Friday, March 17, 2017

What Is the Explanation for Canaan's Curse and Being In the Line of Christ?

There are a couple of incidents in the Bible that have confused people, as there is no immediate explanation for them. They both concern the same person. The first is found in the story of Noah when he got drunk.

Genesis 9:18-27 “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

When Noah awoke and found out what had occurred, he cursed Canaan and not Ham. This has always been a puzzlement, for why curse the son for the sin of the father? Maybe we need to take a closer look at exactly what is said. First notice that when it speaks of when they went forth from the ark, that it mentions not only the three sons, but also that Ham was the father of Canaan. Was Canaan born aboard the ark? Or is Canaan mentioned because he is about to become important in some way? Noah was drunk, and he was uncovered within his tent. It has always been assumed that Noah stripped down. I have not been around drunk people as a rule, but how many drunk people go around stripping when they are that drunk? It seems to me that they are beyond being able to take their clothes off. They can generally not even sit up straight, much less stand up to disrobe. What if what is meant was that someone else uncovered him within his tent, while he was drunk. What if he were not the person committing the action, but the victim receiving the action while he was unconscious?

It is pointed out again, immediately after telling that Noah was uncovered in this passage, that Ham is the father of Canaan. Why point that out a second time within the space of five verses of the story, and immediately after this event, if Canaan is not a party to the event? Why bring it up at all? It is almost as if it is pointed out that Ham is the father of the offender. Perhaps Canaan, who is the only grandchild mentioned up to this point (and whom we know was the father of the pagan ungodly Canaanites, which consisted of a number of pagan tribes of the family) was an ungodly young person already, (we are not sure of how many years had passed by this time) and was aware that his grandfather had been drinking. He could have crept in and uncovered his grandfather either as a joke, or for spite, and then bragged to his father what he had done. Ham then went to see for himself and then, thinking it was amusing, mocked Noah by telling the others of his shame. (Or possibly they did it together.) Noah blamed Ham, but then he cursed Canaan. He held the father responsible for his son's actions, but he cursed the offender rather than the father, so that the other children would not be cursed. So it would seem that Canaan had a hand in this somehow, for there is no reason to mention Canaan to start with, or curse Canaan for his father's actions otherwise. We know that Canaan's descendants were pagan, so it seems that rebellion started with Ham and ran through Canaan down the line. This should be kept in mind as we go to the next puzzle.

Now we come to the second problem. In the genealogy of Christ we find the following lineage in Luke Chapter 3 within verses 35-36. “which was the son of Sala, which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe” This has caused a problem for scholars as Cainan (or Canaan as it is spelled in the O.T.) was not a son of Arphaxad. Sala (or Salah) was his son, according to Genesis. Genesis 10:22-24 “The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arphaxad begat Salah;” Genesis 11:10-12 “These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:”

According to both of these Scriptures, Arphaxad was the father of Salah. In fact the age at which he begat Salah was thirty-five years of age. This was thirty-seven years after the Flood. It does not seem that there was a generation between them. There is a possibility that can be surmised though. We are told that Arphaxad was born two years after the Flood. He was of the first generation after the Flood. We are told the names of the other males who were born of Noah's sons. Genesis 10:2 “The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.” Genesis 10:6 “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Genesis 10:22 “The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.” Within this first generation, we can see the the only Canaan is Ham's son. And he is also the only Canaan within the next generation as well. So when Canaan is spoken of in Luke, we must assume that the Canaan mentioned is Ham's son. We can also see that the three couples got busy repopulating the earth. Needless to say, they had daughters also, for we are told that they did, and the sons had to marry someone. Cousin marriage is an approved marriage in Scripture, (even to today) and at this time sister marriage was also allowed. So the first generation had to marry either their sisters, their first cousins, or their cousin's children.

Next we must look at another matter. It is assumed by many that the names of the offspring are always in line with their birth order, but that can be shown to not be true. For instance Shem is assumed to be the oldest as he is always mentioned first, when the three sons of Noah are listed.

Genesis 5:32 “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Genesis 6:10 “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Genesis 7:13 “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah” Gensis 9:18 “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.” Genesis 10:1 “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth:”

In each of these cases, Shem is mentioned first, therefore many teach that he is the eldest, however Scripture contradicts that. Genesis 10:21 “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.” Japheth is clearly said to be the elder brother. Then some say that Shem is the youngest, but in Genesis 10:24 we find that neither is he the youngest. “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” This verse is speaking of Ham and it designates him as the younger son. Had he been the middle son, it would seem that he would have been addressed as his middle son, so it would seem that Shem is the middle son. Shem appears to be mentioned first, as he is the most important of the brothers, for he is the one in whom the line of the Messiah will begin. These two verses are the only ones that actually mention birth order, so we need to pay attention to them even though when the sons are spoken of, they are listed with Shem first. In the line of Shem, we know that Arphaxad was born two years after the Flood, yet he is the third son mentioned in the line of Shem. It is probably unlikely that Shem's wife had three children in two years unless the first two were twins. The godly patriarchal line did not have to come through the eldest son. It had to come through the godly son. So birth order does not seem relevant in the list of names.

The reason for bringing all this up is that the children of Ham are listed in the following order. Genesis 10:6 “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” If sons were listed from the oldest to the youngest, this would put Canaan as the youngest, but I do not think that is the case, based on the above reasoning. I think the sons are listed with Cush first for a reason, which will be made clear in a moment. The implication when mentioning the three sons of Noah coming off the ark, and mentioning Canaan along with them is that he might have been born on board the ark, or if not coming off the ark as a baby, then Ham's wife was pregnant with him. This would make him the eldest of Ham's sons. The only grandson mentioned at all before these genealogy lists is in fact, Canaan. In the case of the above order, Cush is mentioned first, but then there is a reason for this, just as there was for mentioning Shem first. Shem was the first of the Messianic line. Cush was the father of Nimrod, who is first mentioned at this time as the mighty hunter, and the king of Babel, who became a very important person at an important event later on and from whom ultimately the antichrist will come. This could explain his being first in the list of Ham's sons. If Canaan were guilty of the sin with Noah, his name would have been mud, as they say, which may be why he was relegated to the last name mentioned. But that was earlier on in his life, and he seemed to be of no importance later on, as much as who his descendants were became important to Israel, so he is just listed last. As other than being one of the partriarchs, Arphaxad didn't do anything in particular to merit mention, nor did his brothers, there seems no particular order to their names.

Given now that we know that Canaan was most likely born immediately after if not before the end of the Flood, and most likely the perpetrator of the sin against Noah, and that his descendants would become depraved pagans, there is every reason to believe that he was not a young man who observed restrained behavior. It is then quite likely that by the time he was a teenager or in his early twenties at best, which would have been only that many years after the Flood as well, that he was sexually active and took a wife (either sister or cousin) and started a family. The objective was to repopulate the earth, after all, and he was probably eager to cooperate with that mandate. By thirty-seven years after the Flood, he could very well have had a daughter of the age of fifteen to seventeen years of age. By this time Arphaxad was thirty-five and was wanting a wife of his own. The number of females to go around for the males was probably not equal in number, so some had to wait to get a wife this early on. As the first generation might not have produced enough females for the males of that generation, someone would have to take a wife from the next generation. A girl of sixteen or so would have been considered old enough to start a family. It is quite possible that Arphaxad took as wife the daughter of Canaan. That would make Canaan the grandfather of Salah on his mother's side.

