From the BOOK
Your word is a LAMP that gives light to wherever I walk (Ps 119:105).
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Beware of FALSE prophets!
In this age of the Laodicean Church of God, many lay-members have taken it upon themselves to enter the Temple of God to perform the work of a priest. Why this lack of understanding of who works at the Altar, who lights the Lamps and who makes the Shew bread? How serious does Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church take these infringements in His Temple? Including lay-members who despise the Government of God, these lay people are teaching without Christ's authority.
"Wolves in sheep's clothing," Christ called them. Will you be misled by a soft and fleecy exterior? Here is help from God's Word to see through the disguise. God reserves His strongest condemnation for those who claim to be speaking for Him, but are actually leading people away from the true God. "Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams... and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all... for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the Lord of hosts, our God. "Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence; And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten" (Jer. 23:25-40).
Throughout His ministry, Jesus Christ gave repeated warnings to avoid false teachers. In the Sermon on the Mount He cautioned: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:15-20).
Christ said we should look at the fruits. What fruits should we examine? Obviously not those in which a wool-covered wolf could most easily pass himself off as a sheep. We should expect a false prophet to attempt, with all his heart, to look like a real one, or what he thinks is a real one. As Paul wrote: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [Did you know Satan has ministers?] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (II Cor. 11:13-15).
We should expect a warm and ready smile. We can be confident of an outward expression of accommodation, at least at first. We should also expect humility — lots of [false] humility. So those "fruits" are untrustworthy.
Perhaps we should consider "good works" such as missionaries, converts, hospitals, drug clinics or free meals for vagabonds and vagrants? Surely if they preach in the name of Christ, that is good fruit, isn't it? No, not necessarily, according to Jesus Christ. Right after telling us to beware of false prophets and to look at their fruits, He continued the Sermon on the Mount by saying, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Referring to Christ as the Lord is not conclusive proof of good fruit. Doing what God says, is.
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? [preaching, hospitals, missionaries] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you."
Startling as it may seem, many people who have used Christ's name, who have accomplished many beneficial works, often at great sacrifice to themselves, were never recognized by Him as His servants. They used that name falsely! He continued, "depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (verses 22-23). Instead of doing the will of the Father, they did iniquity.
What is iniquity?
The word iniquity in Matthew 7:23 was translated from the Greek word "anomia" — literally against law or lawlessness. Christ said that He never knew, and would send away those that work lawlessness.
False prophets find it troublesome to define sin. If forced to do so, they usually try to express sin as vaguely and unspecifically as possible. They reason that there is no point in losing followers by condemning what their congregations enjoy doing or bluntly refuse to change. Most will even refuse to consider the Bible definition in I John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law." Leader and layman alike want nothing to do with God's law. Under any circumstances. Period.
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets," the founder of Christianity said. Yet most people that come in His name, claiming He is Christ, think exactly that. He continues, "I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot [not one little bit], will pass from the law until all is accomplished [everyone is keeping it].
"Whoever then relaxes [let alone breaks] one of the least of these commandments and teaches men [to do] so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:17-19, Revised Standard Version). God's law expresses God's will. It shows the way He wants us to go. He does not want His law relaxed, diluted or slackened. He wants it kept fully, from the heart (Rom. 6:17-18).
In spite of Christ's words, many will claim that they are "free from the law" or "the law is done away." The Ten Commandments, to some, need not be kept. If that be true, it would mean the "faithful" are free to have another god before God the Father. They may take His name in vain, crush His holy Sabbath underfoot, steal, lie, commit adultery and covet until they turn bright green — all without guilt or sin. No wonder Christ will tell them "depart"!
Yet that is the ungodly doctrine many have been taught. Laymen are not without some blame. "This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (Isa. 30:9-10). For pastors of godless flocks, it is easier to change the message than the members. Many non-biblical observances are now called "Christian" for that precise reason.
Yet, the main responsibility God lays at the door of the false prophets.
"There is a conspiracy of her [the nation's] prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and the profane [God has set some days as Holy Days (also, the first tenth of all income is holy to Him (Lev. 27:30)], neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean (God did not intend all animals for food) and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths (God says the seventh day - why does anyone attempt to keep the first?) and I am profaned among them" (Ezek. 22:25-26).
