Therefore have I brought FIRE from the MIDST OF YOU [internal combustion], it has DEVOURED YOU, and I have TURNED YOU TO ASHES upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you. All they that know you among the peoples will be appalled at you. You are now a terror, AND YOU WILL NEVER BE ANY MORE. (verses 18 and 19)


            Heaven has sentenced the wicked to everlasting destruction. Any portion that is not consumed by the incinerating fire will be, like the infamous Herod, consumed by scavenging worms--nothing can quench, terminate, or save the condemned wicked before they cease to exist: "And they shall be an abhorrence to all humanity"; and the saints will "look upon the carcasses [corpses] of the [dead] men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die [prematurely], neither shall their fire be [wantonly] quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” (See Isaiah 66: 24; Mark 9: 45, 46; Acts 12:23).         


            Hell fire is much hotter than most people think. To turn "you to ashes", crematories exceed 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (538 c.). That means the temperature of Hell is more intense--it rapidly destroys the wicked and Lucifer--they are "devoured" to nothing. Not existing forever is an eternal punishment, not an eternal punishing; there is a difference, you know.            

            The concept of eternal death for the wicked may be new to you. It is discussed a little more here because it is essential that you understand this as we study God's elimination of the sin problem from His universe and the complete restoration of earth to its original state.      




            Let me again direct your attention to Revelation 20 where it describes the destruction of the wicked AFTER 1,000 years. Previously I marked Gog and Magog with asterisks (*). Most Bible teachers apply these verses to Communist or Arab countries that they say will attack Israel while the saints are supposedly raptured to heaven for seven years, but this scripture has another application.

            First, you should recall that Satan himself attempts to rule from the Holy Land before he is killed in Armageddon. Just how long this charlatan can deceive the inhabitants of earth is a subject of debate; most theorize either three and one-half or seven years.

            He falsely promises eternal life for those upon which the seven last plagues of Revelation 16 will fall, including the seventh plague of death in Armageddon. Scripture is plain on one point, Satan knows that his time is short, and makes war with the remnant people "who keep the commandments of God" (Revelation 12:17).         


            While these plagues are falling, God's people are not mysteriously "raptured" to heaven because words of encouragement are spoken to them in Revelation. After six plagues, and immediately before the last plague of Armageddon, Jesus encourages the saints to endure a little longer: "Behold I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame"--take note, Jesus does not "come as a thief" before the plagues like popular theories suggest (Revelation. 16: 15).

            And, "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Ibid. 14:12). Since Satan's war is against those who keep God's Ten Commandments, it is apparent that some will not comply with the attempt to change God's Sabbath to a counterfeit day, Sunday.  

            They know that God must uphold His standard of righteousness; that God’s 10-commandment law is so sacred that just looking at it irreverently invoked the death penalty (1 Samuel 6:19).            So, because organized Christianity wantonly altered that sacred law they must suffer divine justice.         

            This false Sabbath has been so effectively substituted by the Roman System and will now be verified personally from Lucifer's mouth. When the deceived finally realize the Saints are the ones shielded by God to be translated without experiencing death, and this majestic-looking creature professing to be God is really the Devil who deceived them, it is too late. Their only recourse is to attempt his destruction.

            Realizing that they have lost eternal life because of Lucifer's lying, their frustration is turned against him. "I will bring strangers upon you, the terrible of the nations: and they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and they will defile your brightness. They will bring you down to the pit [grave], and you will die.... You will die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 28:7-10).

            This is the first application of Gog and Magog--the military assaults against Israel (Armageddon) trigger uncontrollable events that kill Lucifer and destroy the earth. At this time Christ harvests the earth of His faithful saints, "and... [we] will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever" (Psalms 23:6).   


            During the second destruction of Gog and Magog the scene repeats on a much larger scale after the seventh millennium, 1,000 years in the future, when Christ comes with His redeemed in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, to re-create planet earth: "For thus says the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he created it not in vain, HE FORMED IT TO BE INHABITED, I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else" (Isaiah 45:18).

            All the resurrected militants (as many as the sands of the seashore--Revelation 20:8) who lived throughout history are now destroyed FOREVER. This is the final destruction of the wicked and Lucifer. It takes place AFTER he roams this devastated planet alone for 1,000 years. Then he mobilizes the RESURRECTED WICKED to battle against the Holy city that descends to earth (Revelation 21:1-5). Gog, Magog and other nations attack Israel "after many days" (8010, and see Ezekiel 38:8). The description of this confrontation leaves no doubt that everyone attacking Israel is destroyed. Let us peruse a few sentences:            


          Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake AT MY PRESENCE. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground... And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops and on the many peoples who are with him flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.   (Ezekiel 38:19, 20, 22)


            The next chapter of Ezekiel describes a clean-up campaign where the bones of the wicked are buried to eliminate all evidence of sin from this planet, and the Israel of God is restored in Canaan with the New Jerusalem FOREVER. The Lord says: "And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 39; 29).            




            Now, my friends, you have learned the significant points about the Abomination of Desolation. Satan used the Roman System to persecute God's people at the time of Christ, and then forced religious dogma throughout medieval history. This persecution has now diminished temporarily to allow the Bible to be freely presented to the entire world as Jesus accurately predicted: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14).

            After the Abomination of Desolation meets judgments under the fifth plague, and immediately before Christ comes, Lucifer will be here in person impersonating Jesus and then he is briefly destroyed in Armageddon. After this, Satan is resurrected and forced to wander alone through the ashes of this destroyed planet for 1,000 years.

            As God rested from His works on the seventh day, Lucifer rests from his works during the seventh millennium. He contemplates the results of his rebellion against Heaven. He cannot say, like God, "It was very good" (Genesis 1: 31). And he awaits the second resurrection of the wicked. These he marshals to attack the Holy City that descends from heaven. At the beginning of the eighth millennium (80th century from the Edenic fall, and 1,000 years in the future), this final act of violence is met with the second death of Lucifer and the wicked.


The controversy between good and evil will be over and sin and sinners are eradicated from God's universe: "The wages of sin is [eternal] death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).            




            Thank you for struggling through this chapter. Undoubtedly some of these thoughts are new to you. They will become clearer as we repeat them in context in other chapters.

            We hope the information has helped you understand more clearly about the conflict between good and evil, and exactly why Christianity has insulted God's name. And why so many atrocities, like the "inquisition", were committed in the name of God.         

            Be vigilant Bible students, my friends, the wise shall understand. Remember, we have a tempter who does not sleep.         All his power is exerted to wrest us from the hands of God through his inducements to sin and unbelief.

            Some people doubt his existence, saying he is a mythological aberration, but those blind to his devices are his easiest prey.    

            Our God is faithful and able to preserve us according to His divine plan. Remember His promise to the saints: "Blessed are those who do His commandments that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).  

            And remember this important fact: God's special warning in Daniel 12 IS FOR TODAY, as the Abomination of Desolation will soon change its tactics from charm to force in an attempt to control humanity; this will be covered in the next chapter.    

