On the Rebelliousness of Man

 

While doing my daily cover-to-cover reading of the Bible recently, I reached Jeremiah 41-45. [By the way, this is my second round of reading this year, using different Bible versions – something you might try also, if you are not already doing it.] I was deeply struck by the mindless rebelliousness of the Jews who heard the prophet Jeremiah’s God-sent warning message to them.

How could they have not believed the prophet’s warning against them taking refuge in Egypt from the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar’s impending destruction of Jerusalem? Why did they insist on going to Egypt anyway – to their own doom? Why did they refuse to stay put in Jerusalem, and they would have remained untouched by the king there, as Jeremiah had assured?

This got me to thinking about this quirk of the human heart and attitude. Let me unpack it here; hopefully we can learn some lessons to help us chart a brighter course for our lives.

What makes the decision of this group of Jews ironic is that they had told Jeremiah that, yes, they were going to do as he had declared to them. But some rogue ringleaders among them persuaded them from their original decision and led them to disobey Jeremiah’s warning. Thus they all fled to Egypt. But there Nebuchadnezzar caught up with them and devastated them along with Egypt. Only a small remnant survived among the Jews along with Jeremiah.

We see this pattern in the actions of the children of Israel and of Judah.

After Moses had given God’s commandments to the children of Israel, and the people entered into a covenant with their God at Sinai, they said they were going to keep their part of the covenant (Exodus 24:3-8).

But not too long after this, the people of Israel forgot their promise to their God. Exodus 32 chronicles the infamous “golden calf” incident involving no less than their high priest Aaron, Moses’ elder brother. Notice how some rogues also incited the people to commit their blatant idolatry.

All through the history of the nation Israel, we find the people to have been hard-headed and hard-hearted in their disobedience to their God. God called them a “stiff-necked” people (Exodus 32:9;33:3, 5; 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 213; 10:16; 2 Chronicles 30:8). The first Christian martyr Stephen echoed this in his condemnation of the Jews who – until then – refused to listen to his God’s Spirit-inspired testimony (Acts 7:51).

The remedy?

For physical stiff-neck woes there are a number of remedies that therapists can apply. But for spiritual stiff-neck, what’s the remedy?

A stiff-necked attitude stems from a hard heart – the inner soul and spirit of man, Jeremiah 17:9 gives this “diagnosis”: “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” [See: Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

One who truly yearns for the remedy for spiritual stiff-neckedness will thus need to seek a change of heart.

But how? Jeremiah 10:23 asserts that “…the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

The “man after God’s own heart” David (1 Samuel 2:23; Acts 13:22) prayed, in deep repentance for his double sin of adultery and murder, to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

A contemporary praise or prayer song asks:

Change my heart, O God;
Make it ever true.
Change my heart, O God;
Make me more like You!
You are the Potter;
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.

No less than a spiritual heart “transplant” is needed in the case of a stiff or hard heart!

God promised to stiff-necked Israel that one day that “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [a soft, yielded and submissive heart]. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

God’s Spirit essential

God’s Holy Spirit is thus essential in helping man to obey God’s law. [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

God’s Spirit will help us understand both the “goodness and severity” of God (Romans 11:22). God’s righteousness calls for severe punishment for sin not repented of (Romans 2:5-9). Revelation 21:8 shows how God will vent His wrath on such sinners. This should lead a person who values his life and eternity to a healthy fear of God. And we can ask God to put such fear in our heart (Psalm 86:11; Jeremiah 32:39-40). [See: Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time?]

Isaiah 66:2 promises, “But on this one I will look [regard]: on him who is poor [lowly, humble] and of a contrite [repentant, sorrowful] heart, and who trembles at My word.”

Such fear should cause one to think twice or more about transgressing any of God’s laws, which is what sinning is. Sin is an affront to God’s very character and purposes as revealed in God’s law and word. If we truly love God we will obey His law (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2).

Like soft clay rid of hard lumps, we should be yielded and pliable to the molding in the hands of our great Master Potter. [See: https:www.herbert-armstrong,org, click ENTER HERE, select “Good News (1951-1989),” click 1980-1989, and scroll down to the issue of Oct-Nov 1980, for the article titled “Lessons From the Master Potter.”]

An old hymn prayerfully asks:

Have Thine own way, Lord,
Have Thine own way.
Thou art the Potter,
I am the clay.
Mould me and make me after Thy will.
Here I am waiting, yielded and still.

Moses told the people of Israel while the armies of Egypt’s Pharaoh were hotly pursuing them: Do not be afraid. Stand still. And see the salvation of the LORD. Which He will accomplish for you today….The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14). Amen!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
22072021

“His Judgment Cometh Nigh”

These are words embroidered on a wall frame by the wife of the religious but corrupt warden of a jail in the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” which I believe many of you have watched. The frame with the dire words hung in the office of the warden, to whom the words came true. It happened after the authorities got wind of his sheenanigans and came to arrest him. But before they could get to him, however, he had shot himself in the head.

 

While the movie story was but fictional, the framed words come right out of the Bible. Joel 2:1 [KJV, throughout] says: “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand.”

 

Psalm 98:8-9 declares: “Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the LORD: for He cometh to judge the earth with righteousness; He shall judge the world, and all the people with equity.

 

Psalm 147:15 describes God’s word or truth as running “very swiftly.” “Doomsday” preachers have long warned the world about God’s imminent judgment on earth’s inhabitants, but since until now that day hasn’t come, many scoffers doubt if it is ever coming.

