Your Reasonable Service

living-sacrificesPaul wrote “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service” Rom12:1

We would do well to constantly keep in mind those words of encouragement and exhortation. That word reasonable means rational. Based upon what we know, based upon the hope set before us, based upon the ultimate sacrifice that was made on our behalf, to live our lives, as a living sacrifice is indeed the rational outcome. We are no longer our own, we have been purchased at a great price. More than this we were dead and are alive in Christ. Our past life should be gone, the old man must be crucified and the new man grow in the image of Christ. Paul wrote:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Phil 2:5

Paul was uncompromising in what he wrote. There are no if’s and but’s, no could or might, but a definite this is what you should do! There is a tendency in our day and age to avoid confrontation, to avoid directness and sometimes the result can be a dilution of the message. Paul however makes a very clear declaration as to what our correct attitude of mind must be.

Now this concept of our lives being living sacrifices is further expanded in verse 2, ‘be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Now conformed means to be in harmony, to be in submission. That is something we plainly cannot be for there is no harmony with, and no submission to the world and its ways. There are no halfway measures, no compromise. Yet conformity and compromise is what we naturally tend towards. Our human nature tends towards the world and all it holds, for such things are natural to us.

On the other hand our minds need to be transformed, changed and remodelled. This is a process as Paul states by the renewing of our minds. The antagonism between what is natural and this renewal process is the inner battle that we all face daily. Paul wrote eloquently of that inner dialogue in Romans 7:14-25. Paul writes:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Rom 7:14-19

O how we can all echo those sentiments! What we know to be right, what we want to do, we do not do. What we know to be wrong, what we desire not to do, those things we do.

Wretched indeed is our state, unless we offer our lives as a living sacrifice, unless we are transformed in our thinking and attitude. There is no mystery as to how we do this; there is no mystical way it will happen. The manner of our renewal is perfectly clear, put on the mind of Christ! To do this takes effort. As we read the scriptures, as we understand and learn, as we grow in love for our Master, that transforming process will take place.

On the other hand if we conform to the thinking and ways of the world, we shall be ‘still born’. The transformation will not take place and our lives will have been lived in vanity.

The principles of scripture are directly opposite to the conformity to human nature. Paul writes:

“I say (through the grace given unto me) to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”

Now conformity to the world teaches self-elevation, ambition, self-assertion, self-reliance and self-confidence. The transformation by taking on the mind of Christ teaches, humility, trust, faith, self-effacement and service. It is an attitude of mind that carries out honest self-examination and weighs self against the example of Christ. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of the process, for self-examination must then lead to action by making the necessary adjustments to change our disposition to be more Christ like.

In other words we must “think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” No matter what we consider to be our abilities, skills, knowledge or status in a worldly sense, we have come to Christ and a measure of faith in spite of these, not because of them. Further, in a spiritual sense, we have no abilities, skills, knowledge, or duty that has not been given to us! What we most certainly do not have is status!

It is well within the capacity of every single brother or sister, no matter what his or her abilities, to keep the Truth bright, alive and shining in their lives. It lies within the capacity of all to have a living faith. That living faith will be an example to those about them, both within the Truth and without. A living faith manifested by giving that ‘reasonable service’ Paul speaks about will be demonstrated by the works of faith. James states quite plainly that faith without works is dead!

Our Heavenly Father is just; He has not called us to failure, but rather to inherit eternal life. He has seen fit to extend His mercy towards us, to call us out to have a part in His purpose. He will not test us beyond that which we can bear, He is not willing that any should perish. The only source of failure is us! Yet we all have the potential to be transformed from something ignoble, into a vessel fit for use.

Now we need to be clear that to live a life as a ‘living sacrifice’ does not imply a disregard for temporal things, for indeed diligence in daily life is part of our reasonable service. Indeed Paul tells us “to provide things honest in the sight of all men.” We need to provide for families, for work in the Truth and for all the many things needed in service to the Lord. But we do these things recognising that ultimately it is God that provides and in all things giving thanks unto Him. In all that we undertake, we must act as ‘ambassadors’ of the Truth setting an example for those about us, but at the same time maintaining a distance from conformity to the world.

If we daily contemplate the mercy and blessings that our Creator has graciously bestowed upon us, being thankful for each new day of life and opportunity, then that transformation of mind will gradually take place. Our perspectives will change, our values will change and our aspirations will change. We will live each day of our lives as ‘living sacrifices’ to the Lord our God.

The effort required now, will pale into insignificance when compared the eternal joy of being invited to take a place in that glorious Kingdom to come. When we are permitted to see the Masters smiling face and “to see the King in all his beauty and view that land that stretches afar” it will be all worthwhile.