When one looks at the genealogies of Jesus, it can be seen that Matthew included several very important women in the list - Rahab the harlot, Ruth the Moabitess, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (although her name is not mentioned, we know it was her). On the other hand, Luke did not list any women. He could have, but he didn't. So when he listed that Salah which was the son of Canaan, which was the son of Arphaxad, and there was only one Canaan at that time, we can surmise that what was most likely being said was that Salah was the son of the daughter of Canaan and her husband, Arphaxad. This is the only reasonable way to reconcile this account, as Canaan, the son of Ham, was the only Canaan at that time. The only other way to deal with this is to say that Canaan and Arphaxad shared a wife so Salah considered both men his father. While it was common for a man to have multiple wives, nothing indicates that a woman ever had multiple husbands or that this was the situation. There are some who would like to make this work by saying it was a levirate marriage, but there are two problems with this interpretation. First, the laws of levirate marriage did not exist then, and secondly, Arphaxad and Canaan were cousins, not brothers.

The importance in even bringing Canaan up in Christ's lineage seems to be the fact that Abraham was promised the land of Canaan as an inheritance for his offspring forever. The reason that Abraham could make claim to this land is that it is rightfully his by lineage. Salah was the descendant of Canaan, but also the descendant of Shem. He was the only descendant of Canaan who was in the godly Messianic patriarchal line of Shem. So he brought both lines together, so that the descendants of Shem down through to Abraham were the legal heirs to the land of Canaan, as the pagan tribes were not heirs in God's eyes, due to their rejection of Him. And thus Israel is the rightful heir to the land of Canaan.

While it is true that this information is surmised, we have to look at exactly what we are told and try to make logical sense of it. This interpretation seems to do that.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Should Christians keep the Entire Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, or Are We Stricly Under Grace? Pt.2

In the first part of this study, I focused on the various aspects of the Law and why they do not apply to us, due to the lifting of them in the New Testament. I also spent some time on why the Ten Commandments are still in effect and should still be observed. As the Hebrew Roots movement continues to move further and further into demanding that people observe the laws of the Torah for not just a righteous walk with God, but some say it is required for salvation, I felt the need to add even more to my article and so have created a part 2.

When God told Moses that He wanted to speak to the children of Israel, He said that He was going to give them a covenant. Ex. 19:5-6 “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” After God had spoken the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, there was thunder and lightning, the noise of trumpets, the mountain was smoking, and they wanted Moses alone to be the one to have to hear anything else God had to say and then relay that information to them. Exodus 20:18-19 “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” God then told Moses to speak to them all that He was about to say. Ex. 20:22a “And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel....” What followed were the covenant rules. It is not that the Ten Commandments were not a part of it, they were the central core of it, as they are the divine laws of God that tell us what our moral sins against God are, so are a part of any covenant with God, (Gen.26:5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”) including the new covenant (God said He would write His law on our hearts (through the Holy Spirit)– Jer. 31:33 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”), but they were apart from the specific law of Moses, for the simple reason that they are much bigger than that covenant. The Ten Commandments are universal for all people for all time. They are the moral laws which condemn us before God and show us why we need salvation. They show us our sins. The rest of the laws that Moses wrote down were specifically for Israel as a covenant with them alone. We will see that the covenant with Israel alone was written by Moses, and the part of the covenant that is eternal between God and man were written in stone here on earth, and also written down in heaven.
Getting back to the order of events, after he had spoken all these laws to the people, Moses wrote down these laws which he had spoken to them. Ex. 24:4 “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.” Ex. 24:7 “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.” To seal the covenant, Moses made a sacrifice. Ex. 24:5-8 “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.”

Now to show that these were two different sets of laws, we see that Moses wrote down all that followed the Ten Commandments, and it was called the Book of the Covenant, but as we will see, God Himself wrote down the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone, which were to be in the ark of the covenant or as it is actually referred to in Scripture, the ark of the testimony. The commandments were on tablets of stone. The rest of the laws were in a handwritten book which Moses wrote. After Moses had related all this from the Book of the Covenant to Israel, God called him up to the mountain top to give him the specifications for the temple and priests, and to give him the tablets upon which God Himself had written the testimony or Ten Commandments. Ex. 24:12 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” Ex:31:18 “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” After that Moses returned to the people. Ex. 32:15-16 “And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” When Moses came down and found the people sinning, he broke the tablets. Ex. 32:19 “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” God called him back up to the mount again so that He could give Moses His law again. Ex. 34:1 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” Ex. 34:28 “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (The part of the covenant that was God's Law, God wrote, and He specifies here that the only thing on these tablets was the Ten Commandments.) Deut. 10:1-4 “At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.”

If there is any question that the Ten Commandments are the only thing on these tablets, these verses clearly answers that question, as it says that he wrote, “according to the first writing, the ten commandments.” And it is clear that they were to be put in the ark. Ex. 40:20 “And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:” Deut. 10:5 “And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.” The testimony on the tablets was sealed within the ark and then the mercy seat was placed upon it. When it came to the Book of the Law, or the Book of the Covenant that Moses wrote, it had a different place to be placed, for the Book of Moses or Covenant is not eternal in the same way as the Ten Commandments are. Deut. 31:24-26 “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.” The word “side” is “tsad” in Hebrew and the phrase “in the side” would indicate “against the side of.” In other words, beside the ark, but not in the ark. In fact, the word “tsad” has another interesting meaning. It can figuratively mean “adversary.” This is a good description of the law for it was put there to be a witness against the people.

How is it that the Law of the Covenant is to be a witness against the people. We know how the Ten Commandments are, for they were given to show the entire world their sin against God. The Book of the Covenant was a witness against them for if they kept the Law, they would be blessed, but if they did not keep the Law of the Covenant (sometimes also called the handwriting of ordinances in Scripture) they would suffer the curses issued by Moses. Note that this has to do with blessings and curses upon the people and land. Nothing is said about this providing them with salvation. Unfortunately, they did not keep the law. The people had heard the law at the beginning of the forty year wilderness experience, but all the adults of that generation died before they could enter the land (as punishment). The younger generation now had to have the law read to them also before they entered the land, and they had to covenant with God themselves. And this covenant was not just for those who had come out of Egypt, and those standing there hearing it, but those who would be a part of Israel in the future.

Deut. 29:1, 9-29 “These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day: (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it; And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” The Book of the Law (the covenant) had blessings and curses written in it. It was for the nation of Israel as Israel will always be a peculiar nation before God.

Now that the Law of Moses or the Book of the Covenant has been explained we need to examine the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the testimony against all mankind. Once engraved in stone, they resided in the ark, which in Scripture is not the ark of the covenant. That name is a misdirection, as people think that means the covenant with Israel. Scripture never calls it the ark of the covenant, for it is not the ark of the Book of the Covenant. It is the ark of the testimony of the Ten Commandments for that is what it holds. It is always referred to as the ark of the testimony. Ex. 25:22 “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” Ex. 26:33, 34 “And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.” Ex. 30:6 “And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.” Ex. 30:26 “And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,” Ex. 31:7 “The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,” Ex. 39:35 “The ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat,” Ex. 40:3, 5, 21 “And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail....And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle......And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.” Joshua 4:16 “Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.”

When Christ came, he established a new covenant. (testament means covenant). We would no longer be under the laws of the Book of the Covenant of Moses. 2 Cor. 3:14 “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” Heb. 9:15-20 “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” The first covenant was the Book of the Law which Moses wrote and read to the people. It was his handwriting of the ordinances mentioned in Colossians that was blotted out. Remember Moses didn't write the Ten Commandments. God engraved those on stone. They are not blotted out. It was a covenant between God and Israel that Moses wrote out by hand that was annulled. The new covenant would be with all men who believe, including those of Israel.