 

The apostle Peter wrote: “Knowing this first that there shall come in the last days [our times today!] scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep [died] all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:4-4).

 

Peter then went on to explain that God’s sense of time is vastly different from that of man. What men consider God’s slowness in acting, what to them seems like God taking a thousand years, is to God but one day (Verse 8). That God is simply giving sinful mankind some slack so they could repent and be saved, not perish (Verse 9).

 

This is the same call to repentance that God’s prophets of old had preached, the same message Jesus preached, and the same message His true servants have preached down through the centuries up to today (Micah 6:8; Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38-39).

 

As God’s servant I also earnestly ask you, dear readers, to examine yourselves – see where you have run afoul of God’s perfect law – where you have sinned – and sincerely repent of those sins! God so graciously gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so we can have forgiveness – pardon for our sins – in exchange of His life-blood shed on Calvary’s cross, so we don’t have to die but have everlasting life at His soon return. This way we can have boldness and confidence in the day of His coming and Judgment! [See: The Ransomed of the LORD, Transgressions Under the First Covenant, Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time? and “I Never Knew You!”]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
12052021

Mind Control

 

Recently I had an interesting chat with my eldest daughter, who lives in Norway.  She mentioned about “algorithm” and how the social media outlets are able to track down the users’ choice of sites to visit.  In the process managers of the outlets are able train the mind of their “clients” to look for and find similar sites.  The result: the clients or visitors become “hooked” or addicted to those sites.

The information that the algorithm gathers then becomes “fodder” to sell to sites – and here’s where this kind of surveillance brings in money to the people or company that has control of the mechanism of algorithms, which are the soul of computers and what is called AI – “Artificial Intelligence,” a prime example being robots.

We live in an age where, through these man-made gadgets and devices, some people or group of people is able to control what goes on in the minds of unwary social media users.

The plain fact is that all this is a sinister, diabolical scheme which Satan, the “god” of this world, is foisting upon an unsuspecting mankind in order to deceive everyone and hold them under his evil sway (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19, NKJV).

In 2 Timothy 2:26, the apostle Paul gives us an insight into Satan’s ploy: the devil has set up snares or traps all over the place [and aren’t there ever a host of them on the internet and the worldwide web!], by which he takes people captive to do his will!  Satan uses coercion and subtle entanglements that play upon the human lust (James 1:14, etc.). In this way Satan is able to set up strongholds in the minds of men (2 Corinthians 10:4) – indeed a strong hold or control over those minds!

No wonder our world today is in such a mess and a living hell!   Jesus predicted about our times today:  “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will turn cold (Matthew 24:12).  Instead, unnatural “love” [lust!] has become rampant (Romans 1:24-32)! True indeed that Satan has oppressed many people – through social media and in the hands of wicked rulers of this world.

In fact, Satan will use two human instruments to enforce his will and thus oppress helpless mankind in the coming years!

Revelation 13 exposes these two powerful human beings as the “beast” (a military leader) and a “false prophet” (a religious or church leader).  They will have such great power as to be able to control the movement and economic activities of people all over the world (Verses 16-17)!  Some have speculated if this “mark of the beast” might be some kind of computer microchip imbedded in the hand and forehead of the subject people.  Without it no one could buy or sell anything.  [For a Biblical exposition of what this “mark might be, see:  https://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklets titled “Who Is the Beast?” and “What Is the Mark of the Beast?”]

Among other things, Jesus came to heal all those oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38).  Jesus is ever alive today, and He is able to free people from the devil’s oppression as they come to Him!  As He alluded to His role as the prophesied Messiah, He seeks to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:16-21).

Revelation 17 details about how at His return to earth Jesus, the “Lamb of God,” will make war with the “beast” and the “false prophet” and overcome them.  He will then take control over all the kingdoms of this world and rule them in righteousness with His glorified saints (Revelation 11:15; 19:16; 5:10; 20:6).  He will destroy with the fire of His brightness all His enemies — those who oppose His truth and righteousness, and who are destroying the earth and humanity through wickedness and immorality (Isaiah 66:14-16; Revelation 11:16-18).

Jesus’ Spirit of freedom

Unlike how Satan controls human minds by oppression and coercion, Jesus gives His Spirit as a liberating power.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  That Spirit does not coerce or force a Christian in such a way that he loses control of his mind or will.  1 Corinthians 14:31 shows that “the spirits of the prophets [who speak under the guidance of God’s Spirit (2 Peter 1:21)] are subject to the prophets.”  In other words, A Christian has full control of his mind even as he obeys God’s will.  [See:  What Is This Thing Called “Will?”]  In fact, one of the facets of the “fruit” of the Spirit of God is “self-control” (Galatians 5:22, NKJV).

It is through that Spirit that we are able to avoid or suppress evil thoughts, and think pure, holy thoughts instead.  We are thus able to obey God and have the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5).  [See:  God’s Spirit and Obedience and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]  All this to make us perfect and fit for God’s kingdom [see:  Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible?]

This is not to say that social media have no place for a Christian.  Christ is also using the social media to spread the true gospel message, such as this website you are reading right now!  In fact, it may be through the social media or satellite broadcasting that God’s end-time “two witnesses” will be heard simultaneously worldwide (Revelation 11). Who knows how Christ might use “sanitized” social media to reeducate all of mankind When He Rules the World?  Only the true and pure knowledge of God will fill the earth then (Isaiah 11:9) — nothing to destroy the mind and morals of everyone, as today’s social media do!

