Christian Churches of God
(Edition 3.0 19960727-20000712-20150522)
Most people are aware of the term to be born again in a Christian sense. Most do not understand the process involved and the meaning of the term. Christ delivered the teaching on the subject as recorded by John in John 3:1-21. This paper examines the biblical explanation and exposes alarming differences with that used by most Christian groups.
Most people are aware of the term to be born again in a Christian sense. Most do not understand the process involved and the meaning of the term.
Inherent in the message of Christ’s sacrifice and the New Covenant is God calling a people to be living stones and builders in the spiritual Temple of God with the prophets, apostles, and the Messiah being the chief cornerstone.
This important message strikes at the very heart and core of what it means for those called by God to come into the body of the Shepherd/Messiah and become the Temple or Naos of the living God by the Holy Spirit to be partakers of God’s divine nature. This is one of the most compelling and important truths revealed by God through the Messiah’s sacrifice that one can come to know and deeply appreciate. To truly grasp in one’s lifetime a calling to conversion by God through the Holy Spirit and being granted a new life as a son of God to be placed in His Temple to serve in the Melchisedek priesthood under the Messiah is an awesome privilege and a tremendous responsibility.
This privilege is obtained through the process of being Born Again.
Christ delivered the teaching on the subject as recorded by John in John 3:1-21. There are a number of concepts involved in the text which are overlooked in the modern charismatic repetition of the term born again.
John 3:1-21 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." 3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, `You must be born anew.' 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." 9 Nicode'mus said to him, "How can this be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only [begotten KJV; monogenous only born; incorrectly omitted in the RSV] Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (RSV)
Born again is derived from gennaõ (SGD 1080) meaning to procreate of either the father or the mother and figuratively means to regenerate as being born or made or spring, again.
In John 3:3 the Greek word for “born” is SGD #1080: Gennáo. From The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993, gennáœ; from génos (1085), generation, kind, offspring. “To beget as spoken of men; to bear as spoken of women; pass., to be begotten or be born. Spoken of God begetting in a spiritual sense which consists in regenerating, sanctifying, quickening anew, and ennobling the powers of the natural man by imparting to him a new life and a new spirit in Christ (1Jn 5:1). Hence, Christians are said to be born of God and to be the sons of God (Rom 8:14; Gal 3:26; 4:6).”
Also, in John 3:3, the word “again” in the Greek can correctly be translated “from above.” In other words, John 3:3 can read “born from above.” The Greek word “again” is ánœthen, SGD #509. “Gennáo” and “ánœthen” are rendered in the various Bible translations of verse 3 as: born again, born from above, born again from above, born anew, and begotten anew.
Christ speaks literally of being born "from above," which means "from God." "Above" was a Jewish roundabout expression for God.
From the Complete Word Study Dictionary referenced above, we also learn:
NT: (509) ánœthen; adv. from áno (507), above, and the suffix -then denoting from. From above. (I) Of place, the meaning is from God, implied in the "from above." Both meanings are correct (born again and born from above) since this is a birth from God and it is a new birth. In John 3:4, Nicodemus clearly takes it to mean to be born a second time (deúteron ).”
Metaphorically, in John 3:3 the word “see” in the Greek (eidon, SGD 1492) also has many connotations. To “see” the Kingdom also means to be aware of through perception, to perceive, to know, to discern, to experience, to see and enjoy the divine privileges, to be acquainted with, to understand.
A.E. Knoch’s Concordant Literal New Testament translates verse 3 as:
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Verily, verily, I am saying to you, If anyone should not be begotten anew, he cannot perceive the kingdom of God."
The Living Oracles (LO) reads as:
John 3:3 Jesus answering, said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a man be born again, he cannot discern the Reign of God.
The Murdoch translation:
John 3:3 Jesus replied, and said to him: Verily, verily, I say to thee, That, unless a man be born anew, he cannot behold the kingdom of God.
The RSV rendering of John 3:4 reads, “Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?"
E.W. Bullinger, in his footnote to John 3:4, states, “The question implies a negative answer. Nicodemus misunderstands, and uses the Verb gennáœ of the mother. The Lord uses it of the Father, as meaning begetting.” Greek scholars agree with Bullinger in this understanding.
Jewish teachers spoke of Gentile converts to Judaism as starting life anew like newborn children; just as adopted sons under Roman law relinquished all legal status in their former family when they became part of a new one. Christ is talking about conversion, a spiritual regeneration, and Nicodemus should have understood him. The requirement for someone Jewish to be converted to the true faith of Israel through the Messiah never enters Nicodemus’ thought process.
John 3:5 is very interesting. It reads in the CJB: Yeshua answered, “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”
Some interpret this verse to mean the “water” is the mother’s amniotic fluid developed during gestation. But does it really mean that? The most credible, authoritative sources that explain this verse don’t agree. For example, the commentary from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern states:
“John 3:5 Born from water and the Spirit. Immersion in water is connected with ritual cleansing of the body (see Jn. 1:26-34, and Mt. 3:1-17), while the Holy Spirit gives power for turning from sin and living a holy life; both bespeak aspects of purification. This is why “born from water” does not mean ordinary human birth;
moreover, since everyone is “born from water” in that sense, it would be silly for Yeshua to make a condition out of it with the word ‘unless’.”(Emphasis added)
E.W. Bullinger adds more important information in defining water and spirit in this verse. He states that this verse contains a figure of speech known as a “‘Hendiadys’ (two for one), which is two words used, but one thing is meant; not two things, but one, by which the latter Noun (spirit) becomes a superlative and emphatic Adjective, determining the meaning and nature of the former Noun (water), showing that one to be spiritual water: i.e. not water but spirit. It is to be rendered ‘of water – yea, spiritual water’.”
