Deuteronomy 30:15-20 “See I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
This series of verses, we might call them the “make a choice” verses, but they are within a context that fits very closely within a description of a world view, because that is what God is doing to these people there. He is shaping a very general world view and saying, Look, I have sent you this, I have given you that. Here is your responsibility and I want you to make right choices.
That is what a world view should be able to give us. It should be able to submit a view to our very minds, so that it can see and process thoughts that may lead to right choices. Should I go this way or that way? It is my hope to sharpen the focus of our snapshot in relation to ourselves as members of the church of God. I believe that is a very high order. We must first see, perceive, or grasp, our calling to be a major part of it, that is part of our world view. It is truly a very significant reality of veritable treasure of awesome value.
This is tied to what Jesus said in Matthew 6, that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. A treasure subtly influences one to protect and to build it, that is build what our treasure is. If our treasure in our heart truly is the calling with all of the things that are attached to that calling, including everlasting life with the Father and Son in the future, then we are able to truly build on it because we see, in a sense, in our mind’s eye, what we have and where it is headed.
Where your treasure is subtly influences one to protect and build it and the heart—where your treasure is there will your heart be also—in turn generates our actions, that is our choices. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Out of the heart comes murders, fornications, and so forth. We certainly want our heart to be generating the right things. That is why our world view must include our calling in as much as we can cram into that world view that the calling means to us.
If we do not perceive our calling as worth anything of spiritual value, we are sunk. We are defeated, right at the very beginning. We will not overcome, we will not grow, we will not be in the Kingdom of God because we place no value on what has been so freely given to us that really and truly is of awesome value! In fact, it is so valuable that a value cannot be placed on it.
Of exceeding importance is something that I said in that first sermon. It is that only you can place a value on it. I can talk, I can try to stir up interest in it, I can maybe describe it with words that embellish it to some degree, and that may be of some help. But only the individual can actually determine the value that calling has to that person—nobody else can make that decision for you, nobody else can change you, nobody else can make you pray, nobody else can make you study, nobody else can make you overcome. You have to do that. That is part of the voluntary gift that we give to God: we place a value and we go from there.
The second sermon was devoted to showing the primary responsibility of the church. It can be described actually quite easily—we continue on doing what Jesus began in His earthly ministry. We saw how He formed a group under Him, appointed certain ones to certain responsibilities, and at the end of His ministry, though He started out with nobody, He ended up with 120 really, truly, dedicated, well trained disciples to carry on where He left off.
Generation after generation has gone by, it has come down to our time, and our responsibility, so we have to carry on, in a sense, doing the same basic things that the apostles and those other disciples did in the first century.
Another way of putting it is, we are to walk in His steps, but we are to work within the framework of our abilities. We cannot do what Jesus did, we cannot do what the apostle Paul did, we cannot do what Peter, James, and John did. They performed their responsibilities. God has called us and we perform within the abilities that have been given to us.
The church has the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the world, and in addition to that, an ever increasing magnification of the gospel to the church members themselves, so that they can put those teachings into operation in their lives in preparation for what lies ahead for them.
We are going to continue defining this responsibility that we have to God. We will turn to the book of John. Christianity is not just a matter of keeping the Sabbath and the holy days. We also observe the clean and unclean meats, we do not hold public offices, we do not go to war, we do keep the commandments, we do not observe Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, and we tithe. Sometimes there are a number of differences which seem to be almost endless between us and the world, because God has given us so many different things that has to be a part of our life.
That has to be a little bit of a prelude to this verse that we are going to turn to here in John 14. This took place the night that Jesus was taken before being crucified.
John 14:4-6 “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
It is the word ‘way’ that I want to concentrate on for a while, because that was a part of what Jesus taught the disciples. He taught the disciples the way of God, He lived the way of God before them specifically within the framework of the responsibility that had been given to Him.
The way for us will be basically the same as it was for Jesus, and as it was for the apostles. There will be deviations in regard to specific responsibilities that come up for those of us who are part of the church but it will all be within the framework of the way.
We are going to go from John 14 to Hebrews 10. We are going to follow this word ‘way’ for a while, so that we can get a good grip on it.
Hebrews 10:19-20 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.
The new and the living way begins through the acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ, and continues on from there to living life through growing in faith in Him. This mostly fits into the feeding of the flock responsibility, and requires a great deal more specific teaching than what is given to the preaching of the gospel to the world.
