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The sin that leads to death

16 February 2019

The sin that leads to death

REDEMPTION

What the sin unto death is and the impossibility of repenting of it

The apostle John wrote: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:16-17).

Brethren, all wrongdoing is sin and we know that “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), as John says. Now, the Scripture says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), therefore, if a son of God commits a sin the transgression of the law will repay him with death, that’s why if a believer sins, after he has sinned, he feels disturbed and unhappy and feels a pain that pierces him like an arrow inside him, because the wages of sin is death. But the apostle wrote: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death” (1 John 5:16), which means that if we see a brother commit a sin which does not lead to death, we must pray God so that he might be made alive; yes, because God gives life to those who commit a sin that does not lead to death and repent of it, confessing and forsaking it. However, there is a sin of which a believer cannot repent, because it is impossible for those who commit this sin to be brought back to repentance and thus it is useless to pray for them, as it is written: “I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:17). In other words, for those brothers who have committed this sin leading to death there is no possibility that they may repent and receive life from God. What is the destiny awaiting these people? They will be condemned to the second death (that is, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone), because this kind of sin leads those who commit it to the second death.

Now, since all wrongdoing is sin and there are many kinds of sins, we have to ascertain through the Scriptures what the sin leading to death is, in order to prevent someone among us from saying that a certain brother has committed the sin leading to death for he has seen that brother commit a sin; that is to say, in order to prevent believers from accusing falsely other believers of having committed the sin to death. When we speak of the sin unto death (and not only when we speak of this biblical subject but also when we speak of any other biblical subject) we have to divide rightly the word of truth lest we unsettle the souls of believers and drive them to despair through words that don’t apply to them, because they have not committed the sin unto death. Now, let us see what the epistle to the Hebrews says about this sin in order to understand what it is.

It is written: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8). First of all, let’s look closely at the qualities of those of whom the Scripture says “if they shall fall away it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance” because these qualities can be and are possessed only by true children of God washed from their sins in the blood of the Lamb. I say this because some believers pass this sin off as a sin committed by people who had not yet accepted the Word of God completely or people who were approaching the Lord, but that’s not true at all because those persons of whom the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews speak are true believers and not false believers.

Brethren, those who, after they hear the Gospel of grace, approach God recognizing that they are sinners and need to be saved have been enlightened by God who is light; and when they believe with their heart in our Lord Jesus Christ obtaining the remission of their sins and eternal life they taste the heavenly gift, which is Jesus Christ, for Paul says: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23) and John says about the Son of God: “This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).Afterwards, when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit they become partakers of the Holy Spirit because they are filled with the Holy Spirit (however, this does not mean that they did not have the Holy Spirit before, for every man receives a measure of the Spirit when he believes in the Lord). The words “they have tasted the good word of God” mean that they have fed on “the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2 – NKJV) as well as solid food, which “belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14 – NKJV). The words “they have tasted the powers of the world to come” means that they have received some gifts of the Holy Spirit through which believers taste the powers of the world to come. Now, if these persons, who have experienced all these things, reject the Lord and draw back (they are again entangled in the pollutions of the world and overcome), deciding not to follow the Lord any longer and to renounce the Christ (they even don’t want to hear people speaking about Christ any longer), they commit the sin unto death, and we don’t have to pray for them because it is impossible to renew them again to repentance because they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says that the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God, but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and cursed and its end is to be burned; in the same way, if a believer abides in the Lord, the Lord abides in him, he bears much fruit to the glory of God and God blesses him; but if he ceases to abide in the Lord, the Lord will cease to abide in him and he will bear only thorns and briers, and thus he will become a man disapproved concerning the faith, an accursed child, who will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone where he will burn and be tormented forever.

The reason why the writer of this epistle wrote these things to the Jews who had believed in our Lord Jesus Christ was that those believers were enduring a great persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ and they were tempted, in the midst of that persecution, to draw back; and so the writer of the epistle, knowing the sufferings they had to endure for the Gospel’s sake, exhorted them to hold their confidence in Christ steadfast to the end and warned them against drawing back and renouncing the grace to offer again those sin offerings whose blood could not take away sins, because if they drew back they would condemn themselves to the everlasting perdition, they would deserve such a punishment because in so doing they would trample the Son of God underfoot and count the blood of the covenant by which they had been sanctified a common thing and they would insult the Spirit of grace. Here is what the writer of that epistle wrote about the end awaiting those who draw back and about the punishment they deserve to receive from the living God: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31). These words are addressed to all of us who have believed as well, because the writer himself, who was a believer, included himself among those who could draw back to perdition saying: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth … ” (Hebrews 10:26) – we who are children of God have received the knowledge of the truth -, and because we are those people who were sanctified by the blood of the covenant (that is, the blood of Jesus Christ). Therefore, brethren, if those who have known the truth which is in Christ Jesus sin wilfully, that is, sin unto death, they commit a sin that will never be forgiven them (because it is a sin that will pay the transgressors back with the everlasting death) and they will go to perdition because they will lose the good hope (the hope of salvation) they have; only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God is left. They will deserve to be punished much more severely than those who broke the law of Moses and were put to death, because they have trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of Christ with which they were sprinkled a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace, that is, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts and by whom we cry out: “Abba, Father!” (with regard to this last thing, remember that Jesus said: “But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” [Mark 3:29 – NKJV]).

The possibility of repenting for those who commit a sin which does not lead to death

Brethren, I want you to know that both this expression “if they shall fall away” (Hebrews 6:6 – or “if they fall away” NKJV) and this other one “if we sin wilfully” (Hebrews 10:26), apply only to the sin which leads to death and not to all sins, because according to the Holy Scriptures a believer who commits a sin which is not unto death can repent of it and be forgiven by the Lord. Now I will show you from the Scriptures that it is possible for those believers who commit a sin which is not unto death to be brought back to repentance and that we can receive the remission of all sins except the sin unto death.

Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Therefore, a believer who commits a sin which does not lead to death can be restored, that is, he can be exhorted to repent of his sin and be forgiven by the Lord if he repents. When the apostle says ‘in a fault’ or “in a sin” (NIV), he does not include the sin unto death among the sins in which a believer may be caught, because those who commit the sin unto death cannot be restored since it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance. It is true that “a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16); however, it is also true that if the just falls, committing the sin which leads to death, he will never be able to rise again.

Jesus said: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Therefore, a brother who commits a sin which is not unto death can repent and be forgiven. Please note that the Scripture does not say: ‘If your brother sins unto death, rebuke him,’ because – as we saw before – for those who have committed the sin unto death it is impossible to repent and thus it is useless to rebuke them and to pray for them.

John said: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10). Therefore, we can confess our sins to the Lord and we know for certain that they will be forgiven us. If all sins were unto death, we would be hopeless, brethren, and the Scripture would be nullified because we could not even confess our sins to God to obtain the remission of them; we could not say to God: “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12 – NKJV), which would mean that God has deceived us. Those who commit the sin unto death will never be forgiven, that’s why the sin unto death cannot be included among the sins that can be confessed to God and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ; bear in mind this always.