In verse 5, to “enter” the Kingdom relates to verse 3 and gives meaning to what is meant by “see” the Kingdom. Metaphorically one who has received God’s Spirit discerns and becomes acquainted with the divine privileges of the Kingdom by entering it through Christ:
Colossians 1:12-14 “… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (RSV)
The New Living Translation (NLT) captures the essence of John 3:6 “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” God’s Holy Spirit, accessible through Christ, produces a new heart and spirit in sinful man. “Whatever is born (SGD #1080) of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” (1Jn. 5:4 - RSV)
John 3:8 in the Philips translation reads: “The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from or where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit."
The Rotherham Bible translates John 3:8: “The spirit, where it pleaseth, doth breathe, and, the sound thereof, thou hearest; but knowest not, whence it cometh and whither it goeth: Thus, is every one who hath been born (SGD #1080) of the spirit.”
The Greek word for “wind” at the beginning of verse 8 is actually pnuema and is translated “spirit” at the end of this verse. In verse 8 Christ is not saying that physical human beings become spirit beings when born anew. This interpretation is a total misunderstanding of Christ’s message. When a person receives the Holy Spirit it is not physically discernible, but it is discernible by the fruit of the Spirit produced in one’s life. The individual now produces fruit of the Holy Spirit which is no longer hostile to God or to the Laws of His Kingdom (Gal.5:22-25).
In summary, it is through the Passover sacrifice and the resurrection of the Messiah that makes it possible for a truly converted baptised Christian to become born anew (1Pet.1:3-5). The transformation from living carnally to being born anew requires the Holy Spirit to work with an individual to lead him/her to repentance. It is a calling to Christ from God, the Father, to repent and be converted and be given a spiritual birth from above. The repentant individual is then brought to baptism, which symbolizes (1) a death in the watery grave and burial of the “old carnal rebellious self”, and (2) a resurrection to literally walk in the newness of a spiritual life within the body of the Messiah. The baptised person receives the Holy Spirit after having the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-17). The Holy Spirit now works in the individual who now possesses the power of God to overcome human nature, faults, and rebellion against Him, and to partake in the divine nature in submission to the Laws of His Kingdom, to live a new life in Christ through faith, thus being born anew from above. It is a spiritual regeneration and placement into the body of the Messiah by the Holy Spirit upon repentance and baptism.
The time element of “when” a person is “born from above” becomes obvious from Scripture that it occurs during one’s physical life and upon being given the Holy Spirit. This is the truth of being born again as revealed by God thru the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah. Nicodemus should have understood it, but he did not grasp the reality of the Messiah’s message and the ultimate purpose of the spiritual intent of the Passover.
The propositions here are that:
1. No one who is not born again can inherit the Kingdom of God.
The statement here is based upon the premise that flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
1Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (RSV)
Thus, the human in his unrighteous state cannot inherit the Kingdom.
1Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, (RSV) (nor effeminate or abusers of themselves with mankind: 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)
These are the works of the flesh which are repeated again in different form in Galatians.
Galatians 5:19-26 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The deeds that do inherit the Kingdom of God are stated following this text.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (KJV)
The faith must be pursued in the Spirit. Thus the rebirth must be spiritual. It is not a physical concept, which is why Christ likened it to the wind that could not be seen. The process of inheritance through faith and patience in diligent work is developed in Hebrews 6:12.
Song of Songs
The intention of the Song of Songs is important to the understanding of the faith and of baptism and rebirth.
The Song of Songs (No. 145) gives us the purpose and meaning of the book while illuminating its clear Messianic intent, and gives us an understanding of the nature of the Church and its relationship with the Messiah, as the introduction to this study paper states.
In Song of Songs, the virgin Shulemite woman is symbolic of the Church and the Hebrew expressions about her when properly understood establishes her connection to Christ’s parables in Matthew 25 to the ten virgins, and in John 3 to her being born again. The Shulemite woman’s conversion, receipt of the Holy Spirit and becoming the Temple (Naos) of God through the shepherd specifically relate to these two parables by Christ.
Here we see the parable focus on and relate to:
We will now focus on the Messiah’s response to Nicodemus’ inquiry that occurred in the darkness of night during Passover week while he was in Jerusalem with his disciples observing Passover at the Temple (cf. Jn. 2:23 and Jn. 3:2). Christ’s Passover sacrifice pictured in Song of Songs 5:3 as the shepherd putting off his garment symbolizes Christ laying aside his life, and the question by the shepherd “how could I put it on” shows the miracle of the resurrection through the power of God. This is the pivotal message in understanding the building of God’s spiritual Temple, and his message will show that “born again” relates to one’s calling to Christ by God to participate in building the new Temple.
Once we understand what Christ meant in his response, then the “when” aspect of “born again” should become obvious as to whether it occurs upon receiving God’s Holy Spirit at baptism, or being “born again” at one’s resurrection. How we comprehend the reality of Christ’s message to Nicodemus will determine how we will conduct our daily life with him. We will see how our understanding and reaction to Christ’s message will relate to his parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-12. All ten virgins received the Holy Spirit at baptism, but only five became wise while five became foolish and had the door to the Kingdom shut on them.
Christ’s entire message deals with different, yet related truths within Scripture that will require putting all the segments together to arrive at a correct understanding and conclusion of what it means, and most importantly, to what an individual must commit to be “born again”, which ultimately leads to be granted eternal life in God’s family by the Holy Spirit through the Messiah. This must be a total commitment to God (Luke 9:62). He requires an uncompromising spirit in obedience unlike the five foolish virgins who developed a spirit of rebellion and lawlessness against God’s Laws.
