Essays for A
Commentary — From the Margins
When I began to reread prophecy and write what I was reading in 2002, I completed the initial draft of A Philadelphia Apologetic (APA) in two and a half months. By the fall of 2004, I knew that APA needed to be updated, and I began to rewrite chapters, but I did not get far before I realized that enough information was coming from typological exegesis that I needed to add to what I had just written. However, the demands of writing for numerous websites prevented me from returning to APA. Those demands remain. Thus, to satisfy both the demands for new pieces on my home website, and to finally return to APA, I have opted to use the Commentaries to produce the essays that will become chapters; so the serialized edition will remain as it presently is until enough Commentaries have been written for a new published edition. At that time, the serialized chapters will be replaced by the published edition.
* * * * *
Forty Years Ago
Allusions, says Jakobson, are signs
that produce an imbalance between signifier
& signified, resulting in signified surplus,
analogous to overfilling a wine glass,
the resulting spill staining the source text
in a disordered or unstructured way.
Perhaps that's what happened to the Bible—
it's been so stained by spills of red wine
it's not the book my forefathers read—
[from "Us or Them"]
Thursday of the second full week in January 2002, about 10:12 CST, as I was
pulling into the parking lot of Southeastern Illinois College where I was to
teach a class, a thought that again seemed to have substance—a thought
like the one experienced when I was initially drafted into the Body of
Christ—said, It’s time to
reread prophecy. The thought obscured all other thoughts, including ones of
getting out of the pickup and getting to class. For the second time in my life,
a thought seemed to be a thing, seemed to have actual substance, and for
several minutes I sat wondering exactly what had happened. I knew what, but
why? I was unbelieving of what I seemed to hear and think at the same time.
What I didn’t then know was that forty years earlier, apparently to the
day, hour, and minute, an Advanced Prophecy seminar at
With a dynamic radio voice and an advertising
background, Herbert Armstrong, beginning in 1934, built a worldwide ministry on
explicating biblical prophecy, but by the fall of 1961, he knew that he had
gotten things wrong. He realized that he did not understand what he thought he
understood; so he scheduled a prophecy seminar for the following spring
semester at his
It would have taken Garner Ted about twelve minutes to arrive at saying there would be no new revelation—it took twelve minutes for Garner Ted to kill the work his father had spent three decades building. In just twelve minutes, the last divine Breath of the endtime Elijah’s second attempt to resuscitate the corpse of Christ was lost. Forty years would pass before this endtime Elijah would begin His third and ultimately successful attempt to breathe life into the dead Body.
The Worldwide Church of God’s greatest growth years occurred after 1962. Money poured in; membership increased thirty percent a year; corporate jets were purchased; antiques were acquired; the undersized but posh Ambassador Auditorium was built; and Herbert Armstrong hobnobbed with minor world dignitaries—all after the work of God was spiritually dead. It wasn’t God who was blessing the Worldwide Church of God. It was the prince of this world; for concealed within the secrecy of the corporate structure were serious transgressions of the commandments.
Within Christendom, prophecy is a suspect discipline, made all the more suspect by the antics of prophecy pundits such as Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong. Prophecies either were fulfilled, or they cannot be well understood. They are vague, and are often interspersed in narrative accounts about real events. Thus, long ago and for cause, they became the domain of the cultic fringe … despite its denials, the Worldwide Church of God was a cult that splintered into hundreds of slivers following Hebert Armstrong’s death, with most of these slivers two decades after Armstrong’s death still clinging to his teachings as if he, not Christ, were the endtime Elijah who will turn the hearts of children to the fathers, and the hearts of fathers to their children (Mal 4:6).
Mostly unknown sects of not just Armstrong’s fiefdom but of every fringe on the shawl of Christianity proclaim the fulfillment of some prophecy with every newscast. A natural disaster here and one there, and this sect or that one proclaims the end of the age has come upon humanity, the practice beginning two millennia ago. But the essence of the Christian message is that the creator of humanity came as the man Jesus, died and was raised from the dead, and will return as the promised Messiah who will put an end to the world as it is today. Even sects and denominations that teach a realized eschatology having the kingdom of heaven being here on earth today, teach that a new heaven and a new earth are to arrive at the end of this age. So the assurance of Christianity is that life as human beings presently know it will end at some specific moment in the future.
As I sat in the pickup in January 2002, unbelieving of what had occurred, I suspected “It’s time to reread prophecy” meant that it was time for me to begin writing about prophecy. The splintered Sabbatarian Churches of God were not powerfully delivering the two-house warning of a generation earlier. My prophetic understanding was within the mainstream of the Churches of God, so I suspected the command I received was to make a better case for the two-house warning than was being made. Although the two-house warning had been publicly made for decades in one of the most poorly crafted books ever published, a book that was the plagiarized work of another, a book that does not even justify being named, the two-house warning had fallen on hard times as it should have for that two-house warning is not of God and never was of God.
What about forty years earlier? As I sat in the
parking lot of
Why didn’t the senior Armstrong teach more sessions? Why did he leave teaching the class to his son? But of more interest is why did the so-called evangelists who heard both that the Church didn’t understand prophecy and that all was known quietly sit through the remainder of the semester, or so Ray Dick told me after reading the initial draft of A Philadelphia Apologetic, completed in March 2002. Ray Dick was then (in 1962) in Fourth Year Bible, taught by Al Portune, one of the senior men in the Advanced Prophecy seminar. Ray gave me the names of the men in the Advanced Prophecy seminar. Although most of the men are now dead, I sought confirmation of what I was told from Garner Ted Armstrong and from Roderick Meredith, senior evangelist for the Living Church of God. Garner Ted in three most gracious letters written during the summer and fall of 2002 neither denied or confirmed the story. Roderick Meredith, however, seemed to confirm the entirety of the story. Of attendees who remain alive, Leslie McCullough and Dibar Apartian were also in the seminar.
There is a little more to the story of Garner Ted
(on behalf of the Church) rejecting revelation during that spring 1962
semester. On a Friday morning near the end of semester, Al Portune presented to
the fourth year Bible class information coming from the Advance Prophecy
seminar. Ray Dick was certain what had been said was wrong, so over the weekend
he gathered Scripture passages and he presented what he had gathered to Al
Portune at eight o’clock Monday morning. Fourth Year Bible was at eleven.
Al Portune was late coming to class. When he arrived, he had additional
Scriptures supporting the position Ray Dick had presented to him that morning,
the position being, I believe, that the armies surrounding Jerusalem when the
Mount of Olives splits occurs three and half years earlier than when Armageddon
happens. But when Garner Ted on Thursday of that week learned what Al Portune
and Ray Dick were discussing, Garner Ted pulled Ray out of class. With his
entourage and a cowered Al Portune in tow, he threatened Ray with expulsion
(Ray Dick kept his prophetic understanding to himself for decades. However, his understanding appeared in an article published by Dixon Cartwright’s The Journal in 2001. The article is still on-line as of 2005.)
I can’t say what I would have done if I had been in that Advanced Prophecy class forty years earlier. I don't know if I would’ve been like Joshua and Caleb, or if I would’ve sat on my hands, deferring to the authority of the instructor. The decision wasn’t mine to make, then. I was a fifteen year‑old high school junior, who knew to keep the Sabbath but was unwilling to do so.
