Christian Churches of God

No. 151

 

 

 

 

God and the Church

(Edition 3.0 19960127-19990109-20080102)

 

This paper deals with the Church. It explains how God is dealing with people and how He forms and uses the Church among the nations of the world.

 

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA

 

Email: secretary@ccg.org

 

(Copyright © 1996, 1999, 2008 Wade Cox)

 

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This paper is available from the World Wide Web page:
http://www.logon.org and http://www.ccg.org

 


God and the Church

 


This paper deals with the Church. It examines how God is dealing with people, how He forms and uses the Church and why the Church is not an international organisation in a controlled and confined corporate sense.

 

God's purpose

Premise: God is not attempting to convert the world now.

Evidence for the present position: God is not controlling the world at present. The world lacks the understanding the New Testament Church had at first. If God is attempting to convert the world, then the pagans are winning. Therefore, He could not be God. Also the Kingdom of God is not being preached. Thus the Church also has failed.

 

Why should this be the case? Is the Devil too strong for God? Are people too evil and God can't work with the planet? Therefore, did God fail in His primary plan of creation?

 

The answer to these questions must be “No”. An all-powerful or omnipotent Being, which God must be, could not be thwarted in His design nor could He be unaware of the outcome of the activities which flow from the plan. His omniscience is understood as a knowledge of all true propositions and entails, necessarily, the knowledge of this outcome of human and angelic activity.

 

All power is from God. The flow of power is shown in Daniel chapters 2 and 3. We have seen from the dream of Daniel 2 that the intervention of God is at the end of the period of the powers that flowed from the head of gold on through to the feet of iron and clay and the empire of the ten toes. God changes times and seasons. He removes kings and sets up kings. He gives wisdom unto the wise and knowledge to those that know or have understanding. He reveals the deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness (or what is hidden) and the light dwells with Him (Dan. 2:21-22,28).

 

The interpretation of the empire of the world systems was made known to the king through Daniel for the latter days (Dan. 2:28). The understanding of the vision was not given to Daniel for any wisdom he possessed or for any then living. It was given for those who would interpret the vision to the king of that system in the future. Note the peculiar wording of Daniel 2:30.

Daniel 2:30 But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. (KJV)

 

Thus the vision was given to understand the times until the end. This is the period we refer to as the Time of the Gentiles or the “time of the nations”. The last period of the fourth kingdom of iron extended over a long time until the end and the intervention of God. The last phase of this period saw a union of ten kings represented by the iron and clay of the feet and ten toes.

Daniel 2:40-45 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. (KJV)

 

This dream is integral to the Plan of God and will not fail. The time-frame was established through Nebuchadnezzar, and his reign was used to commence the sequence. He was the head of gold (Dan. 2:38). He was followed by the Medes and Persians represented by silver. The Greeks followed, and were the torso of brass and who conquered the earth into Asia and then divided it. The Romans superseded this Hellenic kingdom as the empire of iron. This system was altered from the military dictatorship into a religious empire and this empire of iron and clay continued until the Last Days. The Holy Roman Empire was disbanded in 1850 after 1,260 years from its inception in 590 CE. This period was neither the beginning nor end of the system. The system began with the rise of Nebuchadnezzar at the battle of Carchemish and was eighty years in the establishment until the invasion of Egypt by Cambyses in 525 BCE. This period and the significance are found in the paper The Fall of Egypt: The Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms (No. 36).

 

The servants of God are not to worship this system. This is the meaning of Daniel 2:1-7. The nations that do this accuse the elect who will not worship the image of the beast.

 

Time of the Gentiles

The Time of the Gentiles is a period of “seven times”. The visions were given at the beginning so that the end might be foretold from the beginning. The wisdom of the elect is made evident from this time also, from Daniel to the present, through the Holy Spirit.

Daniel 4:8-9 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, 9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. (KJV)

 

The seven times are found in Daniel 4:32. This period commenced with Babylon and the end is also of that system.

Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (KJV)

 

The period of seven times covered 2,520 years from that system, which began in 605 BCE and was consolidated in 525 BCE. The seven times came to an end with the wars of 1914-18 and continued until the final phases in 1995-96. This process is a continual one of reorganisation. The “time of the nations” is now finished and the period of the end is upon us.