Christ’s parable on “born again” has many aspects that require consideration to understand the meaning of his response, and “born again” cannot be understood when isolated from the Law, Prophets, and Writings in the Old Testament. Christ responds to Nicodemus’ lack of understanding in what he was trying to get through to him: “Yeshua answered him, “You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, and you don’t know this?” (Jn. 3:10 - from the Complete Jewish Bible – CJB)
Nicodemus should have understood from Song of Songs ch.7 verse 2 that the reference to “O prince’s daughter” is referring to the Shulemite virgin as being “O born lady-Shulemite”, meaning she is to be “born again”.
First of all, we should understand that God did not set His Temple system in place through ancient Israel without a higher purpose. God states to Israel in Leviticus.26: 11-12: 11 “I will place My residence (Temple) among you, and I will not reject you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people.” The entirety of the OT Temple system with its priesthood and sacrifices foreshadowed Christ and his body, which are the elect to be the Temple or Naos of God (1Cor.3:16-17). This is most important to comprehend. There is symbolically a correlation between the Temple systems of the Old and New Covenants including the Ark of the Covenant, the death and resurrection of the Messiah, conversion and the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit through Christ thus entering into the New Covenant relationship with God and His Temple system, and being “born again.”
To capture the essence of “born again” and when it occurs, we need to go back to when John the Baptist baptises Yahoshua (Jesus) in the river Jordan (Matt. 3:13-16). John witnesses the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ, and proclaims him to be the son of God, who baptises with the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:29-34). It is important to note that it was after Christ was baptised that the Holy Spirit descended upon him (v. 32), and it is through him that the Holy Spirit is made available to those God is now calling and placing into the body of His son. We are to be baptised (Acts 2:38), and Christ is our example (1Pet. 2:21). We follow him.
In John 2 verse 13, Christ and his disciples travel to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. It was here that he declared the Temple in Jerusalem his Father’s House, and cleansed the Temple by driving out the money changers and animals (vv. 14-16). Christ had a zeal for his Father’s house as John 2:17 quotes Psalm 69:9.
What follows next is extremely important in understanding the process and what it means to become “born again.” Christ, in verse 21, refers to his body as the temple. The physical structure in Jerusalem, the temple of the Old Covenant, is being replaced by the Messiah’s body, the coming spiritual temple of the New Covenant.
John 2:13-21 It was almost time for the festival of Pesach in Y’hudah, so Yeshua went up to Yerushalayim. 14 In the Temple grounds he found those who were selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, and others who were sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep and cattle as well. He knocked over the money–changers’ tables, scattering their coins; 16 and to the pigeon–sellers he said, “Get these things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?” 17 (His talmidim later recalled that the Tanakh says, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”) 18 So the Judeans confronted him by asking him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove you have the right to do all this?” 19 Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 The Judeans said, “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the “temple” he had spoken of was his body. (CJB)
Many people who have rejected the mainstream or hierarchical religious systems misapprehend the requirements placed on the elect to work diligently in the faith. The early church was non-hierarchical but it was also organised and diligent, based on work through self-sacrifice and good stewardship. Those who lack a serving mentality, or who have been misused in an hierarchical structure, seek to avoid organised activity through the rejection of an organised structure. This is false doctrine and will be examined separately. Being born again means being born again to the works of the faith in the structure of the church which is the body of Jesus Christ. This structure is non-hierarchical but it is nevertheless organised and disciplined, acting under biblical law. There is a time coming when no man can work (Jn. 9:4) but it is not yet. The duty of a soldier is to organise and fight while ever his nation is at war. Israel will be at war until the return of the Messiah and the subjugation of the nations. Failure to act in the service of God is simply undisciplined self-service.
1Peter 3:8-9 shows the spirit in which this spirit of activity and unity in the church is developed, and the text to verse 21 shows the intent and power.
1Peter 3:8-21 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it [cf. Ps. 34:12-16]. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
The concept here of being of one mind has been misused by cults to obtain mindless unquestioning adherence to faulty doctrine. The same concept resulted in the Inquisitions. Have compassion and love as brethren. Railing accusation should not be found among the elect. However, this manner of dealing with people has become a feature of the twentieth century churches. Concepts and truth are never, or rarely, dealt with on any serious basis but rather individuals are attacked and slandered. Rather than deal with what is said, the people are attacked for their attitudes or the way they speak. Keep the tongue from evil and the lips from guile (Ps. 32:2; 34:13; 1Thes. 2:3; 1Pet. 2:1,22; 3:10; Rev. 14:5). Respect of persons is a sin (Jas. 2:1-9). Christ praised the absence of guile at John 1:47.
John 1:45-51 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (KJV)
Here Nathanael expressed a view concerning Nazareth, but he was open in his view. He was able to be persuaded easily by simple proof. Nathanael was given a promise of a calling. The text in 1Peter 3 continues:
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Here the injunction is to be ready to give an answer of the hope within you in meekness and fear. Recently we were challenged to a debate by a Roman Catholic group using this Scripture as the basis for their challenge. They had not been asked for an answer.
Much animosity in modern religion stems from the inability to deal with concepts in an open and honest way. Much offence is taken because the view is that the fundamentalist position of this century is the correct view, when it is demonstrably not that of the previous centuries or the early church. That view was obvious when, at a recent conference, the doctrines of the church over two thousand years were presented. Many took offence because the history did not show that what they were doing in the twentieth century was the constant view. Indeed it was shown to be a recent innovation.