Therefore despite our frailty and weakness let us all hold fast, continuing instant in prayer and striving to be faithful in all things, for great indeed is the life set before us. Life as it was meant to be. Life in harmony with our Creator, life in harmony with His great purpose, life in harmony with creation. When we consider how undeserving we are, O how we are moved to say with Paul:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Rom 8:33-36

The Wolf

images8ekhpq2pIn the New Testament the wolf is a common symbol of the Apostasy. The wolf attacks the flock, killing the sheep, but bears and lions also do this. Why are these two animals not chosen to symbolize the Apostasy? The Apostle Paul writes “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock ” (Acts 20:29) Here we see that the Apostasy would develop after Paul’s death. The Apostasy was to disguise itself, pretending to be the true church. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt 7:15)

The Apostasy existed in the day of Jesus, for Luke 10:3 says “Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves..” Paid overseers of the Church abandon the sheep when they see the wolf coming. John 10:12 says; “He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them.” Let us go back to the original question: why is the Apostasy symbolized by a wolf and not a bear or a lion? To answer this question, we must look at what a wolf meant to all the people of the first century. According to ancient tradition, a wolf raised twins called Romulus and Remus, who were said to be the founders of Rome.

The Bible’s wolf in sheep’s clothing is Rome pretending to be Christian. The great Apostasy is none other than the Roman Catholic Church! We are warned by Jesus and Paul of this wolf-like Apostasy. This warning is as valid today as it was in the first century. Let us avoid the Roman wolf and stand apart from him.

The Struggle Between Truth and Error

untitledOne of the results of the fall of Adam and Eve was a struggle which began between truth and error. Those who do evil are called the offspring of the serpent, while those who do good are called the offspring of the woman. Genesis 3:15 says, “From now on you (the serpent) and the woman will be enemies and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies.”

Jesus spoke of the struggle between good and evil several times. “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad… And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Hebrews 11 lists the things faithful believers have endured in the past. In part it says, “But others die rather than turn from God and be free… Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons.” (Hebrews 11:35-36)

The book of Revelation is largely about the struggle between truth and error. “I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their witness.” (Revelation 6:9)

The struggle between truth and error began with the serpent’s temptation of Eve resulting in the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

God’s Witnesses

witnessesIsaiah says, “You are My witnesses declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 43:10) The rest of Isaiah 43 shows that God’s witnesses are the Jews. For example, verse 22 says, “Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel.” The Jews are the unwilling witnesses to the truth of the Bible since their unusual history was mapped out in advance in its pages.  The Bible says the Jews will be hated everywhere. “I will make them a terror and an evil for all kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I will scatter them.” (Jeremiah 24:9)

They would be scattered to every nation. The Bible says, “Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…” (Deuteronomy 28:64; see also Ezekiel 20:23)

It would seem obvious that if the Jews were spread thin over all the earth, they would disappear marrying the Gentiles and blending in with them, but God said this would not happen. “‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely.’“ (Jeremiah 30:11)

Seventy years after the Jews went into captivity in Babylon they returned to the Holy Land under Ezra and Nehemiah just as Jeremiah 29:10 predicted.

Deuteronomy says a nation symbolized by an eagle would fight against the Jews. (Deuteronomy 28:49-50) The standard of the Roman Empire was the eagle.

The Jews would be, “led captive into all nations” until the end times (Luke 21:24)

They would return to Israel gradually. (Ezekiel 37:1-10) It was 51 years from the first Zionist conference until Israel became a nation in 1948.

They were to become one nation and not two, like they had been before. (Ezekiel 37:21-22)

This was an unusual prophesy happening to the Jews alone. Truly they are God’s witnesses.

Believing in the True Doctrine

doctrineIt is in fashion at this time to believe it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe Christ is your Savior, and lead a good life. People who believe this ignore the fact that the reason Eve sinned was she believed a lie! It is important to believe the truth because false doctrine leads to sin.

Solomon knew this because he said, “Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

The New Testament also says false doctrine leads to sin. I Timothy 6:4 says, “Anyone who teaches anything different is both conceited and ignorant. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, fighting, slander, and evil suspicions.” Paul tells us we must avoid having, “…lustful passions as the Pagans do in their ignorance of God and his ways.” (I Thessalonians 4:5)

Not only does the Bible tell us that lies lead to sin, it also tells us that Truth leads to righteousness. Paul said, “This same Good News…is changing lives everywhere. Just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:6) This is why Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It is common these days to say right living is important: right doctrine is unimportant. This view ignores the fact that sin entered the world because Eve believed a lie. False doctrine leads to false practice as untruth leads to sin – thus it is important, not only to avoid false doctrine, but also to learn and to practice the teachings of Jesus.

