusion, is applicable because the world is called a beast and the church a woman. This then was the union of the woman and beast which is expressly forbidden in type. (Lev 18:23) `It is confusion.’ We feel sure that we have the name Babylon properly applied since in Rev 17, we see the church seated on the beast—i.e., supported by and controlling the world. `And in her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” (Rev. 17:5) R45:2

The great whore that sits upon many waters

“In the symbolic language of the Scriptures the word `water’ has two distinct interpretations: (1) Water is a symbol for Truth; (2) Water also symbolizes revenues from outside peoples and kingdoms. In harmony with this latter thought we read that the woman with the golden cup sits upon many waters; `and the waters which thou saw are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.’ (Rev 17:1-15) This `woman’ does not reign over one nation or people alone; her rule is catholic, or general; for all nations were made more or less `drunk with her false doctrines.’ The water of the River Euphrates, flowing through Babylon, might, therefore, be understood to symbolize the peoples and nations supporting Mystic Babylon by contributions, offerings.

If the waters of that river signify material and/or financial support then the drying up of those waters implies a cessation of such support.” (Sermon Book 409, 410)

This is an evident fact; most churches these days have seen declines in attendance. The Catholic Church for example has had to close several of its dioceses over the last several years due to the lack of attendance and support. Protestants fair no better that is with the exceptions of those churches which are willing to sacrifice their spiritual integrity (?) and incorporate more worldly functions and activities into their services in order to entice membership. Many such churches have a wide range of ministries designed to entertain and tickle the fancy of those attending. Unfortunately these days those who attend are not interested in truth, (in sound doctrine) no, all they want to hear is that they are saved, saved from the judgment to come, they and their loved ones. Such only want to have their ears tickled, to hear good news, and so they surround themselves with those with itching ears, those who will tell them just what they want to hear, specifically that all is fine with regards to their salvation and that they need not worry.(2 Tim 4:3, 4)

“Faithful servants will not seek to please the ear with soft words, nor to lull the drowsy, but will proclaim the unvarnished truth, exposing hypocrisy and deception, errors.” R563:3

“The people in general have lost their taste and appreciation for the water of life, the truth; and false teachers warn them against it, as poison. The wine of false doctrines now being manufactured at all the various theological seminaries is the wine of evolution and higher criticism, which satisfies not the thirst, but only increases the confusion of mind, and makes null every attempt to appreciate and comprehend the divine plan, as set forth in God’s Word. Even Babylon’s notables are dissatisfied, famished. (Amos 8:11)” R2904:6

Babylon’s “Wine”

“Concerning this symbolic wine and intoxication, the Lord declares that Babylon has `made all the nations [inhabitants of the earth] drunken’ with the wine of her incontinency and unfaithfulness to Him. (Rev 17:2; 18:3) The stimulating power is not of the spirit of a sound mind, but the delusion of a false doctrine: as the Prophet declares, they are `drunken,’ but not with wine. (Isa. 29:9-13)” (R2904:6)

“She neglected the heavenly Bridegroom, and mingled in her `cup’ a stupefying potion that has intoxicated the world; even the Lord’s saints were bewildered. (Rev 17:1-6)” R5478:1

“Babylon has had indeed the golden cup of the Lord’s Word in her hands and has affected to give from it to the people the spirit of the Lord, but instead she has filled the cup and presents as the teaching of God’s Word intoxicating errors which have misled the so-called Christian world. Thus the Adversary has used the nominal Church of God as his tool to deceive all that dwell upon the face of the whole earth—to misrepresent the divine character and plan.” R3104:3

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Rev 17:3-5

The John Class is “carried away in the spirit into the wilderness” to see this “vision”; for none, really, save the truly consecrated children of God can have it. Neither Catholics, nor Protestants are able to see it, because of their identification with it.

“This fact is recognized by the Revelator, who shows that all who would get a true view of Babylon must, in spirit, take their position with the true people of God `in the wilderness’—in the condition of separation from the world and the worldly church, from worldly ideas and mere forms of godliness, and in the condition of entire consecration and faithfulness to and dependence upon God alone. `So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness; and I saw a woman… Babylon.’ “D27

“The vesture and decorations of this woman are in striking harmony with the application made of this symbol; for purple and scarlet are the chief colors in the robes of popes and cardinals; and among the myriads of precious stones which adorn her service, according to an eyewitness, silver (a symbol of truth) is scarcely known, and gold itself looks but poorly. And from the golden cup in her hand—symbol of purity of doctrine and profession, which should have contained only that which is unadulterated, pure, or, explaining the figure, only that which is in full accordance with truth—there came forth only abominations, and wine of her fornication, fit symbol for her abominable doctrines, and still more abominable practices.” (Uriah Smith—Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation, p. 658)

“The Revelator intimated that it would not be difficult to discover this great mystical city, because her name is in her forehead, that is, she is prominently marked, so that we cannot fail to see her unless we shut our eyes and refuse to look—`And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.’” (D23)

The Harlot’s Name!

“The Revelation of our Lord to the Apostle John is a book of signs, in which the things stated symbolize the things meant. To illustrate: In this book a woman is used to represent a church—a pure woman, a pure church—a false woman, an apostate church. In Rev 17:1-6 a picture is given of a false woman, disloyal to her engagement, and therefore no longer worthy to be the bride of Messiah. This unfaithful woman is branded `Babylon.’ We read that she sat upon a beast, a symbolic statement of her control of the power of Rome.

“In her hand this woman held a golden cup full of abominations, and thus symbolically she is represented as making all nations drunk with the wine of false doctrine. The cup suggests that the unfaithful church, symbolized by this woman, had once been the receptacle of divine truth—`Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hands.’ (Jer 51:7) In Rev 17:5 she is called `The Mother of Harlots’—a term suggesting a mother church, and daughter churches which are said to closely resemble the mother. As the mother was called `Babylon,’ the daughters—so like their mother—bear also the family name.” (R5092:1)

“The term Babylon seems to signify a concentration of the various errors in apostate church systems, personified in Revelation as mother and daughters. `Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots’ is the name given by the Lord to the original system, thus intimating that the whole brood is illegitimate in every sense of the word.” (R5478:1)

Babylon the Great!

“The depravity attributed to `Babylon the Great,’ the peculiarly solemn adjuration to God’s people to come out of her, and the utter and awful destruction denounced against her, all combine to attach great practical importance to the inquiry, What system is intended by this symbol?

“A perusal of the 17th and 18th Chapters of Revelation shows that `Babylon the Great’ represents a system which should last long, exert a subtle and extensive influence, and be guilty of exceeding iniquity and cruelty. This system must still be in existence seeing its destruction takes place simultaneously with `the marriage of the Lamb,’ an event which we know to be still future; and seeing also that up to the moment of its destruction or very nearly so, children of God will be found more or less connected with it, so that a need will exist for the urgent call `Come out of her, my people.’ This system is prefigured as a cruelly persecuting one, as one that would `shed the blood of saints and martyrs of Jesus,’ one on whom the Lord God would `avenge the blood of his servants’.” (R471:3)

Some Additional Thoughts on Babylon

“The history of the building of the city and its tower (Gen 11:1-11) called Babel (Akkad, Bibulu, `Gate of God’) is explained by popular etymology based on a similar Hebrew root Babal which means `to mix, confuse.’ Babel, therefore, became a synonym for the confusion caused by the language barriers which God imposed because of the human pride displayed in the building.” (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 438)

According to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Babylon is the Greek mode of spelling what in the Hebrew is uniformly Babel.

“The name Babylon originally signified God’s gateway; but afterward, in derision, it came to mean mixture or confusion. In the Book of Revelation this name is applied specifically to the church nominal, which, from being the gateway to glory, became a gateway to error and confusion, a miserable mixture composed chiefly of tares, hypocrites, a confused mass of worldly profession in which the Lord’s jewels are buried, and their true beauty and luster hidden.” (C153)

“It is clear, therefore, that while many faithful souls, ignorant of the real state of the case, have reverently and devoutly worshipped God within these— Babylon systems (both Catholic and Protestant), nevertheless, this does not alter the fact that they are, one and all, `harlot systems. Confusion reigns in them all; and the name Babylon aptly fits the entire family—mother, daughters and accomplices, i.e. the nations styled Christendom. (Rev 18:7; 17:2-6, 18)” D35

“Come out of her, my people

“Of this faithful Church the Lord declares, `My sheep know My Voice and they follow Me.’ We hear His voice assuring us that it is His will that we who belong to His chaste, espoused virgin class should all be one—should no longer be separated into sects and parties by creedal fences. The Lord declares that He gave Babylon time for repentance and she repented not. He declares that His sentence against the Babylonian system has already gone forth—that, from the Divine standpoint, already `Babylon is fallen is fallen!’ from Divine favor (Rev 18:2).