We are going to see the young church in action following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in which the word ‘way’ is involved.
Acts 16:16-17 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”
Interesting that with her demonic possession she understood what the apostles, what Paul and his crew with him, were doing. They were teaching a ‘way’ that had to do with salvation. I forgot to say something here that would be helpful to put in at this time that has to do with the meaning of the word way.
‘Way’ is a manner or method of doing something, a procedure, as in the phrase, the right way. It is something done in an orderly productive fashion. Feed that into the way that the church is to teach. It is a procedure, it is a program, it is a process, that has many facets to it, and it is because there are so many facets to it that the second part of the church’s responsibility must include instruction in many areas of life, and is thus a great magnification of the preaching of the gospel to the world.
Acts 18:24-26 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Now, not one of the three people that are named in this little section was a minister, later on I am sure Apollos became a minister. There is no indication that Aquila and Priscilla ever became ministers, I know that they were ordained as a deacon and deaconess. But what I am getting at here is this: it begins to open up the door for something and that is that every member of the body of Jesus Christ has priestly responsibilities.
Even though you are not ordained, you have a degree of priestly responsibilities. In other words, it becomes our responsibility to not hide what we have under a bushel. It becomes our responsibility that should the situation occur, we have the right and the authority from God to, in a sense, preach the gospel to these people, but we always have to remember it has to be done within the framework that we are not ordained ministers. But we certainly are not to hide the way of God from other people.
Remember, Jesus said, you do not put the light that you have under a bushel basket—you show it to the world, you talk about it to the world. The world calls this witnessing, and it has a place within the church. It is not that we set out to do it, that is those of us who may not be ordained, but as the situation arises we do not hide God's way from others. So that falls within our responsibilities.
Acts 19:9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
The word way is now capitalized. It takes on a distinctiveness within the public sector in which they were actually calling the Christian church, the Way. Which means what caught their mind about what they were receiving from the apostles and any others who were speaking on—of God, of the gospel—was that they could see that there was a process unfolding before them. Christians did things differently than other religious people that they knew, they were following the way of God.
We will extend it even further. What they were doing was, they were keeping the commandments of God. The Way of God is actually the commandments of God. The people were obeying them, to the best of their knowledge and their understanding. This is why I keep hammering at us here—no laws of God are ever done away! That is like telling God there was something wrong with that thing that You gave us way back there in Genesis 3 or 9 or whatever. God never makes mistakes. Those things are still in the Bible because they are still useful, and they are part of His Way.
Acts 19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.
Again the word way is capitalized, but it seems that those people were teaching so well that even in the public mind, Christianity became known as a specific way of life.
Please turn to Ephesians 4. I want to assure you that as God is putting the church together, the Worldwide Church of God blew apart, but I can assure you that God has not abandoned the church of God at all, and He is still continuing to work on us, and He is going to bring us together in His good time and in His good way.
I just mentioned this thing about everybody, all of us in the body, have a priestly responsibility. We do not all do the same things. If you go back into Leviticus you will find that not every Levite did exactly thing. They took care of a responsibility that they had to the Tabernacle and to the Temple, and became very proficient in doing that part. I do not think that they changed people around left and right, in regard to the responsibilities, because that is not God's way of doing things. He trains people to carry things out as we might say today, professionally, so that we do the very best thing possible.
What I am getting at here is, I want us to understand that regardless of whom you are, whether you are male or female, regardless of your age, God has given you, each and everyone of us, including myself, the ability to carry out our job. Every single one of us is gifted to do it. The more difficult thing is to find out exactly what our job is. Some of them are very similar to one another.
Ephesians 4:4-12 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles [here are some gifts from God], some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. . . .
This does not mean preaching. It simply means service that defines our responsibilities within the body. We serve the body, and in serving the body we serve God, and sometimes we serve those outside of the body. We have to see it as a service that we are performing in response to God's calling and in response to the gifts that God has given us to perform what we are to do in the body.
Ephesians 4:13-15 . . . for the edifying [we are teachers] of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ.
Everyone is gifted, nobody is left out. To each one of us in the one body grace, meaning favor, gifts, was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. What I have just taught you, some of you may have known this from the past, and that is good, but what I am telling you is going to require of us a great deal of self control, a great deal of humility, because we do not want to go beyond the gifts that we have been given. We wait around, you might say, for God to lead us.