Occasionally, a minister who upholds the law is accused of being legalistic. Every minister should be known for godly mercy. But mercy does not mean relaxing the law of God. It means God granting forgiveness for the repentant, those who acknowledge their sins and strive to turn from them.
On the other hand, God denounces the false prophets for not showing the right, but unpopular way. "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil ways and from the evil of their doings" (Jer. 23:21-22). When God created mankind, He knew we would need a lot of forgiving. That is why Christ was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Christ's blood covers our sins, not when we wallow in sin (knowingly continue to break God's law), but when we forsake sin, ask His free gift of forgiveness and begin to obey Him.
False prophets don't give the straight story about sin. They give their own ideas about what sin is. A true minister knows that God defines sin, not man. And the law of God is that definition (Rom. 3:20).
Inside the Church
Not all false prophets come from outside the Church. Some were formerly faithful servants of God, but swerved from the "straight and narrow" path.
The apostle Paul called the ministers of Ephesus together during his last visit to that ancient city. He knew that false prophets would soon descend upon the flock of God. So he alerted the leaders to the dangers that both pastors and flock would face. "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you [overseers], to care for [feed] the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." These wolves would mostly come from outside the Church.
But worse, "and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things [distorted doctrine] to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:28-30, RSV).
Faithful pastors protect the flock from those who would spoil them. But some of those called and ordained in God's true Church would covet Christ's sheep. So they would turn from the teachings and the teachers they had originally acknowledged. Then set up their own government, with themselves at the top. That is treason, one of the most vicious attacks the flock of God must endure.
A faithful minister would always submit to those leaders whom Christ chose, trained and put in authority over His Church. Christ's words are especially clear. "A person who speaks on his authority is trying to gain glory for himself. But he who wants glory for the one who sent [commissioned] him is honest, and there is nothing false in him" (John 7:18, Good News Bible).
Christ faithfully honored, obeyed and glorified the Father who sent Him. The apostles of Jesus Christ, whom He sent into all parts of the world, responded to Him in the same spirit of honor and respect. They in turn were to ordain other men to various Church offices under themselves to see to the spiritual needs of the people as God added to the Church.
Except for Judas, all the apostles remained faithful to the One who sent them. But that was not true of some of the, individuals whom the apostles ordained and sent. Paul said some would turn from serving the needs of Christ's flock under the government of God to serving their own interests instead.
Peter alerted the Church of the same danger. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in [to the Church] damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them [they were converted], and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways: by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words [in sheep's clothing] make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (II Pet. 2:1-3).
Everyone can make a mistake. But usually, true prophets become false prophet; to receive for themselves the respect and contributions due to God's true representative. Wolves wear sheepskins to eat mutton. The prophet motive becomes the profit motive.
Why a following?
Peter said many would follow the wrong way. Why do false prophets have a following?
First, God says that the entire world is deceived (Rev. 12:9). The inhabitants of the earth are separated from God and don't know it. They are cut off from His law, from His mercy and from His Spirit. God will make all of those freely available to every human who ever lived. But not at this time. Only a few are called now. The rest are blinded to God's ways.
Many simply inherit their religion from their parents. They never question it deeply, just accept it as they do their name and nationality.
But a more basic reason is that most people prefer looking good to doing good. After telling Isaiah to "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins," God complains of their love of religiosity. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinance of justice; they take delight in approaching to God" (Isa. 58:1-2).
Many people want a religion that has all the trappings of godliness but few of the constraints. Choirs and candles are pleasant. Sabbaths and tithes are not. Preachers that are innocuous are tolerated. Those who expect their congregations to conform to the Word of God will be told to go.
False prophets have followers because many people want a religion more than they want God. You can choose from hundreds of different types of "Christianity." Some are very sober. Others are actually wild. Some are strict, others lenient. You can be soothed or shouted at, but you won't be "lost" if you attend regularly.
Or pick from the hundreds that never mention the name Jesus Christ. False prophets don't need to use His name. Marx and Mao didn't.