666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666


Chapter 3

Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666

            The most solemn warning recorded in the Bible for our day is found in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation. Called the mark of the beast, it has generated countless discourses and theories as expositors attempt to plot a course to escape its execution.   
            The Scriptures are twisted in a manner to exalt the theory that the saints will be in heaven and will not have to endure this final test of loyalty to God.    
            Actually, the Bible says that God's people will not even be allowed to buy or sell, and eventually they will face a death decree unless they have this mark (Revelation 13:15-17).  This suggests a strong connection with civil governments as sanctions are used for enforcement. 
            Most speculators will not rule out a connection between a proposed computer chip implant and world banking but this is not the "mark", but an implement to coerce the saints. Let us find out precisely what the Bible says on this subject. But before we start this important journey through God's word, please take a moment to humbly pray. Ask for the enlightenment of heaven through His Holy Spirit that you may be anointed with the wisdom that can only descend from above to assist your understanding of this most important subject.


            Because the scriptures warns about approaching trials that require one to explicitly trust and obey our heavenly Father, I must first clarify one point. Today many do not like the word obedience. True, you are only justified by the imparted grace of God through the merits of our Sin Bearer accepting our punishment, but please understand that our actions are important in another sense: Good works that we possess will NOT be our authority to enter into heaven because good conduct that emanates from the heart can only come from the One who dwells on high and within--"Christ in you", doing "His good pleasure,  is the mechanism of our salvation (Colossians 1:27; Philippians 2:13).       
            When first baptized by water, we symbolically died a death to this world, but that death must be manifest in our deportment by Christ working out His life within us; that is, the "born-again" experience (John 3:3).  

            A strict obedience to God will not qualify anyone to enter through the gates of the Holy City into the Heavenly Cana. Neither will Christ's righteousness justify, that is, make right, anyone by virtue of their being born as a human--of woman, or of the flesh; or, by being inaugurated into the most noble religious organization. 
            Only God's love and your surrender and trust, as prompted within by the Holy Spirit, must be the great factor for your service and obedience. This was indicated to Israel before their exodus to the Promised Land:

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear [revere] the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, AND TO LOVE HIM, and to serve the LORD God with all your heart and with all your soul; To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good. (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13)         

Many in the religious community are trying to love this fallen world and its allurements while loving God. Only half-dead to the world, their presumptuous faith or self-inspired enthusiasm, becomes a  method of works to make them believe they are saved when, in fact, they are half saved yet totally lost because they serve two masters; "A house divided cannot stand", says Jesus (Matthew 12:25). While attempting to serve God and their fleshly desires, their divided priorities prevent total commitment to the omnipotent One and they "grieve" the Holy Spirit and God's saving presence departs from them (Ephesians 4:30).                  
            Often the words and actions of false prophets tell us that Christ's forensic act at Calvary, or our system of belief (faith) is sufficient for salvation while we descend from our high calling and partake of worldly pleasures (most are allurements of Satan). They forget the pleading words from the One who holds the entire universe in His grasp: "And why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). And when someone said the womb that bore and breasts that Jesus sucked were blessed, Jesus replied: "More... blessed [than my mother, Mary,] are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:27-28).            
            When we accept Jesus as our Savior we must also accept Him as our King and obey the laws of His government; otherwise, we are actually "dead" subjects presuming to have faith in an indifferent monarch who does not enforce his noble laws (James 2:17,20,26).         
            Someone not "born again" or led by God's presence within, sees God's law as foolishness and does not really believe he is condemned through the words of death written indelibly by their King's finger on stone  (1 Corinthians 2:14).  
            Forced obedience is not correct in God's sight because it does not spring from a love and appreciation of God's goodness. When that same person becomes "enlightened" through God's Spirit, the same condemning law is now written on the tables of the heart (Jeremiah 31:33). This correct obedience is spontaneous--it is pleasurable--and that is the right condition of loyal angels and the perfect inhabitants of God's un-fallen galaxies.  
            In that condition, the same law then promotes life, liberty, and happiness because the transformed saint evidences his conversion and is now in harmony with God's devout universe and to quote Jesus' statement to His followers: "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).

            One can not obtain heaven by forced obedience--Jesus paid the penalty for ours sins, and the ability to obey is a gift God gives us in His great mercy: "Not by works of which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). 
            Just how one is saved is a subject of debate among theologians, and even more confusing is how one "falls from grace." Because your standing with God actually determines whether or not you receive the mark of the beast, these topics will be explained in greater detail later making this the longest chapter; but, for now, and throughout this treatise, keep this thought continuously before you: The saints who DO NOT receive the mark of the beast are those "that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12). Now for the most solemn warning:         


            If anyone WORSHIP the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, that person will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out... [full strength] into the cup of his indignation; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12)            

            With such a fearsome warning we must diligently seek to understand precisely what is occurring in this world today that will disqualify us from participating in the resurrection of the righteous--especially, the Mark of the Beast. 
            As the earth heaves and tosses in its dying pains, there are a few people who are preserved through this calamity. David tells of those who "abide under the shadow [protection] of the Almighty” (Psalms 91:1).

            At the time of the last plague of Armageddon, the living Saints will be those resurrected alive, never tasting of death. David continues: "A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked" (ibid. verses 7, 8).           
            Therefore, those who observe the destruction of the wicked is not limited to the holy angels and the Lamb, but to the saints who endure the coming tribulation and do not receive the mark of the beast. These faithful ones have endured unimaginable hardships; their only hope is in Christ's promise of the resurrection to heaven (John 14:1-4); their hope increases in proportion to the calamities on earth. As the world consumes around them they sing songs of praise: "They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing.... From the ends of the earth we have heard songs: Glory to the righteous!" (Isaiah 24:14, 16).                   Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666


            "Glory to the righteous [ONE]!" This song of praise indicates that those gaining victory over the Beast WORSHIP God. Who you worship is the first important "key" to victory. The warning in Revelation says: "If anyone WORSHIPS the beast and his image..." (Revelation 14:9). WORSHIP and religion are synonymous, inseparable. So, first of all, the beast is a religious power and demands our worship or allegiance.

            As we discovered previously, the Roman System had demanded allegiance or worship or you will suffer the penalty of death. Now it is in the form of a Christian church and this system is to rule until consumed by fire under the fifth plague (Revelation 16:10).   
            Therefore, the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel 12 must have another name in the book of Revelation. Perhaps you guessed it, the Beast! But to identify this power for certain, the Bible gives us many important clues--and the most profound is his name. Let us read it for ourselves:
            "Here is WISDOM. Let him that has UNDERSTANDING count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a MAN; and his number is 666" (Revelation 13:18).       
            There are several points in this verse that need your attention. First are the words WISDOM and UNDERSTAND, they have similar meaning. Remember from our study in Chapter One: "And none of the wicked will UNDERSTAND; but the wise shall UNDERSTAND." If you had no problem UNDERSTANDING from that study that the Roman System is the Abomination of Desolation, then you will UNDERSTAND this too.

Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666THE NUMBER OF A MAN

            Second, the number 666 is that of a MAN. If you are like me, you get a little squeamish when you see the number 666. I used to wonder while passing a highway mile-post number 666, but after re-reading the verse, I do not wonder. Once more, the Bible says it is the number of a MAN.            
            If you get anything positive from this study, it should be this fact: That mysterious number is not the number of a computer operated by the New World Order. It is not the year A.D. 666. It is not a triple SIX digit number on your credit card or social security number. It is not a computer chip with 666 megabytes of random access memory implanted in your forehead or on your hand. It is not a mile post number, and if the last three digits of your mother-in-law's phone number is 666, that, too, is a coincidence because it can not apply to a woman. Even if numbers are manipulated to identify a female, it cannot apply because the Bible says: It is the number of a MAN.      
            The word MAN used here in Greek is aner. This noun is always translated masculine in the King James Bible according to the context of the sentence as follows:
            Fellow, one time; husband, 50 times; man, 156 times, and sir, six times. It is ALWAYS used to indicate a PERSON, and never a place or thing. In the Greek, it says to count the number of the MAN. It did not say "read his number", or "see his number", it says to COUNT THE NUMBER of the MAN. In Revelation 14:11 the mark is referred to as "the mark of his NAME." In Revelation 13:17, 15:2 it is called "the number of his NAME." So the "mark" and "number" refer to his "name", and we count the number of his name.

            As mentioned earlier, one thing we inherited from the Roman System is Roman Numerals. Archaic? Yes! Awkward to use? Yes! And do you remember them all? Probably not! The way I remember is to calculate the tiny Roman Numerals on the bottom row of the pyramid found on a U.S. one-dollar bill. They are MDCCLXXVI.   
            The largest digit is placed first, M = 1,000; D = 500; Two Cs = 200; L = 50, two Xs = 20, V = 5 and I = 1. Now, let us add and "COUNT THE NUMBER" and they TOTAL 1776--the year the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. By the way, if it totaled 666, the U.S. dollar is not the beast because it is does not apply to a man's name or title.

            Several years ago I was working with a friend who had once studied to be a Catholic Priest. "Robert!" I asked. "Have you ever heard of the name VICARIUS FILII DEI?" Robert answered affirmative. "Of course! It is the title of the Pope. It means: 'In the place of the Son of God.'" A MAN in the place of God?  Unbelievable! Jesus said to His disciples: "Do not be called Rabbi [teacher]: for one is your Master, Christ; and all you are brethren [meaning no one is supreme instructor, neither is there a Throne of Peter for someone to occupy].  And call no one your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Matthew 23:8, 9).

            Robert was correct. Spelled slightly different, my dictionary defines VICARIUS as "acting for another." A form of this word denotes the one in authority when the president dies--vice president. FILII  (Latin, filialis, for son or daughter) is closely related to our word filial. That refers to a kindred relationship by parents and offspring, such as "filial love." And DEI represents DEITY, or God. So, VICARIUS FILII DEI, originally published in Latin, literally means: In the place of the Son of God.                                INSERT GRAPAHIC HERE:  #7.jpg               *In the 1870 German translation of Catholic Canon Laws and Gratian's Decretals, column 342, you will notice that it uses a Latin "U" to spell Vicarius Filii Dei for the title of the Roman Pontificate.            
            This title was first bestowed upon the Pope in the eighth century when he received the so-called "Vicar of Christ" title by the Roman System. It was a counterfeit document called the Donation of Constantine, appearing two centuries after Constantine The Great, and bearing his forged signature, that suggested the name VICARIUS FILII DEI and strengthened the heresy of the succession of popes from the throne (sic.) of the apostle Peter.    

            Please allow me one moment to inject a thought: Do we need a human "father" to prescribe our religious duty? Did Jesus really abandon us? No! He said: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth" (Matthew 28:20). And John emphasizes the mission of the Holy Spirit: "But the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie..." (1 John 1: 27).  
            So, with Jesus' presence through the “Comforter”, we need no human being to usurp the position and mission of His Spirit that gave us the Bible as a rule of faith. It is blasphemy for someone to change the Word given through the Holy Spirit (Revelation 22:18).

            The mission of the church is not to pass ecclesiastical legislation that conflicts with Scripture, but to teach what God gave humanity in the sacred scriptures.

God gave "some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ... (Ephesians 4:11-13).          

            The commission of church leadership is to foster an intimate relationship with Christ and a trust and obedience to His Word. Shepherds of the flock who do this are to be commended.           

Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666666, THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

            Now, let us COUNT THE NUMBER of the man using Roman Numerals. Even though it is Latin, we can figure it out because a few letters of their alphabet are assigned numeric value.      

V (U) = 5



I = 1



C = 100



A = 0

F = 0


R = 0

I = 1


I = 1

L = 50

  D = 500

U* = 5

I = 1

  E = 0

S = 0

I = 1

  I = 1

Totals 112

Totals 53

Totals 501

Now, let us total all columns: 
112 + 53 + 501 = 666

*Note: The letter U is a variant of V and was added as a vowel to our English alphabet in the 18th century; the U has the same value as the V in Latin Roman Numerals.

The NUMBER OF THE MAN IS 666.  It can not be much clearer. Some Bible studies use several more identifying traits found in the scriptures to overwhelmingly indicate the link between the Roman System and the Beast.  For example: "Here is the mind which has WISDOM: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the... [unfaithful church] sits" (Revelation 17:9). We have already learned that these are the seven hills of Rome, so we will not elaborate on that thought.     
            Let me emphasize that the mark of the beast and 666, the number of his name, are two different things. The MARK denotes loyalty, worship, or obedience to the Roman System. The seal of God is placed on His faithfully obedient followers (Revelation 9:4). And the Beast's number, 666, is the NUMBER OF A MAN. 
            Because we do not want to be disloyal to God, let us now study the MARK "in his forehead, or in his hand" (Revelation 13:16).    

Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666THE "MARK" IN THE BIBLE

            There are three places in the Bible that mentions a mark in the hand or forehead: First, Deuteronomy 11:18: "Therefore shall you lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes [your forehead]."  
            Second, Deuteronomy 6:8 says: "And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes [forehead]."       
            And finally, Exodus 13:16: "And it shall be for a token [Hebrew: oth, meaning "sign"] upon your hand, and for frontlets between your eyes [forehead]: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."

            The first two verses quoted are in reference to obedience to God's commandments, being written in the "heart", the "soul" [psyche], and the "hand."
            If obedience to God is spontaneous because His indwelling presence inspires love and trust in His Word, then even obedience through action (the "hand") is acceptable to God--that means that we must obey God's holy dictates, even if we do not fully discern the rationale behind the commands because everything will be made clear in Heaven.          
            The last quotation carries the same thought, but makes reference to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage: "The LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."  This is the version of God's law that Moses wrote (Deuteronomy 31:24).