What would be the wish of our Beloved, to whom we are betrothed? What is His message to us? It is written. `Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues’—the troubles coming upon her. (Rev. 18:4; John 10:27)” SM125

 

The Antichrist Revealed, Part 2

The Antichrist Revealed, Part 2

the-antichrist

DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTERFEIT HEAVENS

Jesus declared that his “kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) True Christianity was not meant to be a religion, i.e., a sect to be set up as a Kingdom now, but it was simply a gracious opportunity for one to develop as a disciple of Christ—to know the mind of the Lord, to emulate his character and ultimately to reign with him at his second coming. And, thus, the Church was to remain apart from the world and worldly governments— holy, pure and, as stated in Scripture, a virgin betrothed to her bridegroom. Matthew 25:1-13; John 15:19

The early Church remained sanctified, set apart from the world, for just a short time after the death of the Apostles. Within three short centuries, however, defection (the falling away) from the Apostolic teachings had gradually molded the now worldly-minded church to take on the role of The Antichrist. Finally, in A.D. 313, Constantine embraced Christianity, and the next century witnessed an even further development—a self-serving and politically controlled church organization. Antichrist was transforming into a church-state system instead of waiting for the true Kingdom to be established by our Lord upon his return.

Between A.D. 413-426, Augustine wrote in his book The City of God that Christians were wrong to wait for the second advent of Christ before establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. Rather, he advanced the idea that the Christian Church, united with imperial Rome, was in reality the Kingdom of God now reigning on earth. Many leaders of the Church readily embraced Augustine’s theology that the Kingdom of God had begun. They united with the kings of the earth to set up their own kingdom— Christendom—a counterfeit of God’s true Kingdom.

 ANTICHRIST’S LOUD BOAST

Succeeding bishops of Rome made grand claims for the Church, but it was not until A.D. 533 that the Roman Emperor Justinian officially decreed the Bishop of Rome “…head of all the holy Churches and of all the holy priests of God.” In A.D. 800 Charlemagne formally presented Papacy with the Papal States, and the reign of the Holy Roman Empire began. This transfer of power from Pagan Rome to Papal Rome was seen by many of the faithful to be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Rev 13:2 where the Dragon [civil Rome] gives the Beast [Antichrist] “power and his seat and great authority.”

As the centuries progressed, Papacy became more and more arrogant in its presumptuous claims: “The pope holds the place of the true God,” declared Pope Innocent III (A.D. 1198-1216). The Lateran Council (A.D. 1123) acclaimed the Pope as “Prince of the Universe.” St. Bernard (A.D. 1090-1153) wrote that “none except God is like the Pope, either in heaven or on earth.” And Pope Nicholas (A.D. 858-867) boasted, “What can you make me but God?” Ferrar’s (Roman Catholic) Ecclesiastical Dictionary states, “The Pope is, as it were, God on Earth…”

Boasting authority from God, Papacy ruled with a heavy hand over the thrones of the earth, seeking to covert the world. Soon this cruel, tyrannical system began to physically persecute those who opposed or even questioned its authority. The true saints of God would not pledge their allegiance to the Man of Sin, and as a result, hundreds of thousands were tortured by means more horrible than modern minds can imagine. Rev 17:1, 2, 6

PROTESTANT REFORMATION

This persecuting spirit was evidence to the Reformers that Papacy had an improper spirit—born of an impure doctrinal foundation. It was never taught by Christ that a Christian should use force of any means to gain converts or to compel allegiance to a church dictate. Matthew 10:16; 26:52; John 18:36 It was also evident to the Reformers that the Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thess 2:4: “…who opposes and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…” This boast of Papacy was a key factor to the Reformers in identifying the Papal system as a counterfeit—The Antichrist.

 WHAT DID THE PROTESTANT REFORMERS TEACH ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF ANTICHRIST?

 John Wesley, 1703 – 1791 (Founder—Methodist Church): “He [Papacy] is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers… He it is… that exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped… claiming the highest power, and highest honor… claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.”

 Taken from “Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms” by John Wesley, page 110

Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, (Founder—Lutheran Church): “We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist. …personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist.” August 18, 1520

Taken from “The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers” Vol. 2 Page 121 by Froom

John Calvin, 1509 – 1564 (Founder—Presbyterian Church): “Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt… I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.”

Taken from “Institutes” by John Calvin.

Cotton Mather, 1663 – 1728 (Congregational Theologian): “The oracles of God foretold the rising of an Antichrist in the Christian Church: and in the Pope of Rome, all the characteristics of that Antichrist are so marvelously answered that if any who read the Scriptures do not see it, there is a marvelous blindness upon them.”

 Taken from “The Fall of Babylon” by Cotton Mather in Froom’s book “The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers.” Vol. 3, Page 113

Roger Williams 1603 – 1683 (First Baptist Pastor in America): He spoke of the Pope as “the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself…speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition (2 Thess 2).”

Taken from “The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers” by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52.

John Knox, 1505 – 1572 (Scottish Presbyterian) Knox wrote to abolish “that tyranny which the pope himself has for so many ages exercised over the church” and that the pope should be recognized as “the very antichrist, and son of perdition, of whom Paul speaks.”

 Taken from “The Zurich Letters” page 199 by John Knox.

Thomas Cranmer, 1489 – 1556 (First Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Church): “Whereof it follows Rome to be the seat of antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other Scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons.”

 Taken from “Works” by Cranmer, Vol. 1, Pages 6-7.

 Strange indeed that the churches today neglect the insight of their founders on this matter, nevertheless when we present our study of Revelation Chapter 13 the reason will become all too clear.

Another evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as the abomination that makes desolate. The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all. Hebrews 7:27; 10:10

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no individual, no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

 THE PAPAL COUNTER ATTACK

Soon after the Reformers broke their ties with Rome, Papacy saw that it must counteract its identification as Antichrist—or stand condemned. Jesuit scholarship rallied to the cause by providing alternatives to the definition of Antichrist. The most successful tack was taken by Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) of Spain, founder of the Futurist system of prophetic interpretation. Ribera proposed that Antichrist would appear in the distant future (our day), and stated: “Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.” Amazingly, this erroneous teaching has become the most popular view in our day, even with members of Protestant Churches!

THE LURE OF UNITY

Papacy now wants to mend old wounds, and the Church of Rome beckons to its separated brethren, (the Protestant Churches, the daughter systems) to reunite with the Mother Church. Have the Protestant Churches forgotten why they separated? Have issues of substance changed to let them reunite? Are they ready to submit to Papacy as having universal primacy, the supreme authority?

In November of 1993, Moody Bible Institute in its periodical said: “Today… the lines that separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics are fading.” Charles Colson wrote, “It’s high time that all of us who are Christians come together regardless of the difference of our confessions and our tradition…” Today the ministries of Billy Graham, Luis Palau, World Vision and charismatic groups such as YWAH involve activities with the Roman Church.

In May of 1995 Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical on Christian unity, “Ut Unum Sint” (“That They May be One”). The encyclical was an unprecedented call for Protestant and Orthodox denominations to dialogue on a Christian unity that would accept the authority of the Pope.

On May 12, 1999, the co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission issued the document “The Gift of Authority.” The commission agreed, “The Pope has overall authority in the Christian world …” and there is “need for a universal primacy exercised by the Bishop of Rome [the Pope] as a sign and safeguard of unity within the reunited Church” (cf. Authority in The Church 11, 9).

In October 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation issued The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Roman Catholics declared the conflict between them and Martin Luther in 1517 had been just a misunderstanding, and the matter should not be an issue to deter unity.

 HAS THE “LEOPARD CHANGED HIS SPOTS?”

Many are making enormous efforts at reunification, and contend that the Papacy today is not the same as that system of the dark ages. They point out that the Popes today have been instituting reforms and great humanitarian efforts. But, are these claims valid? Has Papacy changed its stance on the issues that first caused the Protestant Reformers to identify it as The Antichrist system? Has Papacy retracted its claim of being God’s divine channel, on which was bestowed divine authority over the Christian world?

Fact—The Church of Rome states that the Pope has overall authority in the Christian world, and, when the other Churches unite with them, the Pope will exercise universal primacy. The Vatican Website states: “The Roman pontiff exercises supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church …he holds a primacy of ordinary power over all the churches.”

Fact—Infallibility is still taught by the Roman Catholic Church. From The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VII: “In general, [the Roman Pontiff has] exemption or immunity from liability to error or failure…“Infallibility is attributed to the Roman Pontiff’s ex cathedra teaching. For an ex cathedra decision it must be clear that the pope intends to bind the whole Church, to demand internal assent from all the faithful…

Fact—Papacy still expects heads of State to court her favor. Diplomatic protocol dictates that dignitaries of Protestant nations wear black in the Pope’s presence to acknowledge that they are mourning separation from the Mother Church. BBC News, October 17, 2000

The Antichrist Revealed, Part 1

The Antichrist Revealed, Part 1

the-antichrist

“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (the Day of the Lord) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

“And then will be revealed the Lawless One (that is to say, when you see, i.e. perceive with the eyes of your understanding these things fulfilled in someone or something, then will the Antichrist be uncovered or exposed, recognized) 2 Thess. 2:3,4,8

With regards to such an important subject as this, it is strange indeed to find that many Christians are completely ignorant upon such a critical subject, the majority possessing no real clue as to the true identity of this individual and thus in no way prepared to deal with the consequences.

