Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:
Another full week of doing many aspects of the work.
As many of you may suspect, one multi-part project was basically finished: I was able to wrap up the ninth and last sermon on Luke’s Gospel. Which is the sermon recommended for today.
This series on Luke’s Gospel was intended to fulfill Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” This series was an attempt to cover all of Jesus’ recorded teachings in that book. I also finished the sermon by going over Jesus’ actual words recorded in the Book of Acts.
Last year, I put together a sermon on Mark’s Gospel where I read all the words attributed to Jesus (watch What did Jesus teach in the Book of Mark?).
In the future (probably not in 2014), I expect to do a series on Matthew, eventually one on John, and probably later one on the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” in order to better try to cover ALL THINGS Jesus taught. We in the Continuing Church of God are striving to do what we are biblically supposed to do when it comes to teaching and proclaiming the gospel.
Of course, there are other sermon subjects to cover, so, while it is my intent to cover ALL THINGS in terms of actual quotes from Jesus, I also intend to put together sermons focusing on various aspects of doctrine, prophecy, and Christian living.
Reaching the World Over the Radio
As mentioned last week, I was scheduled to be on the radio Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 1505 EDT/1205 PDT. We discussed various aspects of biblical prophecy and current events. One topic had to do with the Vatican’s hopes and plans to get China to back them in the future. Pope Francis was in Asia until a few days ago.
CCOG.org on the Internet
We added a new section to the www.ccog.org website related to Questions and Answers.
Eventually, I would like to have a lot more questions and answers there, as God wills and my schedule permits.
This should increase interest and viewership at that website.
North Korea Reached!
In other internet news, I noticed that we have had visits from North Korea at the COGwriter.com website as verified by AWstats!
When I was with my former association, they stated that they had visitors to their websites from all nations except San Marino and North Korea.
I have not heard if they have since reached those nations, but will state that North Korea and San Marino are part of the 220 plus nations and territories that the CCOG and COGwriter.com websites have reached according to AWstats.
Years ago, I was speaking with someone who was once involved with media in the old Worldwide Church of God about reaching all nations. He told me that North Korea was about the only country that never had any Plain Truth magazine subscribers.
It was my hope and prayer that this would help us get at least some witness into North Korea (cf. Matthew 24:14). Now, I have been able to verify that North Korea has been reached.
Does this mean that we are finished?
No, far from it as I believe that there will be a greater witness (Romans 9:28) just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:14-21).
But reaching North Korea shows that countries with more state-control of media can be witnessed to. It also shows that by prayer, effort and God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:6-9), a little flock (Luke 12:32) with limited financial resources (cf. Acts 3:6) can go through doors that Jesus opens (cf. Revelation 3:7-8).
World News Events and Prophecy
Fighting broke out again between Gaza and Israel. Voice of America reported that neither side seemed interested in a ‘permanent cease-fire,’ but had interest in temporary ones (see Rocket firings have resumed between Gaza and Israel). The Bible tells of a deal, that seems like a temporary peace deal, that will be confirmed for seven years and broken in the middle (see The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27). More and more, we are hearing about arrangements that indicate a ‘temporary’ deal is all that anyone can expect, and that is consistent with Bible prophecy.
Over in the Middle East, many are outraged about the beheading of an American journalist as well as other murderous acts by the Islamic State. These acts help demonstrate WHY the ONLY solution for this world’s problems is the Kingdom of God.
This type of savagery may end up being a reason that the West will ultimately go along with the coming ‘King of the South’ of Daniel 11:27; 40-43). Various leaders (see David Cameron warns of threat to UK from Islamic State; IS planning to attack West, Hamas terrorizing Gazites; Hezbollah also recognizes the threat) are concerned about the Islamic State.
French President Hollande wants an international strategy to deal with it. After calling for that, he then said he wanted the Arab nations to be involved (see Beheading, and France calls for ‘global strategy’ to deal with the Islamic State).