James says: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). From the words of James, therefore, we learn that if a brother wanders from the truth he can be converted, thus he still can repent. Therefore, we cannot say that if a brother wanders from the truth, giving heed to some strange doctrines, he has committed the sin unto death and so he cannot repent any longer, for James says that he can be turned from the error of his way and his sins can be forgiven. The point I would like to underline is this: it is possible to renew again to repentance a brother who has wandered from the truth, but it is not possible to do the same thing towards a brother who has committed the sin unto death. Paul also says that a brother who has wandered from the truth can be renewed again to repentance, for after saying to Timothy that Hymenaeus and Philetus were among those who had wandered away from the truth because they said that the resurrection had already taken place, he said to him: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 – NKJV). As you can see, Paul says that the servant of the Lord must gently correct those who oppose the truth (they oppose the truth because they have wandered from the truth) because God may grant them repentance and allow them to escape from the trap of the devil into which they have fallen. The same thing cannot happen if a believer commits the sin unto death because – as we saw before – it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance. Read more…

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By standing firm you will save yourselves

13 February 2019

By standing firm you will save yourselves

Introduction

Dear brothers in the Lord, we are bound to thank God for you, because you also believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, having been chosen by God, from the beginning, for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. However, we are also bound to remind you that “we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14NKJV. In the second part of this passage the NIV reads: “If we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first”), which means that we have become one spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17) through faith in Him, but if we want to remain one spirit with Him and to inherit the Kingdom of God we have to keep our faith till the end of our life. What will happen to us if we cease to believe in the Lord, who saved us? We will lose our salvation and go to perdition. Through this writing of mine, therefore, I want to exhort you to continue in the faith till the end, so that on that day you also might obtain “the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

The people of Israel: an example of disobedience

I am going to speak to you about the people of Israel and their example of disobedience in order to make you realize that the Israelites believed in God at first, but afterwards they drew back, and because of their unbelief their bodies were scattered in the wilderness and they could not enter the rest of God; I believe that we all must remember the obstinate and rebellious conduct of this nation during his journey in the wilderness and the consequences of that conduct lest we follow their example.

According to the Scripture, the children of Israel went down to Egypt with Jacob, while Joseph was ruling over Egypt. The reason why they went down to Egypt was that Joseph, after he made himself known to his brothers, sent for his father and his whole family. They came to Egypt and dwelt in the land of Goshen, where they lived peacefully as long as Joseph was alive and they survived the great famine which came upon all the nations at that time (which had been predicted by Joseph). But after the death of Joseph “there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8), who, seeing that the Israelites had become more numerous than the Egyptians, lest they should become even more numerous and, if war broke out, they should join their enemies, fight against them and leave the country, decided to oppress the Israelites with forced labor and enslaved them to prevent them from multiplying. That oppression and slavery lasted a long time. However, all this happened by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God because a long time before God had told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not theirs, and would serve them, and they would afflict them four hundred years. But just as God had predicted the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, so He predicted also their deliverance, for He had said to Abraham: “Afterward they shall come out with great possessions. …. But in the fourth generation they shall return here” (Genesis 15:14,16 – NKJV), that is, in the land of Canaan. And that is what happened, for God sent Moses to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh, and after He had worked through Moses great and terrible signs and wonders against Pharaoh and the Egyptians (which were the judgements He executed on them), He brought His people out of the iron furnace, where they had been four centuries. After God divided the Red Sea before the Israelites and made them walk on dry ground through the midst of the sea, the Scripture says that “Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31). In the Book of Psalms also it is written that after the Israelites saw that wonder they believed in the Lord, for it is written: “Then believed they his words; they sang his praise” (Psalm 106:12). Keep these words before your eyes because they clearly show that the Israelites, after they had gone out of the land of Egypt with joy and gladness, believed in God and in His servant Moses.

But what happened afterwards, during their journey in the wilderness? Here is what happened according to the Scripture: “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul. They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD. The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram. And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked. They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt; Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them. Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD. Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness: To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands” (Psalm 106:13-27). As you can see, it is written that they did not believe the Word of God and they did not heed the voice of the Lord. The same Israelites whom God had brought out of the land of Egypt with joy and gladness, and who had believed the words of God at the Read Sea, cast the law of God behind their backs and refused to believe in God when God said to them: “Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1:21). This is the sin committed by the people of Israel in the wilderness of which I am going to speak: unbelief.

Now, according to the Word of God, the Israelites, when God divided the Red Sea before them, believed the words which God had revealed to His servant Moses and feared God. Therefore, the fact that afterwards they rebelled against the commandments of God and did not believe the commandment of God, who told them to possess the land of Canaan, shows that they did not continue in the faith and in the fear of God. And consider also that those people who did not continue in the faith and in the fear of God were not people who had not seen God working miracles but were men and women who had seen with their eyes God working terrible things, both in Egypt and in the wilderness, who, after they had been delivered from the four centuries old bondage in Egypt, rejoiced greatly because after so long time they could relish their freedom.

God was disgusted with that stubborn and rebellious generation, which did not set its heart aright and whose spirit was not faithful to God, and He said: “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest” (Hebrews 3:10-11). That was the witness which God witnessed of those Israelites and the judgement He pronounced on them. As you can see, God swore that He would not make those Israelites enter His rest because of their unbelief. Indeed, when they arrived near the land of Canaan, the good news was preached to them as well, but that word did not profit them because they refused to believe it, as it is written: “But the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Hebrews 4:2 – NIV). Therefore, the behaviour of those Israelites must not be imitated. However, it must be remembered because what they did occurred as example and was written for our admonition. For it shows us what destiny is awaiting those who cease to believe the word of God.

Now, let’s talk about us because our story, in certain things, looks like the story of the Israelites. For a certain period of time we lived under the power of Satan, who oppressed us and enslaved us with his strength and his craftiness; we don’t recall that period of our life with joy (because we are now ashamed of all those things which we did while we were under his power); however, we must recall it because it helps us to understand how great and glorious is the deliverance God worked for us. Yes, because we also have been delivered from a slavery, yet not from the slavery of some earthly tyrants, but from the slavery of sin and of the devil. However, we all recall with much pleasure the day on which, by the grace of God, we were delivered from that slavery, because on that day our sins were blotted out and the joke which oppressed us was broken. We thank God for He did this through Christ Jesus, namely, the One whom God sent into this world to deliver us from our sins and from the power of Satan. On that day, our heart overflowed with joy, with a joy that we had never felt while we were under the power of Satan and slaves of sin; personally I have to say that the day I repented of my sins and called upon the name of the Lord, asking Him to have mercy on me, at first I wept because God caused me to feel sad (as it is written: “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” – 2 Corinthians 7:10 – NKJV), but then I rejoiced because He turned my sadness to joy setting me free from my sins and forgiving them. On that day I tasted the true freedom which is in Christ Jesus, I tasted the true peace which is given by the Lord, I tasted the joy of salvation; at last, after many years of hard slavery, I was able to proclaim that the Lord Jesus had set me free, that I was a son of God; thanks be to God for saving me, as well as you, from the power of the devil. For us on that day a new life began, we began to live in the Lord Jesus Christ; we began by faith because it was by faith that we obtained the deliverance from our sins and from the power of the devil. And by faith we must continue to live this life till the end, in order to enter the Rest of God. Otherwise, that is, if we cease to believe in Him who saved us, we will go to perdition. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews exhorts the saints to continue in the faith and tells them what will happen to a believer if he draws back. Here are his words: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Hebrews 3:12-15). Brothers in the Lord, I want you to know that just as a heart that believes in God is a good heart, so an unbelieving heart is an evil heart; and that you must see to it that you prevent your good heart from becoming an evil heart of unbelief. That kind of heart is called evil because induces a person not to believe the Word of God and thus it prevents him from inheriting eternal life. We know that God says: “My righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him” (Hebrews 10:38 – NIV); therefore, since an evil heart of unbelief induces a believer to draw back and to become an enemy of God (Because “without faith it is impossible to please Him” Hebrews 11:6 – NKJV), we must watch lest unbelief enter us and make us draw back to perdition.