Christian Meditation

meditationMeditation is becoming popular among everyday Americans. People have taken religion out of the picture and have turned it into an academic program known as “mindfulness studies.” For many people, meditation conjures up thoughts of someone with a shaved head or wearing a brightly colored robe moaning and humming aimlessly for hours on end. But what is meditation, really?

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a purposeful act. It means to think about, reflect or ponder. Meditation isn’t a complex practice; it simply means to think deeply and intently.

What does the Bible say we should meditate about? Consider King David’s example in Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Everybody with a functioning brain meditates daily; however, the content meditated on is up to the individual.

God gives a blueprint of what we should think about in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we think more and more on the things of God, it enables Him to build within us a mind like His.

The Apostle Paul continued in verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” God will be with us if we follow the instruction in verse 8. By meditating on what we learn, we are more likely to apply it.

Distractions are the main obstacle to meditation. It is easy to be distracted. But meditation requires us to put away all distractions and seek to capture deep thought. We must resist distractions if we want to think more like God.

To grow spiritually, it is important to combine our Bible study and prayer with deep, rock-solid meditation. A good parallel is the digestion of physical food. What we eat isn’t immediately usable to the body. The nutrients in our food must be digested and distributed throughout the body in order to benefit it. The same applies spiritually. The spiritual food we eat (through Bible study) must be digested and absorbed (through application in our life).

Meditation is a powerful tool. It doesn’t require any fancy pose or specific regimen. A person can meditate on just about anything—it doesn’t have to be a spiritual topic. While it isn’t exclusive to your spiritual life or your faith, meditation is a key spiritual tool. The goal of spiritual meditation is to develop a stronger relationship with God as you learn to think more like Him. So use meditation to aid your Bible study and prayer. Try it out—think on the things of God!

Why Meditation?

Why should Christians meditate? Taking time out of your day to do what at first impression seems like staring off into space just doesn’t seem right. However, there are countless benefits to meditation.

What we feed our minds with is what we produce, in the form of our thoughts, words or actions. Jesus Christ Himself said that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

Your mind is like your stomach: It constantly needs to be fed. It is up to us to feed it a proper diet. Just as a healthy diet produces wonderful physical benefits, so a proper diet of meditation does bring wonderful mental and spiritual benefits.

1. Meditation nourishes our conversion.

When we meditate properly, it aids our conversion process. Conversion requires a change of heart and mind. Think about this in terms of what fills our mind. That is why the Apostle Paul told Christians to think on the things that please God the carnal thoughts of man (Philippians 4:8). Meditation reveals to God a lot about our hearts. God knows all that we think about (1 Chronicles 28:9). Knowing that God is aware of our every thought can be a pretty humbling fact. Our thoughts show God how committed we are to obeying Him and how much we try to emulate Him and live His way of life.

2. Meditate on godly things.

Meditation opens up our mind for God to fill us with His thoughts and desires. This helps us to think like He does (Philippians 2:5).

Filling your mind with godly things and keeping it focused on the goal of becoming more like God helps you to keep from falling back into the ways of the world. If we open our minds for God to fill, He will provide us with deeper understanding that we can use to the fullest in our lives.

3. Meditation fortifies prayer and study.

We should pause, once in a while, and meditate, and let God talk to us in prayer. When we pray we talk to God. When we study, God teaches us. But when we meditate, God is able to put His thoughts into our mind. Through meditation, we give God the ability to let His words of life sink into us. It is important that we take time to listen to God and think upon the meaning of those words for us and how they can be applied.

4. Meditation protects our mind.

Meditation is an effective tool to ensure that we put the right thoughts into our mind. Sometimes the ability to maintain deep, continuous and constructive thought can be a challenge. This struggle occurs when we allow our minds to stagnate. Meditation can combat a stagnant mind.

Our environment, our daily interactions with others, and our own problems and difficulties can be some of our greatest distractions. They can occupy our mind, preventing it from growing spiritually. Our daily responsibilities can keep our minds occupied from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

Meditation can keep us from falling into a meaningless rut, and it promotes an active mind that engages in constructive thought. Don’t allow your daily cares to consume all of your attention; meditate to embed right and meaningful thoughts into your mind.

How to Meditate?

True meditation requires us to fill our mind with God and His Word. There are several steps we can take that will help us to really learn how to establish effective meditation. Below are some points to help you improve your meditation.