            But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the LORD your God: [in it] you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor the stranger that [is] within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you." [Then Moses adds this thought to remind God's people that God is our Deliverer:] "And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and [that] the LORD your God brought you out here through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commands you to keep THE SABBATH DAY. (Deuteronomy 5:15)          

            Today, we have been delivered through Christ's eternal sacrifice from the world where we were Satan's captives just as surely as the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. If you, too, abhor the injustices of this sin-polluted planet, then you are looking forward to that rest in the heavenly Canna. The apostle Paul borrows from Moses' thought as recorded in Hebrews where he likens the exodus from Canna to our Sabbath rest with the Creator:

            "For he said concerning the Sabbath, God rested on the seventh-day from all His works….” ‘It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath. For he who has entered into his rest also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His“ (Hebrews 4:4; 9,10; Lamsa’s Aramaic Translation). 

Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666


            These thoughts convey the principle that in addition to reminding us of God our creator, the Sabbath of the fourth commandment brings us into rest with God, OUR DELIVERER. Christ says: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find REST unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29). And Christ did not change His Father's commandments, "would he not afterward have spoken of another day?" (Hebrews. 4:8). Yes, there are those who insist that Christ actually changed His own law.            
            We do not find this change recorded in the mission of Christ outlined by God the Father in Isaiah 42:  "Behold! My servant [Jesus] who I uphold, My Elect One in who my soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.... He will MAGNIFY THE LAW AND MAKE IT HONORABLE" (Isaiah 42:1, 21).        
            Christ magnified the law by upholding its principles and stating that it is only fulfilled through love. He specifically said that His Father's Commandments were NOT to be changed:

            Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [magnify and make honorable]. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17, 18)  


            When will "all be fulfilled?" Certainly it was not on the cross when Jesus was sacrificed "once" and announced that His mission was complete with the words, "It is finished" (Hebrews 10:10, 12; John 19:30)! After Christ's exclamation, we must be careful to obey because, "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remained no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. " (Hebrews 10:26, 27).         
            This morning I looked out and our world is still here a Eden is not restored. Satan is still the tempter and the controversy between good and evil continues--even to this day—all things these have not fulfilled (verse 8).        
            Our study of Daniel 12 accurately shows when this happens: It is three and one-half millenniums from Haman's decree in B.C. 474--approximately 1,000 years in the future. That is when Satan and the wicked are destroyed and sin is eradicated from the universe.
            Some sincere ministers say that Jesus changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, or worse yet, they nullify the entire ten-commandment law. Have you observed that neither Jesus nor the Apostles tell the people to trust the Rabbi? Their job was to read the scriptures to the people each Sabbath but they were interpreting the Scripture to suit themselves, to pacify their consciences while living in transgression.         
            For this reason God spoke similar words of caution through Jeremiah: "Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5).         
            And the apostle James says: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5).  Because others may direct you to scriptures you have overlooked, "in the multitude of counselors there is safety", but God's Word must remain your primary guide (Proverbs 11:14).
        Before we delve further into the mark of the beast, you need understand some important Bible truths; you will never learn these profound facts from "teachers" who "nails jots and tittles" of God's law to the cross (Matthew 5:18).            


Image for 666 ~ The Mark of the Beast ~ 666THE SANCTITY OF SUNDAY WAS "NAILED TO THE CROSS" AT CALVARY

            It is difficult for us to properly understand the Bible because we may study it while "wearing grandpa's glasses." That is, we assume what we are taught is correct and, while ignoring significant texts, are interpreting the Bible as if our established beliefs are the same as Bible authors.      
            Therefore, we may inadvertently misapply biblical facts, including the truth that Jesus abolished "sacrifice and offering" (Daniel 9:27). When properly applied, that text means food offerings and festivals related to annual ordinances and days were abolished at Calvary because they merely prefigured future events       

            In 1998 the Vatican issued an official statement on Sunday sacredness contradicting their historical position. The inconsistencies of this declaration prompted me to computer-analyze the entire Bible for every event that used the Hebrew terms for Sunday, "first day" and "day after the Sabbath", which means the day after the seven-day week.  
            How interesting to discover that the only symbolic festivals in the Old Testament Torah that commemorated a specific day of the week were the two annual Sundays: The Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.
            To observe Pentecost, God commanded the Levites to "count 50 days to the day after seven Sabbaths..."(Leviticus 23:16).  In other words, Pentecosts were to be observed annually on the Sunday following seven consecutive Saturdays, dating from the Firstfruits Sunday when they "began the harvest" (Leviticus 23:16; 9-22; Deuteronomy 16:9).         
            According to the Sadducees, Samaritans, and authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, these compulsory festivals were to be observed literally, as the Bible commands, every year on "THE DAY AFTER THE SABBATH", which is SUNDAY (Leviticus. 23:11, 15). These annual Sundays were sacred, or holy assemblies, upon which no common work was to be done (Numbers 28:26).         

            You who understand deeper truths of the Bible know that Christ was literally raised from the grave as the Sunday "Firstfruits"--But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept....  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming--(1 Corinthians. 15:20, 23). And the Holy Spirit fell on the "Pentecost Sunday" seven weeks later (Acts 2:1).  
            "Firstfruits Sunday" commemorated the Sunday resurrection of Jesus from the grave to heaven to receive His father's authority; and "Pentecost Sunday" represented the strength manifested seven weeks later in the Spirit's outpouring of "power" upon His disciples to be "witnesses... unto all the earth" (Acts 1:8).
            God previously typified those significant events in the Old Testament because he did not require them to be celebrated, in any manner, by the New Testament church. These Old Testament Sunday observances were "symbolic", literally fulfilled, and were therefore "a shadow of things to come", and "nailed to the cross."           
            That means: Today there is no such thing as a weekly Sunday holy convocation, Sunday Passover, Sunday Pentecost; nor a weekly Easter service or Sunday resurrection celebration; such suggestions originated as a fabrication to pacify the conscience and excuse transgression of God's law among those erroneously sanctifying events previously typified in the Old Testament. If Sunday is kept, it is for your benefit like a mid-week prayer meeting, but it is not satisfying God’s law.   
            Some theorists may argue that the significance of Sunday was not terminated because these Old Testament festivals were kept by certain Jewish groups each year on a different week day, sometimes on the Sabbath, following the Passover as observed at Gilgal when they did not harvest (Joshua 5:11).  That reasoning has no logic because the Bible links Firstfruits to the first Sunday of barley harvest, that is, on the day they "began to put the scythe to the grain" and they could never "begin" or start harvesting on the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 16:9).         
            Secondly, these holy days met exact literal applications on the special Sundays of the very year Christ was crucified; that is, the shadows met their substance precisely--they were completely fulfilled and these "sabbath days" are, to again quote the Apostle Paul,  "nailed to the cross" (Colossians 2:14-17).
            For this reason, Sunday cannot be legally observed annually or weekly; it is not sacred today, and will remain a regular working day--never to be kept sacred each week throughout the endless days of eternity--the sanctity of Sunday only exists in the minds of the nostalgic. There is now NO mandate in the New Testament to observe Sunday in honor of Christ's Sunday resurrection or the Sunday Pentecost "experience", or an example of such observances recorded in God's word.            
            In addition, Sunday was not legalized by the entire church until Constantine's fourth-century Council of Nicaea. Rome was previously rebuked by leaders from the Asian church when they substituted the Passover with the pagan Easter Sunday. In vain Rome suggested the universal church disfellowship the Asians for not submitting to their Roman tradition. The eastern churches, however, prevailed and observed the biblical fourteenth-day-of-the-first-Jewish-month patterned by Jesus, the first disciples, and early churches. After several decades of conflict, the unity that compromise promised influenced the First Nicaean Council to substitute Easter Sunday for the correct date of the biblical Passover and the weekly Saturday Sabbath rest.           