The Scripture teaches that “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20) and that we inherit them through faith and patience. Now, this is the promise that God has promised us – eternal life, for He said through His Son: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). However, it is clear that we will inherit eternal life if we continue in the faith till the end; which means that we have need of endurance so that we may receive eternal life, which God promised us. When I say that we have need of endurance, I mean that we need to believe in the promise of eternal life daily, or rather continually, because we know that we will inherit eternal life through faith and patience, but we will lose it if we cease to believe in God.

The story of the people of Israel teaches us that they could not inherit the promised land because of their unbelief; God had promised them through Moses (while they were still in Egypt) that He would give them a wonderful land flowing with milk and honey, and at first they believed in God, but when they were on the point of possessing the land God had promised them, they hardened their heart and refused to believe in God, because they thought that God was not able to give them the land he had promised them because that land was inhabited by the giants. The fear of the giants induced them to doubt the promise of God and they could not obtain its fulfilment. Let us see to it that we don’t doubt the promises of God, because anyone who doubts them makes God a liar, as it is written: “He who does not believe God has made Him a liar” (1 John 5:10 – NKJV).

Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4 – NKJV), therefore, since He who has promised us eternal life cannot lie, let us continue to believe His promise till the end, without wavering at the promise of God through unbelief. Only those who believe till the end will enter the rest of God, while all those who draw back like the Israelites in the wilderness, will not enter it; therefore, as the Scripture says, “let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11 – NKJV).

Examples of men who inherited the promises of God through faith and patience

Brethren, you know that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4) till the end. Let us now look at some biblical examples of men who inherited God’s promises through faith and patience, because they encourage us to hold fast the confession of our hope to the end and they comfort us in the midst of the afflictions we endure for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Noah was a just and upright man and walked with God. However, he lived in the midst of a wicked generation, so wicked that God, seeing that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, was sorry that He had made man on the earth and decided to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which was the breath of life. So God brought flood-waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh, but before bringing the flood He warned Noah and commanded him to make an ark of gopherwood for the saving of his household. The Scripture says: “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them” (Genesis 6:13-21). Now, we learn from the Scripture that after Noah was five hundred years old he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth, and that Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. However, we do not known the exact time when God warned Noah commanding him to make the ark, because the Scripture is silent on this point. However, we know that many years elapsed from the day on which God warned Noah to the day on which the flood-waters came on the earth. And it was during those years that Noah, by faith, moved by godly fear, prepared the ark: therefore, Noah did see the fulfilment of the promise of God not after a few days but after many years and during those years he had to wait with patience and to continue to believe in what God had said to him. Noah was warned of things not yet seen, but after God spoke to him he believed that God would do exactly what He had said to him, that is, that God would bring a flood of waters on the earth to destroy all flesh. He did not doubt the words of the Lord thinking that such a thing could not occur because it was too hard for the Lord, rather, he feared the Lord and began to build the ark. The work was hard and lasted a long time because Noah had to make an ark of the above mentioned dimensions. Considering all things on the whole, bearing in mind also that Noah lived among people who did not fear God at all, we have to say that both Noah’s faith and patience were tested by God; but he was approved by God because he did not draw back, in spite of the strong opposition he met with, but with faith and patience he went on until the day on which God brought the flood on the world of the ungodly, as He had promised. Of course, Noah was tested by God, but he was not put to shame by God because it is written that by his faith “he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

The prophet Jeremiah spoke from God to the people of the kingdom of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for many years; we can say that he spoke for dozens of years, because according to the Scripture about forty years elapsed from the time God began to speak to Jeremiah (in the thirteenth year of Josiah king of Judah) to the time Jerusalem fell by the hand of the Chaldean army (in the eleventh year of Zedekiah king of Judah). Jeremiah was persecuted and insulted by all those who did not want to obey the word of God which Jeremiah delivered to them. One day Jeremiah himself said: “ I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me” (Jeremiah 15:10). However, in the midst of his afflictions God promised him: “Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction” (Jeremiah 15:11 – the NIV reads: “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose: surely I will make your enemies plead with you in times of disaster and times of distress”. In other words, God promised Jeremiah that He would cause his enemies, who said all kinds of lies against him, to come to him and to plead with him. However, in this case also, Jeremiah had to wait for the fulfilment of that promise with patience for many years because God fulfilled that promise after Jerusalem was broken up and many of his inhabitants were carried into exile, as it is written: “Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do” (Jeremiah 42:1-3).

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. So he came to a certain place (which afterwards was called by him Bethel) where he stayed all night because the sun had set. During that night he had a dream in which God spoke to him and promised him: “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). Now, according to what the Scripture teaches, Jacob saw the fulfilment of that promise after twenty years, for he dwelt twenty years in the land of the people of the East (Paddan Aram). After twenty years God appeared to Jacob while he was in Paddan Aram and told him: “Now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (Genesis 31:13). We know that Jacob endured many afflictions during his stay in Paddan Aram, but God eventually caused him to return to the land of Canaan with several wives, some children and many goods. So we affirm that Jacob also continued to believe in the promise of God during those years, thus he also waited patiently in order to obtain from God what God had promised him.

Just before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem “but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, he said, you have heard from Me, for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5 – NKJV). In this case, the disciples obtained the fulfilment of that specific promise of the Lord after a few days, for it was on the day of Pentecost that the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit; they waited with faith and patience for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, and at God’s appointed time the Spirit came upon them all. Read more…

The purpose of God according to election

9 February 2019

The purpose of God according to election

REDEMPTION

God has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens

The apostle Paul says to the Romans: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