1. Meditate after you study.

Meditation can enhance your study by helping you remember what you have studied. It is important to turn over and over in your mind what you study as you study. Don’t just study as a routine—study to remember. Apply what we learn in our studies—meditation will enable you to do that. The more you think about something after you have studied it, the deeper will be your desire to apply what you have learned (Psalm 1:2). By thinking deeply about what you study, you engrave God’s Word and truth into your mind. Meditate on your Bible study. Adding meditation to your Bible study routine will help you to remember and do.

2. Couple meditation with prayer.

Another great benefit of meditation is that it allows you to enhance your prayer life. While meditation allows God to talk to you, it also can improve your interaction with Him on your knees. We can make our prayer life more dynamic by pausing to think from time to time during our prayers. This will make your connection with God more real. Pause and focus on God. Focus on who He is and what He does. Doing so can bring great energy to your prayer closet.

3. Follow King David’s example of daily meditation.

Look to the example of King David to learn how to meditate. His life provided a clear example on how to meditate. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5). David made spiritual meditation a habit.

Meditation shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile activity that you check off your to-do list after your weekly stroll through the park. David meditated daily.

God desires that we draw closer to Him through meditation each and every day. David was a man after God’s own heart who knew how to meditate. It helped him build a strong relationship with God. To effectively build strong meditation habits, meditation must become a daily exercise. It will become more natural the more frequent you do it. Begin building this habit by meditating each day after your morning prayers.

4. Meditate day and night.

David said in Psalm 1:2 that he meditated “day and night.” Meditation is a constant practice—it is a part of your daily life. Once you develop meditation as a daily custom, work on setting aside time both in the morning and at night to muse on the things of God. A good way to instill this day-and-night habit is to meditate after you pray on your knees in the morning and in the evening.

5. Make it constant.

The more you practice meditation, the easier it will be to develop it into a perpetual habit. Meditating every day, day and night, will help you eventually to develop this constant habit of meditation. Pause every once in a while throughout the day and think deeply about your work, decisions, conversations and even those beautiful views as you enjoy your drive to and from work. Strive to make meditation a constant as you go about your day-to-day activities.

This is just a progression to build on to enhance our meditation. Start with the basics: Work on making meditation a daily habit. Then work on setting aside time to meditate day and night. Eventually, if you stick with it, it becomes a habit. Then work to incorporate meditation throughout your day. Meditate constantly to help fill your mind with thinking that is in line with God’s.

Remember, meditation is about ridding Satan’s influence from our thinking and filling our minds with the things of God. Follow David’s example on how to meditate and you will more effectively serve God just as he did.

The Winds of Anarchy

8437520_15627243_pm“I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  (Revelation 7:1-3)