Like the vast majority of humanity, the so-called
evangelists who sat on their hands and on their courage that spring semester,
1962, will have their history assigned to them. Today (2005), Roderick
Meredith’s history is being assigned to him following the shooting spree
Daniel's prophecies were sealed until the time of the end. They could not be understood earlier than the generic period identified in Scripture as “the time of the end.” Ellen G. White and Herbert Armstrong and any number of other pundits didn’t live in that generic period so it’s foolishness to look to these pundits for understanding of endtime prophecies. And it is equally foolish to listen to the prophetic understanding of anyone now, myself included, if it is not the time of the end. But if humanity in the ebb of time has arrived at this generic endtime period, then the Elijah to come (the glorified Christ Jesus working through human beings) will restore all things, including revealing prophetic events, for a sealed prophecy is worthless unless it is unsealed. A proof of the Most High’s sovereignty is fulfilled prophecy. An even greater proof is His ability to seal a prophecy so that the revelation cannot be understood, then to unseal the revelation shortly before the event occurs. Faith now enters the domain of prophecy. The unsealing will come through the generation of an additional text, and the validity of that additional text becomes a matter of faith. The sheep hear the voice of the true Shepherd. The wild sheep listen to no voice but their own. And the goats betray the sheep that follow them.
Some disciples in every generation since
· Solomon wrote that God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also he has put [עולם or ‘owlam] into man’s heart; yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:11), with owlam variously translated into English as /eternity/ or the /world/. The world or the creation conceals the things of God from the natural mind, so that the beginning and end cannot be known.
· Jesus said He was “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13).
· The natural mind, because the world conceals the beginning and the end, cannot know Jesus regardless of how often the natural mind hears the name uttered, and the deeds of Jesus related. Only the person born of Spirit and whose mind is not set on the things of the flesh (Rom 8:5-8) can “know” Jesus.
· John wrote, “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
· Jesus said He would love and make Himself known to the person who has His commandments and who keeps them (John 14:21).
· The natural mind is consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32) and is unable to keep the commandments, but the person born of Spirit has been set free from sin and death (Rom 8:2) “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in [disciples], who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4).
· To know Jesus sets a person free from sin and death in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in this person, and when “set free” this person will keep the commandments that, in turn, keep the person free from bondage to sin and death; thus, the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in this person through this person keeping the commandments.
Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:18-20). Therefore,
· The visible things of this world reveal the invisible things of God, including His power and His nature; hence, what conceals the beginning and the end [Christ Jesus is both] from the natural mind also reveals the power and nature of God “to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).
· What is natural precedes what is spiritual (1 Cor 15:46); so a person’s mature natural mind will precede the same person having a mature spiritual mind, just as the person’s human birth precedes this person’s spiritual birth.
· As there was a first Adam, a man of red mud, there is a last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45). Between this first Adam and “the last Adam as a life-giving spirit” is the man Jesus of Nazareth, who was born of woman, baptized in water, received the Holy Spirit [A<,L:" U(4@<], and died on the cross at Calvary.
· The natural body of Jesus put on immortality after being raised from the dead, but the natural body suffered no decay in the grave. Likewise, the Body of Christ that died as Jesus died in the mid 1St Century CE will suffer no decay throughout a single long night that began at Calvary and extends until Jesus returns to fight on a day of battle (Zech 14:3-4).
In his gospel, the Apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the [7@(@H – Logos], and the [7@(@H] was with [1,@< – Theon], and the [7@(@H] was [1,@H – Theos]. …And the [7@(@H] became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). Grammatically, Theos and Theon are both “God,” but are not the same entity. The creation conceals the 7@(@H, the man Jesus, who is the beginning of the creation through being its Creator (v. 3), from the natural minds of humankind. Inevitably, the People of the Book will have the Father [1,@<] being the creator of this world because the existence of the 7@(@H is not known to those who have not been born of Spirit. The person who is of the Book and who perceives Elohim and YHWH to be linguistic icons representing a single entity has not been born of Spirit. Likewise, the person of the Book who would have the Creator of this world being the Father lacks spiritual understanding and has not been born of Spirit. Hence, the person of the Book who uses the icon Allah or Yah to represent the Father [1,@<] lacks spiritual understanding. This world has concealed from the person knowledge of Christ Jesus, the beginning and the end of this world—and because the person does not know Jesus, the person is not “saved,” but is part of the mass of humankind to be born of Spirit at a latter time [either before Jesus returns or in the great White Throne Judgment, the eighth day of Sukkot].
If the person does not know Jesus as demonstrated by the person not keeping the commandments but nevertheless expects “Jesus” to catch the person up to heaven, the person has a rude awakening coming. Flesh and blood cannot enter heaven. But it isn’t in not being bodily Raptured into heaven with the associated personal disillusionment where the greatest danger lies for so-called Christians; it is in these “Christians” returning to the faith once delivered (Jude 3), with the faith to which they return being the faith delivered by Hellenistic philosophers as the Trojan horse they would use to win an empire from the Romans … it was not just prophecies that were concealed by God in a play of shadows, but the very plan of salvation. Without knowledge of Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, no person of the Book can understand the beginning or the end of this creation. And without taking understanding from Scripture through using the things of this world to reveal the previously concealed things of God, no person of the Book, especially the person caught up in “the struggle,” can understand the prophecies of God. For the visible man Jesus, the historical figure used to spread murder and mayhem across six continents, is a “thing” of this world that has been used to conceal the things of God from all who have natural minds. Yes, the “Jesus” everyone knows is not the beginning and end of what God has done and will do, but rather, a dark cloud that conceals the Jesus who was born of Mary from the world, and even from the People of the Book.
Jesus does not and will not manifest Himself to
anyone who does not have and does not keep His commandments. And He is the same
today as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. The disciple who keeps
the least of the commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called
great in the
The person traveling the board path remains on the board path until after there is true repentance, which causes the person to keep the commandments. Only then can the person know Jesus, and be known by Jesus.
· Every person is predestined to labor along the wide path as a bondservant to the prince of this world, who makes this broad path personally attractive to those who might otherwise escape. It is especially attractive to his servants who appear as minister of righteousness (2 Cor 11:15).
· Jesus said of John, “‘This is he of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, / who will prepare your way before you””’ (Matt 11:10).
· John points the way to Jesus; John is the one who makes straight the way of the Lord (John 1:23). And the way to Jesus is through repentance, where a narrow, faint path leads away from the broad road.
individuals who turn from disobedience and are baptized with John’s
baptism find the way to Christ Jesus. And because the Holy Spirit empowered the
Note well the following: The model for salvation that was established in the 1st-Century Church that would have the Holy Spirit being received prior to repentance after a representative group was baptized by the Holy Spirit forms the copy and shadow of the endtime third part of humanity (Zech 13:9) that will receive the Holy Spirit when it is poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28) when the single kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of the father and His Christ (Rev 11:15; cf. Dan 7:9-14; Rev 11:15-19). Every person will then be born of Spirit prior to personal repentance; thus, this third part of humankind must, necessarily, live through the last three and a half years of the seven endtime years of tribulation. And the promise is that all who endure shall be saved (Matt 24:13). All who live through these last three and a half years will have overcome the old dragon, Satan the devil, who when cast to earth, comes as the true Antichrist, claiming to be Christ and requiring all to take the tattoo of the cross to buy and sell (do business). Thus, those who endure to the end will be those whose faith in God overcame their perceived need to buy and sell; will be those who trust God to preserve their lives rather than trust their lives to a failed and failing economic system.