May you use your Christian liberty to avoid the pitfalls of today’s social media, and benefit from those sites that promote truth, righteousness and Godliness! And as God’s people celebrate the Feast of Pentecost this May 16th, may you be blessed with joy and a deeper understanding of and obedience to God’s will through His Spirit!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
07052021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible?

 

 

Perhaps you know someone, if not yourself, struggling with a particular sin or some kind of addiction.  And all the while you or that person may find yourselves falling prey to the sin or addiction time and time again, being overcome by it instead of overcoming it.

One might thus be led to ask:  Does God require us to do the impossible?  Let us examine what God’s Word – the Holy Bible – has to say about this issue, and be encouraged by it.

The obvious answer some might present is Yes – God does require  us to do the impossible.  And one well-known Scripture verse they may quote is Matthew 5:48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”  [NKJV]. The KJV renders this verse as:  “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

In the NKJV the verse seems to imply the person’s condition as done for him by another, whereas the KJV sounds like a command – which requires each of us to become  perfect like God [the Father].

One who has become frustrated with repeated failures at attempts to be or become perfect could easily feel like one is being called or required to do something impossible – and especially humanly impossible.

When we examine what God says in His Word, we can plainly understand that yes, it is humanly impossible to be or become perfect, try the hardest as we might!  Several Scripture passages tell us why.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”  Jeremiah 10:23 adds, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man to direct his own way.”

This is saying that, by our own smarts or talents, we humans have no way of directing our steps in the path God wants us to walk.  [See:  Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

The apostle Paul, who had his own personal struggles with sin, declared:  “Because the carnal [from the Greek sarx, meaning fleshly] mind is enmity against [hostile to] God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 7:14-24; 8:7).

While he understood the human dilemma, Paul also understood that there is a solution to it:  “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.  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin [death is sin’s penalty, Romans 6:23], but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him [God the Father] who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [that] dwells in you” (Romans 8:7-11).

It is through that Spirit that it is possible for man to become perfect!  Thus Jesus told His disciple Peter:  “The things that are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:28; see also Mark 10:27).

In Mark 9:23 Jesus qualified:  “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Paul so believed, that in Christ was his hope of overcoming his dilemma (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1, etc.).

However, God does not present the solution on a silver platter!  He expects us to do our part.  We need to co-operate with Him.  And what are those ways we are to work with Him?

First and foremost, we need to be single-minded or determined to depart from the sin or sins that plague us, and walk in the way of righteousness instead.  This is what real repentance is about.  Jesus said:  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).  He also commands those whom He forgives:  “Go, and sin no more (John 8:11; 5:14).

What if our resolve to “sin no more” is weak?  We can certainly ask Jesus to give us a strong or firm resolve.  Jesus assures:  “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).  If we ask Him to give us the strength to resist sin – and the devil – He assuredly will!

James 4:7-10 exhorts us:  “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

God can help us find the will to obey Him and do good works (Philippians 2:13) [see: Saved for Good Works].  But He does not force us in such a way that we can no longer exercise our will or freedom to choose for ourselves; it works by giving us the power to do His will, to do good.  [See:  God’s Spirit and Obedience  and The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

This helps us to fix our eyes on Jesus while we struggle to lay aside the sins that so easily beset us (Hebrews 12:2). As we do, we avoid the problem of Peter, who sank in the troubled waters when he took his eyes away from Jesus and focused instead on his fear. But Jesus saved him when he called out to Him for help (Matthew 214:25-31).

As we call on Jesus in faith, He will help us tear down Satan’s stronghold in our minds and hearts, to make our every thought obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Secondly, God also provides a “support system” for a sinner who is struggling to overcome sin.  Proverbs 17:17 says:  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Jesus came to establish a community of believers who would so love one another as He has loved them (Matthew 16:18; John 13:34).  The Church of God provides a sinner with a friend or friends and brothers in Christ who can help bear his spiritual and other burdens (Galatians 6:2).  [See:  Where Is God’s Church Today?]

Jesus has set in His church various ministers to help build up and encourage His people toward His perfect spiritual likeness (Ephesians 4:11-13).

God knows how difficult it is for a person struggling with some pernicious sin to go it on his own.  He needs a friend or buddy who could help him go through the straight and narrow way of God.  Associating with such Christian friends helps encourage him to do good works and depart from evil works (|Hebrews 10:24-25).

Hebrews 12:22-24 shows that it is possible for Christians to come to have their spirit [the inner man] made perfect through Christ’s provisions, and make them worthy of everlasting life in God’s kingdom.

As the Feast of Pentecost approaches [to be observed by God’s people on May 16 this year], let us remember that eventful day during which God poured out His Spirit on the newly founded Church of God (Acts 2).  May you find that same Spirit, and community, to help you become perfect as God is perfect!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
23042021

 

 

 

The Problem of Sin

Anyone who thinks sin is not a problem has a big problem indeed! For sin has been mankind’s problem from the very start of man’s creation up to this very minute. Sin affects all of mankind. As Romans 3:23 puts it: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:8 agrees: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Sin is such a big problem because it often brings pleasures that deceive us from realizing its dangers.  [For more on this, see: The Deceitfulness of Sin.]

Sin is such a serious thing, however, because – unless remedied – it has a dire consequence: “For the wages [reward or penalty] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The prophet Ezekiel had much earlier said: “The soul [person] who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

Know the enemy!

