Thanks for “the Last Great Day!”

 

 

All of God’s commanded holy days or feast days are to be observed with joy.  “Three times [or seasons] in a year shall your males shall appear before the  LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks. and at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

God said: “And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widows who are within your gates.  Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce, in all the work of your hands, so that you shall surely rejoice” (Verses 14-15).

The greatest joy and blessing

But for those who have never had their chance to really know God, know His laws and learn to live by them, the “Last Great Day” (John 7:37) has to hold the greatest joy and blessing.

“All” – every single individual who has ever lived – “have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And all such deserve the penalty of death because of sin (Romans 6:23), had not God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die at Calvary’s cross to pay for that penalty we all deserve, and so that we will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

Some – only a relatively few – among human sinners in this present age have come to such a salvation and promise of everlasting life (Matthew 7: 13-14 says,  “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.   Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life [everlasting], there are few who find it.;” see also Luke 13:24).

Thus the true followers of Christ [true Christians]  are only a very few compared with the other churches, who boast of being “the faith of millions.”  Christ called  His church a “little flock” (Luke 14:32). [See: https://www.herbert-armstrong.org., click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets,” and scroll down to the booklet titled “A True History of the True Church.”

At the return of Christ most of humanity will be destroyed (Isaiah 66:15-16;24:5-6)). Isaiah 6:12-13 indicates that only a tenth [10%] of all humanity will survive that destruction, and they will live on as mortal subjects of Christ’s coming kingdom.  [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]

The vast majority of “unsaved” mankind, however, will not be lost forever, without God giving them a fair chance to be taught of God and be saved.  [See:  This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]

The promise of “the Last Great Day”

Revelation 20:5 assures:  “But the rest of the dead [those who do not attain salvation at Christ’s return] did not live again until the thousand years – of Christ’s reign with the glorified saints – are finished.”

Revelation 20:12 shows the resurrection of all such unsaved dead.  This will be their time to be taught God’s word, the Holy Bible.  They will need to prove, within a time God gives them, that they are willing, and able, to do works worthy of salvation.  As they do, they will be spared from the lake of fire and the “second death” but will instead have everlasting life (Verses 13-15).  [See: Saved for Good Works and Being and Doing.]

Thank God there is a “Last Great Day!”  What a great and loving God we serve!

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
25092021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanks for “the Last Great Day!”

Thanks for “the Last Great Day!”

 

 

All of God’s commanded holy days or feast days are to be observed with joy.  “Three times [or seasons] in a year shall your males shall appear before the  LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks. and at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

 

God said: “And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widows who are within your gates.  Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce, in all the work of your hands, so that you shall surely rejoice” (Verses 14-15).

The greatest joy and blessing

But for those who have never had their chance to really know God, know His laws and learn to live by them, the “Last Great Day” (John 7:37) has to hold the greatest joy and blessing.

 

“All” – every single individual who has ever lived – “have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And all such deserve the penalty of death because of sin (Romans 6:23), had not God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die at Calvary’s cross to pay for that penalty we all deserve, and so that we will not perish but have everlasting lifr (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

 

Some – a relatively few – among human sinners in this present age have come to such a salvation and promise of everlasting life (Matthew 7: 13-14; Luke 13:24).  At the return of Christ most of humanity will be destroyed (Isaiah 66:15-16;24:5-6)). Isaiah 6:12-13 indicates that only a tenth [10%] of all humanity will survive that destruction, and they will live on as mortal subjects of Christ’s coming kingdom.  [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]

 

The vast majority of “unsaved” mankind, however, will not be lost forever, without God giving them a fair chance to be taught of God and be saved.  [See:  This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]

The promise of “the Last Great Day”

Revelation 20:5 assures:  “But the rest of the dead [those who do not attain salvation at Christ’s return] did not live again until the thousand years – of Christ’s reign with the glorified saints – are finished.”