When my family was in Turkey for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1990, a Turkish man claimed that the reason that there were troubles in the Middle East and North Africa was because the last caliphate was broken up and that it would take another (which he wanted Turkey to lead) to solve the problems in those areas.
Islamic groups like Boko Haram, who is terrorizing parts of Africa (see Boko Haram terrorizing Cameroon and massively murdering non-Muslims), and the Islamic State (terrorizing in the Iraq, Syria, and a Kurdish region) may be predisposing the West to support some type of caliphate. The Bible shows that some type of confederation involving the peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey will form (Daniel 11:40-43; Ezekiel 30:3-8). But the scriptures show such a confederation will end in disaster (see also The Prophesied ‘Islamic’ Confederation).
Over in Liberia, there were protests on travel restrictions related to the outbreak of Ebola (see Stone-throwing Liberians protest Ebola travel limits, while some ministers blame Ebola on immorality). Ebola is a pestilence that is sometimes spread through the human consumption of unclean animals such as bats (see FAO warns of Ebola virus risk from eating fruit bats).
There are droughts in various parts of the world that are starting to affect expected food prices (see Droughts leading to higher food pricchres USA and Central America and Africa). Jesus warned about famines during the ‘beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:4-8) and the Book of Revelation tells of coming food inflation (Revelation 6:6).
In the USA, protests and related violence in Ferguson, Missouri continued (see Molotov cocktails and tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri and Tear gas again in Ferguson after private autopsy reveals six bullet hits). While there were community concerns related to a shooting, various outside agitators interested in the coverage by the media, sometimes fanned the flames of discontent and violence. Jesus taught that violence is not the answer to injustice (Matthew 26:52).
Speaking of the USA, various current and former government officials have warned that it is basically defenseless from an attack by North Korea or others (like potentially Iran) from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bombs (see VOA: ‘US Defenseless Against North Korean EMP Threat’). While many consider this to be far fetched, the USA will be weakened before it is completely taken over and this risk from EMP weapons is real. Many in the USA act like the USA will go on forever as it is, but that is not the case. The USA will be taken over in the future (Daniel 11:39) and the world will marvel at the power that does the final takeover (cf. Revelation 13:4). EMP weapons may well be a factor.
Pope Francis went to South Korea and returned. He twice flew over Chinese airspace and sent messages to the Chinese leadership. While in South Korea told Asians to turn to Mary (Pope Francis Tells Asians to Turn to Mary). On his return trip he also took steps that the Chinese might like, and made it clear he wants to reach the Chinese (see Pope Francis to lift beatification ban on Marxist-leaning Bishop Romero; Francis comments about China and his own death). The interfaith and ecumenical agendas that Pope Francis is promoting is gaining ground in various areas.
In Scotland, some are hoping to gain independence from the United Kingdom (UK). Some in France are opposed for reasons including that they fear a Europe without a strong UK will mean that Germany’s influence will rise (see French opposition to Scottish independence tied to threat of rising Germany). Rising German influence is consistent with various aspects of biblical prophecy (see also Germany in Biblical and Catholic Prophecy).
Suggested Sabbath Service
Here is our suggested format for Sabbath services this week:
- 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
- Opening prayer.
- Sermonette, which for most who receive this emailed-letter will be a recorded one: Deceitful Year of Don Bosco. A related written item would be: Catholic priest endorses a year of celebrations for ‘Marian’ false prophet Don Bosco. Other sermonettes are also available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
- Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
- Sermon, which for most who receive this emailed-letter will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Luke 23-24 and Jesus’ Words in Acts.There is not really a related written article, but some of what is covered is in the articles: Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour and The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
- Final hymn.
- Closing prayer.
Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p.
If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options that we list each week.
Concluding Comments: God Has an Incredible Plan
5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
7 You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:5-9)
Notice also that in the world to come, humans, and not angels, are to be put over the works of God’s hands, but this is not the situation yet.