Again, the present model for receiving the Holy Spirit is found in the second covenant (Deu chaps 29-31), where when in a far land [or on the broad road] a person—whether physically circumcised or uncircumcised doesn’t matter—turns towards God and by faith begins to obey His voice in all that He commands in the book of Deuteronomy. This obeying by faith all that God commands is hearing Jesus’ words and believing the One who sent Him (John 5:24). Nothing else qualifies as hearing Jesus’ words and believing the Father. Nothing short of having the law of God and keeping His commandments will cause Jesus to make Himself known to the person (again, John 14:21), and nothing short of keeping the commandments reveals to man and God that the person knows Jesus (1 John 2:3-4). Therefore, repentance in the form of keeping the commandments marks the narrow path that leads to Jesus and from Jesus to salvation. There is no other way to God other than through Jesus. All People of the Book are expected to come to God through Jesus, for the person who by faith has repented and now lives by the commandments must still profess that Jesus is Lord and believe that the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 10:6-13, especially v. 9).
A person cannot call on the name of Jesus while armed with an Uzi or an AK-47 or an M16. The person must first turn from the ways of this world and be baptized with John’s baptism, which ends the condemnation of the Law and the Prophets and begins the restoration of all things. The Body of Christ is restored to life through many disciples being baptized with John’s baptism, then with these many disciples journeying down the narrow but straight path that leads to Jesus where they will be born of Spirit. Not until they reach Christ Jesus will they be born of Spirit, and not until they are born of Spirit will life return to the collective Body of Christ. And today (2007), very few disciples have found Jesus although hundreds of millions claim that distinction while actively engaged in disobedience.
Today, repentance and demonstrated love of God
through obedience by faith precede being born of Spirit, and no
“Christian” repents of disobedience by attempting to enter into
God’s rest on the 8th-day. No true
Paul wrote that from the same lump, God makes one
vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable usage (Rom 9:21) …
“God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured
with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make
known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared
beforehand for glory” (vv.
22-23). The person who has made a covenant with the cross is not the one whom
God has prepared for glory. Rather, it is the circumcised and uncircumcised
person who, by faith, keeps the precepts of the law that has been prepared
beforehand to be with God. When Christ Jesus returns, outside the heavenly city
Herbert Armstrong never understood about being born of Spirit as evidenced by his senior ministers, especially Gerald Waterhouse, claiming that he was the Elijah to come. Spiritual birth and Elijah restoring all things, while not initially seeming to be related, actually are jointly linked in the resurrection of the dead Body of Christ.
For five plus decades (1930s-1980s), Herbert Armstrong taught that a person would not be born of Spirit until the person receives a glorified body when Jesus returns to reveal judgments. Evangelical Christianity teaches that a person is born of Spirit when the person accepts Jesus as his or her personal savior. The truth lies between these two extreme positions, and is most easily seen by working backwards from the end of the age … on the 12th of Abib, two days before He would be delivered up to be crucified, Jesus taught in the temple, delivering perhaps His most memorable teachings and parables, and when He was going away from the temple, His disciples pointed out to Him the buildings of the temple. He said to His disciples, “‘Truly, I say to you, there will not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown down’” (Matt 24:2).
As the Passover Lamb of God, a Lamb appropriate to the size of the household of God (Exod 12:3), Jesus was “penned” in Jerusalem so He wasn’t going far, certainly not much farther than the Mount of Olives which was on the edge of the city. So as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, to which He returns when He fights on a day of battle (Zech 14:3-4), His disciples came to Him and asked privately when the stones of the temple would be thrown down “‘and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age’” (Matt 24:3). His disciples did not ask about world conditions between then and when Jesus returns. They asked more narrowly focused questions: when would the temple be destroyed and how would they know when this age ends. And Jesus’ answer is to these narrowly focused questions—
· When Jesus was taken before the chief priests and the whole council was seeking false testimony against Jesus and none was found, two men finally came forward and said that Jesus claimed He was able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days (Matt 26:59-61).
· In Mark’s account of those who bore false testimony, the witnesses said, ‘“We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands and in three days I will build another, not made with hands”’” (14:58). Above this, the false witnesses testimony did not agree—what they agreed upon and what was true is that the temple of God would no longer be a stone building of granite and marble, but a stone building constructed of disciples.
stones of the temple that would be cast down were first the granite and marble blocks
of the temple Herod built; however, the “Wailing Wall” remains as
foundational stones, one atop another, of this physical temple that Roman
soldiers did not cast down (ca 70 CE). One stone remains on another to this day.
So the physical temple in
temple of which no one stone would remain atop another is the temple not built
with hands, but the temple built without hands, the temple constructed from
“living stones” (1 Pet:4-5). Paul identifies disciples as the
in the 1st-Century, when many came in His name to lead many astray
(Matt 24:5), enough disciples were lead astray that not one living stone
remained on another of the temple of which Paul laid the foundation (1 Cor
3:10-11). All fellowships in
Paul’s first defense in
curtain separating the Holy of holies from the rest of the sanctuary was torn,
top to bottom, when Jesus died (Matt 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). The earth
shook. Rocks were split. Tombs opened. But there is no record of blocks of
granite and marble being cast down from the temple when Jesus died. So the
temple Jesus destroyed was not then physically destroyed, but destroyed as though
ending the marriage covenant that made Israel the holy nation of God (Exod
19:5-6). Yes, Jesus destroyed the temple [and temple covenant] made with hands
by submitting to be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb of God, and yes, He built
another temple after three days when He breathed on ten of His disciples and
said, ‘“Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). So 70
CE is less important as the date when the stones of the physical temple were
cast down as it is the date after which the living stones of the temple not
built with hands were cast down, for the physical precedes the spiritual (1 Cor
15:46) and the visible reveals the invisible (Rom 1:20). Hence, the “living
stones” of the spiritual temple were not cast down until after
When Jesus answers His disciples’ question
about when the temple will be cast down, Jesus took His answer outside of this
physical realm and placed it in the spiritual realm, where the
· Jesus said that wars and rumors of wars are not a sign of the end of this age (24:6), nor are famines and earthquakes in various places (v. 7).
Let’s again pause for a moment. What is the foremost concern of today’s prophecy pundits? Wars and rumors of wars, correct?
Have you listened to any of today’s prophecy
pundits? What are they discussing? War with
Wow! There are so many prophecy pundits looking at
wars and rumors of wars that to paint the many as false leaves brush marks into
which some will slide to escape being so labeled, thereby continuing their
deception into the seven endtime years. It was easy to identify false prophets
when one only had to look at whether the pundit inserted
The prophecy pundit that identifies Islamic
nations as the king of the South, and European nations as the king of the North
has no spiritual understanding and little imagination, for this pundit would
again have the Cross fight with the Crescent in yet another crusade to recover
Identifying false prophets who look for physical
events to fulfill endtime prophecies is actually easier than it first seems,
for those who look at wars and natural disasters also insert
The mind that is set on earthly things is set on
war and rumors of wars as well as on the concerns of the belly, such as famines
and natural disasters. The mind set on earthly things is the mind of the
prophecy pundit who teaches that the eleven horns of Daniel chapter seven are
eleven Roman emperors, Augustus through Domitian, that 1st-Century
Rome’s great crime was its emperor worship, that the last three and a
half years of Daniel 7:25 and of Revelation 13:5 are the last three and a half
years of Domitian’s reign when he demanded that the whole world worship
him [scripturally, these periods are not the same three and a half years: taken
together, they form the seven endtime years]. The mind set on earthly things
inevitably has the iron legs of the image Nebuchadnezzar saw being the divided
Roman Empire, and has the fourth beast of Daniel chapter seven being the Roman
Empire, or the Holy Roman Empire, or the Roman Church when, again [and said
loudly], Rome is not mentioned in biblical prophecies whereas Babylon, Persia,
and Greece are. The mind set on earthly things cannot believe that
Returning now to Jesus’ Olivet discourse: Jesus
said that all the physical things that would happen—famines, earthquakes,
wars, the rise and fall of nations, including Rome—were but the beginning
of birth pains through which Israel would deliver sons of God (Matt 24:8). Everything that physically occurs to
humankind is not a sign of Jesus’ coming and of the close of the age. And
this is what the many false prophecy pundits cannot comprehend; this is what
the natural mind cannot comprehend. To the many false prophets, the recent
rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism must be a sign of the end of the age.