As our Lord said, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed” that is IF you heed the warning. (Matt 24:25)

Not only is this subject important in regards to our withstanding the trials of this evil day (but most importantly those shortly to come), but it is the only insurance we have in gaining the victory over the Beast and his Image, that we bear not the “Mark” or the “Name of the Beast” or the “Number of his Name”.

For those who truly long for the presence of the Lord, who preach the eminent return of the Lord this subject should be of chief concern for as the Apostle so states that day cannot come until first the apostasy, (the deflection), the great falling away takes place and the lawless one be revealed. Not necessarily revealed to the world understand you, nor even to the lukewarm listless Christian, but only to those fully awake and longing for that day (the day of his presence). So then would it not seem wise nay prudent to insure you have a proper understanding of this subject, that your knowledge be based upon the testimony of the scriptures and not simply on the vain imaginings of men?

“The student of prophecy will find that the Man of Sin is distinctly noted throughout the sacred writings, not only by giving a clear description of his character, but also by showing the times and places of his beginning, his prosperity and his decline. To any who would pick up their bible for themselves and take the time to study the issue the facts will become quite clear.

This character is very forcibly delineated even in the names applied to it by the inspired writers. Paul calls it “That Wicked One,” “The Man of Sin,” “The Mystery of Iniquity,” “The Antichrist,” and “The Son of Perdition“; the Prophet Daniel calls it “The Abomination that makes desolate” (Dan. 11:31; 12:11); and our Lord refers to the same character as “The Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matt. 24:15), and again as a “Beast” (Rev. 13:1-8).

This same character was also prefigured by a little horn or power, out of a terrible beast that Daniel saw in his prophetic vision, which had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, and which prospered and made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. (Dan. 7:8, 21) John also saw and warned the Church against this character, saying, “Ye have heard that Antichrist shall come.” He then advises how to escape Antichrist’s influence. (1 John 2:18-27) The book of Revelation, too, is in large part a detailed symbolic prophecy concerning this same Antichrist.

These various appellations and brief descriptions indicate a base, subtle, hypocritical, deceptive, tyrannical and cruel character, developed in the midst of the Christian church; at first creeping in and up very gradually, then rapidly ascending in power and influence until it reaches the very pinnacle of earthly power, wealth and glory—meanwhile exerting its influence against the truth, and against the saints, and for its own aggrandizement, claiming, to the last, peculiar sanctity and authority and power from God.”

“The word “antichrist” has a twofold significance. The first is against (i.e., in opposition to) Christ: the second significance is instead (i.e., a counterfeit) of Christ. In the first sense the expression is a general one, which would apply to any enemy opposing Christ. In this sense all the Pagan emperors and all non-Christian religions have been antichrists—opposers of Christ. However, it is not in this sense that the Scriptures use the name The Antichrist. They pass over all such enemies of the faith, and apply the term Antichrist in the sense of its secondary meaning—misrepresenting, counterfeiting, and taking the place of the true Christ. In other words, usurping the position of Christ. The Apostle John points out this twofold significance in 1 John 2:18, 19: “Ye have heard that The Antichrist shall come. Even now there are many antichrists.” The Greek distinguishes between The special Antichrist and the numerous lesser ones. John’s subsequent remarks show that he does not refer to all opposers of Christ and his Church, as Islam, but to a certain class who, though professing to be of the true Church, had left the foundation principles of the truth, and were therefore not only misrepresenting the truth, but were, in the eyes of the world, taking the place of and name of the true Church. John says of these, “They went out from us, but they were not of us…” They do not represent the sincere followers of Christ who love the truth, even though they may deceive themselves and the world on this subject. See also 2 John 7.

It is important to fix the concept in our minds that this Man of Sin, this Antichrist, is not a single individual. The Man of Sin is more accurately described as a system which began its gradual development in the early Church (as the Apostle Paul wrote the Mystery of Iniquity doth already work) and would be revealed before the Lord’s Second Advent. Just as The Christ consists of the true Lord and the true Church, so The Antichrist is a counterfeit system consisting of a false lord and an apostate church. (1 Cor 12:12-28) This system, which for a time has been permitted to counterfeit the authority and future reign of the true Lord and his Church, has intoxicated the nations with false claims of a God given right to reign. A single individual could never fulfill all the predictions made concerning The Antichrist. Only a corrupt system—an unholy union of church and civil government—could fulfill these predictions.”

“Without any desire to treat lightly the opinions of others, we nevertheless feel it necessary to point out a few of the absurdities connected with the common view concerning Antichrist, that thereby the dignity and reasonableness of the truth on this subject may be properly estimated, in contrast with the narrow claim that all which the Scriptures predict concerning this character will be accomplished by some one literal MAN.

This man, it is claimed, will so charm the whole world that in a few short years he will secure to himself the homage and worship of all men, who will be so easily imposed upon as to suppose this man to be God, and, in a rebuilt Jewish temple, to worship him as the Almighty Jehovah. All this is to be done at lightning speed –three and a half years say they, (misinterpreting the symbolic time), even as they misinterpret the symbolic “man.”

Tales of fiction and the most absurd imaginations of childhood furnish no parallel to the extreme views of some of God’s dear children who are stumbling over a literal interpretation of Paul’s language, and thereby blinding themselves and others to many precious truths, which, because of error on this subject, they are unprepared to see in an unprejudiced light.

No matter how much we may sympathize with them, their “blind faith” (credulity at most) forces a smile as they seriously tell over the various symbols of revelation which they do not understand, misapplying them literally to their wonderful man. In this, the most skeptical age the world has ever known, he will, they claim, in the short space of three and a half years, have the whole world at his feet, worshiping him as God, while the Caesars, Alexander, Napoleon, Mahomet and others sailed through bloody seas and spent many times three and a half years, without accomplishing the one thousandth part of what is claimed for this man.

And yet those conquerors had all the advantages of dense ignorance and superstition to aid them, while today we live under conditions most unfavorable to such a development of deceit and fraud: in a day when every hidden thing is being manifested as never before; in a day when fraud of the sort claimed is too preposterous and ridiculous for consideration.

Indeed, the tendency of our day is toward a lack of respect for men, no matter how good, talented and able, or what offices of trust or authority they may occupy. To such an extent is this true, as never before, that it is a thousand times more likely that the whole world will deny that there is any god, than that they will ever worship a fellow human being as the Almighty God.

One great obstacle to many, in considering this subject, is the contracted idea generally entertained of the meaning of the word GOD. They fail to note that the Greek “theos” (god) does not invariably refer to Jehovah. It signifies a mighty one, a ruler, and especially a religious or sacerdotal ruler. In the New Testament, “theos” is seldom used except in referring to Jehovah, because, in their discourses, the apostles spoke rarely and little of the false systems of religion, and hence seldom noticed their sacred rulers or gods; yet in the following texts the word god (theos) is used to refer to others than the one supreme being, Jehovah–viz.: (John 10:34,35; Acts 7:40,43; 17:23; 1 Cor. 8:5).

Recognizing the breadth of the Greek word “theos”, it will be seen at once that the Apostle’s statement concerning Antichrist –that he will seat himself in the temple of God, showing himself to be a god–does not of necessity mean that Antichrist will attempt to exalt himself above Jehovah, nor even that he will attempt to take Jehovah’s place. It simply implies that this one will exhibit himself as a religious ruler, claiming and exercising authority over and above all other religious rulers, even to the extent of exalting himself in the Church, which is the true temple of god, and there claiming and exercising lordly authority as its chief or authorized ruler.

Wherever in the Greek the word “theos” is used in any sentence where its meaning would be ambiguous, it then is preceded by the Greek article, if it refers to Jehovah; as if in English we were to say THE God. In the texts above, which refer to other gods, and in this text (2 Thess. 2:4), which refers to Antichrist, there is no such emphasis.

With this seen clearly, a great stumbling-block is removed, and the mind is prepared to look for the right things as fulfillments of this prediction: not for an Antichrist claiming to be Jehovah and demanding worship as such, but for one claiming to be the chief, supreme religious teacher in the church; who thus attempts the usurpation of the authority of Christ, the divinely appointed Head, Lord and Teacher.

Strangely enough, too, they who take this literal view of the Man of Sin are generally those who are believers in the Lord’s pre-millennial (or imminent) coming, who are looking for and expecting the Lord to come “at any moment now.”

Why cannot all see the Apostle’s meaning, when he positively declares that the Day of the Lord (the Day of his presence) CANNOT COME and should not be expected until AFTER the Man of Sin has been revealed?