 

Throughout this entire period God dealt with the Church among the nations. He controlled nations through other nations and prevented the rise of the complete world system so that the Church could not be obliterated and the nations could be accountable. In this way, the earth was protected and kept from destruction. That period ended at Nisan 1996. The Church is not and has never been an international organisation. It was for this reason the Athanasian church was formed from the Council of Constantinople in 381 CE. The Spanish-born Theodosius was appointed by Gratian as the first Athanasian emperor. All his Christian predecessors were Unitarians. They were called Arians by the Athanasians to disguise the nature of the dispute and to conceal the antiquity of the Unitarian position, which dated back to the Apostles and is the structure of the New Testament. The Triune position was finally set in place in the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, with the position of the Holy Spirit being established and the Trinity fixed. The real aim of this church was world domination and hierarchical power (cf. the paper Sociniaism, Arianism and Unitarianism (No. 185)).

 

The generic name of the Church is "Church of God" (see the section ‘The Name of the Church’ in the paper Formation of the Christian Churches of God (No. 68)). It is not an international organisation by structure and control. That will not occur until Messiah rules from Jerusalem. The European church will attempt to falsify that system in the Last Days and will attempt to operate from Jerusalem under the false prophet. The Church of God is formed amongst the tribes or nations termed Gentiles. They are formed with the nation of Israel and will be one people under Christ.

 

God deals with nations under the Law. In this way He also dealt with their spiritual heads who were allocated to them from Deuteronomy 32:8 (RSV and Septuagint  (LXX); messengers or angels of God).

Deuteronomy 32:8  When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. (RSV)

(cf. also LXX, First Epistle of Clement and DSS.)

 

In the development of the text in Deuteronomy, chapter 28 deals with the blessings and curses on a national basis. God deals with individual nations. He does not deal with them on a collective international level. The blessings are found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The curses follow from verses 15-58.

 

The Church was established in 30 CE in Jerusalem and was persecuted. Many came, but many also were not chosen by God. The “Parable of the Sower” was given to show this fact. Many are called but few are chosen (Mat. 20:16). The predestination of the elect is found at Romans 8:28-30.

Romans 8:28-30  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. (RSV)

 

Thus not all who say they are called are indeed called or chosen of God. The Church is seen for its obedience to the Laws of God. If they speak not according to the Law and the Testimony there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20). The saints are those who obey the Commandments of God and the Testimony or Faith of Jesus. The Church has no power to alter these Laws as laid down in the Bible.

 

The Faith is spoken in parables so that, as a general rule, only those who are able to come into judgment for the First Resurrection are called. The long-term damage is thus limited. However, many hear and are called, though they are not ready. Christ spoke of this problem.

Matthew 13:10-13 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (RSV)

 

Mark 4:2-34 And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 "Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; 6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." 9 And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 10 And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. 11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; 12 so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven." 13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. 16 And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." 21 And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." 24 And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." 26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, 27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." 30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (RSV)

 

The truth is given as a parable so people would not understand and be baptised and placed in a position where they would fail the First Resurrection. There will be much resentment in the Second Resurrection by people who thought they were called. Romans 8:28-32 shows that we are called according to His purpose and for no other reason. These are powerful verses.

 

God foreknew us; Christ was predestined to be slain; and we were predestined to be called. The predestination is seen from the calling, which is promised from Psalm 116, and known on an individual basis. This has been dealt with in a number of papers, but more comprehensively in the paper Predestination (No. 296).

Psalm 116:1-19  I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 4  Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I beseech thee, save my life!" 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. 6  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; 9 I walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I kept my faith, even when I said, "I am greatly afflicted"; 11  I said in my consternation, "Men are all a vain hope." 12  What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, 14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. 15  Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16  O LORD, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast loosed my bonds. 17  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. 18  I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, 19  in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD! (RSV)

Thus each of the elect is poured out as a drink-offering. The death of the elect is precious in the sight of God (Ps. 116:15).

 

The elect were called according to His purpose from the patriarchs and prophets. Jeremiah was called before he was conceived.