Matt. 26:28 “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mark 14:24 “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” Luke 22:20 “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” 1 Cor. 11:25 “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” 2 Cor. 3:6 “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The old covenant brought condemnation. The new covenant brought life.

How do we know that Christ did not mean the Ten Commandments when He said He was creating a new testament or covenant? Because He told us that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments. John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 15:10a “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;” Some like to say that there were only two commandments that Jesus gave, love God and love your neighbor. That is not exactly what Jesus said. Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Mark 12:28-31 “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Jesus did not say that there were no other commandments, He said that these two were the greatest, and that all the laws and prophets hung on them. The interesting thing is that these are not Jesus condensing the ten into two out of the blue. He was quoting the Old Testament which had already presented these two concepts. Deut. 6:5 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Leviticus 19:18 “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Jesus was not doing away with the Ten Commandments or condensing them. He was quoting these verses to show that all of the law hung on the fact that the commandments did either one or the other. The first four commandments tell us what we need to do to show our love for God. We are to have no other Gods before Him. We are not to make any graven images or worship them. We are not to take His name in vain. We are to keep His Sabbath day holy. Those are what we have to do in order to love God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind or might. To break them is sin, for the definition of sin is lawlessness, or not doing the law of God. The last six commandments have to do with showing love to our neighbor. Our first “neighbor” is our parents. We are to honor them. We are not to kill anyone, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet their possessions. This is how we show love to our neighbor. It is not in words that we love, but in deed. In the New Testament verses can be found that tell us not to do these things, which in most people's eyes means that they should observe them, even if they will not admit that they are keeping the Ten Commandments. The one they object to and say was not reiterated is the one about the Sabbath. I had a link to my article on the Sabbath in part 1, but if it wasn't read, here it is again.

Jesus Himself said that when the abomination of desolation occurred, people should worry that they would not have to run on the Sabbath. Since Jesus was speaking to believers in Him (Christians) at the end of time, and He expected them to be observing the Sabbath, I believe that is reason enough to consider that we should still be observing the Sabbath for in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile so it does not apply only to the Jews. The Sabbath has been holy to God since creation. It is one of the Ten Commandments and is still in effect.

We also know that the Ten Commandments are eternal because they are in heaven in the ark of the testimony that resides in the heavenly tabernacle. Rev.11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Rev. 15:5 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

Lastly, Jesus gave us a couple parables that indicate that the laws in the Book of the Covenant had to pass away so that the new covenant could come to pass.

Matthew 9:10-17 “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

The Pharisees were upset that Jesus and His disciples were not observing the law the way they thought they should. Jesus was eating with the publicans and sinners. His disciples were not fasting. Jesus told them that He didn't come to help those who were righteous, that He came to call sinners to repentance. To do that, He had to break with tradition and go to where the sinners were. This was a radical idea. And as far as His disciples were concerned, there was no need for them to fast and afflict themselves with mourning, for He (the bridegroom) was with them now, so they should celebrate what He was teaching and giving to them. When He left (when He was crucified and ascended) there would be plenty about which they would mourn and fast. Then He went on to give two parables that showed that He did not come to fix up the old covenant to include what He was teaching. For His teachings to be put into practice, the old covenant had to go by the wayside, for what He taught was mercy, not law. It was love, not judgment. It was forgiveness, not vengeance. The law was full of legalities that gave justice, but it did not have room for mercy. Jesus was going to radically change the way people interacted with God and each other. To do that, the old law had to give way. It was nailed to the cross as it says in Colossians. The new cloth (new covenant) could not be put on the old garment (old covenant), for the tear would be worse than ever when it was washed. The old wineskin would burst if new wine was put in it, for it could not hold all that the new wine was. That is what these parables were about. So for those who insist upon having to go back to the Torah, that is not what Jesus taught. Choosing to keep some of the old laws, such as kosher, as just a personal choice is fine as long as it does not get in the way of the new covenant ways. Love should always come before the old law. To insist that the old law is a better way is wrong, for the new covenant cannot be contained in the old one.

So in the end, we are to keep the commandments if we love Jesus, but we are not obliged to keep the law, with the exception of things that were reiterated in the New Testament. Most of these were moral laws which were actually just more detailed behaviors of the Ten Commandments. There are some things that do fall under that category. Homosexuality is still a sin. Remarriage is now wrong after divorce except for one condition. We are not to eat blood or things strangled. There are many more. One needs to read the New Testament to see what God still does or does not require. It is up to the individual to be in their Bible learning what those things are.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Does the Bible Tell Us What Actually Happened to Enoch?

One of the great mysteries of the Bible is what happened to Enoch when God took him. Some time ago I wrote on Elijah, showing how, unlike the traditional teaching that he went to heaven, he could not have gone to heaven for he was still on earth ten years after he was taken away in the whirlwind. What seems to have been misunderstood was to which heaven he was taken away. It was the first, as nobody could go to the third heaven where God is, before Christ did, according to Scripture. The only place people went when they left this life was to Paradise. Christ explained that both in the parable of Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man, and when He told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him that day in Paradise. When Christ ascended, He led captivity captive, or emptied Paradise of the righteous dead and took them to heaven. We are told that nobody ascended to heaven (God's abode) before Christ. Proverbs 30:4a “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?” John 3:13 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” As it is doubtful that God left Enoch stranded on another planet, (the second heavens) it seems the only answer is that he was either transported somewhere on earth as Elijah, Ezekiel, and Philip were, or he was taken to Paradise. More information on Paradise and the three heavens can be found in my article on Elijah here.

We are told everything there is to know about Enoch in a few passages. Genesis 5:18-24 “And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”

Luke 3:37 “Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,”

Jude 14-15 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

The entire content of Enoch's life is that he was born of Jared, had a son named Methuselah, that all the days of his life were three hundred and sixty-five years, (that was his age when he disappeared, so that is as old as anyone knew he was) that he walked with God, that he was a prophet who warned of God's wrath to come, specifically the Second Coming of Christ, not the Flood (as far as we are told) and that God “took” him so that he should not see death, so God “translated” him.

The mystery in all this comes in that it says that he did not see death, that God took or translated him. The Hebrew word for “took” means “to carry away”. The Greek word for “translated” means “transport.” So Enoch was removed to another place, so that nobody knew where he went. The questions seem to be to where was he removed, and did he receive a glorified body, stay in this body, or die and go to paradise (the place of the dead before Christ ascended – to know more on this read the above article on Elijah).

Most people say he went to heaven, but it does not say that, and clearly that is not possible for we are told in Scripture, as already quoted above, that nobody could ascend to heaven before Christ ascended after His death. So we know that he didn't go to heaven, as in God's abode. That is a clear fact from Scripture. But it didn't say that he went to heaven, it merely says that he was transported somewhere, so that he would not see death. So there are two choices, he either stayed on the planet where he lived out his natural life, (it is doubtful God removed him to another one somewhere in the universe), or God sent his spirit to Paradise. We are told that all the days of his life were 365 years, but that is because nobody knows what happened to him. He was that age when he disappeared, so that is the age he achieved as far as anybody but God knows. But God does inspire Scriptures, so unless God doesn't want us to know differently, there is a distinct possibility that he died at that time.

In Hebrews 11 a few verses later, in the list of people who died in faith, he is among those who are clearly stated to have died in faith. Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” So that would seem to clinch the deal that he died at some point, whether or not it was immediately upon being taken or later after disappearing. And further, not only in John are we told he could not ascend to heaven, but here we are told that he (and all the rest) could not receive the promise of eternal life that they were looking forward to (in resurrected bodies in God's kingdom - Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”) until we receive it too. Hebrews 11:39-40 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Everybody gets eternal life (and the resurrected body) and the rest of the promises at the same time, at the first resurrection. So we can rule out Enoch getting a glorified body. He was not “translated” in the sense of getting a new body like at the rapture.