Rather than view the truth with objectivity, those of the non-historical position chose to attack the speaker rather than deal with what was said. This happened to a number of speakers whose message, though biblically correct, was unfashionable. The result is often to shoot the messenger. That is the reason the authorities killed the prophets. Those authorities claiming to act for God at the central and highest level, namely at the Temple, killed the prophets. If they did not spare Christ or the apostles, why should we be spared? Christ said:
Luke 13:33 Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (KJV)
A prophet is not without honour save in his own country (Mat. 13:57; Mk. 6:4; Lk. 4:24; Jn. 4:44). For this reason the sinful killed the prophets, including Messiah who was the greatest of them. Only Jonah was heeded, and that was in Nineveh, in order to stand as witness against Judah. The elect are attacked because of the truth and especially by those claiming to follow the faith. It is the self-righteous who kill the elect and cast them out of the synagogues and churches, thinking they do God a favour (Isa. 66:5). It is the whore that is drunk on the blood of the prophets and saints and the martyrs (Rev. 18:24). It is God who will avenge the elect on her (Rev. 18:20). This whore is the religious system that claims to represent Christ and the prophets and the apostles, yet kills them. The people of this false Christian system, at all levels, accuse the brethren.
1Peter 3:16-21 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: (KJV)
Here baptism was the means of salvation as was the ark in the days of Noah. We are thus put to death in the flesh that we might be made alive by the Spirit, as Christ was put to death and made alive by the Spirit. This process is also one of bearing injustice from those who are not converted. Indeed, because one has sat in the Churches of God in the twentieth century does not mean that one is converted. An extraordinary example, which was only exposed after some time, was a view held by those who purported to be converted, baptised members of the Church of God, which dealt with the conversion and inspiration of the apostles and prophets. It was held that Peter and Paul were not converted and that Paul preached a false gospel, and hence the New Testament books (and also the Prophets) were not inspired – only the Torah was inspired. This thought process is the spirit of accusation. It accuses both Peter and Paul and the Churches that they raised. It accuses God and attacks the inspiration of the Old Testament and New Testament texts. The spirit of accusation is not a spirit of conversion or a converted thought process. The head of every man is Christ and the head of Christ is God (1Cor. 11:3). Who are we to judge another man’s servant? (Rom. 14:4,12,13). The inheritance of the Kingdom is through overcoming the self as a son of God through faith (Rev. 21:7).
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (KJV)
Being born again is the process of overcoming.
2. No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, Christ Jesus.
The question of rebirth was a great favourite of the mystery cults. The mysteries, from the Celts to the Asians, taught the doctrine of transmigration. The Gnostics taught that you went to heaven on death. That doctrine was denied by the Bible, by Christ and all Christianity. It was seen as a Godless and blasphemous doctrine (see the paper The Soul (No. 92)). Christ is here giving this teaching so that the doctrine of transmigration could not be confused with the doctrine of born again nor could it be incorporated into the Babylonian Soul doctrine. The Gnostics taught that the Soul ascended to heaven via the Milky Way and that the process of descent and ascent was barred by the evil forces. It is impossible to be a Christian and embrace either transmigration or the Soul doctrine.
3. Christ was to be crucified so that those that believe on him would have eternal life.
The process of the crucifixion of Christ was an example of the subjugation of self for the benefit of mankind. This process must be understood in order to understand what is happening in the plan of salvation. God is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (Jn. 4:23). That is, He seeks those people who forgive and fast and pray for their enemies as David did. David was a man after God’s own heart, yet David sinned. There is no relativity to sin, only of compensation for loss through sin. The relativity of sin is a demonic social doctrine found in prisons amongst criminals that seeks to establish a social scale of sins. Such a view is of itself, respect of persons and hence sin (Jas. 2:1-9). Sin is transgression of the law.
1John 3:4-9 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (KJV)
He who has respect of persons sins (Jas. 2:1-9). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
4. God did not send Christ into the world to condemn the world but to redeem those who believe on him.
The process of this belief is of the alteration of human behaviour to obedience towards God and His law-order. This is the obedience to the faith (Rom. 1:5). It was by the obedience of Christ that we are all saved (Rom. 5:19). Our obedience is then unto righteousness (Rom. 6:16-19). The mysteries of God were kept sealed or secret since the world began but are now made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith (Eph. 3:9-13).
This is the central theme of the conversion of the Spirit. The old self is put to death at baptism and the Spirit is developed in the individual to the conversion of the total being. This process of conversion is a purely spiritual thing. Obedience to the law is a physical thing and the mechanical process of obeying a physical ordinance confers no salvation but it is necessary that the law not be transgressed. The law cannot be properly kept on a physical plane without the Holy Spirit. None of the apostles was converted until Pentecost, even though they followed Christ and obeyed the physical laws. Their conversion was done through the Holy Spirit. Even at the crucifixion, Peter was not converted, according to Christ’s own testimony.
Luke 22:24-32 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (KJV)
The process of conversion was not understood by the apostles because they had not yet received the Spirit. The desire for power and rank was still with them. Most of so-called orthodox Christianity still think in this way. Christ came as he that serves. The concept of rank and authority is prevalent among the Churches of God in the twentieth century. The distinction between the physical and the spiritual conversion is not properly understood.
Many people are called into the Churches of God because of the Bible message. The more effective the advertising package, the more people are called that are not chosen and are unconverted. They undergo a physical conversion, into a physical group, as did the apostles initially.
The apostles followed the master where he went but did not understand the deeper mysteries of God as he expounded them and they had difficulty comprehending the purpose of the mission of Messiah. In short, they had joined a team but were not spiritually converted. They did not understand the doctrine of the conversion of the Holy Spirit. They had seen John’s baptism and they had administered the baptism of Christ but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Thus, before Pentecost, there was little distinction at that time between the baptism of John and the one that they themselves administered.