Now, according to the apostle Paul, those whom God foreknew were predestinated to be justified. But what does this expression ‘God foreknew some and predestinated them to be justified’ mean? Does it mean, perhaps, merely that God knew that these people would repent and believe in Christ, and thus they would be justified? No, otherwise what would be the point of talking of predestination with regard to them? Is it not true that the verb ‘to predestinate’ means ‘to appoint beforehand’? Let me give you an example to explain this concept. If I decide to buy a certain field in order to appoint a certain part of it, let us suppose a tenth of it, to the building of a house; and another part, the rest of the field, to the citrus fruits growing; don’t I determine the destiny of that field beforehand? And when I have bought it and accomplished my purpose, cannot we say that that field was predestinated by me to be used in that way? Of course, we can. Therefore, if God predestinated us to be justified that means that even before we knew Him (that is, before we believed in Him) He purposed to cause us to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. In other words, He purposed to call us from all men He created. And therefore, at His appointed time, He overpowered us and prevailed, He persuaded us and we were persuaded, without us knowing absolutely anything about His divine plan for us. Perhaps you will say: ‘It was I who wanted to repent and believe in Jesus, it was I who made this choice?’ Then I would like to ask you some questions: ‘Who gave you repentance?’ Was it not God who gave you repentance, as it is written: “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18NKJV). And who gave you faith? Was it not God who gave you faith, for Paul calls faith “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) and says that it is not of ourselves? What do you have that you did not receive from God then? Nothing. Therefore, if you repented and believed it was because God gave you repentance and faith. He had ordained you to eternal life, that’s why you believed; just as the believers at Antioch in Pisidia believed in the Lord because they had been ordained to eternal life, as it is written: “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48 – NKJV). But at this point you may say: ‘But it was I who decided to come to Jesus!’ Well, you came to Jesus because you wanted to come to Jesus, that’s true; but it is also true that you came to Jesus because God wanted to draw you to Christ without you knowing anything about His will. Have you not read these words of Jesus: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him …. no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” (John 6:44,65)? Please, note that Jesus said ‘except’ twice. Therefore, I tell you that you would not have come to Christ UNLESS it had been granted to you by the Father. So you came to Jesus because God drew you to Christ, that is to say, because It was granted to you by God to come to Christ.

At this point you may say: ‘Then, do those who don’t repent and believe in Jesus go to perdition because of a decree of God toward them? Yes, that’s the reason why they go to perdition. You may say then: ‘This is an injustice, thus you make people believe that God is an unrighteous God, a merciless God, who makes fun of His creatures!’ Hear what the Scripture teaches and you will see that what you say is wrong. The apostle Paul, in order to explain why only a remnant of the Israelites has accepted God’s salvation while most of the Jews have rejected it, speaks of the birth of Esau and Jacob. He says that “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her [Rebecca], The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:11-13). The words of Paul show that God chose Jacob and rejected Esau even before they were born or had done anything good or bad. Their destiny had already been determined by God before they were born. Obviously, after their birth what God had foretold came to pass, for the older served the younger. But why did those things happen? Simply because Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, and Jacob deceitfully took away the blessing of Esau? In other words, did the older serve the younger simply because Esau and Jacob decided to act in that way (both Jacob and Esau acted wrongly)? Yes, of course, the fact that the older served the younger was the outcome of the behaviour of both brothers; however, behind all things there was the hand of God who directed all things, so that the word He had spoken to Rebecca might be fulfilled. Was God unjust by acting in that way toward Esau and Jacob? Certainly not. Is it not written that God does whatever pleases him in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths (Psalm 135:6)? Is it not written that God is proved right when He speaks and blameless when He judges (Psalm 51:4)? The apostle Paul, foreseeing that somebody would say that God is unjust, defended what God does, saying: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid [Certainly not!]. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (Romans 9:14-18). The words of Paul are clear, very clear, and certainly this clearness disturbs many people. Please, note that Paul takes the example of Pharaoh in order to state that God hardens whom He wants to harden. You will ask me then, ‘Do you believe then that God hardens some people? Yes, I do believe this, God hardens whom He wants to harden, just as the Scripture declares. However, in the Scriptures there is another example of hardening caused by God. For in the days of Jesus most of the Jews were hardened by God so that they might not believe in Jesus. Here is what John says: “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them” (John 12:37-40). Why didn’t those Jews believe in Jesus? Because they could not believe. The reason is clear, for God had hardened their heart and had blinded their eyes. In other words, because it was not granted to them to believe in Jesus or to come to Him. It was necessary that the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled, therefore those Jews could not believe. Whose are the words spoken by Isaiah? They are God’s. Therefore, God had purposed not to allow most of the Jews to believe. Jesus knew this, that’s why He spoke to the crowds in parables. One day His disciples asked Him why He spoke to the people in parables and He answered and said to them: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:11-13). Nevertheless, Jesus wept over Jerusalem because it had rejected Him and He said that they did not want to turn to the Lord. Here are His words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). “Ye would not”, said Jesus. Yet He knew that they were not willing to accept Him because God had hardened their heart and blinded their eyes. That shows that those who reject the Gospel are held responsible for refusing the Gospel, even though they reject the Gospel because they were appointed by God to be disobedient to the Word of God.

It was necessary for the Jews to reject Christ, so that Christ might die for our sins; that is to say, God had purposed to cause the Jews to persecute Jesus and to put Him to death, through the Gentiles, by nailing Him to the cross for our sake. For Peter said to the Jews: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:22-24 – NIV). Please note carefully the words “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge”. Evidently the Jews did not know that by their conduct they would fulfil the words of the prophets according to which Jesus had to die for the unjust, yet God used their wickedness and unbelief so that Christ might die for our sins. Therefore, should we not recognize that God is wise and use those who have been hardened by Him to accomplish what He has purposed to do? And should we not also recognize that God gains glory for Himself by hardening the hearts of people? For both in the case of Pharaoh (I mentioned before) and of the Jews, who crucified Jesus, God gained very much glory for Himself. As to Pharaoh, he was deeply humbled by God through all kinds of signs and wonders first, and then he and his army were thrown into the Red Sea, and when the Israelites saw what God had done to the Egyptians they praised God for His greatness (Exodus 15:1-19). As to the Jews who killed Jesus, they were put to shame by God for He raised Jesus from the dead on the third day and when His disciples saw Him alive in their midst they rejoiced in the Lord, and from that time on all those who have believed in the Lord have rejoiced in the Lord for God raised His Son from the dead. At that time God gained very much glory for Himself through the resurrection of His Son (Luke 24:53) and He is still gaining very much glory for Himself through it.

First Paul said that God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy and He hardens whom He wants to harden, then he said: “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:19-24). Once again the words of Paul are clear. God reigns and He prepared in advance some men for destruction and some others for glory. Who are we to reply against God?

The will of man and the possibility of falling from grace

What shall we say then about the will of man, if all his ways depend on God and his destiny was determined beforehand by God? We shall say the following things: the will of those who still live under the power of darkness is moulded by God and turned in the direction He has appointed, without them knowing it; so those who were predestinated to be justified will be allowed or enabled by God (at God’s appointed time), through endless circumstances, to believe in Jesus Christ, while those who were prepared for destruction will not be allowed or enabled to believe.

And what shall we say then about the conduct of those who have believed in the Lord? We shall say this: those who have believed must see to it that they make their call and election sure by continuing in the faith and being zealous for good works, for this is the will of God. But can a believer lose justification? The answer is ‘Yes,’ because this is what the Scripture teaches us. For if a believer draws back, by committing the sin unto death (in other words, if he forsakes and denies the Lord who has rescued him), he will lose the justification he has obtained by faith and his name will be blotted out from the Book of Life. For God said to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33), and the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8) and again: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29)

How then can we ‘reconcile’ these doctrines (that is, the doctrine of predestination and the doctrine that says that a believer may lose his salvation and go to perdition)? Of course, we can, even though it seems the opposite. Actually, it seems that these doctrines nullify one another, that they contradict one another, however we know that both of them are true, both of them are part of the counsel of God. Therefore, do not deceive yourselves.