The global dislike of the
· Jesus’ disciples delivered into tribulation, put to death, and hated by all nations for His name’s sake (Matt 24:9).
· Jesus’ disciples would fall away, betray one another, and hate one another (24:10).
· From Jesus’ disciples would arise many false prophets to lead many astray (24:11).
· Within Jesus’ disciples lawlessness would increase and the love of many would grow cold (24:12).
If a person were to stop right here, an argument could be made that all of the above occurred in the 1st-Century before Domitian perished. But that would be an argument based on physical events, and it is difficult to make the case that 1st or 2nd Century hatred by all nations was a sign of Jesus’ return, or that the growing Jesus movement in the 2nd-Century was based on disciples falling away, betraying one another, and having their love grow cold.
But it is the next thing Jesus told His disciples that separates the false prophets from those who have been called to do the work of restoration:
· With the above four points occurring, Jesus said that the one who endures to the end shall be saved (24:13). And this is the first “good news” that follows His disciples being put to death, hated by all nations, falling away, betraying one another, led astray by false prophets, returning to lawlessness, having their love grow cold.
· This good news [gospel] of the kingdom—what good news does Jesus reference if not the good news of the preceding sentence—would be, Jesus said, proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations (24:14).
· After the good news that all who will endure to the end of the tribulation into which Jesus’ disciples are thrust is delivered to the world, the end of the age would come.
· Thus, the sign of the close of this age is the tribulation into which Jesus’ disciples are delivered and the worldwide proclamation that those who endure shall be saved.
· But the gospel delivered to the world by the visible Christian church is not a message about enduring to the end, but a message about the person Jesus of Nazareth. So the only sign Jesus gave of His coming has not yet happened.
The gospel to be delivered to the world before the end of this age comes is NOT a message about Jesus, nor the announcement of the arrival of Jesus’ kingdom, but the more narrowly focused message that every human being who “endures” to the end shall be saved.
Why? Yes, why is everyone who endures to the end saved? What about repentance, professing that Jesus is Lord, bringing forth fruits? Why is enduring tribulation the basis for being saved? Will a Muslim enduring tribulation be saved, it would seem so? That is what Jesus said, isn’t it?
It is here, with the only sign of the close of this age, where understanding spiritual birth is required.
Because Herbert Armstrong, Ellen G. White, Perry
Stone, and thousands of others who make and have made their livings explicating
biblical prophecy have not understood spiritual birth, the only sign Jesus gave
of the close of this age has been misunderstood. And without understanding spiritual
birth, the focus of these false prophets can only be on wars and rumors of
wars, on the return of Jews from
Jesus said, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. … For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will’” (John 5:19, 21). So if the Father raises the dead and gives them life, to whom does the Son give life? He cannot very well give life to the dead, for the Father has already raised the dead and given them life. And if the Son cannot give life to the dead, He must necessarily give life to the living.
Continuing, Jesus said, “‘The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father’” (John 5:22-23) … the Father raises the dead and gives them life, but He judges no one. All judgment has been left to the Son, who gives life to the living. Thus, judgment by the Son is the giving of life, or the withholding of life from those whom the Father has raised from the dead. And the question must be asked, what happens to the one whom the Father has raised from the dead and to whom the Father has given life when the Son withholds a second giving of life?
Actually, Jesus partially answers this question in the following: “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’” (John 5:24-25).
If the dead could hear, when Jesus was speaking, the voice of the Son of God—and all who heard Jesus speak were then hearing the voice of the Son of God—then “the dead” are those who heard Jesus speak on this Sabbath day when the invalid of 38 years was healed. And if these “dead men” believed the one who sent Jesus, then these dead persons would have life without coming into judgment.
But the Father must raise the dead and give them life—
The Father would give life to those who heard Jesus speak not through a physical resurrection from death, for these dead men were physically alive [these are the “dead” whom Jesus said should bury the dead], but through a second birth, a birth by Spirit (John 3:3-8), an additional life given to the dead-but-physically-alive person who heard Jesus speak, an additional life received through the divine Breath of God [A<,L:" U(4@<], a life that is not of this world and cannot be seen with eyes or discerned through the physical senses, but a “real” life that makes the dead-but-physically-living person alive spiritually.
A person is born of Spirit when the Father draws the person from the world (John 6:44, 65) and gives to this person life through receipt of His divine breath. This person has now been “raised from the dead,” but this person who has been raised from the dead is not the tent of flesh in which “this son of God” is now domiciled. This new creature is a life within the mind and heart, a life that has not been born subject to disobedience but born free to keep the commandments of God. This new creature is, literally, a son of God, for this new creature has no parent but God the Father. And the Son must give life to this new creature in the form of the mortal flesh putting on immortality.
In Christian dogma, “personhood” is not defined by the actions of the flesh, but by the thoughts of the mind and desires of the heart. Thus, the person is not the body. The person dwells in the body as the patriarch Abraham dwelt in a tent. And Greek philosophers long ago borrowed the pagan concept of the immortal soul to represent Christian “personhood,” whereas a human being has no spiritual life until born of Spirit, which is a second birth not now received until the fleshly body has reached maturity and is capable of repentance. This gift of a second birth, spiritual life, is of God (Rom 6:23) and is not of human parents.
The physically-living person who hears Jesus’ words and believes the One who sent Jesus does so because the Father has given life to this person, for “the dead” must be made spiritually alive because they can hear the spiritually uttered words of Jesus. Oh, the dead can hear the sound that Jesus’ words make as they move air molecules, just as the dead saw the invalid healed on the Sabbath day as a self-evident violation of the Sabbath commandment—after all, the man had been an invalid for 38 years; he could have been healed on the following day, the first day of the week, or so the dead evidently reasoned. But the renewing Breath of God (Ps 104:30) was “uttered” on the Sabbath, not on the following day when Israel could not enter into God rest (cf. Heb 3:16-4:11; Ps 95:10-11; Num chap 14), with the “rest of God” that caused the renewal of the invalid coming through Jesus delivering the Father’s words.
Therefore, in order to hear Jesus’ words and to discern spiritual things, a person must be born of Spirit, and the person born of Spirit who believes the Father passes from death to life without coming under judgment. The Son will automatically give this born-of-Spirit disciple immortality, but will not necessarily give immortality to the flesh of this person while he or she lives physically. The inner new creature born of Spirit and the flesh are separate entities. And except for those who remain physically alive when Jesus returns, the flesh of every born-of-Spirit son of God will return to dust before Jesus returns to reveal judgments (1 Cor 4:5), or as the case might be, lack of judgments for the ones who have passed from death to life.
The fleshly body of the born-of-Spirit son of God
belongs to the same world as wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and
false prophets. The born-of-Spirit new creature belongs to the heavenly realm,
where all who hear the words of Jesus and believe the Father pass from death to
life; all who endure in belief will be saved and will not come under judgment.
And the good news that must be
proclaimed to the world as a witness to all nations is that all of humankind
will be born of Spirit before the end of this age can come. And when born
of Spirit, there will no longer be Muslim or Buddhist or Hindi. All will be
spiritually born People of the Book; all will be of the holy nation of
If all of humankind must, necessarily, be born of Spirit prior to the end of this age, then the baptism of the world in Spirit (Matt 3:11) through the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28) must also occur before the end of this age.