Since sin brings death, it is an enemy we face every day. We must struggle with it as in a life-or-death battle, or else we will be overcome by it and become its dead victim!

In order to overcome our enemy, sin, we must know who or what it is. This is a basic rule of successful warfare.

What is sin? 1 John 3:4 [NKJV] says: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness [Greek, anomia], and sin is lawlessness.” The KJV renders the latter part of this verse as: “…for sin is the transgression of the law [of God].”

The law of God defines for us what, in God’s view, is sin, and its opposite – right doing or righteousness. The apostle Paul said: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said: ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7|).

God’s “law” includes not only the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20), which Paul quoted, but also the statutes, judgments, ordinances, and testimonies [witness] of God as found in His word (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and as referred to in all the rest of the Bible. [See: The Law of Christ and Moses and Jesus – Are They Contraries?]

The “original sin”

The first sinner in all the universe was not Adam or Eve. Rather, it was the archangel Lucifer, who formerly was one of the cherubim that covered God’s heavenly throne (Ezekiel 28:14, 16). He chose “iniquity” or sin against God in rebellion. Thus Lucifer was cast down from heaven to earth (Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 12:7-10). He has since become Satan [meaning adversary or enemy of God], and his angels have become demons. [See:  Where Did the Devil Come From? and “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]

Since man’s creation Satan has been busy inciting and inducing mankind to sin against God as he has done. He is called the “tempter,” for he injects his sinful thoughts into the minds of men, who are thus deceived into sinning against God, and making them his “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2-3).

Could God not have kept man from sinning?

Genesis 2:8-9 shows that in the Garden of Eden God gave our first parents [Adam and Eve] the choice between two trees – the “tree of life” and “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” [See: What Is This Thing Called “Will?”]

God had known from the start that it was possible for man to choose either of the two trees – the one leading to everlasting life, and the other to death ||(Genesis 2:17; 3:22). And the record shows that man did choose death instead of life! [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]

Because He knew of such a possibility, God had thought well ahead of time a remedy to save sinning man from death. Revelation 13:8 reveals that the “Lamb” [one of the symbolic names of Jesus, see John 1:39] had been established or appointed by God the Father even before the creation of man, to be the Lamb to take away man’s sin and make man right or acceptable in God’s sight. [See: The True Christ.]

That is how God has shown His love for mankind: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The first of the seven festivals or holy days of God – the Passover – pictures this first step in God’s plan of salvation of mankind. [See: God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – or to Be Observed?]. This year 2021 this festival will be observed by the true people of God in the evening of March 26th.

May I then greet all of my brethren a happy and meaningful Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread!

Power to overcome

God knows that man, made of the dust of this earth, is powerless to overcome sin on his own strength. That is why He has offered His Holy Spirit of power to triumph over sin and death. [See: The Higher Law of the Spirit, God’s Spirit and Obedience, and Breaking Down Our “Walls of Jericho.”]

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
16032021

 

God’s New Beginning — Phase I and Phase II

Last month I wrote about “A New Beginning” that God will bring about when Christ returns to claim control and rulership over the kingdoms and nations of this world.  This “New Beginning,” that will have no ending, however, will undergo two “phases.”

In this present article I will discuss the first phase [“Phase I”] of that new beginning. It is what we may call a temporary or preliminary phase, which will prepare the way for the next phase [“Phase II”] which will complete and consummate God’s “New Beginning” that will have no ending for God’s children from among mankind who will inherit everlasting life or immortality in God’s eternal kingdom.

This temporary or preliminary phase of God’s plan is appropriately pictured by the sixth of God’s seven holy days or festivals – the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths [temporary dwellings]. [For more details of this festival, see: God’s Feasts and the Jews – Part 3.]

Phase I-A

The first leg of Phase I is the destruction of this present world as misgoverned by imperfect human beings under Satan’s sway (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19). As Revelation 11:16-18 quotes the twenty-four elders [spirit beings who apparently serve as counselors in Christ’s heavenly court] as saying:

We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.

The succeeding chapters of Revelation detail the plagues that will destroy all the wicked from off the earth. Isaiah 2354:1-8 had foretold about this dire event and its consequence:

Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it a waste,
Distorts and scatters about its inhabitants.
And it shall be:
As with the people, so with the priest;
As with the servant, so with the master;
Asw with a maid, so with the mistress;
As with the buyer, so with the seller;
As with the lender, so with the borrower;
As with the creditor, so with the debtor.
The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered,
For the LORD has spoken this word.
The earth mourns and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish.
The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,
Because they have transgressed the laws,
Changed the ordinance,
Broken the everlasting covenant,
Therefore the curse has devoured the earth.
And those who dwell in it are desolate.
Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned.
And a few men are left.

As Isaiah 6:11-13 indicates, only a tenth [10%] of all Israel and all mankind will survive as mortal subjects of Christ’s rule.

Before Christ destroys sinful humanity, He will have put away Satan the devil and his demon cohorts (Revelation 20:1-3) who have misled mankind into sin and death. [See: Two Goats Together, especially the sections “Satan’s fate” and “When will Satan be bound?”]

Phase I – B

After this putting away of Satan and the destruction of wicked mankind, the next step Christ will take will be to clean up all the mess that the destruction will have left behind.

• The carcasses of dead men which are not completely burned will need to be disposed of. As Ezekiel 39:11-12 exemplifies, there will be a lot of burying to do!