Some words in defence of predestination

We are really surprised to see that this doctrine, which is so much confirmed by the Holy Scriptures, is so much neglected among many Churches. Many pastors don’t speak about the purpose of God according to election, they never teach it. You may hear them speaking about certain things which were not revealed to us, but you will never hear them speaking about the purpose of God according to election, which was revealed to us. Why? The reasons are various.

Certainly, one of the reasons is their ignorance; in other words, they don’t know the Scriptures. Unfortunately we see that they are ignorant of many other biblical doctrines as well. Read more…

Confutations by Giacinto Butindaro

28 December 2018

Confutations by Giacinto Butindaro

CONFUTATIONS

Introduction

I am fully convinced that false doctrines must be confuted through the Holy Scriptures because all false doctrines are lies and lies are dangerous for the Church of the living God, for their purpose is to do harm to the saints. Obviously, not all the false doctrines have the same bad effect on those who accept them; for instance, if a believer accepts the doctrine that holds that Jesus is not God or the one which says that Jesus is not the Christ or the one which holds that man is justified by the works of the law, he will stray concerning the faith; while if he accepts the false doctrine which holds that the apostle John did not see death he will not stray concerning the faith, even though he accepts a false doctrine. That is something which must be said for the sake of truth. Notwithstanding this, since even those false doctrines which do not cause believers to stray from the faith are lies – and lies, in one way or another, harm those who accept them – the best thing to do is to reject all false doctrines. Therefore, no matter whether a false doctrine causes a believer to stray from the faith or not, it must be repudiated and refuted for it is a lie, that is, something which has been conceived of the devil. Remember that the Scripture states that the father of lies is the devil (therefore lies are works of the devil), and that sin entered into the world because Eve, the first woman, believed a lie of that Ancient Serpent and you know how many harmful effects sin had on Adam and Eve and on all their descendants. So keep in mind that every false doctrine has harmful effects on those who accept it. Moreover, keep in mind this also: one error leads to another, for error is like leaven of which the Scripture says: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6 – NKJV)

Following is a series of false doctrines I have confuted. There are three things I want to tell you about this series: 1) It is not complete, for there are many more false doctrines which are held and taught across the world, God willing I will add other false doctrines to this list; 2) The fact that sometimes you read that a certain false doctrine is held by a certain Church or a sect or a preacher and no other Church or sect or preacher is cited does not mean that there are no other people who hold that false doctrine; my purpose is not to let you know who are all those who hold a particular false doctrine but to let you know what that false doctrine holds and to show you from the Scripture that it is untrue, so when you meet someone who holds that doctrine you may know that it is a false doctrine and you may know how to refute it; 3) If you know a particular false doctrine held by an Evangelical Church or a sect or a religion or a preacher or a theologian or someone else which is not included in the following list and you would like me to confute it, let me know it.

I have this confidence in the Lord, that these confutations will be useful to you. Stand firm in the faith and fight the good fight of the faith till the end.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints

Giacinto Butindaro

Rome, 2008

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version; those marked (NIV) are taken from the New International Version; those marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible; those marked (ASV) are taken from the American Standard Version; those marked (YLT) from Young’s Literal Translation; those marked (NAB) from the New American Bible; those marked (IBRV) are taken from the Italian Bible, Riveduta Version; and those marked (IBDV) are taken from the Italian Bible, Diodati Version.

I exhort and encourage you to reproduce and transmit my writings in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording. But keep in mind these things: 1) my name must remain attached to them; 2) the text cannot be altered; 3) they cannot be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale. Read more…

YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT WHEN YOU DIE YOU WILL GO TO PURGATORY …

26 December 2018

YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT WHEN YOU DIE YOU WILL GO TO PURGATORY …

MESSAGESKNOWGOD

Roman Catholics, the priests teach you that in the hereafter there is a place called purgatory, where ‘the souls of those people who have died in grace, but with imperfections or venial sins or temporal punishments to be discharged for the serious sins committed, expiate and purify themselves before going to heaven (Enciclopedia Cattolica [Catholic Encyclopaedia], vol. 10, 330). But what verses do the Catholic priests use to support purgatory? They principally use these verses, which we find in the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). According to the catholic priests, the expression ‘he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire” means that the just, after he has suffered in the purgatory for a certain period of time, will be brought safely to the Paradise of God because the purifying fire of Purgatory will purify him from all those debts of temporal punishment which remain to be discharged.

Concerning purgatory, you are also taught the suffrage of the living for the dead, for your Catechism says: ‘We can help and even deliver the souls from the torments of Purgatory through suffrages, that is, through prayers, indulgences, alms and other good works, and above all through the Holy Mass (….) the fruit of these works, applied to the souls in Purgatory is called suffrage because it suffrages, that is, it mitigates the torments suffered by the souls in Purgatory and hastens their deliverance’. In other words, you are told that through prayers, alms, indulgences, good works, and above all the Mass, you can help the souls of the dead to pay their debts, which they must discharge in Purgatory. To support this so called suffrage, the priests take the following passage in the book of Macabees, where it is said that Judas the Macabee took up a collection among all his soldiers, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice for the sins committed by some Jews who had died in battle (under the tunic of each of the dead they had found ‘amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia’): ‘Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin’ (2 Macabees 12:46).

In all probability, the teaching about purgatory reassures you, for you think that even after death you can be purified from your sins and after this purification you will be allowed to enter heaven. However, you Roman Catholics must understand that all the things the priests teach you about purgatory are UNTRUE, I say it again, they are UNTRUE, for Jesus Christ in His teaching never said that besides heaven and hell there is another place – a middle way between heaven and hell – where the souls of the dead go after death. For He stated: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Therefore, after death there are only two places for the souls of men: destruction, that is, HELL; and life, that is, PARADISE. All those who die in their sins go to HELL for they are lost, while all those who die in Christ (in that they have repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ) go to PARADISE for they are saved, in that Jesus has purified them through His blood from all their sins.

Paradise is a wonderful heavenly place (which is called also the third heaven), whose beauty we human beings cannot describe adequately with our words; in it there is the throne of God and the throne of the Lamb at His right hand, and there is an innumerable company of angels, who – together with the souls of the just – worship God and the Lamb day and night.

Those who die in Christ, that is, who are at peace with God at their death, enter this marvellous place immediately after their death. In this place they will wait for the resurrection, which will take place at the second coming of Christ from heaven. And we are of those who – if they die in Christ – will enter Paradise. You will say: ‘How can you be so sure that when you die you will go immediately to heaven?’ Well, we are so sure because we are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus, as it is written that we were chosen “unto sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2) and we were purified from all our sins by the blood of Christ Jesus, as it is written that He “washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). And besides this, because – as John says – “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is why we are sure that when we die we will go immediately to heaven, without going to any purgatory, because our old sins were all cleanseth by the blood of Jesus and the sins we confess to the Lord are all cleanseth by the same blood. At this point you will say: ‘That means you are presumptuous!!’ Not at all, because there are various passages of the Scriptures which clearly state that those who die in Christ go immediately to heaven to be with Jesus.