Mainstream Christianity utterly fails to understand this and the message of Christ’s sacrifice because they reject the One True God of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for the false triune gods of the Greco-Roman worship system which celebrates holidays, not God’s Holy Days, and rejects His Laws to observe false pagan customs found nowhere in the Scriptures.
It also becomes obvious by examining the fruits produced within the Sabbatarian Churches of God over the last 50-75 years or so, that they too do not understand this particular significant aspect of the Messiah’s sacrifice and how it relates to the building of God’s spiritual Temple. There has been a disconnection and failure on the part of the Churches of God to comprehend and grasp the reality of God’s called out ones becoming the living stones, the temple builders and priests of the new Temple through the Messiah.
Failure to grasp this and the encompassing aspect of Christ’s sacrifice is the result of not fully comprehending the significance of what God is accomplishing in His Temple system, including not comprehending what it means for Christians to be “born anew”, and not understanding when this spiritual rebirth occurs, how it is related to the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, how God is building His spiritual temple, and why His called-out ones are to serve as its priests under the Messiah. Too few in Christianity, including the Churches of God, seem to understand what Christ meant by “born again”, as Nicodemus failed to understand Christ’s parable recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 3.
Those of mainstream Christianity who profess to be “born-again” Christians teach that a person is “born again” when they have “given their heart to the Lord”, or in some variation have accepted Christ into their life. But, mainstream Christianity follows very little of the teachings of the Messiah, and they do not observe God’s Laws including the Sabbaths and Holy Days. They also teach that man already possesses immortality in the form of an “immortal soul.” If you are not “born again” according to their teachings, when you die your “immortal soul” will be condemned to torment in an ever-burning hellfire. In other words, you either “receive” Christ now, or your soul will burn for eternity in hell. Or, if you are “born again” as they profess it, your soul will go to heaven when you die, which is contrary to the Scriptures, as most of their doctrines and beliefs are steeped in the deception of the Triune Greco-Roman system which is the basis of Trinitarianism.
Conversely, Herbert Armstrong and the ministers under him who formed the WCG system, including most of its off-shoots today teach that “born again” occurs at one’s resurrection when changed into a spirit being, and not when a person receives the Holy Spirit upon being called to repentance and baptism, and placed by God into the body of His son.
Herbert Armstrong taught that at baptism a person is impregnated with God’s Holy Spirit, which is likened to sperm of the father entering the ovum of the mother, and the person becomes symbolically in a “begettal-not yet born”, embryonic state. Growth as a Christian is then symbolically compared to gestation as a foetus in the womb tied to an umbilical cord of the mother-Church to be spiritually fed through the ministry for growth and to receive the protection of the “mother-Church.” Growth throughout one’s lifetime is to continue, as a developing foetus would develop while dependent upon the “mother”, until “born again” as a spirit being. Or, in the words of Herbert Armstrong in his booklet, “Just What Do You Mean….Born Again?”, 1972 edition, on page 11 states, “Then, at the time of the resurrection, we in the Church -the spiritual mother- shall be delivered from her, and born into- brought forth into- the Kingdom- the spirit-composed family of God.”
Further, anyone who leaves the protection and feeding of the mother-Church is subject to being “aborted” by being severed from the mother’s umbilical cord, thus becoming cut off from God. To Herbert Armstrong, the umbilical cord symbolized the Holy Spirit. So the umbilical cord is tied to the mother-Church, and unless the person repents and returns to God through a reattachment of the umbilical cord accessible through the “mother”, they can be “aborted” and will lose eternal life. He states, “This compares to the unborn physical feotus, in the gestation period, it has human life – but only through the umbilical cord and FROM the mother – NOT independently of itself. And it can be aborted!” (ibid., pp. 15 & 16).
The not so veiled threat is to never leave “mother” without regard to the consequences. The “aborted” are consigned to damnation in the “third resurrection”, which, in WCG’s belief system is a resurrection to physical life for sentencing to eternal death in the lake of fire (finality of being spiritually aborted – eternal death). In the WCG system the “third resurrection” became a dominating, nonsensical doctrine much like the ever-burning hell-fire doctrine is in mainstream Greco-Roman Christianity (see the paper The Fallacy of the Third Resurrection (No. 166)).
This failure to comprehend the all encompassing saving grace of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the biggest single weakness of the Churches of God in the twentieth century. People can be called out of sin and baptised and, instead of the understanding of the doctrine of the gospel of grace being applied, the sins are re-applied or attributed as though the baptism had never occurred. This thought process is unconverted and fails to comprehend the adequacy of the sacrifice of Christ and the mercy and love of God.
Psalm 103:10-12 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (KJV)
Through this inability to understand spiritual conversion and the removal of sin upon repentance, malice and slander and evil enter the body of Christ. Most people who do not comprehend the nature of conversion fail because they themselves have only a physical or superficial conversion. They are like the apostles before Pentecost, and not understanding their weakness they slander and attack others for sins long forgiven and past and yet condone sins among their leadership because of respect of persons. This process is the greatest single cause of evil in the Churches of God and the greatest obstacle to the conversion of the world – both Jew and Gentile. Truth is cast to the ground in this process. Often people see sin in others, while there is greater sin in themselves which they ignore.
Matthew 7:1-12 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 7 Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (KJV)
The distinction here is between two propositions: one of judging rightly, and the other, of not speaking the mysteries to those not called lest they turn on you. Persecution comes of its own accord because the world hates what we say. The Bible is misrepresented because the world hates what it says, yet must pretend to be righteous. The guide for conduct is the second great commandment: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. This follows the first great commandment regarding the love of God with all your mind and heart and soul, and with all your might (Mat. 22:38-40; cf. Deut. 6:5).