Paul is assuring each person that they are endowed with gifts bestowed to add to the church's progress in fulfilling its responsibility, and to the individual to fulfill his part in the body. We are going to go back to a parable in the book of Matthew so that we can understand the gifting that has been given to us, and why it is necessary for us to serve within the body of Jesus Christ—the church—with humility. Humility, I hope you understand is a choice, we choose to be humble.
Matthew 25:14-15 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”
I am sure that one of the lessons that this parable was given for us to understand: notice the gifts in this parable were given, so God wants us to know that gifts are given, they are not the product of one’s own skill, or ingenuity. And I want you also to notice, that it is a measured gift. God does not gift us over and above our ability to use the gift correctly, He gives us just the right amount to operate within our place in the body.
He wants the members to be eager to use it, for the benefit of the entire body, and it will be that approach that will bring God glory. God's way, as we are beginning to see, is one of humility. God's way is not in any shape or form competitive, we are not competing with one another. We are working as a servant in a spirit of cooperation for the body’s benefit and for members benefit.
Please turn to I Corinthians 12. I am describing part of the way of God. God has not denied anybody help in carrying out their responsibilities within the body.
I Corinthians 12:1, 4-7 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant. . . . There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
God is working in everybody that is part of the body, and He is doing it for the good of the body as well as the good of the individual. God's gifts are spread through the entire body, but it is the same God giving to all for the common good. And I think that we need to understand that Paul's naming of those offices is not intended to exalt those in those offices, but merely to make clear an example of those receiving a gift.
Now we will see one more thing that I want to pick up in verse18, another very familiar scripture.
I Corinthians 12:18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
God has us completely boxed in, and that should help us to perform our responsibilities, whatever they are, humbly. First of al,l He calls. Secondly, He gives everybody gifts. Third, they are given for service—they are not self generated, they are gifts. So we really have not a thing to brag about spiritually before God.
I want to make a little bit of a review here before we move on, regarding the church. First, it is a teaching institution with three major branches. It preaches the gospel to the world, it further refines and magnifies that message for the benefit of the members, and thus becomes a support in the preparation of them living in the Kingdom.
Second, each member of the body is gifted by Christ to serve in His functions to God, and his fellow members of the body. These things are important to be a part of our world view. There is one more thing that I want to add here because we are going to go on to this subject in a lot more depth. Please turn to John 15. The subject I am going to go into here is not the gifting of the body but a warning that Jesus gave just before He died.
John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
It was very interesting for me to discover that though Jesus may have mentioned the world prior to this time, you will find that if you check out the word ‘world,’ you will find that almost every case that Jesus talked about it did not come up until just before He was crucified.
I think that timing is very interesting and here is why. It is almost like saying, Oh by the way, there is something that I forgot to tell you. The world is going to hate you, and the world is going to put Me to death tomorrow, so you folks better watch out. It was not quite like that because He had mentioned the world before, but most of the warnings that came from Him about the world were just the day before He was crucified.
The very week that I prepared this sermon, I read a brief article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, regarding how quickly, how perceptively, we tend to follow a crowd. We are this tiny group, I mean the whole church of God, and the crowd is in the world. I think that this is where a major portion of Jesus’ concern is regarding the church and the world.
This thing about following the crowd was interesting. What the Wall Street Journal article was about was, some studies had been made that tend to very strongly suggest that human beings reaction to one another seems to be built right into the brain, not only of humans but also of animals.
I will illustrate this, have you ever looked up into the sky? You will probably see a hundred and fifty, two hundred birds in one flock heading south to get away from all the cold weather up north. Here is what so interesting: the birds are heading south and suddenly they turn to the right and go off in a different direction. Not just one bird does it, the whole flock does it at the same time. I know if you grew up in the country like I did, you have seen that hundreds of times. Birds are not the only ones that do that, human beings do it too.
Nobody has ever yet been able to find out what it is that makes birds do that. They assume that there is a signal of some kind because they all seem to turn in unison. Maybe it is something like a radio signal, a spark and just like that they make a right hand turn and off they go. Researchers are now beginning to believe that this same ‘follow the crowd’ impulse that works in birds also works in humans.