But, the objection is made, he walked with God so was exempt from death. No, Scripture will not back that up. Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” All have sinned, and all must die, so that they can receive eternal life in a new body. Now the objection is made that some will not have to see death, but will be raptured, so why shouldn't he. The difference is, before they are raptured, the resurrection has occurred, so as Hebrews 39-40 points out, everybody gets the promise at the same time. Nobody gets to jump the gun, as it were. It was be the equivalent of making Enoch the firstfruits of the resurrection, and he is not. Christ is. So again, he could not have been translated in the sense of getting a glorified body or going to heaven. Scripture rules out both of those options.

So given that Scripture shows us that he had to have died, we then ask, where did God take him, and how is it that he didn't see death, if he had to die? Isn't that a contradiction. Now we have to interpret these things in the light of what we know to be true from Scripture. The death referred to cannot mean that he did not die. He had to have not seen some other sort of death. There are several possibilities as to what “death” is in this verse. The word “see” in Greek means “behold, perceive, be aware of, and have knowledge of.” The Bible does not tell us when the sons of God came down and married the daughters of men, but the apocryphal book of Enoch (which is quoted in Jude) tells us that this happened in the days of Jared, Enoch's father. For the moment we will go along with that, as the timing seems right. As Jared lived almost 600 years after Enoch went missing, it is quite possible that this incursion happened after Enoch was taken. Had they come down when Enoch was alive, it would seem that his name would have been the one used to pinpoint the time, as he is a far more important person in Bible terms than his father, and it would also pinpoint the time of the incursion far more closely than saying it was during Jarod's life.

Enoch prophesied about the Second Coming of God's wrath, not the wrath of God through the Flood. That always seemed strange to me, given that God's wrath was about to fall on the world and wipe it out back then. It would seem that he should have been prophesying about that instead. However if the incursion had not yet happened when God removed him, he would not be prophesying about the Flood, because he wouldn't know about it. Instead he was prophesying about the wrath of God on the world when the Messiah would come. That was all part of the plan of salvation which Enoch obviously knew about, so that is what he preached. Up until that point, most people lived very long lives, and death was probably not known for the most part, as it was very rare for a person to die. They were used to animal death for sacrifices, but hardly anyone had died. We only are told of three people up to that time, although there could have been more. In fact the only patriarch in the list from Adam through Seth down to Enoch to have died by the time Enoch left this earth was Adam. He died when Enoch was 57 years old. Seth was still alive, as were his descendants. Abel would have been killed before well before Enoch came along as Seth was not born until after Abel died. There was a rule against murder after Cain killed Abel, but that didn't stop Lamech (Cain's descendent). He killed someone also. It is likely that since Cain left the area when God punished him and having founded a city elsewhere, his descendants and Seth's descendants did not interact a lot so Enoch probably was not aware of this death either.

So the only death that we can be sure that Enoch had probably seen was Adam's. There is the possibility of other unrecorded natural deaths or even murders, but the Bible does not indicate any. Death for people was virtually unknown to man at this point. Very few probably died, given the length of life at that time. So to take Enoch so that he would not see (behold, be aware of, or have knowledge of) death could simply mean that he was taken before death really started occurring or became the normal state of things, as it is for us today. To take Enoch at that time, would be to take him before all the death and destruction of the incursion of the fallen angels had occurred as well, as they did bring death and destruction with them, with all the violence they perpetrated over the centuries until the Flood. So if it is meant that Enoch did not see death in the world, it could be he was transported to a remote location to live out his life in solitude and peace away from the violence and sin, and die from natural causes before the Flood, or the alternative is that God took his spirit from his body at that time and just sent him to paradise.

Another interpretation might be that “death” is meant to mean being put to death by someone else, or killed, not death from natural causes. The Bible tells us that the violence and evil was so great that by the time Noah came along God had to destroy the world to save it. If Enoch was around for the incursion, and even before that, his prophesying God's wrath upon a wicked world (the world was not all righteous even before the incursion) would not have been accepted with much tolerance. Given that prophets were usually martyred, it is not far-fetched to assume that Enoch would have been hunted down to be killed as was Elijah. In that case we can hypothesize that God didn't want him to be tortured or murdered, and again either removed him to a remote part of the planet where they could not reach him until he did die, or God took his spirit and buried the body, so that it could not be found and mutilated by those who hated him. It could mean that God wanted to remove his life force so quickly that he wasn't even aware he was dying. He just took him straight to Paradise. In this case he was translated from life to Paradise without going through the painful process of death.

It says Enoch was “translated.” Some like to equate this with the rapture, as in a moment we are “changed”, so they say that he received a glorified body and went to heaven, but that was already dismissed as a possibility above. No man ascended to heaven before Christ, and nobody receives the promise until we can all receive the promise. The word “translated” means to be transported. It is the same word that is used elsewhere when talking about moving from one location to another here on this earth, such as when they moved Jacob's body in Acts 7:16. (“carried” is the same Greek word “metatithemi” that is translated as “translated” in Hebrews). Enoch was moved or transported somewhere else. There are only the two possibilities. He was moved to a remote location away from the rest of the world and what was going on, so that he would not see the carnage and destruction of death or be murdered, and he died of natural causes before the Flood, or God took his spirit and transported it to Paradise at that time, in which case he did not die a natural death, he was just transported out of his body to Paradise and did not see death in the sense that a normal person would. Either one of these theories can work, as either way he died, as it says in Hebrews that “all these died.” If one believes that the 365 years is accurate, and we should believe that God's Word is accurate, then the choice we should probably make is that God transported his spirit to Paradise without him going through the process of a natural death.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Prophecy From 1965 That Is Very Relevant Today

I do not usually put much stock in people's prophecies for several reasons. 1) They generally do not line up with Scripture and 2) they do not sound like the Lord. When you study God's Word you find that He does have a way of speaking that is peculiar to Him.  When I came across this lengthy prophecy I started reading it with a lot of skepticism. As I reached the end for the first time I felt that I have read something with I can attribute to the Holy Spirit speaking through someone, as it hits the mark straight on. This was given in 1965 by a man named Stanley Frodsham.

Great Judgements

"With great judgements will I plead with the population of this country. Great darkness is coming upon the countries that have heard My gospel but no longer walk in it. My wrath shall come
upon them. The darkness shall be so great and the anguish so sore that men shall cry out for death and shall not find it. There shall be a lingering death, famine and great catastrophes.

My wrath shall be manifested against all ungodliness. It shall come with great intensity. You have known my love but have not experienced My wrath or My severity. My judgements are literal
and not a thing to be passed over lightly. Realize the severity of My judgements and My intense anger against the sin in My Household. My judgements shall begin in My House, for I will cleanse My House that it be not a partaker of My wrath against the iniquities of the cities. Before I visit the nations in judgement I will begin at My House. When I do cause My wrath to come upon the cities of the world My people shall be separate. I desire a people without spot or wrinkle and such will be preserved by Me in the time of My wrath, which will be coming upon all iniquity and  unrighteousness.