For a number of years, the third spasm of trouble (anarchy) has been progressing. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)  At the present, the winds of anarchy are blowing furiously. However, the fact that there are still a few of the consecrated on this side of the veil, total anarchy has not yet begun.  As soon as all the “light” and “salt” has been removed from the earth, total anarchy will begin. (Matthew 5:13, 14)  For a short period of time, before divine intervention stops the trouble, it will be very dark and corrupt. (Matthew 24:21, 22)
CURRENT EVENTS
The winds of anarchy are increasing. The month of July has been one of violence throughout the world.
“They shall fight everyone against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)   “For I set all men everyone against his neighbor.”  (Zechariah 8:10)
“Wherefore, I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses. …” (Ezekiel 7:24)
“The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fail, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:20)
The prophecies are in the process of fulfillment with more to follow.
Jeff Hood, who claims to be a Baptist member, is actually a sodomite pro-Muslim agent. He was the organizer of the Dallas “Black Lives Matter” rally that resulted in the murder of 5 Dallas police officers and injury of numerous others.  Hood said, “I think that Texas Muslims are the real Christians.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently said that the Department of Justice would stand with the Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino jihad attacks.  …  Lynch was also a part of a Jew-hating Pro-Terrorist Harvard Group.
Gatewood, a director of the NAACP branch in North Carolina, said that the one who killed 5 police officers and wounded others was a “defenseless” victim. ( DEFENSELESS ???)
The first black Miss Alabama has been suspended from her job at a Miami TV station after calling the Dallas cop sniper a “martyr”.  (MARTYR ???)
Recently more than 100 people were arrested and 21 police officers injured in Minnesota.
At least 3 police officers are dead and 3 others are injured after a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Police in Arizona say a single suspect may be responsible for a series of shootings that have left 7 people dead.
At least 84 are dead and many were injured after a truck plowed into a crowd at Nice, France.
During the last 18 months 234 people have died in French terror attacks.
Police in Berlin say 123 officers were injured in clashes with leftist protesters over the redevelopment of a district in the east of the city.
Gunman killed nine in Munich, Germany.
On the social media, ISIS supporters celebrated the Munich killing.  (HOW SAD!)
While responding to a shooting report, a Kansas officer was shot and killed.
About 3,500 protesters marched through Friedrichshain recently.  Some were masked and threw missiles, police said.
In Kabul, Afghan, the death toll from a suicide attack climbs to over 80 and more than 230 injured.
An attacker who murdered a Catholic Priest in France was under police supervision.
A car bombing in Syria killed 44 people;  ISIS claimed responsibility.
Lawyers filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook Inc. alleging it allowed the Palestinian militant Hamas group to use the platform to plot attacks that killed four Americans and wounded one in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israel’s military is operating in the Sinai Peninsula with Egypt’s blessing – working to crush ISIS.  Israel is operating armed airborne drones in the Sinai, with the full support of Egypt.
Between 2009 and 2014, Israeli settlements expanded by 23 percent in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  Upwards of half a million Jewish Israelis already live in more than 150 Jewish only settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Forces loyal to the Turkish President quashed a coup attempt by some members of the military that began Friday evening and devolved into turmoil and violence.  At least 200 died and more than 1400 were wounded.
Several of the anti-Trump protesters admitted they answered an ad on Craigs list and were getting paid to protest Trump.
Floods in China have killed more than 150 and hundreds of thousands evacuated.
In January, 2009, 32 million Americans were receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  During Obama’s administration, an additional 16 million people have been added, making a total of 48 million people. (Some reports have it much higher.)
    After an almost five year journey to the solar system’s largest planet (Jupiter), NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35 minute engine burn.  Confirmation was received on Earth on July 4.
A $100 million representation of Noah’s Ark was opened recently in Williamstown, Kentucky.  The ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.   Its 3 decks span more than 120,000 square feet.
The second evil world (dispensation), under the usurped control of the adversary, Satan, that old serpent, will come to an end, at the time the trouble is terminated,  Satan will be fully bound, and the demons who have not repented will go out of existence.
Righteousness will then begin to prevail and gradually all the willing and obedient will reach human perfection.  (Revelation 22:17; Isaiah 35:8; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

I Will Come Again

2nd coming“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and
receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John
14:3

When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.

Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.

No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12

Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.

Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).

But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Coming or Presence

The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”

Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”

The Bible Definition

However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.

Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.

The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”

The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’

This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”

Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”

Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”

No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.

Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.

The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.

If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.

A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”

Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”

Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.

The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.

“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.

What On Earth Is A Kingdom?

ancient_walled_kingdom_by_androgs-d81tm0oA Kingdom on Earth…is the real answer we need.
“Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done in Earth.”—Early Christians expected a literal fulfillment of this prayer. Shouldn’t we?
Just imagine what it will mean!

Real joy and peace and health. Real contentment and fullness. Real government by God, for man, which will not perish from this globe.
Real hopes—soon to come. Read them. Find joy and calm.

CONSIDER THE WORLD NOW! BUT THEN…
…the earth shall yield her increase. Psalm 67:6
The want of today will give way to the fullness of tomorrow. Blight will no longer cause famine—insects no longer destroy; and the inhabitants shall no longer say “I am sick.” The balance of
nature will return: the wolf, in peace, will rest with the lamb, and nothing will hurt nor destroy in all is holy kingdom, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The eyes of the blind…shall be opened! Isaiah 35:5
Restoration of all that man has lost will be the first work of the kingdom. He whose eyes are darkened will see again with bright delight; he whose mind has been darkened will comprehend
with clarity. The dignity of a sound mind and a sound body will return. Ears which have never perceived sound will hear; minds which have never perceived truth will understand. Love will
extend from hearts which had been stone; wrongs will cease and forgiveness will reach out from those who have been wronged. The knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the
sea; fear will flee away.
The lame man…shall leap like a deer. Isaiah 35:6
Vitality will pulse through limbs once withered. Wholeness will return to bodies once dismembered. Life! Life expressed in energy, in direction, in attainment, in the joy of knowing that our bodies will respond to our wills—all accompanied with the profound peace of the knowledge that tragedies will no longer strike us down. Think of all the beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen—and know that perfected humanity will be still of surpassing loveliness.