You might think that this is the sheep instinct. There is definitely a sheep instinct, but it is much slower, this is something that happens pretty rapidly, and I will tell you what they found regarding this rapidity in just a minute. Their conclusion so far is that it appears to be something that is built right into the brain. In fact in humans, the impulse to follow a crowd is so strong that it appears, from their test, that in order to not do what somebody else is doing one either has to be distracted away from what everybody else is doing, or consciously resist doing what everybody else is doing.
Here is a minor example of this. Try not to yawn when somebody you are looking at is yawning, you almost have to do it, and you almost have to force yourself not to do it. That is what they are talking about. In fact tests made by the group that was doing the researching on this phenomenon, demonstrated that the human eye and brain only have to see a picture for one quarter of a second to react to the suggestion of following what the picture in their experiment suggested doing.
The only ones who did not react were the ones who were taking the test, and in a sense, knew what was coming and they resisted. But if a person was not familiar with the test, all they had to do was to see the picture in the paper that was flashed before them one quarter of a second and they did what the picture said to do.
If you are beginning to follow me here it is this: the human mind, with the sheep instinct everybody knows about already working, we are now beginning to be on the edge of discovering we do not have to see a tendency for very long period of time before the mind begins to react with a desire to follow what everybody else is already doing.
What I am getting at here is, Jesus’ admonition was given in order to know that we have to be thinking people, we have to be aware as much as possible about what is going on around us—who is doing what, why are they doing what they doing—and getting our defense up to not do what other people are doing until we have tested it out and approved of what they are doing. If it is not part of the way of God, we resist and we do not do it.
On the very night that Jesus was taken, in the ear shot of all the apostles who were there, Jesus said to Peter specifically, He said, “Be alert, be on guard, wake up Peter! Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith fails not.” Which lets us know that Jesus knew He was in on something that was going to occur specifically to Peter, and that Peter was prone to react to something without thinking it through before he took action.
Of course we know he denied Christ three times. That is what was coming. But Peter reacted anyway, the wrong way, even though he had been warned. Please turn to I John 5. This is why we need to be careful in the way that we live our life.
I John 5:18a We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps [guards] himself. . . .
Peter was not on guard. We are receiving a warning here. The world is able to send signals that can trigger things in our mind that make us desire to react. Remember Ecclesiastes, everything matters. That is the lesson that is coming out to me. God is telling us through Solomon to be thinking people—everything matters. If we want to make the best grade, we are going to be thinking about what is going on around us and evaluate the direction that we want to go with our life.
I John 5:18b-21 . . . . and the wicked one does not touch him. [If we are on guard, he cannot do very much.] We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
This context has interesting ramifications. The ‘follow the crowd’ article helped me to understand one reason why Jesus was so concerned about the world, and even when converted there is no way we can totally escape the influence of the world because we are literally immersed in the possibility of receiving influence.
We have to look at this in this way, it has to be part of our world view again. Satan is the most influential personality aligned against us, but the world is his major tool. It contains his systems, and his systems are pretty influential because the book of Revelation tells us he has deceived the entire world. That is really an effective batting average.
Here we are, we are in the church, but there are two major spiritual entities in the world, the church and world, and these two are at war. If we were not at war, he would not be the enemy. But we are at war, so we do not want to be deceived into following him even when we do not want to. As a result, it takes conscience effort to resist the world’s influence or we will gradually but automatically revert.
So true Christian conduct requires thoughtful consideration because it is not a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. This does not mean that our salvation is hanging in the balance with every passing moment, but it does mean that we cannot go through life without paying due attention to what we have been given for our salvation. We have really been greatly gifted in order to enable us to make right choices. Salvation is indeed a gift, but it is a gift requiring our attentive, voluntary response.
Philippians 2:12-16 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all good things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
I want you to notice especially the fear and trembling statement. That fear and trembling statement means work out your own salvation giving full respect, fear, to the importance, to the value, of what we have been freely given.
How does this working have anything to do with freely-given salvation? I am going to connect this thought to a scripture that we are not going to turn to, but you can turn to it later, Luke 12:30-32. We are charged with seeking the Kingdom of God. Seeking is work! If we are seeking the Kingdom of God, on the surface it appears that we are working to get salvation, and that we would be earning salvation by doing that seeking—that is our own effort. But right within those same three verses Jesus adds that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom as a gift.