The purpose of the elect is as soldiers in a spiritual war.
2Corinthians 10:3-7 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. (KJV)
Only by our obedience can we be in a position to deal with the disobedience of the world at the coming of Jesus Christ. The love of each other is a mark of the elect. Paul condemns the measuring of ourselves to the denigration of others. Nor should we measure ourselves with ourselves and thus commend ourselves at the expense of others (2Cor. 10:12ff.). Our job also is not to glory in other people’s work but to preach the gospel in other regions (2Cor. 10:16); in other words, to build on new foundations. Those who condemn others and commend themselves are not approved. The Lord judges and approves the work of each of the elect. The repentance and conversion of the elect is absolute. They partake of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4). The power of God works in the individual to glorification (Rom. 8:29-30) through obedience and the sanctification of the individual in the Holy Spirit (2Thes. 2:13; 1Pet. 1:2).
The distinction in the elect is of sin before and after baptism. Sin before baptism through repentance is forgiven on baptism, and is placed as far as the east is from the west. God brings that sin no more to mind, and nor should any converted person. Sin after baptism is forgiven only on repentance, both visible and earnest. Repeated sin grieves the Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and can forfeit the salvation of the member.
Christ nailed the record of our sins to the stake. This record or cheirographon (translated as handwriting) is in fact a legal document as an accounting record or bill of account of our sins. Strong fails to make this point in his Concordance (SGD 5498). This failure to come to grips with the nature of what was nailed to the stake encompasses the totality of Christian error.
Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross [stake]; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV)
The sum total of the bill of account for our sins was death. This was paid and nailed to the stake. It did not do away with the law and the testimony which is the mark of the elect (Isa. 8:20; Rev. 12:17; 14:12). This failure to understand the nature of the sacrifice leads modern Christianity into anti-nomianism and into the failure to understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
When he was resurrected by his Father, Christ becomes the Temple or the Naos (SGD # 3485) of God. God is laying the foundation of the New Covenant Temple system built upon the Messiah as its chief cornerstone, along with the prophets, and the apostles included in its foundation.
Ephesians 2:17-22 Also, when he came, he announced as Good News shalom to you far off and shalom to those nearby, 18 news that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow–citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family. 20 You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries (apostles) and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself. 21 In union with him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple (Naos – SGD #3485) in union with the Lord. 22 Yes, in union with him, you yourselves are being built together into a spiritual dwelling–place for God! (CJB)
In the New Covenant, the elect who are called by God to repentance and who have received His Holy Spirit through baptism are placed within the body of the Messiah to become God’s Temple. Here again in Song of Songs 5:2 the reference to “I slept, but my heart was awake. Hark! my beloved is knocking." refers to the resurrected Messiah coming in and eating with those who hear the call and open to him.
As Christ’s body became God’s Temple, so too it is with the elect who are repentant, converted, and baptised, and who have received God’s Holy Spirit. Their physical bodies become part of the new temple. They are placed within God’s New Covenant Temple system through the Messiah. Here is its reality: 1Corinthians 6:19-20 (RSV)
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
And also 2Corinthians 6:16-18 (RSV)
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
(Note: verse 16 is quoted from Lev. 26:11-12, verse 17 from Isa. 52:11, and verse 18 is reference to 2Sam. 7:14.)
From the Complete Word Study Dictionary of NT, the Greek word for Temple is: “SGD 3485. naós; masc. noun from naíœ (n.f.), to dwell. The inner sanctuary. Symbolically, of the temple of God in heaven to which that of Jerusalem was to correspond (cf. Rev 3:12; 7:15; 11:1,2,19; 14:15,17; 15:5,6,8; 16:1,17; 21:22). Metaphorically, it is of persons in whom God or His Spirit is said to dwell or act, e.g. the body of Jesus (Jn. 2:19,21); of Christians (1Cor. 3:16,17; 6:19; 2Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21).”
Once baptised, Christians enter into the New Covenant Temple system, the spiritual dwelling place of God, they are placed into service under the Messiah in the Melchisedek priesthood which is an atoning role tied with sacrifices to serve and assist in doing the God-given work of building the Temple, just as those physical Jews who were tasked to leave Babylon under King Cyrus to build the second Temple. Those now being called out of spiritual Babylon by God are to assist the Messiah in the Melchisedek priesthood to sacrifice in building God’s new spiritual Temple.
1Peter 2:4-5, 9: in the (RSV) says:
4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; 5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ……
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Everyone placed in the body of the Messiah, whether male or female (Gal. 3:28), has a talent to serve in building God’s new Temple. Our God-given talents to offer daily service and sacrifice to God as priests under the Messiah are not to be buried or neglected, for judgment is now upon the House of God (1Pet. 4:17), and He is measuring His Temple, the altar and those who worship there (Rev. 11:1).
It is most important to understand what the Messiah is saying in Luke 6:46-48 and Matthew 7:21-23:
Luke 6:46-48 "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? 47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48 That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. (NRSV)
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. 22 On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! ’Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (CJB)
Quoting from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993, “The word lawlessness used in verse 23 of Matthew 7 above is SGD 458 anomía; from ánomos (459), and means “lawless” or “Lawlessness.” In most cases in the NT it means not the absence of the Law, but the violation of Law, i.e., transgression or lawlessness. In the NT, it places stress, not in a subjective law that we ourselves create for our convenience, but chiefly in a divinely instituted Law.”
From the Messiah’s own words, we must understand that once we enter into the New Covenant Temple system through him, we are not at liberty to establish our own ways independently from God’s Word and His divine Laws in our priestly service and commitment to God. This is obvious from the Messiah’s parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. We must comprehend what is the process and commitment to become “born again”, and we must come to grips with the reality that only five of the ten virgins were wise and acceptable to the Messiah.