I am going to prepare you for the coming days by a hard path that will cause many to cry out continually unto Me. For when the going is easy men do not seek Me, but rejoice in a temporary
blessing. And when that blessing is removed they so often turn this way and that way but do not come to Me. I am showing you these things in order that you may seek Me continually and with
great diligence. As you seek Me I will open up truths to you that you have not seen before, and these very truths will be such that will enable you to stand in these last days. As you are persecuted,
reviled and rejected by your brethren then you will turn unto Me with all your heart and seek Me for that spiritual life that you need. So that when the tribulation comes you will have that which will
enable you to stand. For many will be tossed to and fro, men's hearts shall fail them because of trouble on every hand. These days shall be very terrible the likes of which have never been seen before.

Coming Glory - and - Deceiving Spirits

When I visit My people in mighty revival power, it is to prepare them for the darkness ahead. With the Glory shall come great darkness, for the Glory is to prepare My people for the darkness. I will enable My people to go through the darkness because of the visitation of My Spirit. Take heed to yourselves lest you be puffed up and think that you have arrived. Many shall be puffed up as in
the olden days, for then, many received My message but they did not continue in it. Did I anoint Jehu? Yet the things that I desired were not accomplished in his life. Listen to the messengers, but
do not hold men's persons in admiration or adulation. For many whom I shall anoint mightily with signs and miracles shall become lifted up and shall fall by the wayside. I do not this willingly for I
have made provision that they might stand. I call many into this ministry and equip them, but remember that many shall fall. They shall be like bright lights and the people shall delight in them. But they shall be taken over by deceiving spirits and shall lead many of My people astray. Hearken diligently concerning these things, for in the last days shall come seducing spirits. They shall turn
many of My anointed ones away, many shall fall through diverse lusts and because of 'sin abounding'.

But if you will seek Me diligently I will put My Spirit within you so that when one shall turn to the right hand or to the left hand you shall not turn with them, but instead you will keep your eyes fixed
wholly on your Lord. The coming days are going to be most dangerous, difficult and dark for there shall be a mighty outpouring of My Spirit in judgement upon many cities and many sh all be
destroyed. My people must be diligently warned concerning the days ahead. Many shall turn after seducing spirits and already many are seducing My people. It is those who 'Do Righteousness'
that are righteous. Many cover their sins by great theological words. But I warn you of seducing spirits who instruct my people in an evil way. Many of these I will anoint that they in turn may
purify and sift My people, for I will have a holy people. When I come I shall not find faith upon the earth but in a few, for when the time of testing comes many will depart from their Lord.

Many shall come with seducing spirits and hold out lustful enticements. You will find that after I have visited My people again the way will become more and more narrow, and fewer shall walk
therein. Be not deceived, the ways of righteousness are My ways. For though Satan come as an angel of light hearken not to him; for those who perform miracles and speak not righteousness are
not of Me. I warn you with great intensity that I am going to judge My House and have a church without spot or wrinkle when I come. I desire to open your eyes and give you spiritual understanding,

Look unto Me and I will make you to perceive with the eyes of the Spirit the things that lurk in darkness, that are not visible to the human eye. Let Me lead you in this way, that you may perceive
the powers of darkness and battle against them. It is not a battle against flesh and blood, for if you battle in that way you accomplish nothing. But if you let Me take over and battle against the powers
of darkness then they are defeated, and then liberation is brought to My people.

The Ways of Deceivers

I warn you to search the Scriptures diligently concerning these last days. For the things that are written shall indeed be made manifest. There shall come deceivers among My people in
increasing numbers, who shall speak forth the truth and shall gain the favour of the people. For the people shall examine the Scriptures and say, 'What these men say is true'. Then when they have gained the hearts of the people, then and then only shall they bring out their wrong doctrines. Therefore I say that you should not give your hearts to men, nor hold people's persons in
admiration or adulation. For by these very persons Satan shall gain entry into My people. Watch for seducers! Do you think a seducer will brandish a heresy and flaunt it before the people? He
will speak words of righteousness and truth and will appear as a minister of light, declaring the Word. The people's hearts shall be won. Then when the hearts are won, they will bring out their
doctrines and the people shall be deceived. The people shall say 'Did he not speak thus and thus'? 'And did we not examine it from the Word'? 'Therefore he is a minister of righteousness. This that
he has now spoken we do not see in the Word but it must be right, for the other things he spoke were true'.

Be not deceived. For the deceiver will first work to gain the hearts of many, and then shall bring forth his insidious doctrines. You can not discern those who are of Me and those who are not of Me
when they start to preach. But seek Me constantly, and when these doctrines are brought out you shall have a witness in your heart that these are not of Me. Fear not, for I have warned you. It is possible that the very elect may be deceived. But it is not possible if you walk in holiness and uprightness before the Lord, for then your eyes shall be open and the Lord will protect you. If you will constantly look unto the Lord you will know when the doctrine changes, and will not be brought into it. If your heart is right I will keep you, if you will look constantly to Me, I will uphold you.

The minister of righteousness shall be on this wise --- his life shall agree with the word, and his lips shall give forth that which is wholly true, there will be no mixture. When the mixture appears
then you will know he is not a minister of righteousness. The deceivers speak first the truth and then error, to cover their own sins which they love. Therefore I exhort and command you to study the Scriptures relative to seducing spirits, for this is one of the great dangers of these last days.

I desire you to be firmly established in My word and not in the personalities of men, that you will not be moved as so many shall be moved. I would keep you in the paths of righteousness. Take heed to yourselves and follow not the seducing spirits that are already manifesting themselves. Diligently inquire of Me when you hear something that you have not seen in the word, and do not hold people's persons in admiration, for it is by this very method that Satan will hold many of My people.

The Way of Triumph

I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly, that you may triumph where I triumphed. On the cross I triumphed over all the powers of Satan and I have called you to walk in the
same path. It is when your life is on the cross that you shall know the victory that I have experienced. As you are on the cross, seated in Me, then you shall know the power of the resurrection. When I come in My Glory the principalities and powers in the heavenly places shall be utterly broken. Fear not, for I have given you the power whereby you may tread down the powers of darkness, and come forth victorious through every trial. As you areon the cross then you are victorious. It was on the cross that I triumphed over all the powers of the enemy. My life shall flow through as you enter into these precious truths. Look unto Me and appropriate My life. As your eyes and desires are toward Me
and you know what it is to be crucified with Me, then you shall live and your anointing shall increase. It was not in My life as I walked upon the earth but rather it was in My life as I hung upon the cross that I openly spoiled principalities and powers.

I am showing you truth that shall cause you to overcome, to have power over the wicked one, this is the truth that will liberate you and those around you. You shall know also the fellowship of My
sufferings. There is no other way whereby you may partake of this heavenly glory and to reign with Me. My word says that If we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him. I desire to make these truths real within you. As you keep them before you, you will in turn liberate many who are in bondage. You will have revelation of those who are in darkness and will have the keys to liberate the
captives. Many seek to liberate but do not have the keys. Upon the cross continually you will know the power of My resurrection.

If you will indeed judge yourself you shall not be judged. As you seek My face and desire to be cleansed by Me in all truth and sincerity of heart, I will judge you in the secret place, and the
things that are in the secret place of your heart shall not be made manifest to others. I will do it in the secret place and no man will know it. The shame that will be seen on many faces shall not be
seen on your face. Therefore in mercy and love I am instructing you in order that you may partake of My Glory. As you are willing to walk with Me and rejoice in your sufferings, you shall in turn
partake of My Glory. Look unto Me for you have need of power to overcome the wicked one and the bondages in other's lives.

I said that if a man will judge himself he shall not be judged. It is not My good pleasure that the shame of My people be seen by all. How can I judge the world if I judge not first My own house?
Hearken unto these things that I am telling you, for if you will not hearken unto Me thy shame shall be evident to all.