• Revelation 19:17-18 shows that carrion-eating birds [vultures, etc.] will help in disposing of the flesh of dead people and horses used in battle. [See also Ezekiel 39:17-20.]

• Revelation 14:17-20 shows that Christ’s wrath will result in such shedding of human and animal blood that it will reach “up to the horses’ bridle” in depth. This layer of blood will need to be plowed into the soil to cleanse it and make it fertile for crops to grow well.

Phase I – C

Then will come the clearing away of all the damage and debris of “the battle of the great day of the Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). All the military hardware left behind will need to be melted down and used for agricultural, industrial and other peaceful purposes (Micah 4:3; Isaiah 2:4). The rubble of destroyed buildings and other structures will need to be cleared away and dumped into low places.

• The earth’s terrain, which will have been vastly transformed by tumultuous earthquakes (Revelation 6:12-14; 16:17-20), will need to be re-landscaped to make it suitable for agriculture, human habitation, and economic endeavors.

• The surviving human beings will need to be comforted and healed as necessary (Isaiah 40:1-3, 11) by Christ and His team of glorified saints who will rule with Him on earth for the next 1,000 years (Revelation 5:8-10; 20:6).

Phase I -D

The next step is to undertake a great work of building infrastructures to make life comfortable and pleasant.

• Sensible houses will be need to be built for the surviving people to dwell in.

• Safe public utilities will need to be put in place: power, water, waste management, roads and highways, mass transport and communication facilities, commercial spaces, etc.

• Agricultural activities will be undertaken to provide healthy and nutritious food that is free from all the pollutants and harmful additives of today’s self-serving farming practices. [See: When One Who  Preaches Christ Plants Corn.] God will make former deserts productive (Isaiah 35:1-2, 6-7). Having enjoyed some Sabbath or rest, lands will become more productive (2 Chronicles 36:21).

• At this time a new temple in Jerusalem will be built to house Christ’s throne as King of kings and His team of glorified saints who rule with Him. [See: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.] From this temple a stream of living water will flow out to cleanse and purify the seas and oceans and marshlands of pollution (Ezekiel 47:1-12). This will result in healthier fish and beaches for all to enjoy.

• School buildings will need to be provided for the formal education [or re-education] of the human survivors who will become subjects of Christ’s kingdom. So thorough will this re-education become that God’s knowledge and truth will fill the whole earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Worship centers [churches rid of idolatries] will also be set up all over the earth to hasten the learning process.

• All this transformation of the earth’s and mankind’s spiritual landscape will result in a world filled with such abundant peace and prosperity as mankind has never experienced before! [See: World Peace – At Last!]

Phase I – E

At or toward the end of Christ’s 1000-year reign with His saints, Satan and /his demons will be released for a short season in order to deceive the horde of human beings who will think to rebel against Christ’s government. But they will not go far, for Christ’s superior power will overcome and destroy them swiftly (Revelation 20:1-9).

Hopefully these rebels will be given a chance to repent and be saved, along with all other human beings who had not known and accepted Christ in their lifetime.

Phase I – F

After this great destruction and eventual cleansing of the earth, a massive resurrection to physical life of all human beings who had never received the saving knowledge of God and Christ will take place (Revelation 20:5, 11-12). This will be their time of judgment and their chance to be saved, if they would. [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]

At the end of that judgment period, all the dead who had willfully rejected God in their lifetime will be resurrected to be destroyed in the lake of fire [the “second death”], along with those judged unworthy during the judgment period after the 1,000-year [ or millennial] reign of Christ (Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8). Those who prove righteous to the end will be resurrected or changed to immortality, just as Christ’s saints will have been changed at His return (1 Corinthians 15:50-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16).

Phase I – G

The intense fire that will destroy all the wicked of the earth will also destroy or melt and dissolve the elements of the present earth and heaven. 2 Peter 3:7, 10 describes this awesome event. It will immediately precede the beginning of “Phase II” of God’s new beginning. Unlike Phase I, Phase II will last forever and ever.

Phase II

Only the faithful and righteous among men will take part in that bright new world – the true eternal “city of God,” the “New Jerusalem” (Revelation 21-22). This is that city or country which father Abraham and other righteous people have sought for or looked forward to, one not made by human hands [such as today’s world], but made by God alone (Hebrews 9:11; 11:10; 12:20; 13:14). No wicked or evil person will be included or allowed in that city (Revelation 21:8; 22:14-15).

• Even the seas will be gone (Revelation 21:1)! The sea is symbolic of sinful humanity (Revelation 13:1). All unrepentant wicked, ungodly people will have been destroyed in the “lake of fire” (Revelation 21:8). Only righteous human beings, given immortal or everlasting life as Jesus judges, will survive the great fire of destruction and live on into eternity – forever and ever. The resulting expansion of the earth’s surface will enable the billions of the saved to have ample living space. [See:  Enough Room on Earth for the Saved?]

• God will serve as the Sun and Christ as the Moon to light the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:23-24). There will be no night or darkness at all in the New Jerusalem (Verse 25).

• Since only immortal, divine beings will live forever in that new earth, there will be no need of physical food for them to survive as we do in this present life. However, the original “tree of life” will be restored, after it had been taken away from Eden after Adam and Eve sinned (Revelation 22:2-3; Genesis 3:22-24). The immortal people of God will eat the fruit of that tree not for physical sustenance, but for enjoyment and pleasure, and to maintain spiritual health.