It required over forty years to build the former Jewish temple, and it would surely require at least ten to twenty years to build, with more than former magnificence, the new temple at Jerusalem, where they expect a literal Man of Sin to be installed and worshiped as God. Why then should those who believe thus expect the Lord to come at any moment now? Such a view is out of harmony with reason as well as with the Apostle’s prophecy. Consistency demands that they should either give up looking for the Lord at any moment, or else give up their expectation of a future Man of Sin; for the Day of the Lord’s presence cannot come until (1) AFTER the falling away (the apostasy) has taken place, AND (2) until AFTER the Man of Sin has been developed and revealed out of that apostasy.”

So has the great falling away occurred? Has the Antichrist been revealed?

We shall see in our next post.

 

A Sealed Book, Part 2

A Sealed Book, Part 2

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Isa 29:9-22 Continued.

Verses 13 and 14

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

Formality of worship and service has taken the place of heart service. When the service was from the heart, the Lord’s plans were searched for, as for hid treasure. His Word was studied that the mystery of God might be appreciated as fast as his ripening and unfolding plans would permit. It was a longing such as Daniel experienced when he searched and fasted and prayed for weeks, that he might know whatever of God’s plan he was pleased to reveal. It was the longing desire to comprehend with all saints the length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, and be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18, 19.)

But the worldly spirit soon cast out this thirst for truth and knowledge, as the heart became interested in worldly aims and plans. Though the forms of godliness have continued and increased, the real worship and submission to God has ceased, and interest is bent to man-made plans. While they draw nigh to God with their lips, saying, “Thy kingdom come,” and “Thy will be done,” they are endeavoring to have their own wills done, and to establish their own sectarian dominions in the world. Their fear of God and their unrest in view of his supposed decrees, is not the result of the study of his Word, but is taught by the precept of men. Alas, how pitiable this condition! Yet they are ignorant of it, and say, ‘We are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing, and know not that they are poor and blind and miserable and naked’. (Rev. 3:17.)

Seeing it is thus, what shall the Lord do with them? Will he utterly cast them off? Will he leave them in their blindness? No. He says, “Therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Verse 14)

As this already becomes evident to many, what a marvelous thing it seems to those accustomed to look to the professed leaders and teachers of the nominal Church. As the light of truth begins to dawn upon many minds from other sources, how often we hear the remark, “How strange that we do not hear these things from our ministers!” But the Prophet makes answer: “The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” The heavenly wisdom is hidden from those who are wise and prudent after the world’s fashion, and revealed unto those who are babes in simplicity and meekness. (Matt. 11:25.)

God will not leave his erring children; he will attract their attention back to his plans, causing all their plans to wonderfully miscarry and fail. Thus they shall see the folly of attempting to lay plans for God; and when their plans fail, they will look up, and lo! the Lord’s plans, which in their “haste” (Isa. 28:16) they discarded, will, like the century plant, suddenly burst forth in glory and beauty and perfection.

Meantime, while the “marvelous work” (Verse 14) of overthrowing the present great systems of men (which, like the tower of Babel, is an attempt on the part of men to work their plans regardless of the Lord’s) is in progress, the Lord’s warning is,

Verse 15

Woe to them that seek deep to hide their counsel [schemes, plans,] from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who sees us, and who knows us?

It is possible to deceive fellow-men, and to convince them that certain plans are not different from, but in harmony with, the Lord’s plans. Yea, a man may also deceive even himself thus (2 Tim. 3:13); but he cannot deceive God. He knows that the controlling principles of sectarianism are earthly and selfish. He knows of the dark works and secret conspiracies in wrong, not only of the Jesuits, but also, in a less degree, of Protestants, who to accomplish their plans are willing to, and do resort, to many schemes and devices to raise money and to have their systems seem to flourish, which they would not care to have generally known among men, and which they seem to think God sees not. How often reports are doctored to make a good impression, how often subscription lists are headed with prominent names and large sums of money only for effect, and never expected to be paid. (This not infrequent custom was illustrated recently by the course of the officials of a prominent Brooklyn church, freely criticized by the public press.) All this is ostensibly to forward the Lord’s work, but really to accomplish their own plans.

“Who sees it? Who knows it?” The Lord sees in secret; in vain do they hide it, and tell him that they are laboring for him. Woe unto these, for their counsel shall come to naught; their cherished plans shall fail, and their pride will be humbled in the dust. The woe, distress and trouble coming upon the nominal Church will be in reality a blessing in disguise to the individuals that compose it; but it will be considered as calamity and trouble, until they are brought to understand and to come into harmony with God’s plans. But all this scheming will not succeed; for the Lord says,

Verse 16

Surely your turning of things upside down [perverting of the Lord’s plans and doctrines] shall be esteemed as the [effort of the] potter’s clay [to oppose the potter]. For shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He hath no understanding?

Surely the Church is God’s creation; it is “his workmanship” (Eph. 2:10), but the spirit of the nominal Church is to look to other framers. Some look to Peter, some to Luther, some to Calvin, Knox and Wesley. And indeed, as they at present stand, this is true, for while THE CHURCH is God’s workmanship, the division of that Church into fragments is the work of men, and may say to God, Thou hast not made me. And the fact that men to-day argue that the division (sectarianism) of the Church is an advantage, and to the advancement of the truth, is the equivalent of the thing framed saying to God, “Thou hast no understanding”; we know better how to frame and organize; you said that we all should be one, and that there should be no division among us (John 17:11, 22; 1 Cor. 12:25); but we have learned better –that divisions are a great blessing and advantage.

Verily the great Potter shall have the schemes of the clay in derision, and shall break in pieces their workmanship [the systems or organizations, not the people] as vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and shall show forth in glory of kingdom power his vessels of more and of lessor honor. What if God, willing to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory? Surely the present overturning of the Lord’s arrangements shall be brought to naught.

Verse 17

Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field; and the fruitful field shall be esteemed a forest.”

Mount Lebanon, with its tall and stately cedar trees, will here represent the majesty and dignity of the nominal Church, and the reverential esteem with which its ministry is regarded. The fruitful field might well represent the humble and lowly saints. In “a very little while” things shall be reversed; that which is now proud and majestic shall be cut down and plowed, and become humble and fruitful, while that which is now humble will be exalted as Lebanon to heavenly conditions, majesty and power. This change, and this overthrow of the present systems, is at the time of the exaltation of the saints to spiritual glory and power, at the introduction of the Millennium. In harmony with this we read:

Verse 18

In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.”

What a blessed prospect is this for those who at present are so stumbled by Babylon’s confusing traditions! Not only will it bring blessing to those whose vision is obscured, but also to those totally blind and deaf and utterly ignorant of the precious information of God’s Word.

Verse 19-21

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel; for the terrible one [Satan] is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word [spoken contrary to them], and lay a snare for him that reproves in the gate [publicly], and turn aside the just [the righteous] for [or, as] a thing of naught.”

This is in that same “DAY” that fleshly Israel shall be restored to favor under the direction of glorified spiritual Israel, their holy one.

Verse 22-24

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: Jacob shall not now [at that time] be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. But when he sees his children, the work of my hands [the Christ, the spiritual seed] in the midst of him, they [fleshly Israel] shall sanctify my name [Jehovah], and sanctify the holy one of Jacob [Christ], and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”

A Sealed Book, Part 1

A Sealed Book, Part 1

 

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The following is a brief study of Isa 29:9-22 however we especially note Verses 9-14

Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with intoxicating drink. For the Lord has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate.” Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”

Verse 9

With a touch of irony the Lord here addresses nominal Zion (the professed church of God living today, the church nominal).

Stay but still and wonder (“Pause and wonder”); turn your eyes away (“blind yourselves”), and be blinded; they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” (Leeser’s Translation)

“The unfolding’s of his truth at the time here referred to (the time in which we are presently living, the Day of the Lord) are so marked, forcible and clear to faithful students of the Word, and observers of its fulfillment, that the only ones who could be blinded, would be those who deliberately turn their eyes away from the truth, and determine to sit still, enveloped in the darkness of human tradition (blind). And in their darkness they wonder at what they conceive as the strange course of the Lord’s dealings.

Their staggering is the staggering of indistinct vision and weakness, the halting and vacillating of bewilderment and confusion. And yet they are not drunk with wine or with strong drink, but rather because, as shown in the preceding chapter (Verses 7 and 8), they have partaken of the intoxicating spirit and pleasures of this world.”