God's Part and Our Part

I would have you consider My life on earth --- the anointing upon Me was great and yet the temptations were great on every side; they came in one form and then in another, offering Me first the
glory of the kingdoms of the earth and then in the  form of reviling and persecution. There will be great glory given to My people but also the temptations will be intensified on every side. Think not
that with the glory there shall be no temptations or persecutions. The glory to My church shall be great and so also the temptations from the enemy to turn My people from My paths. I warn you
again that when the glory shall be manifested the temptations shall be great until very few that started shall finish the course. First of all they shall be offered great worldly possessions and then will come great revilings and unbelief.

Consider your Lord, that as He walked so it shall be for you. There shall be need of great intensity of purpose. At times it will seem that everyone is rising up against you, trying to turn you from the
course that I have set for you. It is written of Me that I set my face as flint to go in the direction that My Father had prescribed for Me. If you will finish the course the Lord has laid down for you, you too will have to set your face as a flint. With great determination you must walk in the course laid down for you. Many of your loved ones and those who follow with you will seek to persuade you and
try to turn you from the course. With many words that seem right in the natural they will speak to you. Did not Christ rebuke Peter who would turn Him from the course God had prescribed?

Understand these two things and meditate upon them solemnly --- the persecution and the darkness shall be as great as the glory in order to try to turn the elect and the anointed ones from the path
the Lord has laid down for them. Many shall start but few shall be able to finish because of the greatness of grace that shall be needed to be able to endure unto the end. The temptation and the
persecution of your Lord was continuous. He was tempted by Satan in many forms throughout His entire life and even to the cross where the ungodly cried out 'if thou be the Christ come down from the cross'. Think not that there will be a time of no persecution, for it shall be from the time of your anointing until the end. Difficulties and great persecution will go on to the end. The Lord must prepare you to be an overcomer in all things, that you may be able to finish the course. The persecution shall increase even as the anointing shall increase.

In paths of judgement and righteousness shall the Lord God lead His people and bring them into that place which He has chosen for them. The Lord has chosen a place for His people, a place of
righteousness and holiness where He shall encamp around them. All who will be led of the Lord will be brought into this holy place. For the Lord delights to dwell in His people and to manifest
Himself through His people. The holiness of the Lord will be manifested through His people. Let the Lord lead you and He will lead you in the difficult places. He led His people of old through a
place where no man dwelt, where no man passed through, in a place of great danger and in the shadow of death. The Lord will indeed lead His people again through such places, and at the same time will bring them out into a place of great glory. Understand that the way toward the glory is fraught with great danger and many shall fall to the right or the left, many shall camp on lesser ground. But the Lord has a place of holiness and nounclean thing shall dwell among His people.

Put your trust in Him and He will bring you into a place of holiness. He desires to bring His people into a great glory --- the likes of which has never been seen, for this is what the Lord will do for
those who put their trust in Him. It is a place of darkness and great danger and it will separate His people into the place where He would have them walk. He will protect them from the voices that would turn them from His path. He will bring them through the dark places and treacherous paths and lead them out into the light of His glory. He will rejoice greatly over His beloved and cause them to be filled with joy unspeakable. He seeks to lead His people into a new place of grace and glory where He will indeed encamp among them. Put your trust in Him and He will surely bring you into this new place.

Fear not the days to come, but fear this only --- that you shall walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. In this time I am ordering and setting up My church and it shall indeed be pure, without spot or wrinkle. I will do a work in My beloved that has not been seen since the foundation of the world. I have shown you these things that you may seek the Lord diligently with all your heart, and that
you may be a preserver of His people.

Run not to this one or that one for the Lord has so ordained that salvation is in Him and in Him alone. You shall not turn to this shepherd or to that one, for there shall be a great scattering upon the earth. Therefore look unto Him for He will indeed make these things clear to you. You shall not look here or there, for His Wells shall increase your strength and your faith as He prepares you for the times that are coming.

The truths that I have revealed to you must become a part of you --- not just an experience, but a part of your very nature. Is it not written that I demand truth in the inward parts? It is the truth of the
Lord expressed in your very being that shall hold you. Many shall experience the truth but the truth must become a part of you, your very life. As men and women look upon you they will hear not only
the voice but see the expression of the truth. Many shall be overcome because they are not constant in My ways and because they have not permitted the truths to become a part of them. I am showing you these things that you may be prepared, and having done all, to stand. "

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What the Pros and Cons of the Letters to the Seven Churches Teach Us

It seems that more and more God is giving me object lessons, using a few other people and their relationships with me, to show me how far short I am falling in working on my relationship with Him, by letting me experience the same kind of treatment that I am giving Him. It has not been pleasant, and in fact has been hurtful. The most obvious place that I am failing is in giving Him the time and attention that any relationship needs if it is to succeed. So many people take relationships for granted and do not realize that you have to actually put in the time and effort, and work diligently to keep the relationship alive. It doesn't just happen. You need to spend time with that person. Nothing replaces your time and attention. And so it must be with our Lord. I have been spending a lot of time examining myself and looking at what the Scriptures say as to how I should be living my life to make sure that I am abiding with Christ, so that I can, as Peter says, “...give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (2 Peter 1:10).

It is a given that the first place to start is to give God your time and attention, as said above. Without that the rest of what follows is a moot point. Christ and the Father should be a constant presence in our life, and we should be talking to Him whenever we can. There is no such Christian as a Sunday Christian. Nor even a Sabbath one for that matter, (for us Sabbath observers). We also need to be spending time in His Word on a daily basis, as much as possible. If you aren't beginning with that, then you have already lost the battle and can only expect that you will drift further away with each passing day. The only way back is through repentance and a diligent effort to change your ways.

So many teach that all you have to do is say a pray accepting Jesus and you are all set for heaven. They do a disservice to many people, for while at the moment of accepting Christ we are given justification and are secure, from that moment on everything we do can either jeopardize it or continue to secure it. Salvation is the prize for which you have to run to win. 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Paul said in Philippians 3:10-14 that he had not yet attained that state of perfection and the security of eternal life. He still had to press toward the mark to apprehend it. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (to eternal life). Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We do not have the security of eternal life until we pass from this life, and to gain it we must still be in good standing with God at the time of our death. There are so many things that can cause us to get off the path. And it does not help that so many teach that once you accept Christ, you can put Him up on a shelf like a trophy and live however you please. It does not work that way, and the Bible does not teach that. I have several articles addressing different aspects of this issue, starting with the subject of eternal security. That article can be found here.

What I want to do in this article is go over each of the churches of Revelation to see the pros and cons of what they were doing, so that we might be careful to look at our lives and see if we have the pros and need to get rid of the cons. The first church mentioned is Ephesus.

Revelation 2:1-7 “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”

The pros listed in this church are: 1) works, 2) labor, 3) patience, 4) not tolerating evil, 5) assessing people who say they are apostles (or any type of teacher, preacher, prophet, etc.) to see if they are truthful or liars by double checking what they say and what they do against the Word of God, 6) longsuffering with patience, 7) labored without ceasing, 8) hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Notice that patience and labor are mentioned twice, as is basically hating evil deeds, those in general and the Nicolaitans in particular. Whatever those deeds may have been, Christ saw them as particularly bad. This group would not tolerate that evil. This gives us a list of things which should be evidenced in our lives if we are living correctly. We should have good works to our credit. And they should not be done out of a wrong attitude or motives or be works that are not really of or for God. They need to be works that will glorify God, and be done with a cheerful heart out of charity, not out of selfishness. We should labor. Not only labor for our daily bread, but labor to bring in a harvest of people for God, and it should be always ongoing. We should be slow to anger, patient in tribulation, and longsuffering with others. We should not tolerate evil, especially within the church. It needs to be exposed, not hidden, not tolerated, and not condoned. We need to be Bereans and check everything against Scripture that leaders, teachers, and others teach and say, to catch false teachings.