Revelation 20:12 shows the resurrection of all such unsaved dead.  This will be their time to be taught God’s word, the Holy Bible.  They will need to prove, within a time God gives them, that they are willing, and able, to do works worthy of salvation.  As they do, they will be spared from the lake of fire and the “second death” but will instead have everlasting life (Verses 13-15).  [See: Saved for Good Works and Being and Doing.]

Thank God there is a “Last Great Day!”  What a great and loving God we serve!

 

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
25092021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for “the Last Great Day!”

 

 

All of God’s commanded holy days or feast days are to be observed with joy.  “Three times [or seasons] in a year shall your males shall appear before the  LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feaqst bof Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks. and at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

 

God said: “And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widows who are within your gates.  Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce, in all the work of your hands, so that you shall surely rejoice” (Verses 14-15).

 

The greatest joy and blessing

 

But for those who have never had their chance to really know God, know His laws and learn to live by them, the “Last Great Day” (John 7:37) has to hold the greatest joy and blessing.

 

“All” – every single individual who has ever lived – “have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And all such deserve the penalty of death because of sin (Romans 6:23), had not God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die at Calvary’s cross to pay for that penalty we all deserve, and so that we will not perish but have everlasting lifr (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

 

Some – a relatively few – among human sinners in this present age have come to such a salvation and promise of everlasting life (Matthew 7: 13-14; Luke 13:24).  At the return of Christ most of humanity will be destroyed (Isaiah 66:15-16;24:5-6)). Isaiah 6:12-13 indicates that only a tenth [10%] of all humanity will survive that destruction, and they will live on as mortal subjects of Christ’s coming kingdom.  [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]

 

The vast majority of “unsaved” mankind, however, will not be lost forever, without God giving them a fair chance to be taught of God and be saved.  [See:  This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]

 

The promise of “the Last Great Day”

 

Revelation 20:5 assures:  “But the rest of the dead [those who do not attain salvation at Christ’s return] did not live again until the thousand years – of Christ’s reign with the glorified saints – are finished.”

 

Revelation 20:12 shows the resurrection of all such unsaved dead.  This will be their time to be taught God’s word, the Holy Bible.  They will need to prove, within a time God gives them, that they are willing, and able, to do works worthy of salvation.  As they do, theyb will be spared from the lake of fire and the “second death” but will instead have everlasting life (Verses 13-15).  [See: Saved for Good Works and Being and Doing.]

 

Thank God there is a “Last Great Day!”  What a great and loving God we serve!

 

 

Pedro R. Melendez, Jr.

25092021

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for “the Last Great Day!”

 

 

All of God’s commanded holy days or feast days are to be observed with joy.  “Three times [or seasons] in a year shall your males shall appear before the  LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feaqst bof Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks. and at the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

 

God said: “And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widows who are within your gates.  Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce, in all the work of your hands, so that you shall surely rejoice” (Verses 14-15).

 

The greatest joy and blessing

 

But for those who have never had their chance to really know God, know His laws and learn to live by them, the “Last Great Day” (John 7:37) has to hold the greatest joy and blessing.

 

“All” – every single individual who has ever lived – “have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And all such deserve the penalty of death because of sin (Romans 6:23), had not God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die at Calvary’s cross to pay for that penalty we all deserve, and so that we will not perish but have everlasting lifr (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

 

Some – a relatively few – among human sinners in this present age have come to such a salvation and promise of everlasting life (Matthew 7: 13-14; Luke 13:24).  At the return of Christ most of humanity will be destroyed (Isaiah 66:15-16;24:5-6)). Isaiah 6:12-13 indicates that only a tenth [10%] of all humanity will survive that destruction, and they will live on as mortal subjects of Christ’s coming kingdom.  [See: The Ransomed of the LORD.]

 

The vast majority of “unsaved” mankind, however, will not be lost forever, without God giving them a fair chance to be taught of God and be saved.  [See:  This Is not the Only Day of Salvation.]

 

The promise of “the Last Great Day”

 

Revelation 20:5 assures:  “But the rest of the dead [those who do not attain salvation at Christ’s return] did not live again until the thousand years – of Christ’s reign with the glorified saints – are finished.”