Jeremiah 1:4-19  Now the word of the LORD came to me saying  5  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. 6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak 8  Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10  See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." 11 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, "I see a rod of almond." 12 Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it." 13 The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north." 14 Then the LORD said to me, "Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, lo, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the LORD; and they shall come and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands 17 But you, gird up your loins; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you." (RSV)

 

As was Jeremiah, we were predestined and written in the Book of the Lamb before the world was formed. We were formed according to the knowledge of God even before we were in the womb.

Psalm 139:13-16   For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. 14  I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; 15 my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. 16 Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (RSV)

 

A Being who doesn't know all of the future cannot be God. This argument was advanced by Augustine of Hippo. The attempts at limiting the foreknowledge of God are incorrect limitations on God.

 

God knew that Christ had to be slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). God therefore knew that Satan and the Host would rebel. Christ would have to be slain in obedience. The elect would follow him in obedience, being conformed to his image, which is the image of God. People would be predestined before they were born.

 

As Jeremiah was called before he was born, and cleansed, having God’s words placed in his mouth (Jer. 1:9), so too was Isaiah called and cleansed (Isa. 6:5-13). Through Isaiah the cleansing of the elect was foretold.

Isaiah 1:18-20   "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (RSV)

 

Isaiah was a foul-mouth, yet he was cleansed and was sent on the work of the Lord. This is exactly how the Lord uses us, and through parables.

Isaiah 6:5-13  And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" 6 Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." 9 And he said, "Go, and say to this people: `Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.' 10  Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." 11 Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without men, and the land is utterly desolate, 12 and the LORD removes men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains standing when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump. (RSV)

Note here the remnant of the people with whom God deals. One-tenth is then purged again. The Holy Seed is the stump that remains and is refined by fire.

 

God calls and uses sinners, placing them in the Church. The “righteous” don't need God. God took the weak and the base of the creation and gave them to Christ to work with and to confound the self-righteous people of the nations.

 

The elect – the called or chosen ones – are part of a family, which is not an imperial system. They are not to lord it over others. All are to love one another and serve one another.

 

As in the Parable of the Sower, many are called but there is no large-scale response. Some people want to be in the First Resurrection but simply in order to get a higher position than their brother. Hebrews is quite clear that the First Resurrection is a better resurrection.

Hebrews 11:35  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (KJV)

 

Our judgment is now, so that we can be resurrected and translated at Christ's return. The Second Resurrection takes 100 years for judgment to be fully executed or complete (Isa. 65:20). There will be another 100 years of human life. This is the general or Second Resurrection of the dead.

 

Revelation 20:1-4 shows that there is perhaps one criterion for the First Resurrection. This is they that were beheaded. The elect were killed over 2,000 years of persecution.

Revelation 20:1-4  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (KJV)

 

The elect are either one group with two separate characteristics, or they are comprised of two distinct groups. Thus they are either those who were beheaded for their testimony, or they were persecuted because of their refusal to worship the Beast system and its image over the two thousand years. Thus there may be two groups present, one of which was beheaded and the other simply persecuted by the false system.

 

The conclusion must be that there has to be an empirical system which transcends nations and beheads the elect for religious disagreement. Only one such system was heir to the Greeks and then the Romans. That system is European Orthodox or Catholic Christianity. It has killed more people than any other system in existence. Until recently, it was rivalled in this only by Communist structures.

 

From the two ways of reading Revelation 20:1-4, we deduce the following:

 

Option 1

If the elect must be beheaded or killed to be in the First Resurrection then we perhaps deal with one group. This group forms the sacrifices of the Church (see the paper The Harvests of God, the New Moons Sacrifices and the 144,000 (No. 120)). The 144,000 relates to a 360-day prophetic year. All prophecy uses blocks (i.e. days which relate to a-year-for-a-day principle or to 1,000 years when referring to the Plan of God). The complete Sabbath is thus a week of which there are seven weeks-of-years in the Jubilee plus one. The week of the creation refers to the 6,000-year rule of Satan, and then the Millennium or Sabbath Rest of God’s creation.

 

A year equals 12 months x 30 days. A prophetic year is thus reckoned on 360 years. A time, times, and half a time is thus three-and-a-half times, which equals 1,260 years. Seven times is 2,520 years. There is an intercalary month seven times in every 19-year moon cycle. This does not affect a prophetic year.