Neither shall they learn war anymore…Isaiah 2:4
The enemy which has cast its shadow across the path of every man will perish. Death itself will die! And the hope (seemingly beyond hope) will be realized as all who have died are awakened, restored, and are given the opportunity for life without end; for God is the Savior of ALL—not just those who have believed.

Think of the reunions, the rebuilding, the re-planning—all without fear of termination. Think of the peace, the calm, the certainty—the government of the Prince of Peace: “and of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.” No tears or pain; no sorrow and crying; no death, no dying. Weeping has endured for a long, long night; but joy and song will greet the morning!
He will swallow up death in victory…Isaiah 25:8
“Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16

Food for all in rich supply will be one of the abundances in God’s kingdom. Hunger will vanish. But there is another kind of hunger, one that can be satisfied now. It is the hunger for truth. If you
have found the kingdom prospects shown in these writings to be good, then you may be hungering for more. There are answers for the questions so often asked but rarely answered: How does God plan to accomplish these things? If God really exists, why has He permitted suffering? How does He deal in both love and justice with believers and also with unbelievers?

What is all of this that we hear about “church” and “being saved?” What about the scriptures which speak about heaven instead of earth? What about Bible contradictions? Truth is available. Truth is consistent. Truth is reasonable. Taste it! Read the 360-page book,
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, available on this website. This booklets you see that the Bible does, indeed, make sense. You can know the when, the how, and the why of the kingdom on earth!
God hath made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
This Biblical texts on which this is based are listed below for your consideration:

Genesis 22:18; Job 33:25,26; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 72:8; Psalm 145:16; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:5-10; Isaiah 29:24; Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 65:21-25; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:36; Micah 4:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:20,21; Acts 24:15; Romans 8:20-25; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 1:10; 1 Timothy  2:4-6; 1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 21:4

The Most Comforting Words of Life

Jesus-Christs-hand-of-mercyOne of the wonderful things about the Bible and the Christianity founded upon the Bible’s teachings is the fact that it contains so much sympathy — comfort for the bereaved, the sorrowing, the troubled. This is not true of any other book or any other religion in the world.

And who is there that does not at some time in life need sympathy, need encouragement, need a powerful and loving friend such as our Bible assures us our God is to all who will accept his favor?

But our great adversary, Satan, seeks to make the light appear dark and the darkness light. He seeks to negative the testimonies of God’s Word, and, to a very great degree his deceptions have been successful, as is witnessed by the creeds of Christendom. Practically all of our creeds, even though they assert that God is gracious, careful, kind and loving, contradict this description of Him and His plan for humanity in monstrous terms, fiendish in the extreme. The majority of creeds tell us of His foreordination and prearrangement of whatsoever comes to pass, and that this signifies that a saintly handful will gain eternal life of joy in heaven and that the unsaintly thousands of millions of heathendom and Christendom are equally foreordained to spend an eternity of torture foreknown, foreintended and provided for before their creation. Is there comfort in this? Is such a plan God-like or Satanic?

Could any intelligent and good being rejoice in such a plan of damnation or sincerely worship an Almighty God who would so misuse His unlimited power to distress His creatures? “Born in sin, shapen in iniquity; in sin did their mothers conceive them.”

The majority of Christian creeds declare the same results, but that they were not designed of God, not foreknown by Him, not predestinated. They tell us in other words that we have an incompetent God, well meaning, but deficient in wisdom and in power. Is there any comfort in this? Would it assuage the grief and pain of those suffering in eternal torment if they could be assured that their lot was such, not because of Divine premeditation and design, but because of Divine incompetence? Surely there is no comfort to be had from such a view.

After all, we Protestants did not make much of an improvement upon the theory held by our forefathers against which we protested in the sixteenth century. Surely purgatorial tortures of a few centuries are no worse, no less comforting than our Protestant conceptions of an eternity of torture for all the non-elect.

Our Catholic forefathers manufactured Purgatory without a shred of Scripture upon which to base the theory. They built it in their imaginations; they invented its fires and tortures. Our Protestant forefathers, using their imaginations, gave us an eternal torment hell—not more tangible, not more Scriptural than Purgatory. They did indeed use a Scriptural term —sheol, hades, hell— but, overlooking the fact that these words all signify the state of death, the condition of the dead, they wrested the language and warped it in an unscriptural manner to signify torture. The penalty or “wage of sin is death.”

They made of it torture everlasting, without the slightest authority of Scriptures except a misunderstood and misapplied parable, which rightly understood, teaches a totally different lesson.