Converted members of the true Church can fall into the same trap. Paul wrote Timothy: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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" (II Tim. 4:2-4).
False prophets respond to the itching ears of wayward sheep. The wolves entice them away from life toward death.
Constantly, in Paul's writings, he records how often he had to contend with false prophets and false brethren. He wrote Timothy how to recognize them quickly. "Anyone who teaches novelties and refuses to fall in with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine that tallies with godliness, is a conceited, ignorant creature with a morbid passion for controversy and argument which leads only to envy, dissension, insults, insinuations and constant friction between people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the Truth. They imagine religion is a paying concern" (I Tim. 6:3-5, James Moffatt translation).
Why does God permit false prophets?
Why does God allow wolves to have access to His flock? Why doesn't He expose them before they do any harm? He has His reasons!
The first and most basic scripture about false prophets explains why. "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 13:1-3).
God wants his flock to stay with Him and the truth no matter what. Those with "itching ears" desiring to turn away from or relax His law or overthrow the stewards He chose will have the opportunity to do so. Maybe, upon seeing the fruit of their own heart, some will acknowledge their wrong way and return to the flock.
He is confident the true sheep will not be led astray by false prophets. Referring to Himself as the shepherd of the sheep, He said: "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:4-5).
His sheep acknowledge Him. They acknowledge His doctrine. "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his way, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:16-17).
They would respect those whom Christ placed as leaders. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me" (John 13:20).
Jesus warned, "For false Christs and false prophets shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22).
The flock of God is certain to encounter many trials and tests — false prophets and treasonous pastors among them. But the true sheep of His pasture, who seek His leadership and His will, won't be led astray and devoured.
Thankfully, it is just not possible. Christ's sheep will see the fake fleece and run!
What is the Savior's NAME?
Good News February 1980
Are Hebrew terms for the Creator God - rather than English or Greek titles - the only ones accepted or recognized by God? Is some one name absolutely essential for salvation? Here's evidence from the original texts of the Bible. Must we use only Hebrew terms when speaking of the Creator? Should we say Yahweh rather than God? Is it a sin to use the name Jesus Christ and to call His true people the Church of God?
Is God's name Jehovah?
Despite the fact that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains many divine names and titles, the major argument propagated by certain religionists centers around the word many English translations have rendered Lord. Let's examine this word - the tetragrammaton YHWH. The Old Testament text as it was preserved for many centuries consisted only of consonants, though semi consonants were used to indicate certain long vowels. The exact pronunciation, with the correct vowel sounds , was preserved only by oral usage. The vowel sounds were not written down until about the sixth or seventh century, A.D. At that time, Jewish textual scholars known as Masoretes (hence Masoretic text) devised symbols to represent the vowels. They added these symbols (vowel points) to the consonantal text of the Old Testament. It was only at this time – centuries after both the Old and New Testaments had been completed – that the then-current pronunciation as orally preserved was written down. But the tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name YHWH, had long before ceased to be pronounced by the Jews as too sacred to be uttered. Whenever reciting orally, they always substituted the word Adonai (Lord) or occasionally Elohim wherever YHWH appears in the text. This practice began long before the time of Herod.
Later, in the sixth or seventh century, wherever the Masoretes found the word YHWH, they inserted the vowel points of Adonai or Elohim (not the original vowels of YHWH) to give the synagogue reader the clue to use the acceptable word. It was from the consonants YHWH plus the vowel points of Adonai that the impossible form Jehovah was later created by Catholics only partially knowledgeable of the Hebrew language and text.
Hebrew scholars are quick to admit that the exact vowel sounds and pronunciation of YHWH are not absolutely certain. Most feel that Yahweh (pronounced Ya-hweh, with the second syllable sounding like the whe in where) is a close approximation . But this reconstruction is partly based on transliterations into Greek by some of the so-called church fathers several centuries after the writing of the New Testament. This Jewish custom of substituting one word for the other was already practiced, for example, by the Essene sect at Qumran, who left us the Dead Sea Scrolls. For several technical reasons we need not list, it is certain the Qumran sect had stopped pronouncing YHWH as early as the beginning of the second century B.C. If the correct pronunciation were known at all in New Testament times , it has not survived in writing. Some scholars disagree with the pronunciation Yahweh. Some believe the name was Yaho or Yahwo or Yahu. There is simply no way to be absolutely sure how it was pronounced when YHWH introduced this name to Moses. And, of course, vowel pronunciation is always subject to great change through the centuries and from region to region. Even if Ezra and later generations pronounced this name Yahweh, how had Moses pronounced it? After all, that would have been the only correct way - if exact pronunciation is what matters.