            Jesus told the unbelieving Pharisees who sought His condemnation: "And because I tell the truth, you do not believe me" (John 8:45). The truth may be just as confusing to you. Most of the world places confidence in the integrity of church leadership and imagines that Sunday is the Sabbath of the New Testament.     
            With so much emphatic endorsement, we imagine, surely there must be many biblical examples of Sunday sacredness. True?       
            Well, the Bible and the Qur’an both mention commandment-keeping (which encompasses Sabbath sacredness) as part of God's plan for us to inherit eternal life, and there is not a single text in the Bible or Qur’an suggesting such a change (James  2:10, 11; Isaiah  66:22,23).          
            Instead, history reveals that Sunday is linked with sun worship; it is named "sun's day" which was Satan's counterfeit holy day. In reading the Bible you will find recorded many Sabbath services and NOT ONE "sacred Sunday" (or Friday) worship service in compliance with God's law.            


            Perhaps you have read newsletters written for Sunday congregations. They may mention many Sunday events, like the amount of offering collected or church attendance "last Sunday", or possibly discuss plans for Sunday choir practice, field trips, or outings.
            When one reads the Bible they discover the opposite of this--many Sabbath events, and a strange omission of Sunday-glorification. This is because Sunday is one of the six common days in which we are to "remember the Sabbath day" and prepare for its sacred hours (Exodus 20:8).

            Without dispute Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, but that event did not nullify the sacredness of God's Sabbath.         
            Luke's writings in Acts, covering more than 30 years of church history after Christ's ascension to heaven, only mention the words first day ONE TIME Instead of using the term "Sunday", Luke writes "first day" because he uses God's method of naming week days found in the first chapter of His Word (Genesis 1:5). This indicates Luke also uses Bible reckoning of sunsets, not our modern midnights, to start the beginning of each day as he does in Luke 23:54 and 24:1 (Leviticus 23:32). As Christians, God demands we speak honestly and it is so very important that we study Luke's only usage of "first-day" in Acts without the distortion that you hear from those who misunderstand that Sunday is not sacred, but a common working day (Acts 20:1-16).

            To understand this "first day" event, please observe that Luke identifies seven disciples who accompanied him and Paul to a farewell dinner and final meeting of their one-week stay at Troas (Acts 20:4-6).           

            And because "there were many lights" at that Sunday service, it was actually recording a Saturday-evening meeting, which is the beginning of the Biblical first-day (Sunday).  Also, after breaking bread, Paul delivered "his message unto midnight"; that is, he stopped preaching his sermon at midnight which is actually the end of our modern Saturday (Acts 20:7).           
      Although there were "many lights in the upper chamber", that Saturday evening around midnight, a young man named Eutycus slept and toppled three stories down from the outside window.    
            The young man was taken up alive, and Luke's narration continues: "And we ["we" means seven disciples plus Luke] went before [in advance] to ship and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he arranged, minding himself to go afoot... [walking], departing at daybreak [Sunday morning]" (verses 7, 11, 13).  
            Let me speak frankly so you may understand what the Bible is saying: Paul's parting sermon to the Troas church lasted until midnight, which is the beginning of our modern Sunday. That evening Paul's evangelistic team of eight disciples "went before"; that is, they left that Saturday-evening meeting, pulled anchor, paddled to deep water, hoisted sail, and sailed some sixty miles (97 km) around the peninsula from Troas to Assos. That excursion occupied all of Sunday, the day millions of people think is the new Sabbath of the Christian church.           
            Meanwhile, with the disciples gone, Paul's sermon was over and he "talked" (verse 11) with the remaining church members until sunrise, Sunday morning. Then walked about 24 miles (39 km) across the isthmus from Troas to Assos to meet the eight disciples--that would also occupy most of Sunday, a mandated working day (Exodus 20:9).  
            You must honestly admit that God knew precisely what He was doing when He impressed Luke to record the minute details of these events which include "many lights" in the upper chamber where Eutycus slumbered that Saturday evening, then Paul hiking and eight of his evangelists boating all day Sunday--and all this after a Saturday-evening meeting. This is hardly a sacred Sunday-morning church-service. Neither does it evidence a change in God's law.    
            Properly understood, these verses re-orient us to reality: God's evangelistic team of nine disciples (counting Paul) guarded the holiness of the Sabbath by delaying their departure from Troas until after the sacred hours of the day God blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:3).         
            Also, Sunday is not being celebrated because they were not at a "Lord's Day" [sic.] service but traveling all day.  God knew Satan would introduce error into the church during the Dark Ages when Bibles were suppressed and the Abomination of Desolation changed His law and hunted, tortured, and murdered those who translated or preached the Word in languages other than Latin; by listening in an unknown language the people could not discern they were being misled by those in authority.           
            And millions today sincerely think they are obeying God by keeping Sunday holy while they are actually transgressing the day God "blessed and sanctified" (Genesis 2:3).   
            As we enter this period of enlightenment where "knowledge will be increased", it is imperative that you see that Sunday-sacredness is an incomprehensible myth and absolutely absurd (Daniel 12:4).  "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).