The tribulation that comes upon Israel and that produces the hatred, betrayal, false prophets and lawlessness that form the backdrop for the good news that all who endure to the end shall be saved begins with the second Passover, when a division of humankind is made apparent by firstborns covered by the blood of the Lamb living while firstborn not covered by the blood of Christ die.
Was it coincidence that I was drafted to reread
prophecy forty years after Garner Ted Armstrong told senior evangelists there
would be no new revelation, that his dad had it right? The defense of my claim
about being drafted is in what I write. My asserting the validity of the claim
means nothing of itself. Only when a second Passover occurs can anyone be
certain, and for the firstborns of
If, however, it isn’t coincidence that I was drafted forty years to the day from when Garner Ted said there would be no new revelation, then the work of Herbert Armstrong was as he claimed, the restored work of God, albeit the work of an imperfect messenger. But his work was spiritually dead long before it achieved most of its physical success. The greatest amount of opulence came after its spiritual demise … the work of Herbert Armstrong is now being mocked by many who once supported this self-proclaimed endtime apostle. I won’t join in the mocking, for in 1973, in Blythe Arena, I sat on a short section of elevated bleachers behind the speakers’ platform when Herbert Armstrong addressed more than 7,000 feast attendees. Before he arrived in the arena, I noticed a padded chair in the front row of seats that wasn’t there previously. He entered without fanfare, and took his seat in the chair. A few mothers with infants approached him. He greeted the mothers and patted the infants on their heads, and was generally approachable and accessible to anyone who desired to say hello to him. Most of the attendees didn’t realize he was in the building. He didn’t have managers or handlers or an entourage. His physical stature was small, and he was easily concealed by the few people standing around him (multiple clusters of attendees had gathered in various locations throughout the arena). Thus, my impression of the man doesn’t come from seeing the opulence in which he lived, but from seeing mothers walk up to him and extend their hands. He seemed to genuinely enjoy contact with “ordinary” people.
The above doesn’t mean that I approve of him living as how he envisioned that glorified saints will live in the kingdom. Nor does the above mean that I now support any of his prophetic understanding. Rather, the above means that I saw a man history will judge more kindly than will the generation that followed him.
On another day at the same Feast and from the same short section of bleachers, I also watched Garner Ted and Stanley Radar with their entourages arrive after the opening prayer, and leave before the closing prayer. Both men didn’t have time to fellowship with those people who were making their lifestyles possible. So while the present generation of in-house skeptics bravely attacks the deceased Herbert Armstrong, determining that he was a plagiarist who was possibly guilty of incest, I will point back to me being drafted to reread prophecy, and to this apologetic. If Herbert Armstrong was not, prior to 1962, doing the work of God, then the forty years to the hour and likely to the minute from when Garner Ted said there would be no new revelation as a length of time is purely coincidental. If the senior Armstrong was, however, prior to 1962 doing the work of God, then the forty years correspond to the length of time that the holy nation that wouldn’t enter the promised land because of unbelief (Ps 95:10-11; Heb 3:19) wandered in the wilderness until dead. This juxtaposition suggests that the Churches of God are today dead.
So that there is never any miss-understanding: the man Herbert Armstrong was either doing the work of God prior to 1962, or the forty years to the day from when his son, Garner Ted, said there would be no new revelation is purely coincidental. The either/or argumentative fallacy does not here apply, for the two positions are absolutes. Either Herbert Armstrong was doing the work of God, or he was not. He could not be almost doing the work of God. And if he was, then Garner Ted killed that work by rejecting revelation, for Armstrong’s prophetic understandings were physical [were of wars and rumors of wars] and did not come to pass. His prophetic understandings were not of God, a reality his detractors have used to label the entirety of his work as false. But this label of falseness is too tightly glued to the entirety of his work if Garner Ted killed his work in 1962. And it would be problematically impossible for the forty years to the day, hour, and minute to be anything but unusually coincidental if Garner Ted did not kill Armstrong’s work on Thursday morning, at about 8:12 am PST (two hours behind Central Standard Time), of the second full week of January 1962.
The divisions of Armstrong’s work that cling to his prophetic teachings also cling to keeping the precepts of the law. Many disciples within these divisions have mentally journeyed far from the landscapes of their nativity. They have cleansed their hearts, but they do not understand prophecy. Thus, Christ cannot use them to teach the third part of humankind that will be born of Spirit halfway through the seven endtime years. They look forward to a place of physical safety: that place will be the grave for them. If they faithfully continue in their spiritual understanding, they will die physically during the first half of the seven years of tribulation, and they will be resurrected when Christ returns. And with physical death they will be spared the horrors of living through all seven of the endtime years.
My argument is that as the first Elijah took three times lying over the dead body of the son of the widow of Zarephath before breath returned to the body, the last Elijah takes three times lying over His dead Body, breathing into this corpse’s nostrils, before divine Breath is returned to the Church. The first time involved Andreas Fischer and the Sabbatarian Anabaptists of the mid-16th Century. The second time occurs in America and extends through the German Seventh-Day Baptists of the 18th -Century until Herbert Armstrong was, early in the 20th-Century, called into fellowship with the Oregon Conference of Church of God, 7th-Day [a division of Seventh Day Adventists that did not subscribe to the teachings of Ellen G. White]. The successful third time will occur at the second Passover, when the Church is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
If the forty years aren’t coincidence, then
Father and Son are working on a very precise timeline, suggested by Israel
If the forty years aren’t coincidence, then those who now mock the senior Armstrong need to temper their criticism with the understanding that Father and Son corrected a problem according to their schedule, not ours. Those who mock risk becoming permanently crosswise to Father and Son … disciples within the Armstrong fiefdom regularly prayed that God would intervene in the affairs of the fellowship. When God did so intervene by ending the mockery of second level administrators trying to undermine the teachings of the fellowship, everyone became Armstrong’s judge, with some condemning him to hell and others exalting him to Christ-like status. He is not worthy of either.
My claim of being drafted to reread prophecy is
either true or false. I can relate what happened on that Thursday morning, but
the truth of the claim will be historically assigned. Until then, a person will
have to determine truth by hearing the voice of the true Shepherd, for my claim
isn’t of having studied
prophecies until I understand them, but of being a student through which (or to
whom) understanding has been given. The claim is simply that I have been given
a job to do by the Elijah to come, the spiritual Elijah who will restore all
things. Understanding has not come through vision or through apparent
supernatural means, but by “rereading” the text that I had read
before. Thus, what I write will seem shallow to some, and over-the-top to
others, for what I find in Scripture is radically different from what pundits
before me found. But the unsealing of a sealed text requires the production of
a new text that discloses previously revealed but secret knowledge. Thus, the
case for me being drafted is, really, in whether a second Passover liberation
occurs at the beginning of seven endtime years of tribulation. This liberation
was foreshadowed by the physical liberation of
Because I was called to “reread
prophecy,” understanding has come piece by piece, not all at
once—has come as I “reread” Scripture and found out that what
I was previously taught (and sometimes what I have previously written) was
wrong, or only partially correct. This does not negate being called to reread
prophecy, but places upon me the same burden that is laid upon others: if a
person cannot admit that the person is wrong or has been wrong, then the person
has too much vanity to enter the
An apologetic is a formal defense made in speech
or writing. The defense herein made is of the claim that I was, indeed, drafted
or called to reread prophecy. The evidence to support this claim will be the
entirety of this manuscript, not an earlier manuscript or writings of two or
three or five years ago. Again, when I was called for this task, my understanding
of prophecy was orthodox Church of God, with minor exceptions. I have had to
unlearn precept-upon-precept exegesis, the means by which the drunken priests
of the physically circumcised house of
The once steady disciples of Herbert Armstrong now waver about in the winds of doctrine, ever studying but unable even to agree on a calendar. It is as if those evangelists who a generation ago taught precept-upon-precept exegesis built for themselves houses of straw that are, today, ablaze with discord. Every person has a message; has a word of knowledge; has an insight, few agreeing with anyone, even fewer willing to hear any voice but their own. They constitute an army at war with itself, every man slaying his brother while the world watches [until bored].