These two concepts of working and being gifted are not contradictory but rather complementary. Follow this illustration, I think it is pretty good: a tree has no power to maintain itself. The roots are stretched out into the environment of the soil that God supplies. If God had not supplied it, the tree would not be there. God supplies the soil, the roots go into the soil and hold the tree up. The tree is then dependent upon the sun, the air, the rain that God supplies as well. Of itself the tree does not even have the wherewithal to absorb the moisture, the nourishment that it receives. God created it within the tree, to make that operation possible too. Does this mean then that the tree is inactive? No, the tree is receptive as to the environment, which includes God, who supplies what it needs.
It is estimated that when a large tree receives rain, the tree expends an amount of energy equal to a person carrying three hundred buckets full of water, two at a time, up a ten step fight of stairs. Meanwhile the leaves are at the same time processing the liquid and the minerals, delivered up from the trunk, which is working to pump it up there from the roots.
Do you get the point in this analogy? We are the tree. God created us, gifted us, with all systems in place within, even including a human spirit in order to make use of the environment that He has placed us in. When God calls and He rains, as it were, His Holy Spirit on us, everything is already in place to make use of every gift that He placed within us in the first place, as voluntarily as the tree does.
What good are the gifts if they are not used to fulfill a purpose? This is what Philippians 2:12-16 is talking about. That these two things—the work that the tree does, the work that the human being does—making use of all of the gifts that God had already given in the first place, and so they are able to do the responsibility that God has created it to do.
We are almost exactly like the tree, except for one thing. We have the ability to refuse the rain, we have the ability to refuse to use the gifts that God has created in us in the first place. This is why Mr. Armstrong so often said our response to God has to be voluntarily given. This is why I began where I did, in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, where God says exactly the same thing, He says, “Choose.” This is why we have to be thoughtful in the face of our environment that we are living in.
I will tell you, the environment that we are living in is really getting vicious. It is already vicious, and it is becoming more and more vicious and it is becoming downright dangerous and that is why we have to be thinking people. I do not know if you are aware of this, but the world, Satan's world, is sending out many deceptive signals to lure us back. I do not know if you ever heard of the Tavistock Institute. It is a British think tank, but it has been in business doing its dirty work for decades, scores of years. The Tavistock Institute is operated by men very skilled in the deceptive use of language in order to create attitudes different from their more natural paths.
It is highly likely that many of you have seen the movie The Manchurian Candidate. That was not all sci-fi. That movie was based upon things that were already being done to men's minds during the Korean War in the early 1950's, where psychologists were using psychological means to trigger thoughts in men's minds to be vicious killers. In that movie I do not know how true this was, it could be signaled, or triggered by a signal, that was their thing.
Many of you may have seen the series of movies that began with The Bourne Identity. Again that is built on a truth, things that actually did happen, where our ‘wonderful’ government, using means that were discovered by places like the Tavistock Institute, where they could actually twist a man's mind psychologically, and turn him into a vicious killer—take a farm boy off the farm and turn him into a vicious killer. It works, and they employ him in the CIA to carry out whatever the government assigns him the responsibility of doing.
These things look like singular cases, but now those methods developed by the Tavistock Institute are being broadcast on NBC, ABC, CBS, not quite as much on FOX. But they are being used in order to produce mass, single thought programmed minds in the United States of America.
The purpose of using news broadcasting, as well as media news journalism, and entertainment, using Tavistock developed verbal methods, is to create chaotic befuddlement in people’s minds about what is going on in the world. The idea is to create what Satan is best at—confusion.
The greater population in the United States of America has no idea what is going on. What I want you to understand is that it is purposely being done. Are you aware that NBC, ABC, CBS are all owned by the same group of people? You will not see the same names on the masthead of those broadcasting companies, but they all belong to the same clubs, go in the same organizations, seek one another's company out, and plot. They all belong to organizations like the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Committee of Three Hundred, and on and on it goes. That who is running things.
They openly will tell people that they seek total world power, they are not hiding it. I will tell you right now there is one group of people they fear, and that is the American citizens, because we have guns, and they are afraid we are going to use them against them. So they are trying their hardest to befuddle us, and fight with one another, disorganized, disengaged, fearful about what is going on.
This is my concern regarding the church and the world: that we do not get caught up in it. One more thing to add. Do you realize that the major newspapers in the United States are all owned by the same group of people, The Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal. This is a pretty good-sized clique of four or five thousand people and they have designs upon the United States of America and Europe, taking over the whole of the EU, and that will be their base.