 

The sacrifices for the year are based on a prophetic year of 360 days. There are thus 52 weeks and hence 52 Sabbath sacrifices. There are 12 lunar months (intercalary months not included). There are six Feasts and a seventh (the Feast of Tishri), which is also a New Moon. Tishri has a double sacrifice system ordered (Num. 29:6).

 

The Feast of Tabernacles has a continual reducing sacrifice over the period of the seven days. The eighth day is a separate Feast termed the Last Great Day. The Wave-Sheaf Offering is a separate offering which represents Messiah’s ascent. This makes the 72nd yearly offering (not including the continual offerings of Tabernacles). The seventy referred to in Luke 10:1,17 are in fact seventy[two] from the texts and which represent the Council or Sanhedrin whose authority was transferred by Christ to the Church from his ordination of the Seventy (Lk. 10:1-2,17-20). The actions in Luke 10 are reflections of the promise to Eve that her seed would bruise the head of the serpent.

 

The Council of Elders was appointed at Sinai and was taken up by Moses to eat with Messiah on Sinai when he was the Angel of the Covenant who gave the Law to Moses. The Seventy represent the heavenly heads of nations. These heads were seen from Deuteronomy 32:8, where the nations were allocated according to the "sons of God". The number was not left at 70. The Sanhedrin was always 71 + 1, the latter being God. Thus there were 72. The two extra are God and Messiah (this is the meaning of the hebdomekonta[duo] of the ancient texts of Lk. 10:1,17; cf. Marshall’s The RSV Interlinear Greek English NT).

 

The Feast of Purim, as kept by Judah, relates to the redemption/conversion of Judah in the Last Days.

 

The figure 72 per year x 40 Jubilees (or 2,000 yrs) = 144,000. The 144,000 are dependent upon the New Moons for completion. Thus the Feasts and the New Moons as well as the Sabbaths are central to the determination of the elect. The argument is that all of the elect in this group must pay with their lives. This concept is very difficult.

 

Option 2

Proceeding from the premise that the word and may mean separate groups, and is not a linguistic conjunction of two attributes of the same group but refers to two separate groups, a second group is allowed who don't take the mark of Beast but are persecuted. We will find out at the First Resurrection if we are in it, or we will wait for the Second. The Apostle John was not martyred but is in the First Resurrection. Therefore, the conclusion is that there are two groups in the First Resurrection.

 

From this position it might follow that the Great Multitude are the saints and hence also in the First Resurrection. The Great Multitude takes part in the Government and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev. 20:5-6).

 

The Great Multitude are referred to in Revelation 7:9-17.

Revelation 7:9-17 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (KJV)

No man can number this group because God alone knows them. He gives them to Christ and they make their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. They come through the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 7, the two groups are identified prior to the texts dealing with the return of Messiah. They are, therefore, seemingly in the First Resurrection.

 

After or at the end of the Millennium, Satan is released to deceive the nations again.

Revelation 20:7-10 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (KJV)

 

The process here of the Lake of Fire is used to destroy concepts. Orthodox Christianity has used the text to support the concept of eternal punishment. However, God uses the lake as a memorial to false systems. The Beast is not an entity; it is a system of rule. Thus it is a concept and cannot be punished eternally. The false prophet is in fact false prophecy. The Devil is a state of being. Satan by this time is reduced from his state of spiritual being and hence is another entity, as Christ voluntarily became another entity from the Incarnation. Satan will be reduced to flesh and his system will be destroyed and his power harnessed harmlessly (see the papers The Judgment of the Demons (No. 80) and The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143)).

 

Revelation 20:11-15 shows the general resurrection of the dead. This is the Second Resurrection. Verse 13 refers to the sea giving up its dead as part of the Second Resurrection. The assertion that verse 13 refers to a third resurrection is a fallacy. This matter has been examined in the paper The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection (No. 166)). Death and Hades represent concepts of dying and lying in the grave. The doctrine of the third resurrection firstly impugns God's perfect love. Secondly, it impugns His omnipotence; and thirdly, it impugns His omniscience.

 

The resurrections encompass all Adamic humans, not the Rephaim. In Isaiah 26:12-14 Rephaim is translated as deceased or giants. They shall not rise (see The Companion Bible). The Rephaim and Nephilim are the false creation under the demons. They are left in graves (see the paper The Nephilim (No. 154)).