    Similar to Luke, the apostle Paul also uses the biblical term for Sunday,  first day, ONE TIME  in all of his epistles (letters), also covering about thirty years of his ministry to the church.        
            This lengthy period stretches from Paul's conversion in A.D. 34 on the road to Damascus to his condemnation by the infamous Nero who died in A.D. 68.  That lone mention of Sunday is recorded in Paul's letter written to the Corinthian church that he had previously established.
            Luke writes of Paul's initial visit to Corinth and states: "He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath [Saturday], and persuaded the Jews and Greeks [Gentiles]....", "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them" (Acts 20:4, 11).     
            Now, Paul plans to visit the Corinthians. So they can prepare for his arrival, he sends a courier ahead with the epistle (First Corinthians) telling of his intentions which includes the collection of an offering for the famine-stricken saints in Jerusalem.   
            Sunday was not considered sacred to the early Christians and Paul says he was 'blameless in the Law"--that law commands Sabbath sacredness (Exodus 20:8-11; Philippians 3:6).        
            Paul is fully aware that this letter will be read to the congregation as they meet together on the customary Sabbath (Saturday, Acts 17:2). The apostle does not want any anxious saints to desecrate God's Sabbath by preparing an offering before sunset on the Lord's sacred rest-day, so He instructs them: "On the first day of the week [Sunday] let every one of you lay by him [himself alone, not in church] in store [storage], as God has prospered him, that there be no gathering when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:1,2).          
            When the entire Bible is taken in context, you must honestly admit that Paul is actually saying Sunday is still a working day: "Do not transgress God's law by going to your granary, market place, storage shed, garden, or otherwise perform work by preparing an offering until after the Sabbath's sacred hours Saturday evening. That way your offering will be ready for presentation and no work will be necessary when I preach to you next Sabbath."  
            This may sound strange to you, even hypothetical, but even among congregations that keep the Sabbath sacred today, common church functions or activities that require work are routinely announced before the congregation during the Sabbath's worship service and scheduled for Saturday evenings or Sundays.      
            And Paul's instructions to the Corinthians are a valid caution for you, to prevent your transgression of God's law. Were he writing to us, the "last generation", he might say: "Begin preparation for next week's Sabbath on Sunday; 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy'--it is a holy assembly (convocation) to meet with the saints and God--do not desecrate its sacred hours by frequenting sporting events, restaurants, working, or shopping. You must wait until after sunset Saturday; and, once more, do not forget to "gather" your offering on Sunday, that way it will be ready for church service next Sabbath" (Isaiah 58:13,14).                       
            Paul's instruction to the Corinthians is another biblical example proving that God's Law is binding today; that is, Paul is actually guarding the sacred hours of the Sabbath. It is in no honest sense telling people to worship or submit their offerings on Sunday.     
            Read first Corinthians 16 verses one and two again--it does not record tithe-paying at a Sunday morning church service as commoly suggested (Proverbs 30:6).         


            These truths should be gladly received by everyone desiring to serve God according to divine standards; and others, unfortunately, will certainly be offended (Galatians 4:16). Yet please understand, there were some valid changes introduced into the New Testament church.            
             Although the Bible is silent concerning a change in God's explicit instructions to have a "holy assembly" on Saturday (Leviticus  23:3), and it does not command one to  "remember" a new "holy Sunday" or "holy every-day-alike"; instead, it records Jesus giving the New Testament church two new ordinances. Let us first discuss communion, sometimes called Eucharist.


            Under the law of Moses the saints often ate the life-imparting flesh of their sacrificial offering--those digested proteins, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and sachrides, provided strength and built new tissue in their bodies.
            Jesus indicated that this was really symbolizing our incorporation an integral part of His divine life while simultaneously acknowledging His great sacrifice: "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him" (John 6:56).    
            Today, Christians who eat the nourishing bread and wine during communion service symbolize the combined life that all believers must have as Jesus also "nourishes" them through His imparted presence: "Do this in remembrance of Me", said Jesus; "He that lives in me, and I in him, the same... [accomplishes much] for without me you can do nothing" (1 Corinthians 11:24,25; John 15:5).    
            Of course Jesus is not advocating eating human flesh and blood, He said: "The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).   
            And this is the only way you can be saved, by accepting through the faith God gives you, what God has done for you, and what God is simultaneously doing within you; that is, the crucified and risen "Christ in you, the hope of glory"; "for by [His] grace are ye saved through faith [which God gives you]; and that not of yourselves: [because it is all] the gift of God"--we must apply those gifts (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 2:8).     

            God is not mocked and He knows where His presence abides (John 6:70). God is also fully aware of the enabling strength imparted by His internal Shekinah glory. And if He could force 1,000 megawatts of conviction into our conscience, we still could not be saved without our submission because God demands our cooperation--He will not reside where He is not wanted.        
            And the worthless excuses and alibis that bind us to pride or willful sin, they are rejected as were the empty excuses of our first parents.  God only accepts our best efforts, and we cannot succeed without His "leading" presence, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). 
            If we fail to grow to the "full stature" by persistently yielding ourselves to transgress God's law in deed or thought, we have then presumptuously separated ourselves from Christ. Then the Holy Spirit departs and we, like King Saul who initially felt his insufficiency and was anointed with God's Spirit, or Judas Iscariot who worked miracles with the disciples, may profess holiness but have failed to follow the Holy Spirit's convictions to keep our sinful inclinations in subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27;1 Samuel 16:14; Luke 22:3).    
            Such transgressors become servants of the one they obey; that is, they make a covenant with sin and death instead of obedience and righteousness (Romans 6:16).       
            Making a covenant with sin "grieves" the Holy Spirit and allows evil angels to silently assume that vacancy and, unknown to us, our life is outside of Christ; "Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:9).   
             This happens regardless of our previous faithfulness, denominational orientation, waving hands and vocalized praise, conviction, religious enthusiasm, ecstatic feelings, sincerity, or supernatural manifestations--our faith becomes worthless presumption (Titus 1:16; Luke 13:27).       
            God's mission is to save, and for a time He may continue to strive with our impenitent hearts, wooing us to conform, but in that un-saved condition that is void of God's presence, we have failed to "overcome" and unknowingly have become Satan's puppet who is dressed in Christian apparel in the Great Drama of Eternity (1 Samuel 16:4; Matthew 12:45; John 13:27 1 Corinthians 4:9).           
            And Satan knows he can influence Christians to proclaim their "faith in Jesus" while "slightly sinning", and their delusion works more destruction to God's noble plans for mankind than the influence of the most blatant criminal--reproach is brought upon God's name as they cause the word of God to be "evil spoken of" and influence others to "slightly" transgress (2 Peter 2:2; Matthew 13:29-30).

            "It is impossible for God to lie", and we can trust His promises of eternal life for the faithful; Jesus said: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Hebrews 6:18; John 8:32).      
            When called of God, the new Christian usually has a contrite and humble spirit. In their weakest state they are the strongest in God's strength and are justified by true faith; yet our judgment is imperfect and it is difficult to determine at what point we are actually saved or when ones faith becomes presumptuous and grieves the Holy Spirit's saving presence (Isaiah 57:15).          
            Many feel fully saved when they are totally lost; "they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2).  This is because even right actions or repentance can be prompted by wrong motives; remember, repentant Achan and Judas confessed their sins but were not saved--but the penitent thief was justified (Joshua 7:20; Matthew 26:24; John 23:43). 