THE FALSE GOSPEL

Our contention is that during the dark ages the church lost sight of the true Gospel message of comfort, rest, help, held out by the Lord as a special boon and reward for the weary and heavy laden, to attract them. During the dark ages we substituted another Gospel containing no comfort, and therewith we sought to drive men to love, serve, worship, adore, a God we erroneously pictured as meaner and in every way worse than the worst of his fallen creatures. Is it not time for us to get back to the Gospel of our text, the Gospel of comfort, of sympathy, of gracious promises? The false Gospel has surely lost its power. People are becoming too intelligent to endure it. As a consequence attendance at churches is decreasing and reverence for God is diminishing. Infidelity, called higher criticism, etc., is increasing.

The need of the hour is the Gospel of comfort. St. Paul declares what we all know, namely, that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

Here we see the necessity for this Gospel of comfort. We see also that God has provided it and that it is coming to the world in the end of this age, in the dawning of the new age. It will come to the world in general as soon as the elect church shall have been selected, and, by the “First Resurrection” power, glorified with her Lord as His kingdom class, as the glorified sons of God, whose mission it will be to bless all the families of the earth.

“FATHER OF MERCIES— GOD OF ALL COMFORT.” 

When St. Paul says, “Knowing the terrors of the Lord” he evidently refers to the fact that our Creator has declared that “the wage of sin is death” (not eternal torment); that “all the wicked will God destroy” (not preserve in fire); and that only such as come into vital relationship with the Redeemer can have everlasting life.

Knowing these things respecting the Divine government we persuade men everywhere, “Be ye reconciled to God” — and thus attain the only eternal life which He promised.

But, on the other hand, note the kindly description of our God which the Apostle furnishes, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any tribulation, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . knowing that ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the comfort.” 2 Cor. 1:3-7

What a wonderful statement respecting the divine intentions for the comfort of the world and the comfort of the church, all proceeding from “the God of all comfort!” Nothing written in any sacred books of any people at any time reveals such a God as the God of the Bible — a God infinite in justice, wisdom, power and love. It is He that is working all things according to the counsel of His own good will, for the ultimate comfort and salvation of as many of his creatures as will accept his favors, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth respecting them. The church is now comforted during this Gospel Age (saved to the highest plane of the heavenly nature) and during the coming age the world is to be comforted and saved to the human nature — as many as will. For the world this means the glorious opportunity of the mediatorial reign of Christ which will constitute their time of restitution, uplifting, resurrecting, to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Acts 3:19-21

“COMFORT—WITH THESE WORDS”

Our text not only tells of comfort, but that this comfort is to be attained and enjoyed  through words —through instructions, through God’s teaching, through human channels and agencies. Thus, as the Apostle declares, “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”

And God’s Son used His twelve apostles as His special mouthpieces to declare the Father’s will, the word or message of comfort. And in turn God is pleased to use human instrumentality’s for the explanation of His gracious message — for the enlightenment of His people — that the faithful and obedient may have the necessary words of life, for their comfort.

In order to appreciate the meaning of our text we must consider the words of the apostle preceding it, beginning with the thirteenth verse. He declares, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” All Christian people agree that the word sleep here refers to those who died. They are not asleep in heaven, of course, for there all is wakefulness and intelligence and joy. They are not asleep in purgatory, of course, for, according to our Catholic friends, sleep there would be an impossibility. They are not asleep in an orthodox hell, for, according to the description given by Protestants, none could sleep there. Where, then, are those who are “asleep?” St. Paul says that we should not be ignorant concerning them. Have we not been ignorant in the past — foolishly ignorant? We have ignored the apostle’s words entirely. We have refused to believe that any are asleep and claim that all are awake, alive — a few in heaven or joy, the many in purgatory or eternal torture. But St. Paul was right! The entire Bible teaches that all who die fall asleep. Thus we learn of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, that he “fell asleep” (stoned to death). We read of the good and the bad, Kings and peasants, falling asleep in death. We read that King David slept with his fathers —some of them heathen. The Bible tells us where they sleep and that they will all be awakened from the sleep of death in due time —in the resurrection during Messiah’s reign of a thousand years. The Prophet declares that “many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to life everlasting and some to shame and lasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2)

Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death unto resurrection of life will be the blessed and holy, the saintly, who will be associated with the Messiah in the kingdom work for the blessing and uplifting of the non-elect. Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death to shame and age-lasting contempt will be the non-elect world. Their shame will be in proportion as they have enjoyed light, knowledge and opportunity and have failed rightly to appreciate and use these. They will have contempt from their fellows, in proportion as their shortcomings of the present time will be shown up.