Historical exegesis, especially as practiced by Trinitarian fellowships, is the bane of good scholarship; for it elevates the traditions of men to the status of Scripture. All belief paradigms are either tradition or text based, with text based paradigms becoming tradition based after a generation or two. A prophecy that has been sealed and kept secret until the time of the end could not possibly, if the Father and the Son mean what has been inspired, have been understood by someone earlier than that generic period identified as the time of the end. Therefore, every reading of that prophecy earlier than this generic period is uninspired and without spiritual value; every reading is of men or demons. Historical understanding is without spiritual relevance. Likewise, Jesus spoke only in figures of speech so that the secret things hidden from the foundation of the world could be disclosed but not revealed. The synoptic gospels record these figures of speech, or parables, uttered not to make meaning plain but to allow every person to hear what the person chooses to hear. Jesus didn’t speak plainly to His disciples earlier than the night He was betrayed. The public revealing of what He spoke as the Son of Man comes with His revealing (Luke 17:26–30), but He will do nothing without first revealing the thing through His prophets, who spoke under inspiration of the Spirit or Breath of God. He will, again through the Spirit or Breath, disclose to disciples His revealing prior to when the phenomenon occurs. Thus, denominations that formed around and have fostered the spiritual understanding of church fathers or historic figures only partially understand Scripture at best. Nevertheless, they elevate the traditions they have received and to which they adhere, thereby stopping their ears from again hearing the voice of the True Shepherd. And with their willful refusal to hear His voice, they remain ignorant about their forthcoming nakedness when they as the Body of the Son of Man are revealed. They did long ago what Garner Ted did in 1962.
The Bible is spiritually understood through
typology, through the night/day, darkness/light metaphor, which has death
preceding life. With life comes judgment, which is today upon the household of
God (1 Pet 4:17 — baptism is into the death of the old self, crucified
with Christ Jesus). Sin or lawlessness (1 John 3:4) requires death. The man
Jesus of Nazareth was sacrificed at
It took more than thirty years before my crucified old self weakened enough that it didn’t define me—and then, it took receiving clean spiritual garments before that old self was gone.
The physical geography of pre-Flood
Again, for emphasis, the physical geography of the
region incorporated within pre-Flood
The greater Christian Church entered Judea behind the Apostles, but this spiritually holy
nation of God would not walk in God’s way nor obey His rules; the nation
profaned His Sabbaths, and did what the physical nation of
To disciples, physical circumcision has no meaning for it is of the body or tabernacle in which the born-from-above son of God dwells. Physical circumcision is equivalent to removing an Arctic entryway to a house, with skin color the equivalent of house paint. A homeowner might gain a few additional square feet of interior living space if an Arctic entryway is removed, but its removal doesn’t affect the homeowner. Likewise, one homeowner dwells in a white house, and another homeowner dwells in a red house. The color of each dwelling has no bearing on who the homeowner is. Same for how the house is plumbed. The son of God born into the dwelling of the old-self lives in the dwelling until mature, when this son of God will receive a glorious dwelling of his own. Until then, the son of God must make do with the dwelling in which he was born, and must live within its limitations as this son grows in grace and knowledge.
Physical circumcision is directly analogous to
wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes in various places. The
Circumcision Faction with whom the Apostle Paul had a running battle throughout
his ministry is manifest in endtime false prophets that look for physical
nations to fulfill prophecies about
Again, in typology, the physically circumcised
Israelite dwelling in a house in
Therefore, in typology, the physically circumcised
Israelite dwelling in
Spiritual birth is not of the flesh and has no fleshly marker or distinguishing characteristic. The physically circumcised Israelite in an Egyptian house represents the conscious self of the called disciple while the law of sin and death still dwells in the disciple’s members (Rom 7:25). Thus, in typology, the physically circumcised adult Israelite in an Egyptian house represents the old self (i.e., the personhood of the drawn and called disciple) in a tabernacle of flesh, consigned to disobedience (Rom 11:32). The child born into this household represents the new creature or new self that is born of Spirit. The old self must die before the child inherits the house. If the old self outlives the house, the new creature has no inheritance. Therefore, the new creature must break the legs of the crucified old self, which too many “Christians” were unwilling to do in the 1st-Century and remain unwilling to do in the 21st-Century.
Collectively, in typology, adult Israelites,
physically circumcised and thereby physically set apart from Egyptians,
dwelling in Egyptian houses represent the greater Christian Church, spiritually
called and spiritually set apart from the world. Like the physical nation, holy
to God, the spiritual nation, holy to God, dwells in housing owned by a
spiritual Pharaoh, the king of
Unfortunately, many endtime disciples will reject
what comes next through saying some variation of My God would never do that! … A third of humankind will die
in the second Passover liberation of
On the Lord’s day, John sees in vision,
I saw under the altar the [RLPH] of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge out blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brother should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Rev 6:9-11)
As disciples were martyred in the 1st-Century, they will likewise be martyred in the 21st-Century.
The Body of Jesus died on the cross, crucified with Jesus in the 1st-Century. Except for a remnant, the resurrected endtime Body of Jesus will be sacrificed as Jesus was sacrificed and as disciples were sacrificed in the 1st-Century. These disciples will physically die in the 21st-Century through barbarism foreshadowed by the Holocaust. Yes, Hitler’s slaughter of six million physically-circumcised Jews anticipates the slaughter of as many Sabbatarian Christians—spiritually circumcised Jews (Rom 2:26-29)—during the first three and a half years of the tribulation.
Western Europe and
Sabbatarian Christians will not die alone once the
seven endtime years begin. Most of Observant natural
Once disciples are liberated from indwelling sin and death, the Son of Man will be fully revealed (Luke 17:30). The Body of Christ will be revealed; the mantle of Christ Jesus’ righteousness will be laid aside. Grace will end, for it will no longer be needed. The disciple who commits sin after being liberated from indwelling sin and death will commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and this blasphemy will not be forgiven [because Christ is no longer covering the disciple’s sins]. Thus, since the lawlessness of the world (of the third part of humanity – Zech 13:9) when coming to God must be covered by death to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law, the martyrdom of liberated disciples throughout the first three and a half years of the Tribulation is necessary to fulfill the requirements of the law that sin must be covered by death. But this is not something “Christians” today want to believe, or to even contemplate. Therefore, the resurrected Body of Christ will have its faith severely tried individually and collectively when faced with martyrdom. Only the remnant that keep the commandments and understands prophecy will cross from the first half of the Tribulation into the second half, where this remnant will be to the third part of humankind as the two witnesses were to the resurrected Body of Christ throughout the first half.
Then the killer: the sixth trumpet plague (Rev 9:15) is the giving of a third of humanity, when all of humankind will be as Israel was in Egypt, the captive firstborn son of God, as the ransom of humankind from Death.