But they (the “drunkards of Ephraim,” Verse 1, the church nominal, Babylon) also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet (i.e. the blind guides of Christendom) have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment (The specific allegation here is to teachers, Ministers who, through imbibing wrong doctrine, have lost their way). For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean.” (Isa 28:7-8)

“What a picture of the present condition of things: Not only are the people of the Church (nominal) intoxicated with the spirit of the world, but the priests, the clergy also. And because of this intoxication they err in vision and are unable to discern neither the truth nor the sign of the times; they stumble over the plain statements and marked fulfillments of God’s Word (prophecy fulfilled or in the process of being fulfilled). This condition of things is true of the whole nominal church of every denomination, so that “All their tables are full of vomit and filthiness so that there is no place clean.” The tables, which should be laden with the bread of life, of truth, are instead, covered with a repulsive mass of mingled man-made traditions and abominable errors.” (R562)

“Those who are overcharged with spiritual “drunkenness” are intoxicated with worldly doctrines. Rev 17:2 tells us that the harlot got the nations drunk with the wine of her false doctrine, but in 2 Tim 4:3,4 the Apostle Paul prophetically warned those consecrated individuals who were living at the end of the age of the danger of unsound doctrine and of having itching ears and teachers with itching ears. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Paul was saying that the time would come when the hearers would prefer teachers of false doctrine (false love, for example). The relaxation of principle is the opposite of diligent watching.” (The Gospel of Luke, Page 133)

Verse 10

For the Lord hath poured out over you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: (over) the prophets, and your chiefs, the *seers, hath he cast a vail.”

“Since they have turned their eyes away from the truth, God permits them to sit in darkness and to be overcome with sleep. Who cannot see the spirit of lethargy and drowsiness regarding spiritual things which pervades nominal Zion? “

This is very much a fact they are completely blind to the times in which they resided, they know nothing of the present work, the harvest, nor that “There stands one among them (within their midst) whom they know not.” (John 1:26). And so like the nominal fleshly house, (Israel after the flesh), the nominal spiritual house stumbles over the same stone, totally obvious of “the day of their visitation”.

“They are however not asleep on temporal or worldly affairs; They are very much awake to worldly ambitions–to the rivalry of numbers, of pulpit oratory, church music, imposing edifices, etc. — but to the teachings of God’s Word they are asleep. Over the teachings of the Prophets, and of Jesus and the Apostles, a vail is cast.”

Verse 11

And the vision of everything [the revelation of God’s truth through these] is become unto you [nominal Zion] as the words of a book that is SEALED.”

“This they themselves fully admit, and therefore seldom attempt to expound the Scriptures (to discuss troubling or hard to understand doctrines, prophecy and etc.), but instead merely take an isolated passage, and from it draw some moral or social lesson pertinent to the time. Nominal Zion has discarded the teachings of the true Prophets and Seers of the church, and has taken instead the decrees of human councils and synods, while the decrees of the real Head and teachers of the church are neglected. Hence they know not what to think of the present time, and are still more confused when they think of the future.

They are at a loss as to what is transpiring about them, why it is that a nation such as ours supposedly founded upon Christian values and principles is slowly dissolving and degrading into chaos and turmoil, and when they look to the future they realize that if things remain on course things will only get worse. The clouds are gathering and men’s hearts are beginning to fail for fear of the approaching storm, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written (things which they have disregarded) may be fulfilled…Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”

Verse 11 cont.

Which [book–the Bible] men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed.

Verse 12

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.”

“The prophecies of the Old and New Testaments are sealed against their learning, for they have studied only at the feet of science and sectarianism, and have neglected the school of Christ and the study of its text-book, the Bible; hence their learned ones lack the true wisdom, and the true spirit, which alone will enable any to appreciate the deep things of God. (Compare 1 Cor. 2:5-14.) The unlearned, accustomed to look to earthly learning for instruction in heavenly things, and not to the testimony of Prophets and Apostles, will not even attempt to understand.”


*Seers: “Several of the apostles were seers in the sense that they were granted knowledge of things to come, but all were prophets in the sense that all were public expounders or orators—especially Peter and Paul.” The Apostle John is especially noted as a seer.

Continued with next post.

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 4

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 4

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Thus far in our examination of Hebrews 6:4-6 we have determined that those,

1) Who were once enlighten

2) Who have tasted the heavenly gift

3) Who have become partakers of the Holy Spirit

4) Who have tasted the good word of God

5) Who have tasted the powers of the age to come

…Were in fact those who were truly consecrated believers, i.e. those fully justified from all things, begotten again through the Holy Spirit to a new nature. Therefore our texts could have nothing whatsoever to do with either the worldly or the mere nominal or professing Christian.

Let us continue.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlighten and who have tasted the heavenly gift and who have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and who have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, IF THEY FALL AWAY to renew THEM again unto repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.”

First of all, let us all apply our God given ability to reason, and establish one for certain fact, to which all must agree on; no one could fall, lest at first they had been previously lifted up, and in order to be lifted up from the mire of sin and death (i.e. justified from the original condemnation which is upon all men, the Adamic curse) one must have at first believed in the forgiveness of sins which comes through Jesus Christ our Lord, for as the scriptures so state, we are justified by our faith (Rom 5:1) Those who possess no faith could not fall from that which they had never been lifted up to in the first place.

So what does this statement, “if they shall fall away” imply in respects to those with whom we have been discussing? Why cannot they be renewed again? And what does crucifying again the Son of God imply? How does this bring shame to him?

The falling away of such, the Apostle says, would mean that they could never be renewed again. Why? Because they have had their share of the blessing of Christ. Christ’s death was to bring a blessing–and only one– to every member of Adam’s race–one full blessing, a complete blessing, such a blessing as will enable every member of the race–if he will, when he understands it-to come fully and completely into harmony with God and thus to have eternal life. But after he has received his full blessing and then has rejected it, there is no hope in his case. He can never justify himself. He has had the merit of Christ (justification) and has repudiated it. There is no hope of renewing such a one, says the Apostle. The fate of such would not, of course, be eternal torment, but rather eternal destruction’, extinction of being–the Second Death.

In Heb 10:26-29 the apostle explains the matter further,

First of all note closely from the preceding verses exactly to whom the Apostle was here addressing, (Verses 19 and 20), he was specifically addressing those brethren who had come into the body through a “new and living way” which our Lord had consecrated for us, a way into the “Most Holy” as prospective members of the antitypical High Priest, i.e. the Royal Priesthood. Speaking to these he states thusly,

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at naught Moses law died without compassion on [the word of] two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God (insulted, brought to shame), and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing (by open sin or a denial of the value of the “blood of the covenant.”), and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace (the spirit of truth)?”

Now the question may still linger in some minds as to what exactly constitutes “the knowledge of the truth”, and thus upon denial of this truth, what constitutes the sin unto death? Is it possible for any except the spirit-begotten to commit the sin unto death?

We answer that sin unto death is a sin against light and knowledge. No man can sin the sin unto death unless he has knowledge. It is not a sin of ignorance; it is a willful, intentional sin against light, and therefore is called a sin against the Holy Spirit, a sin against the Spirit of Truth. Now then, is it possible for any except the spirit-begotten to commit the sin unto death?

NO, only those who have been truly begotten of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore thus able to come to an accurate (truthful) understanding of God’s Word and Plan, bear the responsibility which comes with possession of such great knowledge; neither the worldly nor the mere professing Christian, (nominal Christian) share this responsibility, because neither possesses the spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, therefore neither has yet to have been brought to the truth.

They are not only unable to see (accept) the “deep things” of God, but even amongst those professing to be Christians very few are able to even comprehend the “milk of the word”, able to grasp the “first principles” of truth, to see clearly without the errors and false teachings propagated by men and devils blinding them and therefore to that extent they are not held responsible.

The responsibilities are only with those who have tasted the heavenly gift and who have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and who have tasted the good word (the truth, the perfect Word, an accurate knowledge) of God and the powers of the age to come, (Heb 6:4, 5) these therefore know the truth, and are held responsible for this enlightenment, these only could sin the sin unto death, whereas no others could.

Well now, some one might query: Just how much knowledge is necessary before we could commit this sin unto death?

We answer, to our understanding it would not require a great deal of knowledge. The Apostle simply says that if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth. What kind of truth did he mean?

Did he mean the knowledge of chronology? No, for then all of those who went before us would not have had knowledge enough to go into the second death, because they did not know as much about chronology as we do today.

Did he mean those who understood the parallels between the dispensations, Jewish and Gospel? No, because plenty of people have never known anything about these parallel dispensations. Did he mean only those who know about the Jubilee? No, for plenty of Christians lived and died without knowing about the Jubilee.

What does it mean then, what kind of truth and how much truth must we have? We believe it is not the quantity of knowledge, which one possesses which makes one accountable, but rather the quality or type of knowledge understood.

The truth referred to, then dear brethren is that even grander truth, which Christians have had all during the Gospel age; for instance, the great truth that, “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That is the great truth, and those who have believed that great truth, AND in whom it has exercised the proper power, have been turned from sin to righteousness, and from darkness to light.

Here is the truth that would sanctify (set-apart). Now, then, if any have come to this clear knowledge of the truth of God’s love, and of God’s requirement of righteousness, and of our Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, he has come to a responsible position. Note carefully that when we speak of those possessing this truth we speak of those who have been properly exercised by it, many may possess this truth (i.e. have knowledge it) of whom it has little or no effect upon their lives, as was indicated by our Lord in the “Parable of the Sower

I believe those who have been properly exercised refers specifically to those who have not received the grace of GOD in vain (2 Cor 6:1)

“God’s grace as freely bestowed upon those who have come to a knowledge of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus our Lord is the grace of the forgiveness of sins, of justification through faith; and the very object of this grace is that we be exercised by it, to permit or qualify us to become living sacrifices, acceptable to God’s altar through the great sacrifice of our Redeemer.”