Phase II of God’s new beginning being what it is, it behooves those who desire to enjoy its glorious pleasures and delights to keep themselves “in holy conduct and godliness,” and “without spot and blameless” (I2 Peter 3:11, 14). We are commanded to “beware lest [we] fall from [our] own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (Verse 17).  Instead we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Verses 17-18).

Jesus admonishes His people to overcome sin, this world and the evil one [Satan], to repent, “be faithful unto death,” and “hold fast” what Christ has given us lest we lose our “crown (Revelation 2-3).

To help in this overcoming and being faithful, see: The Higher Law of the Spirit, God’s Spirit and Obedience, Breaking Down our “Walls of Jericho,” and “I Never Knew You!”

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
21-23012021

A New Beginning

 

As we approach a new year – such as 2021 – many of us have our resolutions to “turn over a new leaf” when the new year rolls around. [See: Happy New Year!]  It seems that God has built in us a deep sense that somehow, sometime, we can surpass our past and present troubles — our failed promises — and make a new, and better, beginning tomorrow.

And that is not far from what God’s word reveals to us!

The Alpha and the Omega

As our Creator, Jesus reveals Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega” [the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet] — meaning, the “beginning and the ending” (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:12-17; Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13).

An ancient “plain song” or chant captures this truth:

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega; He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that, that have been, and that future years shall see,
Ever more and ever more. Amen.

God knows all too well that we human beings are made of dust (Psalm 103:14) – frail and prone to sin. As Paul put it: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” and this being so, we all are condemned to the penalty of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jeremiah 17:9 puts it bluntly: “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” [See: Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

Time and time again man’s wickedness has brought the whole of humanity and our planet earth to near-extinction, but for the grace of God (Genesis 6:1-8, etc.; Matthew 24:21-22). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]

The end of all things

As the perfect and righteous Judge (Psalm 7:8; John 5:30), Christ will destroy all wicked men who refuse to believe and repent – along with the present heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:7, 10-12; Revelation 21:8). As “the Alpha and the Omega” Christ will end all that He created that has grown sour and foul. But He also assures that, for all who remain faithful and righteous, they can look forward to His sure promise to make for them “new heavens and a new earth,” where only righteousness – no evil – dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

A magnificent new beginning

Revelation 21:1-5 describes that magnificent new beginning:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And there was no more sea [sea being symbolic of mortal mankind, Revelation 13:1-2, etc.]. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle [dwelling] 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. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death [that is, for these people], nor sorrow nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Those who desire to enjoy such a new beginning Jesus bids:

“Come! And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Jesus had explained that such water refers to the Holy Spirit that God gives to those who believe and come to Him (John 7:38-39).

This is the new beginning that has no ending for those who will receive everlasting life – immortality! They will no longer die, for they will be in the eternal Paradise of God, where they will partake of the original “tree of life” (Revelation 22:14) – and live forever (Genesis 3:22).

Peter urges: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).

By our own human efforts we cannot make ourselves “without spot and blameless.” We need a higher power to become such! [See: The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

Happy new beginning!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
19122020

A Big Lie That Refuses to Die

 

One of the deadliest lies perpetuated by Satan the Devil –the father of all lies (John 8:44) and who has the whole world deceived by his lies (Revelation 12:9) and held under his dread sway (1 John 5:19) – has come alive again at this time of year!

It is the lie about the God-man Jesus Christ having been born on December 25! If one were diligent enough to examine the Biblical evidence, one would be led to conclude that Jesus’ birth did not occur – and could not have occurred – in the dead cold of winter, but rather sometime in the fall season! [See: Feast of John the Baptist.]

So, how did Jesus’ birth come to be involved in the celebration of the gaudiest and “merriest” season of the year – Christmas?

The actual origin of Christmas

Honest researchers into the truth of this matter have traced the self-indulgent practices of this season to the old pagan tradition of the Saturnalia, which honored the pagan god Saturn. Saturn (meaning “the hidden one”) referred to the despot Nimrod who ruled over his kingdom in Babel (Genesis 10:8-10). He promoted a religion that opposed God’s true religion. For this reason God commanded the patriarch Shem to execute him. Nimrod thus fled and hid himself and became known to his followers as Saturn. He was eventually found and slain, but his devotees passed on the tradition that Nimrod was “reborn” as the sun-God Saturn. They thus celebrated this supposed “rebirth” as a festival of merry-making and gift-exchanging. [For more details, see: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org,click ENTER HERE, select“Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklet titled “The Plain Truth About Christmas.”]

In the early centuries of the Christian church, many people were being converted to the Christian faith. But the Roman Catholic hierarchy decided to make it “easier” for many of these converts to transition to Christianity by dressing up their pagan traditions with quasi-Christian trappings. This is how Christmas has become a popular worldwide celebration, indulged in by “Christians” and non-Christians alike. Christmas has become a multi-million dollar business everywhere! For this reason businessmen want the old lie perpetuated!

Most proponents of Christmas would not want to part with it for the supposed “love” and “joy” that it brings to people, especially the little ones. But, as I will explain, there is far greater and more lasting joy in obeying God!

Admit it or not, Christmas is at heart a form of worship of a supposed baby Christ. Many don’t realize, however, that to God this is a most serious matter! In His law God commands:

When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you go to possess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.” You shall not worship the LORD your God in the same way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-31).

We cannot worship the true God rightly, using pagan traditions and practices, for these are abominable to Him.

God has prescribed, in His law, how we are to worship Him. True worship that is acceptable to God is to love Him and our neighbor, as He commands in His Ten Commandments. [See: The Law of Christ.]

In Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16 God lists His holy days and festivals that we are to observe as a part of our worship toward Him. These – instead of this world’s holidays – are to be observed, with rejoicing (Deuteronomy 16:14).

There is joy in observing God’s commanded holy days and festivals that no holidays of this world can ever match! [See: https://www.herbert-armstyrong.org, click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklet titled “Pagan Holidays – Or God’s Holy Days – Which?” See also: God’s Feasts in the Book of Acts: Mere Time Markers – or to Be Observed?]

True love for God

Those who observe God’s commandments and laws are the ones who truly love God and Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23). That also is how we can be sure that we also really love our brother or neighbor (1 John 5:2-3). And those who love God are truly known by Him (1 Corinthians 8:3). [See: “Whoever Loves God Is Known by Him.”] Only those who are truly known by Christ will be welcomed into His glorious kingdom at His return. [See: “I Never Knew You!”]

When Christ returns – soon! – to rule the world, He will have Satan bound in an abyss, thereby disabling him from deceiving mankind again for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Thus all the lies foisted by Satan and his instruments on all humanity will be banished and not allowed to spread, except for a short while in order to deceive a portion of human rebels toward the end of that millennium. Afterwards he will be imprisoned again, and all of mankind will be free from his influence during the Last Judgment. Only the knowledge of God – His truth [no lies!] – will fill the earth “as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 121:9).

Those who practice and love a lie – such as Christmas – and won’t repent of it, will be banished in the “lake of fire” at the Last Judgment (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). [See: “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”]

While there is time, my sincere desire is that you, dear reader, will decide to obey the truth and forsake the lie, and thus enjoy eternity with Jesus Christ and His saints. [See: True Worship.]

Your decision may cost your breaking ties with family and friends, but in the end, Jesus promises eternal blessings to those who choose to obey Him despite persecution (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
05122020

Why Fix Somethin’ “That Ain’t Broke?”

 

Years ago someone gave me a poster about “Twelve Rules for Living.” Perhaps many of you, my readers, may have also heard about this same set of rules. I believe this list could have been partly based on, or condensed from, the bestselling book by Canadian clinical psychologist and psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson, titled Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. [See: http://en.wikipedia.org>12_Rules_for_Life].

One of the rules on the list, expressed humorously, is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” It is but plain common sense that if something is working perfectly and is not “out of order,” there’s no need to “fix” it. Otherwise, the attempt and effort at “fixing” it might actually “break” or damage it instead!

When it comes to God’s word – the Holy Bible – however, it seems that many have tried to “fix” it when, in fact, Jesus said that “the Scripture cannot be broken”(John 10:35)! God’s word is perfect and whole; it is not broken, nor can it ever be broken at all, even though some have tried to “fix” it, as I will explain further.

However, one can “break” God’s word by disobeying it, just like one “breaks” a law by violating it – and that not without a consequence or penalty, as the same law provides! Much more so, God’s word or law is inexorable, and the consequence of disobeying it – which we call “sin” – is death (Romans 6:23), the ultimate being the “second death” in the “lake of fire” in the last Day of Judgment” (Revelation 21:8; ,20:12-13).

God’s word came to mankind through Jesus Christ, who is called “the Word” (John 1:1), from the Greek Logos, sometimes rendered as “Spokesman.” Jesus came to the world to give us the message of God, our Father in heaven. [See: The Comings of Christ, The True Christ, and Peter Knew “The Holy One.”]

God’s purpose for His word

The apostle Paul, one of Christ’s faithful servants, wrote: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

All scripture” [meaning, the “written word” of God] has been preserved for us in the book we call “the Holy Bible.” In it we find a collection of writings concerning the origin of mankind, the history of the first generations of men, God’s acts in dealing with man’s sinfulness, and calling out a nation to become His people who would demonstrate to all mankind how men ought to live in a way that would bring true happiness and, eventually, life everlasting, through His own Son whom He sent.

As such, the Bible contains laws – commandments, statutes, judgments, ordinances – that define what is right or acceptable conduct in God’s eyes, and what is not. Paul said: “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known what covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7). Psalm 119:172 declares: “For all your commandments are righteousness.” Thus God’s word is our guide to – our instruction about – righteousness and “good works.”

Being of divine origin, the Bible reflects God’s perfect character. In its pages we find instruction on how to become perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

As the word of an immortal, ever-living God, the Bible will endure or remain forever [“abide” or “stand forever,” Isaiah 40:6-8, quoted in 1 Peter 1:24-25].

Every single human being will be judged, in God’s own time, by God’s word. Jesus said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

God has appointed Jesus to be Judge of the living and the dead (John 5:22; 2 Timothy 4:1). Revelation 20:11-12 describes a great time of the resurrection of all those who have died without the saving knowledge of Christ. In that “last day” God will open “books” [from the Greek biblia] – including the Holy Bible and The Book of Life —  and all these dead will be judged by Christ according to these books and the people’s works. [See:  This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]

Ultimately every person will be judged according to their works – whether good or evil – and will be rewarded accordingly: everlasting life for those who have done good, and everlasting condemnation or death in the “lake of fire” [the “second death”] for those who have done evil (Matthew 16:27; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:12; 21:8).

This being the case, all of us should fear tampering with God’s perfect word. As Isaiah 66:2 says, “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor [humble] and of a contrite [repentant] spirit, and who trembles at My word .”