The problem with typology is what is revealed: a
third of humanity will die when the greater Church is suddenly liberated from
sin at the beginning of seven endtime years; hence, the comparison to the days
of Noah, and to the time of
Following the death of a third of humanity (all will be physical or spiritual firstborns), a fourth of the remaining two-thirds will be given to Death to kill (Rev 6:8), leaving still alive half of those who were alive the day before the Son of Man was revealed. Then another third of humanity will be killed in the sixth trumpet plague, leaving alive one third of those who were alive. But Death will be defeated when the two witnesses are publicly resurrected and the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh. With a few exceptions (Rev 13:10 — the number comparable in percentage to the number of men Joshua and Caleb lost after crossing the Jordan), from the middle of the Tribulation on, everyone who dies will take death upon themselves by accepting the mark of the beast. They will have to mark themselves for death through accepting the tattoo of the cross [P>l]. And humanity has arrived at the percentages of the prophet Zechariah (13:7-9). Two-thirds of humanity will be dead. The remaining third of humanity will be refined as silver is refined (by smelting), and tested as gold is tested (under pressure against a touchstone), and this third will say that God is their God, and God will say that this third are His sons. This third represents the spiritual Seth, who is born-from-above when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all flesh. About this third, Jesus said (again) that all who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt 24:13). Salvation is through enduring being refined and tested. And salvation is certain.
Generations of physically circumcised Israelites
served Pharaoh and prayed to God for liberation from bondage. Likewise,
generations of “Christians” have served the spiritual king of
But because the spiritually holy nation rebels against God and attempts to enter God’s rest on the following day, the natural branches, broken off until the fullness of the Gentiles have come to God, will be grafted back onto the root of righteousness through the Sabbath. The natural branches will not quit the Sabbath. The spiritually holy nation that loves righteousness will not quit the Sabbath. Only those who rebel against God will attempt to enter His rest on the following day, the 8th-day, Sunday.
At the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) a resolution to the early Church’s second serious conflict was thrashed out with a logic that has since eluded theologians of all traditions, but a logic that left the Body dead within two generations. The conflict revolved around the importance of the flesh: believers who were previously Pharisees contended that a Gentile convert must first become a physical Israelite before the person could become a spiritual Israelite, that physical circumcision must necessarily precede spiritual circumcision. Paul and Barnabas opposed the former Pharisees in “no small dissension” (v. 2). For Paul and Barnabas, any return to physical circumcision was, in this age from cup to cup (Matt 26:27-29), a serious doctrinal error, and confirmation that these former Pharisees never understood what circumcision represented, nor what Jesus taught.
The arguments made by the former Pharisees were
not preserved; thus, their arguments must be recreated from Scripture. And
these former Pharisees would have argued that ‘“No foreigner,
uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the
Since Paul’s epistles were not then written, let alone considered canonical; since his revelation, the basis for his Aristotelian argument against circumcision in chapters 1 & 2 of his epistle to the Galatians, was not then given the authority of Scripture, Paul and Barnabas could only argue precedent, which is the direction the Council proceeded when Peter stood up and said, ‘“Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe … and [God] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith’” (Acts 15:7, 9). And it is here, where cleansing the heart by faith enters into Christian discourse, that disobedience climbed through the window of liberty to steal life from the Body of Christ.
What the former Pharisees sought from this Council
was a decree requiring Gentile disciples to be physically circumcised and
ordered to keep the Law of Moses, which isn’t one covenant but everything
written by Moses; i.e., the Torah.
And the problem is apparent: the Lord made three covenants with Noah, three
with Abraham, one with Ishmael, at least one with Isaac, at least one with
Jacob, three with the nation of
The former Pharisees didn’t realize that copies of heavenly things are purified by blood, but the heavenly things themselves are purified by better sacrifices (Heb 9:23) which include bows in the sky and songs. Thus, covenants ratified by the shedding of blood are copies of heavenly covenants; they are temporary covenants.
There will not be another global flood, for God
made this covenant with Noah and ratified this covenant not by blood but by the
setting of a bow in the sky. However, the covenant made at Sinai when Moses
received the Decalogue inscribed on
two tablets of stone was ratified by blood (Ex 24:5-8); hence, this Sinai
covenant, from its inception, was scheduled
to be abolished and replaced by a covenant that would have the laws of God
written on two tablets of flesh, the heart and mind of disciples. Likewise, the
covenant by which Abraham was made the father of many nations (Gen chap 17) was
ratified by physical circumcision, which requires the shedding of a few drops
of blood. This, then, is a covenant that is a copy of a heavenly thing:
spiritual circumcision. The heavenly thing is the “cleansing of the heart
by faith.” Therefore, the cutting away of the foreskin is the shadow and
type of spiritual circumcision, which is promised to
Without faith, no one can please God, for the
actions of humankind at their best are as bloody rags to God, the rags used to
catch unfulfilled life (menstrual rags).
Although Israel brought their kneading troughs out
of Egypt before the dough was leavened, the nation didn’t eat bread
during the forty years of wandering (Deu 29:6), nor did the nation drink wine
or strong drink. Again, the forty years were as forty days (cf. Acts 1:3; Deu 1:3 & Deu 5:2-3).
And here is repeated a mystery of God has revealed: the old self [Paul’s old man] is to die between when the
Father draws the person from the world (John 6:44, 65) and when the second covenant
is implemented; for the old self cannot enter into God’s rest because of
its unbelief (cf. Num chap 14; Heb
3:16-4:11). As long as the old self lives, the second covenant with its promise
of spiritual circumcision remains a promise in the future. Understand the
significance of this, for every person’s day of salvation begins not with
baptism of the flesh, when the person comes under judgment, but when the person
cleanses his or her heart through faith. All of Israel was baptized into Moses
when the nation passed through (1) the sea and was (2) under the cloud (two
aspects are involved in baptism, one reason why Paul rebaptized disciples who
were only baptized into repentance — Acts 19:1-6). But the fathers of the
nation—the old selves of disciples—would not enter into God’s
rest while the promise of entering still
stood (cf. Heb 4:1; Num 14:1-4,
40-41); therefore, they all died in the wilderness of Sin/Zin, unable to enter
into God’s rest. Literally, the promise of entering stood on the day the
spies returned. The next day was too late. The time for making the decision to
enter was brief, one day [one night, actually] in forty years. And for the
nation that left
Baptized disciples who do not enter into
God’s rest as Joshua and Caleb did, or as new selves born into the tents
of the old selves will perish in unbelief—and the new selves must cleanse
their hearts with faith before receiving spiritual circumcision. The baptism of
a disciple, directly analogous to
In the case of Abraham, obedience preceded use of
the Holy Spirit, which occurred when the /ah/
linguistic radical, the radical used to express aspirated breath, was added to
his name. In the case of the twelve Paul baptized at
Now, back to what Peter said: God has made no distinction between natural
The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to
the brothers who are of the Gentiles in
degree of faith is necessary for a Greek living as a Greek to turn to God,
profess that Jesus is Lord, and cease living as a Greek, cease eating blood,
cease eating meats that were strangled so as to retain the blood, cease eating
meats offered to idols, cease frequenting prostitutes, and begin entering the
synagogue on the Sabbath day to hear Moses read (Acts 15:21)? Is not the above
degree of faith comparable to the faith of Abraham who left home and kin to
What about the children of these Gentiles? They will grow up not eating blood or meats strangled or offered to idols, and will grow up in a household shunning all forms of sexual immorality. What degree of faith is required of them to continue doing what they grew up doing? Not much? That is correct, not much. If a child grows to maturity in an environment where the laws of God are kept, the child will keep these laws as part of the expectation of the household. Solomon wrote, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6). Both Lenin and the Roman Church have similar sayings.
It takes considerable faith to leave kith and kin and the practices of the household in which a child grew to maturity, but no great amount of faith is required to continue doing what the person has always done, and this includes keeping the commandments of God as well as keeping the limited requirements of the Jerusalem Council.