Now would any question as to whether or not the world has fully grasped (comprehended) this knowledge, this truth?

Although it is true that many within the world have heard various Christian hymns, which speak of the grace of God, and have heard about theology, the world could not be held responsible to this degree. Most of what they have heard, if anything has been nothing more than the ramblings of preachers, or of what the scriptures refer to as the “vain babblings of men”, errors, false teachings and etc. They have not comprehended the (TRUE) Word of God; they have not fully comprehended the provision God has made for our sins, nor for our reconciliation with Him, therefore the world could not commit this sin unto death. And likewise the vast majority of professing Christians could do so neither, having never been begotten of the truth, the Lord’s spirit, they like the world remain in darkness. “Darkness covers the earth–gross darkness the heathen [the worldly].” (Isa 60:2) “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not,” (2 Cor 4:4) and as for the rest the nominal professing believers he (The god of this world ) has substituted darkness for light, error for truth in order to deceive and confuse, thus casting doubt on the testimony of God as a whole.

Bear in mind that a mere profession of faith or belief does not a true Christian make, a true Christian is one who has been exercised (quicken, Rom 8:11) by the truth unto obedience and service. The majority of professing Christians are Christians in name only, i.e. nominal Christians, thus the term, “Tares”, imitation wheat, imitation Christians, “possessing a form (and outward appearance) of godliness, but denying its power…” (2 Tim 3:5) This form of godliness has spread to such an extent that much of the whole world is styled Christendom–Christ’s Kingdom. Outwardly they profess to be Christians, but inwardly they are skeptics of the word, covetous, extortionate, and unjust.

A true Christian is not one who merely professes with his mouth that he is a Christians, but one who believes with his heart, as in distinction with the mere professor, as our Lord so states, “These people draw near me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from me.”(It is not sufficient enough that we make a mere profession to be his people, but it is important that this profession proceed from the heart, for the “Lord looks upon the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7), and their fear (so-called reverence) is taught by the precepts of men (human traditions, false doctrines, the beliefs of men, and/or institutions of men).” Isa 29:13.

The threat of eternal torment as the wages of sin is one of thesefearstaught of men, it is held to be a necessity in order to restrain men from vices, and to inspire them to virtue and morality and thus to secure their admission to heaven when they die, all anyone has to do is to take a look around him and he can see how utterly this “precept of men” has felled in its purpose. The fear taught through the precepts of men is a false kind of fear, because it has substituted the “doctrines of devils” for the precious things of God. This type of bondage of fear can never hold the penitent nor draw him near to the Lord; only love is capable of doing this.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses practice a similar type of “fear” the only difference is that rather than consigning the un-repentant, the non-believer (that is the non-believer in what they teach) to eternal torment they simply consign them to second death. Fear is the tool of the Devil and those who would follow in his example.

But now as to the true Christian, the “wheat” class, those who have come to an accurate knowledge of the truth, those once enlightened, who have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come—the restitution powers; those who were made partakers of these in that they were justified by faith, who have experienced this justification by faith, the power of the world to come, and who now enjoy it in advance of the world—and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, these are the only ones that might sin the sin unto death.

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 3

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 3

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We now continue with our examination of Heb 6:4-6 to determine to whom it applies. In our last post we took a look at the opening part of Verse 4, viz.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlighten…”

Upon investigation we established two facts, one that only those who have been justified by faith, constituted righteous and holy in the sight of God could receive true enlightenment, (knowledge of the truth), and two it appears most certain from a further examination of the scriptures that these individuals were mature Christians, i.e. those of “full age”, (not necessarily in physical age but rather in spiritual age), thus they were not mere babes in Christ, but those who had grown to a certain degree in the graces and knowledge of our Lord Jesus and had received full enlightenment, i.e. an accurate and correct understanding of the Word of God, not only knowledge of the “first principles of doctrine”, the milk of the word, but also having partaken of the meat of the word, a knowledge of the “deep things of God”, solid food.

Let us now continue with our texts.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlighten and who have tasted the heavenly gift and who have become partakers of the Holy Spirit…”

What is this “heavenly gift” and who has tasted of it, and who are they who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit?

The “heavenly gift” is the gift of life, a gift of which none shall see unless first they accept (believe) in the sacrifice and subsequent justification, which comes only through the precious blood of Christ. (John 3:36; Acts13:39) But to have truly “tasted” of this gift implies more than merely having a superficial belief, a knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice, etc., no it implies much more than this, it implies that one has experienced through faith the blessed results of that sacrifice, the realization that one’s sins have been forgiven, and that communion and fellowship with God has been restored, the atonement, or as we like to say, the at-one-ment.

The conditions mentioned in our texts above quoted are all more or less intertwined. That is to say, the one who has been made a partaker of the heavenly gift of justification is sanctified (set apart), begotten of the Holy Spirit; for only in that way can he receive God’s evidence respecting his justification.

No one will ever be justified by merely believing that Jesus lived or that Jesus died either in this age or the age to come. At present during the Gospel age the only way in which one can come to the point of true justification (a full reckoned justification) is to have the merit of Christ imputed to himself, how is this accomplished? At present there is but one way in which this may be accomplished, and that is to enter upon the “narrow way” or the way of sacrifice. In the next age conditions will be different, a different way will be opened, instead of the narrow way a highway will be opened,

“And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but is shall be for [the redeemed]: the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err [therein]. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up thereon; they shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk [there]: and the ransomed of Jehovah shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isa 35: 8-10)

However at present during this Gospel age anyone having done all in his power–having turned from sin, having believed in Jesus as the Redeemer, and having presented his body a living sacrifice, i.e. taking up his cross and following in the footsteps of Jesus (Matt 16:24; Rom 12:1)–will receive the imputation of Jesus’ merit in order to make up his shortcomings, to cover his blemishes, in order that the Heavenly Father may be able to accept the sacrifice: for no imperfect thing can be placed upon the altar of the Lord. It requires the merit of Christ to make good what is lacking in the one who presents himself in sacrifice; and only those who thus believe and present their bodies in sacrifice are the recipients of Christ’s merit by imputation; and only such are begotten of the Holy Spirit. God’s arrangement is that no one can be justified unless he has first made a full consecration of himself (a full surrender of ones will, i.e. denying one’s self), this after having first professed faith and turned from sin.

Christ would not impute His merit to any except such as make this full consecration; and the Father would not accept by begetting with the Holy Spirit any others than those who have done so.

Thus it should be apparent that those who have tasted of the heavenly gift, the gift of justification and life, and who have subsequently received the evidence of this justification through the begetting of the Holy Spirit could only be those true followers who have been joined to the body, the body of Christ, the true Church, having no will (mind) of their own, but rather that of their Lord’s (1 Cor 2:16; Phil 2:5).

Thus far we have established that those once enlighten, are definitely those who had been previously made righteous, cleansed by the blood, thus (at one time) true followers of the Lord, for the scriptures clearly state, “truth (light, enlightenment) is sown for the righteous” (Psa 97:11), and none could be made righteous who had not been first justified from all things. We also determined that these would of necessity have been mature Christians, i.e. those of “full age” (Heb 5:14), as the implication of the texts tends to imply full enlightenment, growth in the graces and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note: full enlightenment does not imply all knowledge; we are not to erroneously assume that those who have received full enlightenment understand everything. Presently we see only “in part”, and only that which is presently due to be understood. Now although I believe all knowledge presently due with respects to the Divine Plan has been given to the Church I don’t believe any one member possesses all this knowledge. Complete knowledge, complete understanding has never been given to any one brother, but rather it has pleased the Lord to spread it amongst the brethren (that is amongst those who apply themselves to the study of it) so that in turn we might all develop a dependence a reliance upon one another, that “the whole body might be joined and knitted together by that which every joint supplies, according to the effective working (of the holy spirit, the spirit of truth), by which every member contributes its share…” Eph 4:16.

Continuing on in our study we likewise had determined that these same enlightened ones had tasted the heavenly gift (the gift of life) that they had experienced a personal communion and fellowship with God, with the full acknowledgement that their sins had been forgiven, this based upon the imputed righteousness of Christ’ sacrifice, and that they had been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, as an evidence not only of their justification, but also that they had passed over the first death (Adamic death), and had been begotten again to a new nature.

Let us now continue with our texts, beginning at Verse 5,

“And who have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come…”

What is the “good” word of God, and what does this imply?

What does it mean to have tasted of the powers of the age to come?

What is “good”? The dictionary describes that which is good as being “that which is desired or approved of” But what does it imply to you? The average person might say that which is “good” implies the opposite of that which is “bad”, and naturally as all will agree there exist different levels of that which is good and that which is bad, i.e. good, better, best, and bad, worse, and worst.