The cons consist of 1) leaving their first love, 2) repent and do the initial works that one did when first saved, 3) repent in general of sins of commission and omission. What is the first love? I never understood it until the first time I fell head over heels in love. Those first few months were ones where every moment of the day, my every thought and desire was for the person I loved. I wanted to be with him all the time. I wanted to do everything to please him, as I wanted him to be as happy as I was. I floated on a cloud, as they say, and I was told even by people who did not know the reason for it, that my face was radiant. No matter what bad things happened during that time, I never was unhappy, for the happiness I felt in my love overwhelmed any sad feelings I might have had. I knew happiness and joy every minute of the day for days on end. Then there was that first moment of disappointment in the other person when they were less than perfect and deeply hurt my feelings, and reality hit and the bloom was off the rose. For those few months, I had seen the other person as perfect and their love for me as perfect and had an unrealistic view of them. It was the sense of perfection that had given me that “high” that I was feeling, and when that perfection was shattered, so was the “high.” Usually when that happens with people, they tend to forget that they, too, are less that perfect and might have contributed to the perfection of the love being shattered. 

With Christ, when we accept Him, we feel that same “high” of being in love. And in this case our view is not unrealistic, as Christ is perfect and will never disappoint us in His love or behavior toward us, but what happens is that we are the ones who sin and ruin the perfection of the relationship. Somehow we expect the love that Christ has for us to be perfect in its protecting us from anything bad, or not being upset with us when we are not perfect ourselves. We become disappointed that it does not protect us from the evils of life that sin has wrought, and so we tend to shift the blame to the one who does not deserve it, Christ, and lose that sense of that first love, where our every thought of every minute of every day is to please them. We feel disappointed that He doesn't overlook our sin, even if we aren't repentant. The bloom comes off the rose, and while we continue to love Him as we love other people, even though they are not perfect, it is never quite the same. Christ is telling us to get that first love back. And since the problem is us, not Him, it is our behavior that needs fixing. We need to draw closer to Him and make Him our priority every day, thinking of Him all the time and spending the time with Him.

Next we need to do the initial works that we did when we were saved. If you have been around brand new Christians the one thing that seems to be common is that just as a person new in love wants to shout their love and share it with the world, so does a new Christian want to share their new-found faith. They seem to have no concern over the reaction they might get from the people with whom they are sharing it. As time goes by, Christians tend to be much more selective as to when and with whom they will share their faith. They worry about people's reactions. Christ wants us to get back to that initial work of sharing the gospel in the same way that we did at first. And lastly we need to not just repent of our sins off commission, which Christians have less problem doing than repenting of those sins of omission, which we tend to ignore. We need to be far more cognizant of the things we could have done and did not do and repent of those things as well.

The second church in the list is Smyrna. Christ has little to say to them, because they are abiding with Him. Revelation 2:8-11 “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”

The church as Smyrna is unusual as a people in that Christ finds no fault with any of the people in this church. The pros of this group are 1) their works, 2) their tribulation, 3) their poverty, and 4) their faithfulness in suffering persecution. This teaches us that again, works are very important, as they are the evidence of our faith. James 2:17, 24 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” We are to be faithful in tribulation, even unto death. And while poverty is not a sign of faith, those who are poor need to rely on Christ for their daily bread far more than those who are rich in material wealth. And so because of this, their faith is stronger, so they are actually richer in that they are rich in spiritual wealth.

There are no cons in this church as far as their Christian faith is concerned. The bad news for this church is that they are martyred. This occurs in spite of their almost perfect faith. They are not going to be protected from persecution and death. They will be thrown in prison and killed. This is one of the churches whose example we should emulate. They are doing the works they should, they are enduring tribulation with faithfulness, and they are rich in spiritual things.

Pergamos is the third church in this list. Revelation 2:12-17 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Pergamos has the following pros: 1) works, 2) holds to the faith, and 3) does not deny Christ. Once again we see that works is the very first thing mentioned by Christ, as it was in the previous two churches. Christ sees our works as a very important part of our walk with Him. They do not earn us salvation, but they secure it by glorifying God and evidencing our faith in Him. Without the works, we show no evidence that we love or have faith in Him, for words without actions are meaningless words. When you tell someone you love them, and then do not show it in the least way, why should they believe you? Our love is borne out by our actions toward the person. If there is no tangible evidence of our love, then it really only exists in the imagination of the one saying that they love you. There is no reason for the one who is told they are loved to believe the person when they say it. The same is true of faith. Love and faith go hand in hand. They have held fast to the faith even in the face of martrydom coming to one of their own, and have not denied Christ. They are willing to face death if necessary, and will not deny Christ if it comes down to it, and it could very well come down to it considering where they live. They live where Satan has his earthly headquarters (at that time).

Again we should recognize that we should have works to our credit, for they are very important as evidence of our faith. We should also not be ashamed of Christ. Too many are afraid of offending others, or afraid of being mocked or disliked, if they were to parade their Christianity. We cannot hold back, for Christ has told us that if we deny Him, He will deny us. We need to be willing to let our Christianity be known, even if we live in an area that is very anti-Christian.

There are some serious cons in this church. 1) They tolerate those who practice the doctrine of Balaam, and 2) they tolerate those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of Balaam was that he advised that the Israelites could be conquered by getting them to live licentiously with the pagan women. So this church is tolerating all sort of moral and sexual sins with the idea of “freedom in Christ,” as so many are doing today. They are indulging in worldliness, probably going to worldly venues, hanging out with worldly people, and indulging in worldly pursuits. They would claim, as so many are doing today, that obedience to the commandments of God is trying to work your way to heaven, and that their freedom in Christ allows them to partake of these things. Added to that is the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which is something that Christ particularly hates. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us what this sin is. There are several theories. One, due to the root derivatives of the word “Nicolaitan” (meaning overcome the laity), is that there were those who were saying that only the clergy and leaders could understand Scripture, so were the wolves in sheep's clothing that were teaching apostate doctrines, and withholding the truth from the people. Another theory is that they were Gnostics, as there was a Gnostic group later in time who were referred to as the Nicoliatans. But according to what I have found written, they did not adopt this name at that time, so it seems that this might not be what is referred to. The third possibility is that there is one reference to a Nicolas in Scripture. He was a deacon, a proselyte from Antioch. It is possible that he was teaching some very bad teachings and was getting a following. Again, whatever these deeds were, they were bad, and unlike Ephesus, they were tolerating it here.

We should not be tolerating worldliness and licentious behavior, nor any deeds that are evil, or doctrine that is unscriptural. Too many Christians think today that living in holiness is trying to work their way to heaven and they don't want to become “legalistic,” so they embrace the world, its pleasures, and its people and are unequally yoked to it. They see no harm in living that way, not realizing that Christ does not see it the same way. He has told us that we must abide in Him and produce good fruit, not bad.

The fourth church to come under scrutiny is Thyatira. Revelation 2:18-29 “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Once again, the first thing mentioned is works. Not only once, but at the end of the list of pros, their works are listed once again, for they continue to grow in works reaching out further and further into the community. So for this group, the list of pros is 1) works, 2) charity, 3) service, 4) faith, 5) patience, and 6) works again. The list of works, charity, service, and faith is very reminiscent of the type of behavior that one finds in the churches today who focus on working one's way into heaven. They have good intentions and believe they are doing them for God, so He gives them some credit. There are some denominations who do have a head belief in Christ, and try to live for Him, for whom works is the key to getting into heaven, rather than a vital personal relationship with Christ. It would seem that this church is a forerunner of those type of churches. The thing with this is, we should have all these things. They are very important, and are vital things that we should be doing. And of course patience is something which we should always practice. The problem was, this church had those things without the relationship. Without the relationship they are done for man's purposes, not God's.