Matthew 25:1-13 (from GOD'S WORD Translation)
"When the end comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids. They took their oil lamps and went to meet the groom.
This parable relates to the first resurrection and entering the millennial system with the Messiah. All ten virgins started out in the beginning from their baptism with the Holy Spirit. They all had oil in their lamps. But as time progressed, the five foolish virgins ran low of oil, that is, they were losing the Holy Spirit. When they realize their spiritual condition, they attempt to enter into the wedding supper on the coat-tails of the five wise virgins. But it doesn’t work that way. They have become disconnected from the Messiah and God through their indolence, and consequently the Messiah tells them that he never knew them. They became disconnected from their covenant relationship with God and His Temple. How did they become so disconnected from the Messiah?
In Matthew 7:21 quoted above, Christ deals with those who call him Lord, Lord but who are workers of lawlessness. It is for this reason that he states that he never knew the five foolish virgins because of their lawlessness. When you break the Law of God in one point, it is as though you break it in all points (James 2:10). It gives meaning to the Scripture: many are called (to the 1st resurrection), but few are chosen. The vast majority of the 20th century Churches of God will end up in the 2nd resurrection because of a failure to grasp the commitment to conversion and being born again into the Temple of the living God through the Messiah.
There is an example of lawlessness of the five foolish virgins within the Church of God offshoots today. A number of their ministers understand and a few have even admitted that New Moons should be observed as Sabbaths, yet they fail to keep New Moons and fail to teach their congregations to keep New Moons.
The ministry under Herbert Armstrong understood that the 4th Commandment of God consists of a system of Sabbaths and they used Colossians 2:16 as proof that the Sabbath and Holy Days are to be observed. Yet, these WCG ministers have conveniently ignored New Moons. They will have to answer to Christ for this lawlessness, and for teaching others to disobey God by using the Hillel calendar with its non-biblical postponement rules. They refuse to observe God’s Temple calendar, and there will be gnashing of teeth as they realize they have missed out in the wedding supper and the first resurrection when they are resurrected in the second general resurrection (see the paper Great White Throne Judgment and the Second Resurrection of the Dead (No. 143B)).
The five wise virgins will be doing today what they will be teaching others in the Millennium under the Messiah.
Revelation 20:6 (God’s Word Translation)
"Blessed and holy are those who are included the first time that people come back to life. The second death has no power over them. They will continue to be priests of God and Christ. They will rule with him for 1,000 years."
The virgin Shulemite woman/Church will continue on into the Millennium teaching others to observe New Moons (Isa.66:23) as she does today (Col.2:16).
Note: this text clearly deals with the Sabbaths, New Moons, Holy Days and Feasts.
In God’s Temple system, the Ark of the Covenant is placed in the holy of holies. This Ark is present in both the old and new Temple systems (see Rev.11:19). Consider what is placed within the Ark:
Hebrews 9:3-4 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (NIV)
The manna in the Ark of the Old Covenant Temple system symbolizes the Messiah, the bread of life.
John 6:31-35 Our fathers ate man(na) in the desert––as it says in theTanakh, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ 32 Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you it wasn’t Moshe who gave you the bread from heaven. But my Father is giving you the genuine bread from heaven; 33 for God’s bread is the one who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on.” 35 Yeshua answered, “I am the bread which is life! Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in me will never be thirsty. (CJB)
Aaron’s staff or rod placed in the Ark is symbolic of the Sceptre of the Old Covenant. The Messiah is now our High Priest and intercessor, thus he takes up Aaron’s rod, which becomes the Sceptre, strength, and authority of the New Covenant Temple system.
Hebrews 5:8-10 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (NRSV)
The stone tablets in the Ark are the Ten Commandments, which are integral to both Covenants. False teachers who say that the commandments are no longer to be kept within the New Covenant disqualify themselves and their followers from the process to become “born again.”
Hebrews 10:15-21 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,"17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21) and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (RSV) (Also read: Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Therefore, when we are called to repentance and have our bodies washed with the pure water of Baptism (Heb. 10:22), this symbolizes the waters of the wells of salvation (the Holy Spirit) promised by God through His prophets (Isa.12:3). We then are: recipients of God’s Spirit and clearly become in this physical life His sons (Rom.8:14-17) to:
Rev. 11:19 “Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant was seen in his Temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and violent hail.” (CJB)
Being in the Temple of God, the truly converted Christian becomes a priest under the Messiah taking up the rod and authority of the New Covenant. He/she becomes symbolically the Ark in the New Covenant containing and upholding the laws of the Kingdom of God (Heb. 10:16-17) with the Messiah, and the Father abiding within the temple of the converted Christian (Jn. 17:23-26). God requires us to “walk the walk” in the newness of spiritual life, governed by His Divine Laws as the Messiah did walk, who is our example (1Pet.2:21-22).
1Peter 1:3-5 (from GOD'S WORD Translation)
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! God has given us a new birth because of his great mercy. We have been born into a new life that has a confidence which is alive because Jesus Christ has come back to life. 4 We have been born into a new life which has an inheritance that can't be destroyed or corrupted and can't fade away. That inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 since you are guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time.
That inheritance is eternal life in the first resurrection to serve as priests during the Millennium under the Messiah (Rev.1:6, 5:10, and 20:6).
2Corinthians 5:17-19 Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation — the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! 18 And it is all from God, who through the Messiah has reconciled us to himself and has given us the work of that reconciliation, 19 which is that God in the Messiah was reconciling mankind to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (CJB)
2Peter 1:3-4,11 God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world., ….