Do you believe it is coming?
The writer of the book of Hebrews was inspired to follow with something radically different – something to happen in the world to come!
In His word, God has revealed His purpose for humankind. Herbert Armstrong labeled it the “incredible human potential. It is an incredible and awesome potential and staggers the imagination. Higher education is in utter ignorance of it and science knows nothing of it.
Yet, notice what God says He has prepared for them that love Him:
9…”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
How does God reveal them through His Spirit?
One, by inspiring the Bible to be written:
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21)
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
And secondarily, giving us His Spirit so we can understand His word and become partakers of His divine nature:
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:5-9)
God revealed a lot of necessary knowledge to our first parents, but they didn’t truly believe what He said! Then around 4,000 years later, Jesus Christ began to preach on the earth a message direct from God the Father in heaven, revealing the necessary knowledge – but only a handful – about one hundred and twenty – believed what He said, though many professed to “believe on Him” (as in John 8:30-31, 37-38, 40, 45-46).
Today science, religion, and education still do not believe WHAT JESUS SAID. Nearly two billion people reportedly believe in Jesus, but they do not believe Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23). They are hearers, but not truly doers, and most are deceiving themselves (James 1:22).
Yet, God’s incredible plan is for humans to rule the universe!
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren (Hebrews 2:10-11).
In other words, those who have God’s Spirit are joint-heirs with Christ to INHERIT all that Christ already has inherited. Humans, if converted and having God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) are now only HEIRS – not yet a possessor.
But the Bible shows that Christ already has been crowned with glory and honor – and is already in possession – has already inherited. Notice how the Book of Hebrews begins:
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
The living Christ already sustains the entire universe by His limitless divine power. He is the begotten and born Son of God – angels are merely individually created beings. Angels are now administering spirits (who are normally invisible to us), ministering to us – to us who are now in lower status than angels – but who are heirs of salvation, when we, like Christ, shall become born Sons of God (Hebrews 1:4-14).
Notice what happened with Jesus is supposed to happen to us:
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (James 1:18).
4 These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:4).
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches (Romans 11:16).
Christians are to be firstfruits like Christ. As a firstfruit, Christ is divine.
Notice something Jesus prayed:
10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:10-11)
Since both the Father and Son are divine beings, Jesus prayed for His followers to be one as He and the Father are–which means part of the God family. Lest anyone wish to interpret the above scripture to mean something else, Jesus continued His prayer and also prayed the following:
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)
Jesus prayed that His followers would become one in the same way. He and His Father are one. And they are one divine family.
Furthermore, notice that the Bible does teach that there is a whole family which is named after God the Father, and that we are to know the love of Christ so that we can truly have the fullness of God:
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19).
If one is filled with “all the fullness of God” does not that suggest that they will be also God as part of the Family of God?
The Apostle Paul also taught:
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:16-17, KJV).
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
18 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15).
Notice that “the children of God” are to be “glorified together” with Christ as “joint-heirs” and are to be transformed into the same image as God. And God will be a Father to His sons and daughters.
The Apostle John taught:
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 2 Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God (1 John 3:1-2a).
The children of people are people, the children of cows are cows. What are the children of God?
The Apostle Peter taught deification:
3 His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Are not those that are “partakers of the divine nature” somehow deified? And fully partaking of this nature does not happen until after the resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
If you respond properly to God (either in this age, or if applicable, the age to come), then ruling the creation, the universe is part of your destiny. Notice:
21…the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:21-22)
The whole creation is groaning, waiting, for us to rule!
As joint heirs with Christ, resurrected converted humans are to rule all things, the universe, as Hebrews 2 teaches.
Being part of the God family and ruling in His everlasting kingdom. Notice:
11 This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. (2 Timothy 2:11-12)
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)
Truly, this is such a great salvation (cf. Hebrews 2:3).
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11)
Live as a real Christian.
Bob Thiel, Pastor and Overseer
Continuing Church of God