This is another reason why I believe that the beast is not going to arise out of a Muslim power. It is going to arise within the Israelitish nations. I do not know if the person will be an Israelite, maybe a Gentile, but the nuclear power in the world, which is the power, is mostly in the United States and Europe.
Things are happening, and we have to be focused on the Kingdom of God. We are in this world, but we are not of the world, and if we are not careful, by keeping our mind on the things of God, what is going on in the world is going to pull us into that kind of attitude that people are developing here in this nation.
I know that you are aware of some of it. I will tell you now, I do not think ABC, NBC, CBS are worth their salt anymore in regard to truth. If you are going to find truth, it is highly likely it will be on the Internet, but you have to be very careful and selective there as well. But your chances of getting truth are going to be much higher there than they are going to be in those national outlets, so be aware.
The work out your own salvation with fear and trembling is complementary to the gifts that God gives. God makes us so that we are able to succeed, but brethren, we have to use them. That is where our voluntary part comes in. We make use of them and in doing so, we are working out our salvation, we are carrying it to the end, to the desired goal of Almighty God—not our own but His.
I will show you as plain as anything the difference between the church of God and all of the other churches. Those of you who saw the movie [not sure what movie this is], those were very fine men, well educated men, men who were probably quite moral. There is no doubt that they are religious, no doubt that they know a great deal about the Bible, but I also sincerely doubt there was a converted person among them. They are the kind of person that you would love to have next door to you, clean living and everything like that, but that is not a conversion. Conversion is what God does in us and it is a gift.
I said in a sermon or so back that the big difference between the church and the world’s churches is clearly stated in the Bible, and I am going to give you one of these places.
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
I go to that verse so that you will understand the time element that is involved here in Revelation 12.
Revelation 12:13-17 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place [an indication that there is a special place that God is preparing], where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war [the difference between the true church and all of the other churches] with the rest of her offspring [now watch what her offspring do], who keep the commandments of God [By inference it means that if they do not keep the commandments of God, then they must already be captive to Satan.] and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Spewing of water is a flood of words, false teachings, and is one of the reasons why I went into this thing about the news broadcasters and so forth. We are being flooded, almost overwhelmed by news from the world—none of it is good, none of it is truth, none of it supports a Christian life.
Those that Satan is against are those who keep the commandments of God, and those who have the testimony of Jesus Christ. I take that testimony to mean that it is the witness (like making a witness in court), that Jesus Christ made in His teaching. What He did in His teaching to the church is what I have been telling you here. The church feeds its members on a magnification of the original gospel, just like Jesus did. He came, He preached the gospel, then He took His disciples aside and He taught them the Sermon on the Mount.
That is a model of breaking the original gospel by magnifying it so that He can give greater detail to those who are His followers. We do not just have the commandments of God, we also have the testimony, the witness, of Jesus Christ.
It is very easy for everybody to look at the commandments and think about the Ten Commandments and limit the commandments to just the Ten Commandments. Do not do that! If Christ wanted the Ten Commandments to be there, He would have said the Ten Commandments. He said, the commandments. There are hundreds upon hundreds of commandments in the Bible, right from the very beginning. We are not limited to obeying the Ten Commandments. The church keeps every one that it understands.
Please turn to Genesis. This is why I began this sermon as I did. The way of God is multifaceted, it touches every aspect of life, and there are commands that come from our Father regarding everything that is of importance to our life, about going this way, or that way.
I want you to see here in Genesis 26—the father of the faithful is whom? It is Abraham. Notice God's testimony regarding Abraham.
Genesis 26:1-5 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandment, My statues, and My laws.
The indication is: our father in the faithful, the man who has been set aside by God, is to inherit the earth. Can you imagine that, inherit the earth, because he kept the commandments, the statues, and the judgments. Abraham was not limited to just the Ten Commandments. It looks to me as though he kept every law he knew of. If our physical father did that, why should we not, like father, like son, do what he did?
That is a high calling, and it is the keeping of the commandments of God that separates the church of God from all of the other churches, which may be filled with very fine people—people you would love to have next door to you, in your community, hard working people, clean people, righteous to the extent that they know of, sincere in their convictions, and honest—but not converted, not yet.
I will finish on that note, so that we can see what separates the church of God from all of the other churches. And why the church of God is the only church qualified to follow Jesus Christ and preach the gospel, because it is the one that really knows what it is all about.