Consider also this factor. Today's Jews have traditional pronunciations for Hebrew vowels and even consonants - and hence words – different from one another in various parts of the world, even in the same generation, just as English speakers from various parts of the world pronounce English words differently. Were there no differences in Hebrew dialects in Bible times between the Nile and the Euphrates? Linguistic records such as Judges 12:6 indicate there were . .[f the exact pronunciation were all important, what about those today whose native tongue or dialect is different? They' can't form the sounds of Yahweh correctly. Are they all without hope? What about the man today who says Yahvah instead of Yahweh? Any who continue to support a. requirement to designate the Creator as YHWH - regardless of how he might think it should be pronounced - must explain the statement in Exodus 6:2-3: "And Elohim spoke unto Moses and said unto him , I am YHWH. And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as EI Shadday [God Almighty]. But by my name YHWH I was not known to them" (all Bible quotes used in this
article are translated directly from the Hebrew or Greek).
No YHWH before Moses
Did Elohim mean what He said? - that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not even know the name YHWH? Or must we try to explain away this passage by saying (as some do) that Abraham actually used the . name YHWH but just didn't understand it? On the contrary, these two verses strongly indicate the name YHWH was simply not revealed as the name before Moses. Supporting evidence for the statement of these verses is found in an examination of the theophoric names of people who lived before Moses - names, that is, bearing some form of divine name within them. Our modern society seldom uses such names except for names actually taken from the Bible. But Hebrew society was different. So we find many names in the Bible with an E[, or Yah or Yahu (short for YHWH) in them. For example, early in the Bible we run across names with E[ in them. Genesis 5:12 mentions Mahalaleel whose name means praise of El. Genesis 10:28 lists Abimael - a father is El. Jacob changed the name of Luz to ' Bethel (house of El Gen. 28: 19) and later had his own name changed to Israel , he perseveres with El. Similarly, we find the divine name Shadday, which first appears in Genesis 17:1, in the name Zurishaddai, meaning my rock is Shadday, (N um. 1:6). Zurishaddai lived before the exodus. Yet we find no human names with YHWH (including Yah or Yahu or any shortened form of the name) until after the time of Moses.
A careful examination of all the biblical names before the time of Moses reveals no trace of the ' name YHWH. Some are bound to ask why the name YHWH is used in the text all through Genesis if it were not known before Moses. It's simple. By the time the book of Genesis was composed, the name YHWH was known and was simply inserted into the text. This means that such men as Abel and the other preachers of righteousness before the flood, as well as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph - righteous men for more than 2 millennia - never so much as heard this name that some today emphatically assure us is absolutely necessary for salvation!
The many names of God
A careful study of the Bible reveals the Creative Family has a multitude of meaningful names and titles, but yields absolutely no prohibition against translating them into another language. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that only the Hebrew form is permissible. On the contrary, we are given positive examples of these names being translated into other languages. Many do not realize that several sections of the Old Testament (Dan. 2:4 through 7:28; Ezra 4:8 through 6:18; and 7:[2-26) are written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. Aramaic was not the language Moses spoke. Nowhere in these Aramaic sections do we find YHWH, or any Hebrew names for the deity. Instead we find the Aramaic form Elah. Similarly, we find no Hebrew names in the New Testament. Instead we find the Greek terms theos (God) and kurios (Lord). Furthermore, the New Testament uses kurios in quotations from the Old Testament where YHWH is used in the Hebrew, such as Matthew 3:3, quoting from Isaiah 40:3.
New Testament: inspired or corrupted?
Of course, some would rather throw out God than their false theory about sacred names. So they theorize that the New Testament has been corrupted. But what they claim would have required no less than one of the most thorough editing jobs in all history!