            To feel secure in their beliefs, often while compromising with sin or shunning known duties, many attempt to determine God or man's exact action that makes one saved or lost. For centuries people have been vigorously debating the intricate legalities of justification by faith to the point where they are as argumentative as the Sadducees and Pharisees of old.  Unfit for heaven, Jesus said the prostitutes would enter the kingdom before them; but one thing is certain, Jesus warned that the enemy plants "weeds" in the church (Matthew 13:24-30).  
            The “weeds” closely represent the true “plants.” According to Jesus these are Satan's "implants" and may never have been converted: "One of you is the devil"; that is, these deluded impostors look like Christians but are self-deceived. 
            Paul calls them "enemies of the cross" (Matthew 13:25; John 6:70; Philippians 3:18).
            "Not sparing the flock", they often appear the most learned and pious among the humble saints. They may exhibit their credentials, even speak of divine revelations and work miracles; meanwhile, they are actually tempting the saints to transgress, promoting self-satisfaction to the unconverted, advocating false theories, and causing confusion within the church (Acts 20:29; Matthew 13:38,39).                    
            These individuals have embodied error until  it permeates their being; thinking they are saved, they will be stunned when they hear Christ's words spoken while they stand among the condemned multitude: "You do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked...."; "depart from Me, you that work iniquity" (Revelation 3:17; Luke 13:27).       

            Many times they have spoken soft words of love through smiling lips and tactful deportment. They may have betrayed with a kiss and made noble statements like: "Are you also deceived?  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him?" and "This [fragrance] should have been sold and the money given to the poor" (Pharisees--John 7:47,48; Judas Iscariot--John 12:5).            
            Jesus warns them of their fate, "It is certain that troubles arise, but curses will follow those who cause these problems"; and for greater emphasis, two times Paul says: "Let them be accursed" (Matthew 18:7; Galatians 1:8,9).           
            Jesus gives us permission to evaluate others by comparing the Word with their conduct because actions reveal mental processes, "by their fruits you will know them", He said (Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 7:15-23).
            So, at what point is one actually saved or lost? We cannot say with certainty because heaven makes that determination. Supernatural intelligences weigh our individual history, read our thoughts, know our motives, and hear our appeals (Daniel 7:9,10).       
            God also listens to others as they offer prayers of intercession in our behalf. To one believer Jesus might say, "You are not far from the kingdom of God"; to another, "Woe to you... you cannot enter into the kingdom, and you prevented those who were from entering" (Mark 12:34; Luke 11:52).         

            Most Christians do not know "the depths of Satan" (Revelation 2:24).  Because our perception of sin and ability to judge motive in others is imperfect, and God's most faithful followers are usually charmed by the counterfeit "saints" and cannot discern their delusions, greater harm may be done to the church by their premature separation--believers may not understand the logic of their termination.      
            It is best to let God do the impartial judging while we individually maintain a teachable spirit.  Although the church must deal with the corrupting influence of obvious transgression, Jesus has instructed the leadership to allow the Christian look-alikes to remain, then He will do the discipline and separating as necessary. Do not be alarmed when their afflictions arrive or when they forsake assembly with the saints; the church will continue to grow as it did after Judas hung himself, Demas forsook Paul, and the appalling deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (2 Timothy 4:10; Numbers 26:9,10; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 5:10,14).

Satan is quite capable of partially blinding us to our own faults so we must closely compare ourselves with Bible standards (Isaiah 8:20, 2 Timothy 2:15). Through honest self-analysis and much prayer, God will reveal to us our true condition (2 Timothy 2:15; Revelation 20:12, 13).  
            Are we willing to obey Jesus regardless of circumstances and intimidation by others? Then offer no excuses for bad behavior because you are not justified while excusing known sin, evading compliance under the pretext of ignorance, or neglecting known duties: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you... seeing you have forgotten the law of your God..." (Hosea 4:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Daniel 12,10; Matthew 25:25-30; Hebrews 10;26; Numbers 15:30).            
            Do not have a double standard by trying to love the world and heaven simultaneously. Maintain faithfulness in meeting your obligations to God through obedience, benevolence, and supporting the Gospel through prayer and personal service while studying the Bible and assembling with the saints at God's "holy convocation” each Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3).  Although good works will never buy your salvation, if you find these distasteful or burdensome, your old person has not "died" and the "kingdom of God" is not complete within. 
            The beloved disciple says it so very clearly: "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments" and "do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (1 John 2:3; 3:22).      
            Then John summarizes that point by reminding the "born again" saint that one must "keep himself" from sin and God will provide protection from Satan's assaults: "You may know that you have eternal life, and that.... whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is born of God keeps himself and the wicked one [Satan] touches him not" (1 John 5:13, 18).           
            As God reveals our weakness, we should realize it is only unequaled grace that conquers the wretchedness of our human nature. Jesus' mission is to recover the lost and He will certainly reveal those needs and effect the essential changes within; to the humble believer seeking God's will, He promises: "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me" (Isaiah 27:5).
            Our humility and mistrust of self is so important and God cannot be bribed; He is an impartial judge and faithful angels record every detail of our lives with uncanny precision. We will meet our life again in the judgment and there are no omissions of your faithfulness and repentance or those unconfessed and unforsaken sins and neglected duties (Matthew 12:36).    
            Our "self estimation" will not qualify us for paradise, but in God's judgment heavenly beings determine if you can dwell with them (Daniel 7:10). And if you remain faithful to the end, you will know for certain you have "attained" when you hear God's words, "Well done, good and faithful servant... enter into the joy of your Lord" (Philippians 3:12; Matthew 25:23).


            Baptism by immersion is the other New Testament ordinance and a thinking pastor will tell you that your rising from the water during baptism, not Sunday observance, is the New Testament method of commemorating both Christ's and your resurrection from the dead.           
            No, you are not automatically saved by the act of baptism but being immersed in cleansing water commemorates the washing of your sins and your acceptance of Jesus' death; and rising from the water symbolizes the Spirit's cleansing work in you, that is, what should be taking place internally--the old sinful person's "death" and a new life invigorated with God's power.     


             Although provision has been made to save everyone, they must first accept it: "All ['who live for Him'] have died in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:14,15).         
            Humanity is not unconditionally saved when born of the womb, or anyone automatically made righteous by Jesus' atonement 2,000 years ago as John the beloved identifies the saved as those not "born of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man but of God" (John 1:13).  "For He has made Him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

To believe everyone is born saved is an "easy street to heaven", a form of universalism. This might pacify ones conscience, but remember, for eons the devils were totally-saved and majestic angels--until they sinned.

They are fully aware of Jesus' authority, but tremble and face their final punishment as must unrepentant transgressors (James 2:19; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).

Jesus says His blood is shed for "you", His followers, for the saving of "many", not everyone (Luke 22:19; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24).

Although Christ's great sacrifice could have saved the entire human race, many have not met the conditions provided by God's promptings, to accept and repent; they will remain in a lost condition: "Many are called but few are chosen" (Matthew 20:16; 22:14; Mark 1:15; Romans 5:19; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Peter 4:17). 


 Christ's great sacrifice is significant beyond comprehension yet the re-birth requires our honest cooperation--"as many as received him [internally], to them he gave [enabling] power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12). We hear much of Christ's death, but it actually takes two "deaths" for each saint to enter heaven--first Jesus', then our death to self and the world.   
            When you sincerely receive the name of Chris for the remission of sins, calling yourself a Christian, and make a public statement of that fact by giving your old person to Christ through public baptism, you should rise from the water "born again." This is your second birth, "born of the Spirit" with the old sinful person dead and buried in the watery grave.