The souls of those who had been killed because of the Word of God – and which were seen by John in vision – were under the altar in heaven before the throne of God. Here is what John says: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

Paul said that to him to die was gain, for he had the desire to depart and be with Christ which was far better. Here are his words: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23). For sure, if Paul had to go first to a place called purgatory to suffer terrible torments, he would not have considered his death a gain but rather a loss.

Paul said to the Corinthians that he and his fellow workers were confident and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Answer to this question of mine: ‘How could those men desire so much to depart from their body if they believed in the existence of a place called purgatory where they had to go to discharge some of their debts through terrible torments? Don’t you think that this shows that those men did not believe in the existence of purgatory at all?

In the Book of Revelation we read: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13). Therefore the Spirit of truth says that those who die in grace are blessed for they rest from their labors in heaven. That excludes the possibility they are in a purgatory paying some of their debts through some sufferings less inferior to those of hell; for if they were in purgatory they would be unhappy, because instead of resting from their labors they would suffer terrible torments for their sins. However, in this world there is also the spirit of error, which says that those who die in Christ go to purgatory.

But let me now speak about hell and those who go there. Hell is a place of torment which is in the heart of the earth, and where there is burning fire (Luke 16:23:31). It is a dark place where the souls of sinners go immediately after death and where they will remain – in the midst of terrible torments which produce a continuous weeping and gnashing of teeth – until the day of judgement (John 5:29; Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:12-15), when they will rise again to be judged according to their works and to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the final place of torment where they will spend eternity. There is no hope of salvation to them after death, as it is written: “For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” (Job 27:8) and also: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) and again: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17; Luke 16:22-31; Isaiah 5:14). And you, Roman Catholics, are among those who are going to this awful place of torment. I know that your were said that God is so merciful that He will bring you safely to His heavenly kingdom after you have spent a certain period of time in purgatory in order to discharge your debts of temporal punishment, but that’s untrue for God besides merciful is also righteous and in His Word He states that He will not leave the sinners unpunished but He will condemn them to everlasting contempt. You will say: ‘Are we then lost sinners, without no hope of salvation after death, even though we have committed only a few and ‘light sins’?’ Yes, definitely! For in the sight of God all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), no matter how many sins they have committed and what kind of sins they have committed. What is awaiting you, therefore, is first hell, then the judgement on that day and the eternal condemnation into the lake of fire and brimstone where you will be cast after the judgement. What is awaiting you is a terrible destiny, which human words cannot adequately describe.

Perhaps now you will say to me: ‘But we go regularly to confess our sins to the priest and he remits our ‘mortal sins’, why should God then send us to hell?’ Listen, the confession you do to the priest is of no value before God, because those sins you confess to the priest are still attached to your conscience for the priest has no divine authority to take them away from you. Only God, through the blood of Jesus Christ, can remit your sins. Therefore you have been deceived into believing a lie, and this lie will cost you eternity unless you reject it. Know this, therefore, that if you continue to believe the untrue words of the priest you will go to hell. Let me give you an illustration: it is as if Tom tells you that the rich man whom you owe a million of euro delegated him to remit entirely your debt, and after you trusted him one day you find out that you are still in debt to that rich man; but the worst of it is that you could have obtained the remission of that debt of yours if within a certain time you had gone to the one who was really able to remit your debt, that is, to the son of that rich man who had really the power to remit your debt. You just had to ask him to remit your debt and he would have remitted your debt.

Therefore, if you go to the Son, you will obtain the remission of your debt, but if you continue to trust your priests, you will continue to be in debt to God, and after death it will be too late for you to obtain the remission of it.

What must you do to receive the remission of your sins and thus escape the fire of hell? You must be born again, that is, you must experience the new birth Jesus spoke about when He said to Nicodemus: “You must be born again” (John 3:7 – NKJV) and also: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God(John 3:5).

A man experiences the new birth when he recognizes himself as a sinner before God and he repents of his sins with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and he believes in the name of the Son of God, that is, Jesus Christ. When he does these things he feels to be born again, for his sins are instantly blotted out from his conscience through the blood of Jesus Christ and he feels to be a new creature. In other words, he is spiritually regenerated and renewed and he can say together with Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of [in] the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Then and only then will he be able to say that he is in Christ, that is, a Christian, for according to the Scripture: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And there is no condemnation in Christ, for Paul said to the Romans: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Therefore, since there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ, don’t you think that to believe that after death Christians before entering the Paradise of God must go first to a place called purgatory to pay their debts they still have to the righteousness of God is a CONTRADICTION? Don’t you think that it is a contradiction since in purgatory, according to the Roman Catechism, Christians go to be condemned, even though for a certain period of time and not forever, to torments in order to pay their debts to God? As for these so called debts – which according to the priests need to be discharged in purgatory – we say: If according to the Scripture, when a man confesses his sins to God, God remits both his sins and the eternal punishment he deserves for his sins, is it not diabolical to affirm that after death that man must go to a place of torment to pay those debts? Of course it is; but not to the priests who, blinded by the devil, like to teach things contrary to the sound doctrine.

To say that a person justified by God, when he dies must go to purgatory to pay his debts is tantamount to saying that if a person sentenced to life imprisonment is granted a pardon and his punishment is blotted out, he must anyway continue to stay in prison for some years to pay for his misdeeds, and after those years he will be able to go out of prison!!! Your priests are greatly mistaken, for the Holy Scripture teaches that when God forgives a person all his debts, he forgives also the eternal punishment and the person must discharge no punishment either in this world or in the world to come, for Christ paid the full ransom price for our redemption.

To those who have been justified by the blood of Christ, there are no more debts to pay, for Christ on the cross paid all their debts and we are by the grace of God among those who have been justified. We know very well that the Council of Trent cast an anathema on those who say that ‘after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened’ (Council of Trent, VI, canon 30). But that curse will return upon the head of all those who proclaimed and still proclaim it.

We know whom we believed and we are persuaded that it is impossible for Christ – the One who washed us from our sins in His own blood and promised us eternal life – to lie. We will continue to glory in the Lord for we have been washed from all our old sins in the blood of Christ, and by His mercy we have received from Him eternal life: let the roman catholic councils curse the true believers, we believe in the Word of God which states that when the righteous (that is those who are justified by the grace of God) die they will go immediately to heaven to be with the Lord Jesus Christ for their robes have been completely washed by the blood of the Lamb. To Christ Jesus be the glory now and forever. Amen.

Let me explain the words of Paul

Paul said to the saints who were at Corinth: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Now, as we saw before, according to the priests the expression “he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” means that the righteous who die in Christ’s grace, after having been tormented by the fire of purgatory for a certain period of time, he will be brought safely to the Paradise of God for the purifying fire will purify him from all his debts of temporal punishment. However, those words of Paul concerning the fire do not refer at all to a purifying fire in some place of the invisible world where the souls of men go in order to be purified from their sins, but they refer to the fire in the day of Christ, which is another thing. Let me expound briefly those words of Paul.