For not a single Greek New Testament manuscript shows any evidence for the use of original Hebrew YHWH supposedly put there by the authors for their Greek readers! Someone would have had to have superhuman powers to gather every single Greek manuscript scattered around the entire Mediterranean basin and carefully expunge YHWH from all New Testament manuscripts and substitute the Greek kurios. The apostle Paul certainly spoke Hebrew (Acts 21:40), but he was under no illusions that only Hebrew names for God were acceptable. Not only did he use Greek terms in his letters, but even a common greeting in Aramaic, which was widespread in the early Church. When Jesus spoke Greek to someone He used the Greek form of His name. He inspired His servants to use that same form in the New Testament. He didn't say that YHWH is the only name by which we must be saved - nor Hebrew Yehoshua, or Yahshua. Instead, the apostle Peter uses the Greek form lesous in Acts 4: 10-12 and goes on to state that whoever calls on the name of kurios (Lord without the in front of it) will be saved! Why shouldn't we then use the English forms Jesus and Lord?
Meaning of YHWH
Each of the many divine names and titles describes some aspect of the Creative Family's character. The Bible does not emphasize a pronunciation - a particular combination of laryngeal vibrations modulated by the mouth. It emphasizes that we understand the meaning of the divine names and titles in order for us to be more like our Savior Jesus Christ. As we cannot be absolutely sure of the vowels in YHWH, we cannot be positive about its exact grammatical form . But scholars generally feel it is some form of the verb to be. Some suggest He causes to be, others He exists . But perhaps no better interpretation can be found than the Greek statement of Revelation I :8, referring to Jesus Christ: "I am the Alpha and the Omega [in English we would say the A and the Z, the first and the last], says the Lord God, the One who is being, who was being, and who is coming, the Almighty."
What's in a name?
God names things what they are. YHWH means the self-existent one ---,--- the "Ever Living " as the Fenton translation uses - the "Eternal" as in the Moffatt translation. There is much in a name. Jesus has been given a name above all, in heaven or earth. There is power and authority in His name - the only name by which we may be saved. To act in His name is to act by His authority, as "power of attorney." The New Testament, written entirely in the Greek, as inspired by God's Holy Spirit, in quoting from the Old Testament, did not quote the Hebrew names, but translated them into the Greek, as we also translate them into English.
Christ said He came to reveal the name of the Father (John I: 18;17:6,26). Yet we would search in vain for any discussion of its pronunciation or requirement to use only Hebrew. What then is meant by these verses? What Christ revealed is the way. . He revealed the way to life, which is the way of the character of God. . That character is the origin of His names - expressed by whatever different language. The same character in us will lead us to have eternal life like God and to bear His names that summarize His character. "But this is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We don't get to know God by concentrating on a few Hebrew characters or their English transliterations.
So the use of only one name for Jesus Christ or a certain unmistakable pronunciation of that name is not a prerequisite for entering God's Kingdom. Don't be misled by any such false teachings.
By Mr. Ellery Burgess
The subject of trials has been on my mind recently. Some trials are what I call, “run of the mill” issues, but some are severe, or as the Apostle Peter said, “fiery”. In 1 Peter 4:2 Peter said, “Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you”. Yes, some trials are fiery, but they are to try us. There is a purpose for them. In the next verse Peter tells us, “But rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings: that when His glory is revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy”. He is not saying to rejoice because we are in fiery trials, but rather, to rejoice because we are being allowed to partake of Christ's suffering. Because that will build godly character in us.
The King James Version of the Bible, in the model prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples, records Jesus as saying, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. The Good News translation says, “Do not bring us to hard testing but keep us safe from the evil one”. That is the correct translation of what Christ actually said and is in perfect agreement with what James said in James 1:13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man”. When we look at what Christ said about the hard testing and Keep us safe from the devil, the connection seems to be that Satan is bringing about the trials.
Brethren, trials and especially hard ones will have one of two effects on us. They will either draw us closer to God, or they will drive us farther away from Him. They can cause us to become resentful and bitter, that God would allow us, to be in this predicament and reason, 'why does God not deliver me out of it?' but what would be the correct approach?