Yes, this from man’s perspective, but does God recognizes these adjectives? That is, does He possess a gray scale? We think not, we believe that with God that which he has declared “good” implies that it is perfect, (pure and truthful), and likewise that which is bad is imperfect, (corrupted, false).

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment (just): a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut 32:4)

Thus we conclude that when it states that these had tasted (partaken or received of) the good word of God, that this implied that they had received THE TRUTH, unvarnished by man’s errors, the perfect word of God, just as He intends that all men shall eventually receive in the coming age, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth even as the waters cover the sea, (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14) for God has stated that he will have all men come toan accurate knowledgeorunto an exact knowledgeof the truth. (1 Tim 2:4, Rotherham Version)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11), now it (should be) manifest to all that this knowledge has not yet come to all men yet, but God’s word insures that it will, “in due time”.

Continuing on with our texts, it states not only that these had tasted of the good word of God, but also that they had tasted of the powers of the age to come. What does it mean to have tasted of the powers of the age to come?

To have tasted of the powers of the age to come implies that one has received, in advance from the Lord, through the imparting of the Holy Spirit, the knowledge and the instruction, which shall eventually be made known or available to all in the next age. At present only those truly consecrated followers or disciples within the “School of Christ” are given the privilege of this divine knowledge and instruction, both the world and the church nominal at present are still left in darkness.

We will continued with our next post.

OVERCHARGED

OVERCHARGED

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“For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall cone to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” — Luke 21:35-36.

One would suppose that words so full of warning, and of such deep significance, spoken by Jesus to His disciples, for the benefit of those who should be living in the trying time of which He speaks, would be kept constantly in mind and not for a moment forgotten by those who are running for the “prize of the high calling.”

One of the strongest evidences which we have of the truth of the prophecies spoken in connection with these words is, that at the very time when they are being fulfilled by rapidly succeeding events, at the very time when His people should be lifting up their heads knowing that, their “redemption., draws nigh,” at the very point where expectation should be on tip-toe we find many who have been enlightened, so busied with a multitude of other things that they cannot attend to-preparation for the coming Kingdom.

They are so overcharged (there is no more fitting word to use) that they have not time to heed the caution and derive benefit from the injunction given in the Scripture to which we have referred.

To the lover of Jesus, one who expects to be everlastingly and intimately associated with and united to Him, there are perhaps, no more deeply interesting Scriptures than the 24th Chapter of Matthew, the 13th Chapter of Mark, and the 21st Chapter of Luke, the more deeply interesting because they define more particularly the events which are to immediately precede the coming of Him in whom their “soul delighted” and so mark more clearly the time when the Bridegroom and the Bride shall be united, and introduce the glorious reign of righteousness and truth.

What Are the Dangers of the Hour?

The fact that a deeply trying time is to immediately precede the coming of the Bridegroom should put every expectant soul on the alert. “But what are the principal dangers of the hour?

We find they are the liability of being deceived. Four times in the 13th Chapter of Mark we find Jesus saying, “Take heed!” His first caution is, take heed lest anyone deceive you, the 5th verse; next, take heed to yourselves, be careful what you do and say, be circumspect, 9th verse; again, take heed to what I have told you, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”, 23rd verse; and last, take heed, watch and pray, 33rd verse.

While there is a similarity in the general narration, as given in these three chapters, (viz. Matthew, Mark and Luke) yet each narrator gives some points more prominence than the others; and so we find here, in the text quoted, more explicit directions given regarding ourselves. “Take heed lest your hearts be overcharged.”

There are three things here mentioned with which the heart is especially liable to  become overcharged, surfeiting (i.e. excessiveness, overindulgence), drunkenness (intoxicated with worldly pursuits, desires and ambitions), and the cares of this life (work, family, friends and etc.).

Perhaps some who read these pages may think they are not troubled with the first two. If there are any, let them take heed and see if they are among those spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah in Isa 29:9-14. (We will attempt to explain this in more detail latter) But many, no doubt, feel the force of the last, and are exerting themselves to overcome; while still many more, which are really “overcharged,” are not fully conscious of it; but the words of Jesus are very peculiar if we will notice them. He does not simply say, ‘You will have a great deal of worldly care’, but says, “Take heed that your hearts be not overcharged with the cares of this life.” Now, it is possible for a man to have a great deal of worldly care requiring his attention, and yet not have his heart much affected or influenced by it. He may have just all he can attend to, and yet his heart be quite free from the burden. Why? Because his heart is not in it as much as his head. If he is doing all as unto the Lord, there will not be much danger of his heart being overcharged. We need right here to “take heed” and not delude ourselves with the idea that our hearts are with the Lord, and that we are in full sympathy with Him and His work, if we do not find, or make, or take time to commune with Him and feast upon His Word, and partake of His Spirit.

The Overcharged Condition the Snare of the Adversary

So it is the heart that is in danger. This being the case, what are the methods most likely to be made use of by the enemy to load down our hearts to the extent of being “overcharged“? We may be sure that he will not for a moment think of inducing us to be recreant (unfaithful) to our trust. Oh no, not at all; he would be the last one to suggest anything like unfaithfulness; he would have us “diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving (?) the Lord.” if we were likely to forget that passage he would quote it to us, but not with as much stress upon the last part as upon the first.

Oh yes, we must be diligent in business so that we can provide for our own families, for he who provides not for his own house has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. — 1 Tim 5:8.

Oh yes, provide for your own house, certainly, and see that your family have a good house, and a large one; see that it is fully as good as your neighbor’s; no matter if it is a little better, let no one get the idea that you are not providing well for your own house.

Now, if we were to picture the whole truth to the life, and show to what an extent the enemy is leading many who mean to be the Lord’s children, it would; look absurd enough. In accord with our desire to be faithful, the Adversary is crowding overmuch work upon us, all of which is claimed to be duty, though the demands are so numerous that we have insufficient time for the accomplishment of them all. This crowding upon us more than we can possibly do, is evidently the enemy, and is intended to keep us from the most important of all work, the study of God’s Word, through which we are enabled to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, and by which we are thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work. Are we not, in our over-burdened condition, forgetting to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”? There is manifestly no work so important as to keep the love of God burning brightly upon the altar of our hearts, and no means so likely to accomplish this as the study of the Word of God, and prayer. Of course we do not mean that these shall be done to the exclusion of good works, but we do mean that good works should not be allowed to exclude these.

Many of the Lord’s professed people fall prey to this last, they are so busy being busy attempting to help others, a good work that they forget to help themselves, they forget that they themselves need to take time for personal study and prayer.

We verily believe that just now the enemy is more than usually active in his efforts to keep all classes of Christians so busy that they shall, not have time to look after the truth and watch for the sign of the presence of the Son of Man. — See Matt: 24:3. — Diaglott.

Doing Wonderful Works Neglecting the Spiritual Life

Some who could not be induced nor pressed into worldliness he will keep busy looking after the welfare of others, to the exclusion of their own growth in the knowledge of the truth. Some casting out devils; some relieving the distressed; and all engaged more or less in doing “many wonderful works“; but while doing wonderful works they are leaving undone that which is of greater importance, i.e. fitting themselves for union with Christ, and for efficient service in the world’s great seed time and harvest, in the Age to come. Work done in the Lord’s vineyard now and not done according to His Plan (i.e. the right work at the right time) will be superficial and need doing over again.

So-called revival work has to be repeated. Not that we are opposed to revivals, in the true import of the term, but the work done in the way it is done, has to ‘be done over and over; devils cast out do not stay out! Souls converted have to be reconverted, “reclaimed” as it is called, until the wonderful part of the “‘wonderful works” is, that there is as much demand for the “shoddy” as there is, though the demand for it is less in proportion as people come to understand God’s Word.

We do not question the sincerity of those engaged in such work to the neglect of the Lord’s work in their own souls, for in their sincerity they will say to the Judge, “Have we not prophesied in Thy name and in ‘Thy name cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works?” But they will find that such works will be no more appreciated, then they are getting to be now.

They will find that their wonders were performed under the influence of a zeal without knowledge. Love of the truth, would lead to the exposure and rejection of every religious sham, and there would be no demand for the superficial. Love of the truth would lead us more and more into the truth, would make business cares and anxieties give place and stand aside while we take a sufficient amount of time to study God’s Word and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

When we are in any doubt about the amount of time we should take for the purpose of feeding upon the Bread of Life, the truth let us put into one scale all our worldly cares and worldly demands upon our time, and into the other these words: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” — Selected.

(The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom June 1928, Page 20)

Zeal Not According to Knowledge

Zeal Not According to Knowledge

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Prov 19:2

“Many noble hearted Christians have gone out as missionaries and as aid workers amongst the heathen wholly unprepared for what they have encountered—intelligent individuals with app ability to reason for themselves. Many have found that the heathen were full of questions; logical questions too, which they as Christians had never thought of and which they were wholly unprepared to answer. Comparatively few missionaries are able to hold their own in argument with peoples of such countries as India, China and Japan. There is no danger of converting these people, but rather the reverse; there is a far greater danger to themselves, of their own loss of faith, both in regards to themselves and in the Bible, Why? Because of their own misunderstandings and misapprehension as to its teachings, because when one in possession of an honest disposition is asked questions for which he has no answer he begins to realizes his own lack begins to doubt his faith and his ability to speak as a mouth piece of the Lord. And what good is a missionary who has no confidence in the message he brings?