The apostle had preached the Christ in Corinth and many had believed in the Lord through his preaching and they had been baptized. It was Paul then who laid the foundation (Jesus Christ) of that spiritual house (the Church) at Corinth. But after Paul departed from Corinth, others came to Corinth and preached and taught, that is to say, others built some materials on the foundation which Paul had laid. And Paul, in relation to that, says that each one should be careful how he builds on the foundation, because first of all no one can take away the foundation, which is Jesus Christ, to replace it with another one, and then because in the day of Christ believers will be rewarded only for the gold, silver and precious stones (true doctrines) which they have built on the foundation, for the fire will not be able to consume them; whereas they will not be rewarded for the wood, hay and stubble (strange doctrines) because all those things will be burned up by fire; however those who have built those vain things will be saved, yet so as by fire.

So in the day of Christ the fire will test the quality of each believer’s work, and all the good and right things he said and did, will survive and he will receive his reward, while all the things of no value that he built on the foundation will be burned up and he will suffer loss for he will not be rewarded for those things. He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

The suffrage

Obviously, since the Scripture denies the existence of Purgatory it denies also all suffrages on behalf of those who – according to what the priests say – are there to discharge their debts, therefore the suffrage must be rejected. Even if we grant for the sake of argument that purgatory exists, have the priests never read that “every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:5) and that nobody “can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 49:7)? How can then the priests teach that the living can somehow offer to God a propitiatory sacrifice for the dead who are in purgatory? And what is that propitiatory sacrifice? The Mass!! Listen, the only propitiatory sacrifice which is of value is the one made by Jesus Christ when He gave himself on the cross for our sins, and it was made once for all, thus it is UNREPEATABLE. And furthermore, the sacrifice of Christ can benefit only the living, for those who accept it receive remission of sins forever. But as for those who have died in their sins, His sacrifice can by no means be useful to them since the time during which they could believe on it and be forgiven IS EXPIRED. They died in their sins and with their sins attached to their conscience and for those sins they will have to suffer greatly forever and ever. No so called propitiatory sacrifice (the mass, alms, etc.) offered for the dead by the living will be useful to the dead, for before God it is of no value.

What shall we say then about the words taken by the priests from the book of Macabees to support the suffrage? We shall say these things. First of all, the books of Macabees (even though they are included in the canon of the Catholic Bible) are not inspired by God and therefore are not part of the Holy Scriptures, and so it is a mistake to mention those books to support the suffrage on behalf of the dead. Secondly, as for the expiatory sacrifice offered by Judas the Macabee, in the law of Moses there were no expiatory sacrifices to be offered for the sins of the dead, so Judas did not follow the law of his forefathers. That means that his act was of no value for it was not prescribed by the Law of Moses given by God to His people. Therefore, the priests, in order to support their suffrage, mention an act of no value done by a Jew.

In conclusion I say that this suffrage is able to do only one thing, that is, it enriches the priests and the Papal Court for you must pay for the masses (or rather you must give an offering) to be offered on behalf of the dead. Read more…

The return of Jesus Christ and the following events

24 December 2018

The return of Jesus Christ and the following events

ESCHATOLOGY

After Jesus was raised from the dead, He appeared to witnesses chosen before by God. He was seen by them during forty days and He spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. When the forty days were over, Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven at the right hand of God as it is written: “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3 – NIV). This took place to fulfil what David had said: “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Psalm 110:1 – NKJV).

However, one day Jesus will come back from heaven. He Himself promised His disciples that He will come back, as He said to them: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:2-4 – NKJV).

How will He come back?

He will come back in the same way He went into heaven, that is to say, in a visible way

For in the book of the Acts of the apostles it is written: “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). Therefore, as those who were present at His ascension to heaven saw Him go into heaven, so, at His coming, there will be people who will see Him come back from heaven. However, unlike His ascension to heaven, His coming again will be seen by everybody, as it is written: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7 – NKJV).

He will come back on the clouds of heaven, with great glory and power

For in the Gospel according to Matthew it is written: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30 – NKJV). In the book of the prophet Daniel (which was written several centuries before the Gospel according to Matthew) there is the following prediction concerning the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

What will happen at His return?

The dead in Christ will be raised from the dead and those who are alive will be changed

Paul said to the saints of Corinth that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 – NKJV), and to the saints of Thessalonica he said: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first ….” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Among the dead in Christ who will rise there will be also those who have been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who have not worshiped the beast or his image and have not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands (Revelation 20:4).

As for the change of those who are alive, Paul says to the Thessalonians: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Therefore, as Paul says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52NKJV), in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet blast, which will be sounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. On that day Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21 – NKJV); on that day we will be clothed with our heavenly habitation, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:2,4). Therefore the day on which Jesus Christ will come is a great day because both the dead in Christ and those who are alive will obtain the redemption of their bodies (Romans 8:23), or the full redemption (Ephesians 1:14 – IBRV), which all Christians of past generations waited patiently for and which we also are patiently waiting for.

Those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel will be destroyed

For Paul says to the saints of Thessalonica: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Among those who will be punished there will be also those believers who will not be found ready at the coming of Christ. For Jesus made it clear that those who will not be found ready at His coming will be punished by Him. For instance He said in a parable: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51). Notice the destiny which awaits that servant who has been made ruler by his master over his household to give them food in due season, but begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards; he will be cut in two and assigned a place with the hypocrites. In other words he will be cast into the fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus spoke also this parable, which shows that the Lord will punish at His coming all those who will be found unfaithful: “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury [interest]. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30). Notice even in this parable the terrible punishment the Lord will inflict upon the unprofitable servant, he will be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The man of sin will be destroyed

For Paul says to the Thessalonians that that day (that is, the day on which the Lord will come and gather us together to Him) will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, whose coming “is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 – NKJV), whom (that is, the man of sin) the Lord Jesus will consume “with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 – NKJV).

In the book of Revelation the apostle John confirms that when the Lord Jesus comes back from heaven he will destroy the man of sin. Here is what he says: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast [the man of sin], and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:11-21). Therefore, at His glorious coming, the Lord Jesus Himself will destroy the antichrist and kill many people.

The millennial reign will be established on the earth

For John says about those who will have part in the first resurrection (that is, the resurrection of the just): “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6). Therefore Christ and His saints will reign on the earth for a thousand years. The thousand-year reign will be characterized by peace and righteousness because the devil will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit, where he will remain till the thousand years are finished, as it is written: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1-3)

When will He return?

Jesus will come back at God’s appointed time, for Paul says that God will manifest Christ’s appearing “in His own time” (1 Timothy 6:15NKJV). Therefore, as the first coming of Jesus Christ took place at just the right time, as it is written: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), so His second coming also will take place at just the right time. Nobody knows of that day and hour, as Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Jesus told us to watch and pray for we know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man will come (Matthew 24:44; 25:13).

The apostle Paul wrote to the saints of Thessalonica about the times and the seasons: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). Obviously the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night for those who are in darkness and not for those who are in the light, that is, the sons of God who walk in the light, because the sons of light are waiting for the Lord while those who are of the night are not waiting for Him. Paul explains this to the Thessalonians in this way: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). However, it is obvious that if a son of light ceases to walk in the light and begins to walk in darkness, the day of the Lord will overtake him also as a thief and thus he will not escape the punishment of God. Did Jesus not say to His disciples: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35 – NKJV)?