Besides the churches who focus on works to earn their way to heaven, we have those who teach that salvation is by grace, but pervert the rest of the Bible. One of the practices of the mega-churches these days is to have more ministries than you can shake a stick at. They reach out into the communities to service people who have all sort of problems and addictions. Their works are more than those at first, where they mainly saw to the needs of the saints in their congregation. But with that also seems to come apostate teachings, the prosperity gospel, the purpose driven church, etc. This is a problem of the church at Thyatira also.

The cons of this church are so bad that they are said to be the depth of Satan's teachings, and Christ says He will throw them into great tribulation. The phrase “great tribulation” is used in only one other context in the Bible, and that is during the 70th week of Daniel. This church is allowing a woman, one who is so evil that God calls her Jezebel after the queen in the Old Testament who was evil, to teach. It is not only that they allow her to teach the entire church, against what Scripture teaches about women not being pastors of churches, but she is actually advocating and encouraging people to commit fornication and adultery of all kinds. It is not bad enough that they tolerate people in their ranks acting this way, as was found in other churches, they have elevated the ringleader of this kind of sin to the rank of leader. All of the good deeds which they do, does not hold a candle to the evil that is going on in their church. God will purge them of their sin by giving them the worst persecution ever, that will result in their deaths. Just as we cannot tolerate the sins of Balaam or the Nicolaitans, we cannot allow our leaders to teach that sinful behavior is okay with God. We need to check their teachings against the Scriptures.

Sardis is the next church on the list. Revelation 3:1-6 “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Sardis has the following pros 1) none. They don't even have works, for their works are not perfect before God. They are strictly the works they want to do, not works for God. They have a name that they are Christian, but they have reached the point of almost death, as far as faith is concerned. They do not have a living faith at all, it is just the remnant of glowing embers ready to be extinguished. They basically have nothing more than the name of Christians. I know some liberal churches like this. They have discontinued their belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. They don't even believe much of what is in it is actual history anymore. They treat it as a mythological book. They do not see Jesus as the Son of God, born of a virgin, and a part of the Trinity, but ascribe a lesser position to Him. They do social works for the world. They are essentially almost unbelievers, but there are still some in the church who are true believers. They have not defiled themselves with the unbelief that is rampant in their church. We must be careful to not be entangled in churches like this, for the people we keep company with will corrupt us, if they are the wrong kind of people.

The cons of this church are 1) everything. They have no faith, no doctrine that is good, no works, nothing. They are on the point of being unbelievers and probably most of them actually are. Church is a ritual for them. Again, this is a serious warning to us to cling to the truth of Scriptures and believe in what they say, for if you do not, you end up in unbelief.

Philadelphia is akin to Smyrna in that they are not guilty of straying. Revelation 3:7-13 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The pros in this church are 1) they have works, 2) they have kept God's Word, 3) they have not denied Christ, 4) they have kept the word of God's patience, and 5) they will be kept safe through the great tribulation. This group has several things in common with Smyrna. 1) Christ has nothing bad to say about them. They have the works that are always the first consideration. They have kept God's Word pure and unadulterated, and have not denied Christ. These are things which we want in our lives. 2) They also have some enmity with the synagogue of Satan who call themselves Jews. Both of these churches have had dealings with this group of people. Then there are two things that Christ mentions which have not been mentioned before in connection with any church. They keep the word of God's patience, and because they have kept it, they will be spared the suffering of the great tribulation which will purge the rest of the churches who have been chastised, and which will result in the deaths of the Smyrnans even though they are spiritually fine. Because of this many of this group will most likely live to see the rapture. To know what keeping the word of God's patience means, and what criteria this group must meet to get to the rapture, read my other article here.

Now while this article is about helping us to know some of the ways (not all, but some) that we must be behaving to have a right relationship with Christ, if one wants to actually make it to the rapture, I would advise not only doing the things that this article presents, but especially those things of the article just referenced, as well as any other of the many things of which we are told that we should be obedient.

The Philadelphians have no cons, just as Smyrna had none. This is the ultimate group to be in, for not only do they meet with Christ's approval, they will not have to die the death of the martyr.

The group that is the worst of the bunch is saved for last. The Laodiceans. Revelation 3:14-22 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Laodicea has no pros. They have only cons. Even their works are useless for God. He can't even stand them. 1) They are rich in material goods, selfishly so, 2) they brag about it and are arrogant, and think that they are just fine not only with themselves, but with God also. They think because they have all this wealth that God must be blessing them, so believe that how they run their spiritual lives meets with God's approval. 3) They are so blind to the truth that they cannot see that in God's eyes they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They don't even have dirty robes as the others do. They are totally naked. They need to get themselves some robes to begin with by truly having a relationship with Christ, and doing the good works that gives them that white robe. This is the church that I believe describes the American Church as a whole – wealthy (especially compared to the rest of the world in general, much less the Christian world), arrogant (they think that God will never let them suffer, while they see Christians around the world dying for their faith), and blind to their spiritual condition (they defiantly cry that trying to live holy lives is an act of works, and they do not need to earn their way to heaven, because Jesus did it all). They are so oblivious to the real gospel and what God expects from us in return that they don't even realize that Christ is not even a part of their lives or church. He is standing outside asking them if He can come in. This is a serious place to be, for this blindness is one that keeps them from seeing their condition and will result in their eternal damnation if they do not wake up. No Christian should want to fall into this condition.

There is an interesting progression among these churches. The first one is accepted by Christ as a whole as followers of His, although they are not perfect. But neither are they in flagrant sin or tolerating it in their church. Then there is a church which is walking in faith, but they are a persecuted church. The third church has many who have crossed the line, but the while church is not endorsing crossing the line, they make the error of tolerating those who do. So the church is dangerously trying to walk on the fence, but are still followers of Christ. The fourth church has totally crossed the line as a whole in setting up in the position of leadership those who would teach that they can and should cross the line. There are a few who do not go along with this though, so there are still some who are in Christ in this church. The next church is almost, for all intents and purposes, dead in faith or about to breathe their last. They have all, but for a few who still remain faithful, fallen away. Then we have another faithful church, who will not suffer the greatest persecution of all times, because they have qualified in a special way for that protection. The last church is one which has thrown Christ out the door, for He is standing outside waiting to get back in. The entire church is already lost. They do not even have some
among their ranks who are still faithful.

I have already written a couple of articles on how we should be making our salvation secure. I have already provided links above to those. Another article that might be useful for those who want to know how to walk with the Lord, was how to avoid being one of the people that Christ says, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23). That can be found here.

There are many more passages in Scripture that give us instruction as to how to live our lives in Christ. Most of the epistles in fact. It is not an easy thing to live out the life of a Christian in the best possible way, but we can only strive to do so. God is forgiving, and we must make sure we are repentant when we do walk off the path. The main thing is to try. For if we do not at least try, we risk everything, for salvation is not a trophy that you display on a shelf. It is something that you must work out and run the race to try to win. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. Christ took the penalty for our sins, and took us by the hand to lead us to His home, but we have to walk with Him to get to the destination. The words “fear” and “trembling” should indicate how serious this is. We can't take our own path and think it will get us there without His guidance and companionship, just because we accepted the invitation to go there. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14.