Although trials must come and sometimes they are even fiery, there is a way to deal with them, that will give us God's help to endure them and overcome. Once we find ourselves in trials, any and all trials, and especially the fiery ones, the very first thing we need to do, is to find a private place and go to God in prayer. I mean fervent, heartfelt, supplication. We can cry aloud, even with tears, to our God and ask Him to help us and allow us, to see what we need to learn and give us a heart to submit to Him and His will.
Also, remember what Paul said, “There has no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able: but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that you be able to bear it” 1 Cr. 10:13.
Remember God is ALWAYS in control!
There is another point I want to make, that is very important. Anything that happens to us, God allows it for our good. In Romans 8:28 Paul writes, “And we know that all things work together for our good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”, and in verses 38-39, he said, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depths, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
What is the WORK of the
Church of God today?
by Burrus Smith
We find the answer in John 6:28-29. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
In the 20th century, God sent one man… Herbert W Armstrong, and he came preaching the same message. How many today believe what was said by this man?
Mr. Armstrong died Jan 16, 1986. I have seen his grave. He awaits the resurrection. The work God gave him to do is finished… or is it? Let’s turn to Revelation chapter 10:10-11 “And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.”
In a message, given by Mr. Gerald Waterhouse in 1980, titled “Measuring the Temple”, he states: “Mr. Armstrong is the man that is used, right up to Christ’s coming. Is Mr. Armstrong being used by God today?
From the perspective of 1980, Mr. Armstrong had died in 1977 to be revived from cardiac arrest and beginning in 1978, with vigor took the gospel before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Mr. Armstrong with power, finished the work God gave him to do, as stated in Matthew 24:14, and died in 1986.
Let’s notice a key point that Mr. Waterhouse brought up: “Mr. Armstrong will reach the world twice. Not once but twice. It says, you must prophesy again. You can’t do anything again… unless you have done it at least once.”
Another key point is: “Mr. Armstrong’s death (in 1986) brought the work to an end… if the work had kept going, there would be no way to do it again" (Measuring the Temple).
What about the Great Commission of Matthew 24:14? Are we to reach the world again, to preach the gospel of the kingdom unto all the world for a witness? It is not referring to the Great Commission, as Mr. Armstrong had not reached all the world at the time of this message. It is not to be done again for it is a sign and marks the end of the Philadelphia era work, and has been accomplished.
That prophesy has been fulfilled. It was a sign, a great miracle. It cannot be done again, otherwise it would be two signs. He states: “Mr. Armstrong is the man that is used, right up to Christ’s coming.
Is Mr. Armstrong being used by God today?
Mr. Armstrong did prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. The doors that were opened to Mr. Armstrong in the Philadelphia era, to carry this message with power to the world have been closed by Christ.
Today, the internet allows Mr. Armstrong’s trumpet to penetrate all the world on a scale he could hardly have imagined.
The internet is a tool that Mr. Armstrong did not have available while he was alive. Yet his voice, his message can be found any time of the day by anyone in the world who has a computer and internet connection. The "gates of hell" cannot prevail against his message. Through the internet, Mr. Armstrong continues with the message Jesus Christ gave him to deliver.
We understand Revelation 11:1 from a different perspective in history than Mr. Waterhouse in his message in 1980. However, it is important for us to understand the teaching of the Church during this time period, for it has significance to us today. Mr. Waterhouse goes on to say, quoting Mr. Armstrong: “God raised me for a purpose… to get the Church back on track… to prepare the bride and lead you people into the Kingdom of God without spot, blemish, or wrinkle. Mr. Armstrong came to see during this time that the Temple Christ would return to is a spiritual Temple, and that Temple is his people bearing his Holy Spirit and being led by his Spirit to do his work.
Mr. Armstrong’s hands laid the foundation for the spiritual temple during this time, and his hands finished it by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6-10). Is that temple complete today or is it still in preparation? Mr. Armstrong recognized the need for the Bride to make herself ready.
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).
Do the work of God, support his messenger and believe what he said with one mind. Prepare yourself for the Kingdom of God. Prepare the bride. Remove every spot, blemish and wrinkle.