Many highly esteemed among men will be awakened to that shame and age-lasting contempt. But their case will not be a hopeless one. Much of their weakness and dereliction were the result of Adam’s transgression and the sinful conditions which have resulted, including unfavorable environment. God has provided in Christ redemption for all from the sins and weaknesses resulting from Adam’s disobedience, and thus the entire race of Adam is guaranteed an individual trial under favorable conditions for life everlasting or death everlasting.

All who will render obedience to the laws and regulations of Messiah’s kingdom will begin to rise up, up, up, out of their fallen, degraded condition of sin and be brought back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. In proportion as they will retrace their steps and come back into divine fellowship their shame will decrease and their contempt also. Finally, in the consummation of that age all who will may have attained full restoration and regeneration and freedom from shame and contempt. The unwilling and disobedient and rebellious will be destroyed in the second death — “twice dead, plucked up by the roots” —without hope of any further resurrection or restitution.

“COMFORT WITH THESE WORDS”

St. Paul urges that Christians should not be ignorant concerning those who are asleep —that they that “sorrow not even as others who have no hope.” It is bad enough to think of millions of heathen as being totally extinct, hopelessly dead, without any prospects of a

resurrection. The same would be true respecting our neighbors and friends, parents and children, brothers and sisters, who are not saintly, who are not in “Christ Jesus,” who are not walking after the Spirit, who are not heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.

And if it would be a sore trial to think of them as utterly destroyed in death and without hope of resurrection, how much worse would it have been when, in our misunderstanding of God’s plans, we thought of them as even worse than to believe them without hope and extinct.

The Apostle proceeds to point out the basis of this hope in these words, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring (from the dead) with (by) Him.” (1 Thess. 4:14) So, then, the Apostles declare, the resurrection hope is the Christian hope, and the basis of the hope of this resurrection is that Jesus died that He might be man’s Ransomer —that He arose from the dead that He might be the great Deliverer of mankind, the Prophet, Priest and King of God, and that He might gather to Himself the elect, Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, as His joint-heir.

Christians, of course, in thinking of the resurrection of the dead, would primarily, chiefly, consider their dear ones of the household of faith; hence the Apostle continues his argument, saying, that those of the church living at the present time of the Second Advent will not precede or hinder those members of the Church who have died during the past centuries, for the dead in Christ shall arise first  —shall be awakened first from the sleep of death.

“THEM THAT SLEEP IN JESUS”

We cannot think that the Apostle refers merely to the Church in this case, for uniformly, in speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he refers both to the Church and the world, the “resurrection of the just and of the unjust.”

So in this case he evidently refers both to the Church and the world as, “asleep in Jesus.” The expression will be noted as different from another one of his respecting those who “sleep in Christ.” The latter expression evidently refers to the Church as the glorified members of the Christ. But in speaking of those asleep in Jesus he evidently has reference to the whole world of mankind. The whole world died in Adam without having a voice in the matter of their birth or trial or condemnation. “Condemnation came upon all because of one man’s disobedience.” Likewise justification is to pass upon all of our race through the precious merit of Christ’s sacrifice. The fact that He “died, the just for the unjust,” constitutes His death a satisfaction price for the sins of the whole world.

From this standpoint, therefore, the whole world not only died in Adam but now sleeps or waits unconsciously for a resurrection of the dead through the merit of our Redeemer’s sacrifice. If we believe that Christ died for our sins and laid the foundation thus for His great work of blessing the world of mankind, including the Church, the first fruits, let us believe also that God who began His work will not stop until He shall have brought forth judgment unto victory —until all the redeemed world shall be brought to a knowledge of the Redeemer and of the Heavenly Father and to an opportunity for life everlasting through obedience. The world died in Adam — “in Adam all die.” Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. “Even so all in Christ shall be made alive.”

The message has reached the Church only, as yet. In due time it will reach every member of the race. The Church is already reckonedly quickened from the dead by the holy Spirit, and will shortly be born from the dead in the “First Resurrection.” The world, therefore, from the divine standpoint, is not dead in Adam now, but merely asleep in Jesus, waiting for the glorious time when, His Kingdom established, He shall call all mankind from the prison house of death, from the tomb, that each may learn to the full of the grace of God in Christ, and have opportunity for attaining life everlasting.

These are the words in which we are to comfort one another —words of hope respecting the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust—words of sympathy, words of assurance, words that show that God is better than all our fears; that yet in a little while He that shall come will establish His Kingdom —first the Church in glory, and, secondly, Israel and all the families of the earth through them. Everything connected with the divine message is full of hope, full of encouragement, full of blessing, to those in the condition to receive it.

C.T. Russell

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:15