According to what I have said, it is evident, therefore, that anyone who makes calculations to set the times and the seasons of the return of Christ, does something which is contrary to the will of God. God wants us to prepare to meet Christ (at His coming), so that we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming; but He does not want us to make calculations to set the date of His return. We know that the coming of the Lord is near (James 5:8), we know that “in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37 – NIV), we know that many of the things that (according to the words of Jesus) are to happen before the coming of the Lord have already happened and are happening in this generation, and we know also that the day of the Lord will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed. But it is not for us to know the day and the hour in which the Lord will come, because Jesus said to His disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7 – NKJV). However, there are some who, ignoring what the Scripture says, take delight in setting times and seasons concerning the return of Christ. I exhort you to beware of anyone who makes calculations to set the date of the coming of the Lord; know this, that such a person troubles with his words the heart of believers and this shows that his words are not of God. I say it again, brothers, beware of all those who have come to the conclusion (no matter what kind of calculations they have made) that the Lord will come on a particular day (or in particular month or year); their words will prove to be profane babblings in due time, and both they and those who follow them will be put to shame.

What will happen after His return?

There will be a thousand-year reign on the earth and when this period of time is over the devil will be released from his prison

The second coming of Christ will usher in the millennial reign, which will be a reign full of peace and righteousness because at His return the devil will be bound and cast into the bottomless pit to keep him from deceiving the nations any more till the thousand years are ended. However, when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will deceive the nations. Here is what John says: “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).

Therefore, when the millennial reign is over, all those who will be deceived by the devil will surround the saints to fight against them, but God will punish them by raining fire on them (as you know God punished also Sodom and Gomorrah by raining fire on them). The devil also will be punished, for he will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where he will be tormented forever and ever; he deserves to be punished in this way. Therefore both the deceiver and those who will be deceived will be punished.

The present heavens and earth will be destroyed

For John says that after the devil was cast into the everlasting fire, he saw “a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them” (Revelation 20:11NKJV). God will make a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1)

The wicked will be raised from the dead and judged according to their works

This is the second resurrection, that is, the resurrection of those who have done evil (John 5:29), who will rise to be judged according to their works and be cast into the lake of fire. The apostle John saw in a vision the resurrection of the unjust. Here is how he described it: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

The lake of fire, which is the final abode for all the ungodly and the devil and all of his co-workers, is also called “the everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41), “the gehenna” (Mark 9:45 – YLT) or “the gehenna of the fire” (Mark 9:47 – YLT). It was initially created by God for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). The torments of the lake of fire are eternal, for it is written: And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46), and also: “… the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, … ” (Revelation 14:11), and again: “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). Therefore those who will be cast into the lake of fire will suffer endless torments, that is, they will be tormented forever and ever.

The New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven

Here is what John says about the coming down of the New Jerusalem and about the heavenly city: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away…… And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 21:1-4, 9-27; 22:1-5).

Conclusion

This is the hope that the saints have in God, that they will be raised from the dead or changed at the coming of Christ from heaven, they will reign with Christ upon the earth for the following thousand years, and will live forever with their immortal, incorruptible and glorious body in the New Jerusalem, which will descend upon the new earth. Let those who have this hope rejoice and glorify God, and let them purify themselves just as Jesus is pure; instead, let those who don’t have this hope repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ, that is, let them believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again the third day for our justification, that they also may have this glorious hope.

To Christ Jesus, the One who is and who was and who is to come, be the glory now and forever. Amen. Read more…

Sanctification: introduction

22 December 2018

Sanctification: introduction

sanctification

Dear brothers in the Lord, this book of mine deals with sanctification (or holiness), which I consider a very important subject to us who are children of God.

First of all, you must understand that when you were born again (that is, when you were regenerated by God) you were sanctified, that is to say, you were made holy. For the Scriptures teach that at the new birth God performs an act of sanctification on believers, through which they are declared holy. Here is how Paul and Peter expressed this concept in their epistles. Paul said to the Corinthians: “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are [were] washed, but ye are [were] sanctified, but ye are [were] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11); and to the Thessalonians: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of [by] the Spirit and belief of [in] the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13); while Peter said to God’s elect: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (1 Peter 1:1-2). That’s why the apostles in their epistles called the believers ‘saints’ (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2), ‘holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), and ‘holy brethren’ (Hebrews 3:1 – NKJV).

Secondly, beloved, you must understand that you are holy because of the obedience showed by Jesus Christ, for it was through His atoning sacrifice that you were sanctified, as it is written: “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10 – NKJV). It follows that you don’t have anything to boast about before God, for – as Paul says – Christ became for us sanctification from God (1 Corinthians 1:30).

When I say that you were sanctified in Jesus Christ I mean these things.

You attained the perfection in regard to the conscience through the blood of Christ, as it is written: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). The perfection in regard to the conscience could not be obtained under the Old Covenant because the gifts and the sacrifices which were offered according to the law were a shadow of the things which were to come and in them there was a reminder of sins every year (Hebrews 9:9-10; 10:1-4), while under the New Covenant it can be obtained because Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins once for all and His blood makes those who believe in Him perfect in regard to the conscience (Hebrews 9:13-14).

God separated you from the world, so that you might serve righteousness. In other words, God separated you from those who live in darkness so that you might be a holy people to the Lord for the rest of your earthly life. In ancient times God chose the Israelites so that they might serve Him, for He said to them: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6), and again: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Now, in these last days God has set apart for Himself a people (His Church) which is formed of all those Jews and Gentiles whom He has rescued from this present evil age so that they might serve Him. This concept is expressed by Paul in his epistle to Titus when he says that Christ Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14 – NKJV).

Therefore, brethren, you were set apart by God so that you might pursue sanctification, as Paul said to the saints in Rome: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness ….” (Romans 6:22), and to the saints of Thessalonica: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification …. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7); and as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), and as Peter says to the elect (whom he called holy nation); “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written: Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 – NKJV).

As you can see, the Scriptures clearly state that we were called to be holy, that is to say, to perfect our sanctification before God. Therefore the pursuit of sanctification (or the perfecting of sanctification) is a divine command, and it is so important that the Scripture states that without sanctification no one will see the Lord. I say this because I know that today among many Churches many despise sanctification, making light of it and not considering it so important (for they consider it a human option).

Now, brethren, we have our fruit to sanctification, but how can we bear this fruit? We can bear this fruit by abiding in Christ, for Jesus Christ said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). In other words, we can bear this fruit by keeping the commandments of God, for John said: “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:24 – NKJV). Therefore, we must keep the commandments of God in order to have a holy conduct before God and men. And obviously to keep the commandments of God means that on the one hand we must not do certain things and on the other hand we must do some other things.

Before I go on, however, I would like to point out that we can perfect our sanctification (which is a process that involves a separation unto God, a purification of flesh and spirit, and a conformation to the image of Christ) only by the power of God, who works in us what is well pleasing to Him. In other words, we are able to perfect our sanctification because God works in us. However, it is very important to note that God will work in us if we allow Him to work. This principle that recognizes both God’s initiative and man’s responsibility is expressed by Paul in the epistle to the Philippians when he gives them this command: “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” (Philippians 2:12-13 – NKJV). So, God enables us to perfect our sanctification, but we MUST respond.

Let us now look closely at the things from which we, as believers, must abstain in order to live a holy life. Read more…

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