Missionaries are thus handicapped by a lack of knowledge, knowledge of the truth. Full of commendable zeal they nevertheless leave our shores intent to preach the gospel of good news, but instead in ignorance many are found preaching a gospel of bad news, of woe and despair for the vast majority of God’s creation. They are saddened to inform the heathen that their forefathers have gone to a place of eternal torment, and that unless they accept Christ they too along with their friends and family will soon be joining them.

Many of these receive a very rude awakening when asked some very reasonable questions in regards to this hell of eternal torment in which they speak, such as where precisely it is located, and why a God who claims to be the God of Love would create such a place in the first place. Why such a God would exercise no pity or compassion upon the ignorant, but instead condemn both them and their forefathers to such a horrible eternity without first making known to them that this was the just consequences of sin and that he had provided but one remedy, belief in Christ, belief in an individual with whom they had never even heard of before. More over in regards to their forefathers who had lived prior to the first advent of Christ, the question is asked, how could they have possibly known of the one name under the heavens by which they might be saved when no such individual had arisen yet?

Why all the different denominations-different theories on the terms of Salvation—by water, by election, by free grace, by joining the church, etc.?

The missionary (aid worker), wholly unable to answer these logical questions, instead insist that faith alone is sufficient, follow our example they say, just believe, don’t worry about the facts, leave the facts to the Lord. Such find it much more productive to gather around themselves, those of likewise mind, the ignorant, “simple ones” (the naïve) those who likewise lack knowledge, lack understanding, such are less likely to ask such reasonable questions, questions which they themselves have no answers.

Nevertheless we would not wish to dissuade those who would do a good work, let all Christians, missionaries, aid workers and such know assuredly that their labors to do good unto their fellow man and to spread the gospel as best they know even if ignorantly are not in vain, and will in due time receive a just recompense of reward. Remember the Lord Judges us according to the intentions of the heart, according to what we have, not according to what we have not.”

The foregoing was derived from some remarks made by Brother John A Meggison’s Notes.

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 2

The Lake of Fire, Second Death, Part 2

 

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

As there seems to be some uncertainty amongst many of the Lord’s people as to who presently is susceptible to second death, let us examine our text a little closer beginning at Verse 4 to determine just to whom it applies.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlighten…”

First of all what is implied by being “enlighten”, and who are those who possess this “enlightenment”?

The definition of the word “enlighten” as taken from the dictionary means to give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a particular subject or situation, in regards to religion it means to give spiritual knowledge or insight, figuratively to illuminate or make clear (a particular problem or area of study).

Strong’s gives the meaning as follows, (nagahh; a primitive root; to glitter; causatively, to illuminate: — (en-) lighten, (cause to) shine. Strong’s # 5050

The scriptures inform us that, “Light (truth) is sown (provided for) for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” (Psa 97:11)

So who are the righteous? Do not the scriptures clearly inform us that “there is none righteous no not one.” (Rom 3:10) Yes they do, but equally so they teach, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be [not were] made (Greek, constituted) righteous.” (Rom 5:19)

If the ransom alone, without our acceptance of it, made us righteous, then it would have read, by the obedience of one many were made righteous. But though the ransom has been given by the Redeemer and has been accepted by Jehovah, only a few during the Gospel age have been, made righteous (justified)”through faith in His blood.” Thus by faith, the true believer personally accepts Jesus as his Savior and is made righteous and holy.

During the Gospel Age God has been selecting a church. The church is not brought to perfection in the sense that they are becoming perfect beings. They are merely reckoned perfect in the beginning; they are merely justified by faith and have peace with God, as the apostle says. This is faith justification; it is not the real justification. There is a difference. The word means, to be made righteous. You are not righteous, and I am not righteous, and nobody is righteous. But you say, ‘Have we not accepted Christ?’ yes that is true, and that means that you have come into harmony with Him, and that you have what the Bible calls faith justification, “justification by faith”. However it is not an actual justification.

You ask, ‘What do you mean by actual justification?” The word means to be made right. God does not make us over, except in the spirit of our minds, but through the merit of Christ our blemishes and imperfections in the flesh are covered in His sight and we come into relationship with God; we are justified by faith.

Let us look at it from another point of view.

Justification is a judicial or (as it is called) forensic word: a word derived from processes of law. When a judge declares a man to be “not guilty,” he does not thereby make him “not guilty.” Though declared not guilty the man may as a matter of fact be guilty. Moreover, some men have been declared guilty who later were proved to be innocent.

No scholar will dispute this forensic use of the word “justification” in the Bible. It expresses the verdict of acquittal and establishes a man’s status in the eyes of the law. Thus God justifies whenever he refuses to condemn—when he ignores whatever may have been our sins. And he declares his willingness to do this simply because a man believes in Jesus Christ. Let a man believe or take God in Jesus Christ at his gracious word and the value of this act of trust or allegiance is such that God reckons it for righteousness and admits a man into his fellowship (as a friend, not a son, not yet), as if he were already fit for such fellowship in his actual habits and conduct.

There is imputation here, but it is the right sort of imputation. It is dealing with us not as we are, nor exactly as we are not, but as we are becoming in virtue of the new attachment under which our life has passed. Faith, then, is reckoned for righteousness because it puts us upon the right basis and in the right relation to God. Therefore, it is a root out of which, provided it continues to subsist, all righteousness can healthily grow, whereas, the most brilliant efforts or works on a wrong basis may have neither sound root nor principle of progress in them. To believe in Jesus is to have the root of the matter in one self. Therefore, when a man first believes, God can ignore all his previous life and deal with him simply on the new basis, in hope.

Thus it should be fully established that only those who have been justified by faith, constituted righteous and holy in the sight of God can receive true enlightenment, knowledge of the truth.

Now someone may still query as to just how much enlightenment or knowledge in God’s word is being referred to in this text, are there not different levels of understanding, i.e. babes, young adults, and those of mature years? Most certainly, the clue however is given in the opening text, “those who were once enlighten” this statement is “pass tense” and implies that the individual had previously been brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth, that is they had clearly seen God’s grace as represented in his Word and plan, and had advanced beyond the elementary principles of Christ, the “milk” and had partaken of the “meat of the word” the only ones capable of this type (or level) of understanding first of all would be those who have been spirit begotten, thus possessing spiritual enlightenment. Now naturally even babes in Christ are spirit begotten, and possess a measure of enlightenment, but it requires time and study, growth both in the graces and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to become of “full age”, a mature Christian.

Remember when you become a Christian you enter into the “School of Christ” you are a student (a disciple), one does not become fully enlighten the first day of their attendance, growth in the graces and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus is a lifetime course.

Now some advance quicker than others because their love for the Lord and the Truth is greater than others, these like the Bereans of Old are what we call “Seekers” and “Provers” of the Word, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”, these have learned through experience and study that the Lord is truly a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and to such alone he reveals his truth. These are constantly searching the scriptures, to prove (to test) everything which they received no matter the source. To them the Word of God is the final say on any matter.

“To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light (truth) in them.” Isa 8:20

Many however not being inclined to personal study lacking the necessary drive (love) for the truth,  prefer to simply rely upon the knowledge and understanding of others generally those with whom they have confidence or trust. For most this reliance typically comes from their Minister, for others it might be friends, family or a combination of one or more, thus their understanding is limited to the knowledge of those with whom they have to do. Thus in truth their faith (belief) is not actually their own, but rather some one else’s belief someone else’s interpretation of the Scriptures. Such forget that as disciples in the School of Christ we are admonished to “prove all things”, to “study to show thyself approved”, the point being is that it is the responsibility of the individual to study (for himself), that the individual proves all things (for himself), that YOU as an individual personally be established in the truth, that your faith be your own, and not that of another.

As it is written, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”, you cannot be saved through the belief or faith of another, nor does membership in a church organization guarantee this, you yourself must make your calling and election sure.

Many Christians have a great zeal (love) for the Lord, this is very commendable, but for the most part their zeal is “not according to knowledge“. Misguided faith is useless. The fact is there are many who, like the Apostle Paul prior to his conversion, believe in all good conscious that they are serving the Lord when in truth they unknowingly are working against him. Such may hold beliefs which  are completely contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures. They have been so busy in what they imagined to be the Lord’s work, that they have never actually taken the time to personally prove all which they believe for themselves, by the Word of God.

In other words in their haste to exemplify love for the brethren (and especially for their Minister) they are much to eager to accept without question many of the teachings they receive, not realizing that many such teachings are not wholly scriptural, but are taught through the doctrines and precepts of men, taught through the church consoles and creeds of men, remember,

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Prov 19:2

In our next post we will examine the next two qualifications which must be met before one is accountable to the second death.