 

Isaiah 65:17-25 refers to the Second Resurrection. All of those resurrected at this resurrection will live 100 years. The Second Resurrection is a translation process. People reach the capacity to enter judgment and are then translated into spirit. Others who are not repentant will eventually die, be burnt, and not go on to the next phase. That process is the second death. The second death has no power over the elect, who are predestined to be called into the First Resurrection and are hence justified and glorified.

 

Thus we see that there are a large number called but who are incapable of acting. Some are not baptised and, therefore, not in the elect for consideration for the First Resurrection. Every person must be baptised into the Body of Christ. No one can be baptised into a denomination.

 

God will call only when we can be baptised. Some others hear and come in to the elect. However, they don't act on the word of God conveyed by the Holy Spirit. Some are unable to act; some are prevented by their spouses or family from acting; others are constrained by economics. God is not calling them now.

 

It is not difficult to be in the First Resurrection: we must repent, be baptised, keep the Commandments of God and the Testimony of Christ, and make disciples of all nations. We must take the Lord's Supper every year. There are only two sacraments of the Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (see the paper The Sacraments of the Church (No. 150)).

 

The Last Supper occurs on the night of 14 Nisan, before Passover. Weekly Communion comes from the pre-Christian mysteries. Attempts are made to tie communion into the shewbread, but shewbread is essential to the sacrifice system. Indispensable from the New Testament Church also is foot-washing.

 

Thus the Church is set simple tasks and acts according to God’s will in preparing itself for its primary goal, which is the First Resurrection. The Church has organised itself over the centuries in different ways to accomplish the goals it has been set, and to ensure its survival.

 

By and large, there have been two systems that it has used. These are the Diocesan system, and the Presbyterian or Congregationalist systems (the diocesan systems use the term Presbytery for the domicile of the presbyter or local priest under a bishop). The Presbyterian system has been the more successful in survival for the persecuted Church over the centuries. The Catholic system has been diocesan because it has been hierarchical, empire-driven and dominant.

 

The distinction between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover is representative of the difference between the Church and the nation. We as the elect are required to deleaven the self of malice and sin. The Lord’s Supper is not the Passover. The Passover night is the night after the Lord’s Supper. This is the evening when the death angel passed over Israel. Christ thus saved all Israel and not just the Church. All mankind will ultimately pass into Israel and the nations will disappear. Passover involves more than the Church. It involves also the strangers within our gates. These are those not yet part of Israel by conversion. The festival thus embraces all Israel. The first night is for the Church. The second night is for the nations.

 

It is a gross error to think that the Jews had the date wrong and kept Passover one day late (i.e. on the 15th instead of on 14 Nisan). Christ died as the sin offering and the peace offering. If Yehoshuah, called Jesus Christ, did not die on the correct day we have no Messiah. We celebrate the whole Feast in the understanding of God’s purpose.

 

What then is Communion?

Communion is a rite of the Athanasian church which doesn't confer any benefits.

 

The film Lady Jane is about the Queen who reigned for nine days and was removed by the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII. Lady Jane was beheaded primarily because she refused to admit of more than two sacraments for the Church, and she denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. Spain and the Catholics are quite clearly shown as demanding her death by political persuasion.

 

These are the fundamental disputations of the Church with the Catholic system. The Reformation was prompted by the Unitarian message in England. The fundamentalist upsurge in England stemmed from the biblical literalism advocated from the time of Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely.

 

Trinitarianism was threatened throughout Europe. The threat was put down by great persecution. Reason could not prevail because the Bible clearly supported and was the basis of the opposition which resulted in the Reformation.

 

After this age of reason, there ensued a period of the Era of Dead Faith. This era, after fifteen to sixteen centuries, was likened to Sardis. That era failed in its mission but it was a valid era of the Church. The Church went into the doldrums (a period of inactivity). It had a resurgence in the Advent movement of the nineteenth century and emerged in the twentieth century with flawed understanding.

 

Church Groups

There were thus five Church groups extant over the centuries within the nations that were acceptable to God. They are known by the names of the churches in Revelation 2-3. These are the Ephesian, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatiran, and Philadelphian. The later eras of Sardis and Laodicea failed as churches and only individuals make it into the Kingdom of God.