Let’s beware of trying to “fix” God’s word by tweaking it to say what it really doesn’t mean to. Christ is compared to a “stone cut out of the mountain without hands,” which will “break in pieces” all the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2:45). Matthew 21:44 speaks of that same “stone” thus: “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

The articles which I have published on this website have sought to set straight God’s word which others have tried to “fix” even though it has never been broken. In trust that these will help you avoid the way of death and instead walk in the way that leads to everlasting life!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
21112020

The Hope of the “Unsaved” Dead

 

In a few days from this writing, September 10 this year will be celebrated by some remnants and former members of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) as their seventh annual festival called the “Last Great Day” (LGD). This day – which this year also happens to be both a weekly and an annual Sabbath – is equivalent, in the Hebrew calendar, to the 23rd day of their seventh month, Tishri. Jews call this day their Shemini Atzeret, meaning “Eighth-day assembly.” [See: God’s Feasts and the Jews – Part 3, especially the section titled “The Last Great Day and the Jews.”]

The former WCG had believed that, at Christ’s return, only the “elect” of God – the “saints” [those “sanctified” by God’s Holy Spirit] or those who are “in Christ” will be saved while all others will perish when He comes to “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18) – which will include most of the earth’s population (Isaiah 24:6). Those who have died “in Christ” will rise [be resurrected] to receive immortality ahead of those still alive “in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). [See: God’s Feasts and the Jews — Part 2, and turn to the section on “The Feast of Trumpets and the Jews.”]

The key Scripture passage that supports the belief that there is yet hope for all those who have died without the saving knowledge of Christ is Revelation 20:5, 6, 11-12 –

“But the rest of the dead [who are not blessed to be among the “elect” who have part in the “first resurrection”] did not live again until the thousand years [of Christ’s reign on earth with His saints] are finished….Then I saw a great white throne and Him [Christ] who sat in it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books [from the Greek biblia] were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

 That vast number includes all  who are yet “unsaved”of mankind since Adam and Eve, and perhaps even those after Christ sets up God’s kingdom here. [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation, The Book of Life, God’s “Book of Remembrance,”  and  Two Goats Together, the section on “A possible scenario.”]

So that I won’t be repeating myself here, I would like to share with my dear readers some words of hope for the dead – words which I have shared with bereaved folks during funeral services at chapels or gravesides. The following, then, are excerpts from such messages or “homilies,” with insertions of relevant website links, for the benefit of my present readers. I trust that this message brings comfort and consolation to you as it did to several who came to me after the service to express their appreciation for such an effect on them.

Why flowers at funerals?

It has been the custom or practice in the Philippines, as it is in other countries, to bring flowers to the casket of a dead family member or friend at funeral chapels and gravesides. Flowers express our love and tender feelings to those dear to us, as a young man offers flowers to a maiden he fancies. With their colors, shapes and fragrance, flowers somehow help blunt the pain, sorrow, and ugliness of the death of a loved one.

But perhaps one benefit to our souls that such flowers bring, which we should ponder with sobriety and hope, is that flowers should remind us of our fleeting status as mortals in God’s eyes. Quoting Isaiah 40:6-8, the apostle Peter declared in his epistle (1 Peter1:24) —

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the LORD endures forever.”

Like grass or a flower, all of us human beings die sooner or later – we “dry up” and our “glory fades away.” Whatever glory or beauty, strength, position, place or possession – all these we will leave behind; we cannot carry them to our grave. Like dried grass or flowers, we end up as ashes burned in the fire, or soil (“humus,” from which we derive the word “human”) in a compost pile. The wise King Solomon observed: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing. And they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). [See: What Happens to Man After Death?]

In stark contrast to grass and flowers, the passage from Peter’s letter (latter part) declares: But “the word of the LORD endures forever.” Of that word, Jesus said: “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

Speaking of life, we all understand that we mortal creatures remain alive as long is as we have proper food to eat. But what most of us don’t realize is that there is food (“bread”) more important for our permanent survival. Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). Many fail to partake of that “bread” (Word), and so find themselves spiritually “malnourished,” dying, if not already dead!

That is why God invites everyone: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your heart delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Isaiah 55:1-3).

The “waters” that God speaks of represent His Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), which He will give to all who will repent of their sin, believe in Christ as their Savior, and are baptized in His name (Acts 2:39). These believers also constitute God’s and Christ’s spiritual “flock of sheep,” whom He, as their “Good Shepherd,” will feed with spiritual food from God’s word to sustain them to everlasting life (John 10:11; Isaiah 40:11). Jesus established His church and His ministry to help Him in this feeding (1 Peter 5:1-4).

The sad reality, however, is that today there are many churches and many preachers that claim to be Christ’s own, but are actually fakes (Matthew 24:23-24)! [See: Beware of False Prophets and Fake News.] It behooves every serious seeker to find the Biblical answer to the question Where Is God’s Church Today?– and be properly spiritually fed there with God’s enduring word through Christ’s faithful ministers. As 1 John 5:12 promises: “He who has the Son [Christ] has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

As we have Christ in us through His Spirit, we are assured that at His return we will receive everlasting life. [See: “I Never Knew You!” and God’s Spirit and Obedience.] We will no longer be like grass and flowers, which are here today and gone tomorrow.

We will become true children of God, and brothers and sisters of His Son Jesus, enjoying everlasting life and joy as He does, in the coming “new heavens and new earth,” where “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 … Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:4-5). [See: Are We All God’s Children?]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
07102020