Paul explains it to the Roman church this way:  "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Allowing God to conform us to His divine image is essential in the Christian journey to Heaven.            
            In a sense, the children of Israel and the "mixed multitude" were baptized as they crossed the divided waters of the Red Sea and walked under God's protective cloud on their way to Palestine, but take note: They were not automatically saved because those who murmured, who forced their own plans instead of obeying God's, and who did not walk in newness of life, violently perished as blatant transgressors (Ibid.; 1 Corinthians 10:1,2; Jude 1:5).
            The human heart is deceitful above all things; truly, "who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Proverbs 20:9). As Christians, we should mistrust our abilities and never boast like the self-confidant disciples: "We are born again and have attained; we will never, never, never, forsake You"; or inquire like the works-oriented ruler, "What must I  do [I do, I do] to be saved"; instead, we must all crucify self--every day we must all come to Jesus with genuine remorsefulness and a desire to serve God in righteousness--just like that crucified thief (Matthew 26:35; Luke 18:18; 23:41-43).       
            Before his death, he had time in prison to reflect on his wrongs and sincerely repent--his life had been cumbered with bad choices. God moved upon his penitent heart to recognize his unworthiness and understand Christ's noble mission. This degenerate failure was the only penitent human to personally call upon Christ to permit his entrance into heaven before Jesus died; yes, this thief pled his unworthiness to the Compassionate Savior.     

We have the same option; with so many imperfections, we know that our human nature falls extremely short of the holiness heaven demands and we are unfit to enter paradise. We see little good in ourselves; mistrusting our own righteousness and abilities, our excuses cease and we cling to Jesus our righteousness (Romans 3:22). Longing for the holiness necessary to see God, we know He is faithful and all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us according to His good pleasure (Hebrews 12:14; Philippians 2:13; 4:13).    
   In an honest self analysis, a deep soul searching, do you see your unworthiness like the prophet and apostle Paul? He was exact in outward obedience but internally was not "already perfect" (Romans 7:24; Philippians 3:12).

If so, do not retreat or forsake the battle; that conviction means the Holy Spirit has not deserted you like it did the remorseless Herod: Jesus "answered him nothing" (Luke 23:9).       

There is hope if God is still battling your sinful nature by revealing to you your great need of "bringing into captivity every thought" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Were you not drawn into circumstances that reveal these personality defects, you could not ask God for help in finishing the most rewarding contest you will ever complete--"laying aside every. . . sin that so easily assails us, and  let us run the race with patience. . ." (Hebrews 12:1).                   

~ ~ The Olympics of Eternity ~ ~

Destiny uncertain in eternity's great race,
two captains call plays to control the pace.    

     One captain is certain he can never win,  
yet prompts his team to lose with him.
The other Captain's victory is sure,

the wise shall understand” His prize endures.
     He runs with His players, encouraging their win,
imparting His might and strength within.

       So choose your captain, a medallion to hold,
one is an illusion, the other pure gold.
Charles H. Clever

            Competitors are not declared winners who do not follow the rules--a man… is not crowned, except he strive lawfully (2 Timothy 2:5).        
            God has asked nothing impossible of us, merely our faithful cooperation. Our Captain did not die in vain and He would never have submitted to Satan's assaults unless He knew we could be transformed into capable residents of Paradise by uniting with His enabling strength.    
            As a "born again" convert, with Christ abiding in you and you abiding in Him, you should faithfully "die daily" and will love to obey all of your heavenly Father's commandments, including assembly with the church family each Sabbath (throughout eternity, Isaiah 66:23) as you exemplify the effects of the Spirit's enabling presence within--He both strengthens and convicts, all things become new; and like God, you love righteousness and detest evil.    
            This longing for Christ's righteousness permits Him to work inside, giving you the necessary resolve to defeat the enemy within that seeks your destruction (John 14:20; 15:4-7; 1 John 1:9; 3:4; Romans 6:16; 1 Corinthians 15:31).

            It is through the gift of faith, an essential component of God's grace, that we are saved by Jesus' substitutional punishment AND imparted righteousness (Romans 12:3).   Jesus does not merely cover our sinful human nature through His supreme forensic act; instead, God IS our righteousness.  Old things pass away and all things become new when His righteousness is merged with our worthlessness, and His strength merged with our weakness (2 Corinthians 5:17).      
            Then we are unified with the Just Creator and are legally justified through that oneness--we are new persons, not reborn of the womb, or water only, but as Jesus stated, "born again... of the Spirit" (John 3:3).
            God does not force sanctification because justification is a multifaceted legal transaction that is only ratified (legally effective) through His abiding presence--that presence enables us to "turn from transgression."    
            The Holy Spirit does not manipulate our movements like a marionette; we must cooperate with heavenly agencies through God's gift of true faith. Both agencies, our willingness and His providence, are necessary in our conversion and salvation (Isaiah 59:20,21; Ephesians 4:30). 

            God is always faithful and has made every provision for those who, instead of offering excuses for sin,  "hunger and thirst after righteousness"--the decision is ours (Matthew 5:6). Should we withhold our best efforts and persist in stubbornness, we mock God's plans of righteousness for us and we "grieve" the Holy Spirit's presence--God does "not justify the wicked" (Exodus 23:7).  
            When God abandons us to our pernicious ways, we are no longer justified, regardless of our sincerity, and we face the penalty of our sins in the judgment.       

            Salvation is quite easy and God will never forsake us if we remain faithful; it is not merely what we do, or what He did, but what we allow God to do in us and for us that we are accounted righteous and become a "new creation", growing to the full stature.
            To abide in His love, we must obey Him and maintain a willingness to allow God to work His pleasure within as He effects essential changes to our characters: "You are my friends," says Jesus, "if you do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:5,10,14).     

            God knows us better than we know ourselves, and if we refuse reform, we are illegitimate children (bastards, Hebrews 12:8) and our justification is rescinded. Unless fully repentant, God will faithfully execute judgment upon us as He did the demons.       
            When united with God, they were noble angels who knew the peace and perfection of heaven. Thinking they had good motives, they refused to obey their Creator while arguing their plans to reform God's government; how sad that such immaculate creatures allowed themselves to be transformed into demagogues that hate everything that is just, noble, pure, and good (Matthew 8:29; 25:41).

            The inhabitants of Heaven are perfect because the will of God is their joy and supreme delight--they love God, trust their Captain's capabilities, and obey Him unflinchingly--without question.      
            God demands this trait of His faithful followers before allowing them into paradise. Regardless of your "noble" intentions, if you act like the devil here, and attempt to reform God's standards of righteousness, insisting on your own way by not cooperating with God, then you would also resist compliance and continue to "reform" there--the peace and security of heaven will never be jeopardized by your presence.