11 Thus you will be generously supplied with everything you need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. (CJB)
Therefore, 1Peter 1:22-23 (JB2000) :
22 Having purified your souls in the obedience of the truth, by the Spirit, in unfeigned brotherly love, love one another with a pure heart fervently, 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.
The redemption of our bodies and adoption into God’s family as spirit-sons occurs upon the return of the Messiah to establish God’s rule of Law on this earth. Those alive upon the Messiah’s return who are the living stones and priests of God’s Temple will have their physical bodies redeemed after the dead united in him are first resurrected and have had their bodies redeemed (1Thes.4:15-17). Then the adoption into God’s family occurs. See Romans 8:15,23 and 9:4, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:5.
All who are in the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit become priests with him (1Pet. 2:4-5) and are given talents to serve in different capacities (Eph. 4:10-12). These talents are not to be buried by an oppressive Nicolaitan priest/laity structure. Herbert Armstrong’s analogy makes it meaningless for all who are given God’s Holy Spirit to become living stones and priests within His Temple, and blinds one to the reality of what God is accomplishing in building His spiritual Temple. We are given the Holy Spirit as a mustard seed on our baptism and it grows into a mighty tree during our conversion through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us be faithful to our calling to be the living stones and priests in the spiritual Temple our Father Eloah is building through the sacrifice of His son, the Shepherd/Messiah. It is from Him by the Holy Spirit that we are converted and born from above in the newness of spiritual life in the body of His son and called into the New Covenant Temple system, the Naos of God. The virgin Shulemite woman/church who is “leaning upon her beloved” in Song of Songs 8:5 is the virgin church who finally joins the Messiah at his return and continue to be priests of God.
Prove all things
Only by being born again in water and the Holy Spirit can the individual be redeemed. The failure to understand this process is indicative of a failure to understand the true conversion process. This failure is common in those who have had a physical conversion into an organisation and not into the body of Christ. Such people cast truth to the ground in the interest of the preservation of a physical organisation or cult. The defence of such error in the unconverted is usually accompanied by the attack of personality rather than defence or rejection of biblical truth. The biblical injunction to prove all things (1Thes. 5:21) is distorted. The injunction to prove all things extends to the work of each individual (Gal. 6:4) and indeed themselves (2Cor. 13:5).
Proof must be of that which is good (Rom. 12:2) and also of the sincerity of the love of the elect (2Cor. 8:8). Malice and slander and envy are not evidence of the love of the elect, they are evidence of an unconverted thought process. Sin, which has been repented for years past, is not the business of the brethren. It is in the realm of the love of God. Each individual has to be born again. They must sin no more but they must be allowed to be born again. Their sin must be no more brought to mind. Also the individual against whom sin occurs must be able to forgive. The Lord’s prayer commences with the praise of God and the plea for His will and His provision and then proceeds to this injunction.
Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (KJV)
The forgiveness of debts or trespasses is the forgiveness of transgression which is the debt of the cheirographon that was nailed to the stake. We request this because Christ paid for it. Thus we have an obligation to forgive others as we ourselves wish to be forgiven. This is true conversion. The individual who is born again desires to keep the law of God from his or her inner being. The continued attribution of sin to others is an unconverted thought process which carries judgment to the self. This is the biggest single failing of the cult type systems that have been set up in the twentieth century. Factions are formed around individuals and those seekers of power that would attack and destroy others. The spirit in which criticism is made, and more importantly, acknowledged, is often an indicator of the conversion of the people in the group. The converted individual must learn not only to forgive those who attack them but also to acknowledge truth in criticism. The penalty is the erosion of one’s own spiritual power.
Christ forgave those who killed him at the stake and prayed for their forgiveness (Lk. 23:34). So also did Stephen pray for the forgiveness of those who killed him (Acts 7:60). Paul was the official witness to the murder of Stephen and thus took part in that crime among many others (Acts 8:1). Saul had to be forgiven and was in fact renamed Paul because he had committed such violence against the elect. He was forgiven and used of God. Today he would be attacked with malice and slander.
The elect are the sons and daughters of God who are developing holy righteous character. The forgiveness of sin and the love of one another is the key element in this process. Without being born again they cannot be perfected. Each must be allowed to be born again also by the brethren who worship the one true God in Spirit and in Truth.
The process of rebirth is through the down payment or the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14) through Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7).
Ephesians 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (KJV)
The purchased possession is our being. The redemption (which is God’s: Jer. 32:7-8) is the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection (Rom. 8:23). We are sealed until the resurrection which is the day of our redemption (Eph. 4:30). At the resurrection we become co-heirs with Christ as sons of God in power through the resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).
This initial payment is as a mustard seed which grows (Mat. 13:31; Mk. 4:31; Lk. 13:19). This rebirth then is as a child that grows in the truth and in faith (Mat. 17:20; Lk. 17:6). It is a spiritual process and the faith is measured in the same way. Through this process of growth, the elect are perfected in the faith through the offering of Christ (Heb. 10:14). In this perfection the Holy Spirit is also a witness to what Christ has said before.
Hebrews 10:15-18 Whereof the Holy [Spirit] also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (KJV) (cf. Jer. 31:31-34 and Heb. 8:8-12).
Every man shall know the Lord from the time when he pours out His Spirit on the nation. Until that time the rebirth is confined to the elect. The elect are spiritually born again and spiritually converted to the laws of God and the perfection of Godly, righteous character. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind (2Tim. 1:7). Each of us should develop the spirit to the best of our gifts and abilities, as we are born again to the glory of God. From this process, over the resurrections, God becomes all in all (Eph. 4:6).