 

Revelation 20:12 shows the resurrection of all such unsaved dead.  This will be their time to be taught God’s word, the Holy Bible.  They will need to prove, within a time God gives them, that they are willing, and able, to do works worthy of salvation.  As they do, theyb will be spared from the lake of fire and the “second death” but will instead have everlasting life (Verses 13-15).  [See: Saved for Good Works and Being and Doing.]

 

Thank God there is a “Last Great Day!”  What a great and loving God we serve!

 

 

Pedro R. Melendez, Jr.

25092021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Pedro R. Melendez,

Hypocrisy: Why God So Hates It

 

Among the most searing words Jesus Christ spoke during His earthly ministry were those addressed to and against hypocrites. In Matthew 6:2, 5, 16 He condemned three instances and forms of hypocrisy: 1) doing charitable acts and announcing them to other people, 2) praying publicly to show one’s piety to other men, and 3) fasting and making it obvious to others in order to gain their approval and praise.

In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus condemned those who judged others for their sins while being blind to their own sins. In particular Jesus condemned the Pharisees, Sadduccees and scribes or teachers of the law among the Jews of His day.

In Matthew 16:1-4 Jesus condemned as hypocrites a group of these Jewish leaders who asked Him for a sign that He was indeed the prophesied Messiah. Actually Jesus had done many miraculous deeds in their midst, but they did not believe these and felt these were not enough signs; they wanted more.

Matthew 23 contains Jesus’ several direct condemnations of the scribes and Pharisees for what they were doing to be seen by men, their desire to be exalted by and among men (Verses 1-2). In Verses 13-36 Jesus pronounced woe on the scribes and Pharisees for their blindness and failure to acknowledge their own failings and their lack of understanding of what really matters to God.

But why the divine indignation?

When we come right down to it, God primarily desires “truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6) – in our hearts and minds. God wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). [See: True Worship.]

As God, Jesus searches the minds and hearts of everyone (Revelation 2:23). He knows the secrets of our hearts (Psalm 44:21). A man after God’s own heart, Israel’s King David affirmed that God knows our every thought even before we express it in words or actions (Psalm 139:1-4; compare with Isaiah 66:18). And what does God see in our hearts? Isaiah 59:7 declares that man’s thoughts are often “thoughts of iniquity” – sin, or disobedience to God’s law (1 John 3:4, KJV). [See: The Problem of Sin, Is There Ever Any Good in Man? and A Law-abiding Universe – But Man!]

Jesus stressed the importance of our being clean in our inside – our hearts and minds – first. He told the scribes and Pharisees: “You cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, [so] that the inside of them may be clean also (Matthew 23:25-26). He compared them to “Whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones.”

The Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “hypocrisy” as “a pretending to be what one is not, and to feel what one does not feel; esp. a pretense of virtue, piety, etc.” It is basically the discrepancy between one’s outer appearance or show, and what’s really going on in one’s mind and heart. Hypocrisy, then, is essentially living a lie!

Hypocrisy is thus the opposite of God’s nature as a God of truth – a God who does not lie, cannot lie, and will not ever lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). In contrast Jesus called God’s chief enemy, Satan the devil, the “father” of all lies and liars (John 8:44).

Among the things God hates the most – abominations to Him – are a “false witness” and a “lying tongue” (Proverbs 6:16-17, 19). He will condemn to the lake of fire or the “second death” all unrepentant liars and “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie” (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). Jesus also declared that the portion of hypocrites is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51) – prior to their being cast into the unextinguished fire of hell and their everlasting condemnation.

Therefore, it behooves all who want to inherit everlasting life in God’s eternal kingdom and Paradise to seek to “do God’s commandments” and keep oneself clean from sorcery, sexual immorality, idolatry and, yes, lies and hypocrisy (Revelation 22:14-15). [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience, Being and Doing, and Saved for Good Works.]

May God help us to become perfect both in our inward and outward lives! [See: Does God Require Us to Do the Impossible? and “I Never Knew You!”]

 

Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.
11082021

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 to 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