 

The Church of God is thus not an organised structure. It is not a world organisation which has material wealth. Its servants are not of this world. There are differences of gifts but the same spirit, many ministries or administrations but the same Lord, and many operations but the same God operating all things in all (1Cor. 12:5,6).

 

The Time of the Gentiles is a significant time in the history of the Church. There is a duality to this sequence (see the paper The Fall of Egypt: the Prophecy of Pharaoh's Broken Arms (No. 36)). From the period 605-525 BCE we emerge seven times later at 1996. The Time of the Gentiles or nations is finishing and now the time of the union of the world system under the final empire of the Beast has come.

 

The periods are significant. It was 1,000 years from David’s entry to Jerusalem to the birth of Messiah. It was a further 2,000 years to 1996-97. This period begins the “period of the wars of the planet” and lasts 30 years.

 

Our job is to do the work of the Last Days. Our purpose is to be called out and prepare for and do the job Satan and the demons should have done. Our job is to prepare to teach and lead in the Millennium. At the Second Resurrection we have the responsibility for helping the entire planet under judgment. We will also judge the demons (1Cor. 6:2-3). They will probably repent, given our example and intercession. Satan will probably repent. God does not want any flesh to perish (2Pet. 3:9). However, all flesh shall perish together and return to dust (Job 34:15). Thus there is a planned end of the physical creation.

 

The demons will be reduced to flesh in the Second Resurrection. This is the meaning of Ezekiel 28:8-10,19.

Ezekiel 28:8-10  They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. 9 Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. 10 Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. (KJV)

 

Some see the promise of the First Resurrection and seek baptism, then find difficulties. We are one family, but only in obedience to God.

 

Remember the time when Mary and Christ’s brothers and sisters came to see Christ at the house. He made the point then as to who constituted his family.

Matthew 12:46-50 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (KJV)

 

One of his brothers, James, became Bishop of Jerusalem, and was martyred in 63 CE (cf. the papers The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 13)) and The Virgin Mariam and the Family of Jesus Christ (No. 232)). God knows His Church and gives them to Christ.

 

God’s omniscience is understood as the knowledge of all true propositions. God predestines the elect through this omniscience. The question then arises: “Do people know if they are predestined?” This is the most dangerous doctrine in the Bible. Calvin understood at first, but apparently not later. The Germans developed the doctrine into Antinomianism. They reasoned thus: "If I'm predestined, I can do anything". Once saved always saved. This doctrine of Antinomianism is anti-God because it is anti-Law, which proceeds from His nature.

 

We can't understand the Bible if we don't obey. The correlation between what we say and do allows progression to the next level of understanding. Few are chosen to be called. The elect are taken two of a family, one of a city (Jer. 3:14). We are now in the last phases of the Last Days.

 

We will have only three-and-a-half years after the Two Witnesses arrive in Jerusalem. We must then work furiously over that last 1,260 days. Christ will not be in Petra and nor will the elect be in Petra. From Matthew 10:23-28, we will be under persecution. From 10:23, we will not have finished fleeing through the cities of Israel before Christ returns. This is an ongoing process.

 

The Two Witnesses finish the job. They speak according to the Law and the Testimony. The difference is that they will cause affliction and plagues in concert with what they say.

 

The final work will be done by the power of the Spirit. It will not be done by money and physical resources. Our obligation is to continue the work with all our might until the Messiah comes. The elect who obey the Commandments and the Testimony of Jesus Christ, regardless of the persecution they face, are the elect of the First Resurrection. God perfects the elect by their trials so that they are refined as gold is refined. We proceed by faith.

 

Further reading about the Church:

Formation of the Christian Churches of God (No. 68)

The Cult Mentality (No. 74)

Our Dwelling Place (No. 94)

Proverbs 31 (No. 114)

The Harvests of God, The New Moon Sacrifices and the 144,000 (No. 120)

The Witnesses (No. 135)

The Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143)

The Eternal Kingdom of God (No. 144)

The Sacraments of the Church (No. 150)

The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection (No. 166)

The Commission of the Church (No. 171)

Forming a Church (No. 171B).

 

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