The limited requirements of the Council were addressed to a specific audience as a solution to a specific problem, just as the ordination of deacons to serve the neglected Hellenists widows was the solution to the first serious conflict the Church addressed (Acts 6:1-6). There will be no next generation like the generation of the Gentile households that first professed that Jesus is Lord. The next generation will not be without knowledge of Jesus. The next generation will not grow up eating blood and visiting prostitutes. So what is an appropriate action of faith (an act that will cleanse hearts) for the first generation of Gentile converts will not be an appropriate action of faith for the next generation. Rather, the second generation of disciple must go beyond the first generation in deeds; for faith of a comparable quality to that of the first generation’s must be displayed by this second generation. Doing what the first generation did is not enough, for the second generation does not begin where the first generation began. Therefore, before the hearts of the second generation will be cleansed by faith and spiritually circumcised, this second generation must display faith of the quality of the patriarch Abraham.
The above is a convoluted way of saying what Jesus told the rich young ruler:
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not Steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:18-22)
Keeping the commandments is not enough for the person who has grown up in a household or a culture keeping the commandments. No faith is necessary to continue keeping the commandments. For example, the person who has grown up in a household that kept the 7th-day Sabbath needs no faith to continue keeping this transitional representation of God’s rest, but it requires the degree of faith that Abraham displayed for the person who has grown up in an 8th-day fellowship and has grown up eating vermin of all sorts to begin keeping the precepts of the laws of God. For the kith and kin of this second person will pray for the immortal soul of whom they believe has come under the spell of legalism, little realizing the difficulty of the mental journey this second person undertook. This second person journeyed from the figurative Wilderness of Paran (where the nation that left Egypt refused to enter God rest while the promise of entering stood) to the River Jordan, then crossed the Jordan through baptism, and instead of being physically circumcised as natural Israel was (Josh 5:2-7), this second person was spiritually circumcised through having the person’s heart cleansed by faith.
What about the person who grew up keeping the precepts of the law?
Nothing done by the flesh or by a person who
remains flesh is truly good—this is the reality of Jesus’ question
about why the young ruler called Him good. Jesus was without sin. If anyone could
be called good, it was Jesus. So if being without sin [i.e., having perfectly
kept the Commandments] could make a person a “good person,” Jesus
would have been good. But once born
of Mary, Jesus was a man, tempted in all things as all men are. Only God is
above temptation; only God is truly good, for only God is incapable of
lawlessness. Therefore, for all who are of the household of God (1 Pet 4:17)
every act of law-keeping is not an action that represents goodness, but an action that represents the expectation of the
household. Keeping the Sabbath is the expectation of everyone in the household
The person who today grew up in a Christian
fellowship that has remained in spiritual Babylon can, by faith, cleanse the
person’s heart by making the mental journey to God’s rest, the
landscape represented by Sabbath observance, with this person beginning to keep
the precepts of the law (Rom 2:26). Repentance is turning from this
person’s lawless childhood and by faith keeping the commandments.
Demonstrated obedience comes from keeping the commandments by faith for a
prolonged period—for the patriarch Abraham, demonstrated obedience took
25 years. For most disciples, demonstrated obedience will take 30 or so years,
with these years causing the person to no longer be a novice in the faith.
Then, and not before then, this person who left
Again, what I have previously written about being born of Spirit was based on the 1st-Century model that had, following the visible baptism by Spirit of a representation group, all members of that group being born of Spirit prior to baptism. This will be the model [type] for the third part of humankind in the last half of the Tribulation, when the Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh; when the world has been baptized in Spirit and into life as the world of Noah’s day was baptized in water and into death. Receiving the Holy Spirit will then precede baptism for everyone. But in this era when the Body of Christ is dead, out of mercy, God has not given His Spirit to many “Christians.” In fact, it is rare to encounter anyone who has actually been born of Spirit. And how will those who have not been born of Spirit know whether they have been, or haven’t been? The truth is that they cannot know until after they have been so born. They cannot comprehend the change that will occur in their received “human nature” until after they have experienced this change. There are no words to adequately describe what occurs when born of Spirit … too often, disciples equate “accepting Jesus as my personal savior” with being born again. Accepting Jesus as one’s savior is good; obeying Jesus is better; but being actually born of Spirit suppresses the person’s desires to do those physical things the person did before such as hunt, fish, engage in sports, recreate, shop, cook, collect things. Even sexual impulses are suppressed. And a psychologist might well diagnose the person as being severely depressed (the “old self” is being crucified and slain, so such a diagnosis would not be improper). But there is an excitement about the things of God that is nearly all-consuming. Being born of Spirit places the person’s mind on God, and on the things of God. The things of this world—“the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” (1 John 2:16)—are no longer of importance, or really, even of interest. And I speak from experience. The changed mindset is truly greater than can be expressed in the concepts of this world.
The change that comes with being born of Spirit
separates a person from the mindset [mental typography] of this world, and
mental health counselors cannot grasp how large a change occurs. By this
world’s standards, the born-of-Spirit disciple no longer grasps
“reality,” which is true; for the reality of this world is of
Satan, not God. The ancient community that produced the
The change that comes with being born of Spirit
can be seen by comparing my writing before January 2002 with my writing since
that January. Compare the subject matter. Compare the amount. Consider how long
it takes to produce a piece of writing and multiple that length of time by the
number of pieces on websites listed by the
The visible baptism by Spirit that is seen in Acts
chapter two and in Acts chapter ten, followed by the explosive growth in the
Church, form the shadow and copy of what will happen when first Israel, then
the world is invisibly baptized and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These two
visible shadows represent what will occur during the seven endtime years, with
repentance followed by baptism followed by receipt of the Holy Spirit to occur
Now, considering the person who grew up keeping the Sabbath: before the person who grew up in a household that kept the commandments is born of Spirit, this person needs, by faith, to follow Jesus in a manner similar to how Timothy followed Paul before the person’s faith will be counted as righteousness. This person needs to demonstrate repentance and obedience when neither is a far journey for this person; thus, this person needs to additionally literally or figuratively sell all he or she has, give to the poor, and follow Jesus as an evangelist. This is the person who needs to make his or her life’s work the mission field for Christ Jesus.
Faith is not of the flesh, so by extension, faith is not of this world but is a gift from God (Eph 2:8); thus, faith is not a result of works (v. 9). But without works, faith is dead rhetoric (Jas 2:17), nothing but hollow words that are so much wind blown slow. And since faith is not a thing made with the hands, a disciple’s display of faith can truly please God, whereas everything made with the hands is as unfilled promises.
The relationship between dead faith and the living
faith of Abraham that cleanses hearts—the faith of mid-1st
Century Gentile converts that caused them to quit living as Greeks and begin
living as Judeans—is what the Anabaptist remnant that left spiritual
After seventy years, according to the prophecy of
Jeremiah, a remnant of Israel by the decree of Cyrus king of Persia (Ezra
1:1-4; 6:3) journeyed across the plains and hills of what is now western Iraq,
waded the River Jordan, and again entered the geographical representation of
God’s rest. Likewise, after twelve centuries [325 CE – 1525 CE], a
remnant of spiritually circumcised
The faith of a Menno Simmons was of the quality necessary to cleanse a heart, but the faith of a 7th or 8th or 9th generation Mennonite who has been reared in the traditions taught by Menno Simmons is not of the quality necessary to cleanse a heart, for this person needs to, as Mr. Raymond Dick did, spiritually leave kith and kin and mentally journey into keeping all of the precepts of the law, including the Sabbath commandment.
When a son or a daughter of the disciple who by
faith left his or her kith and kin and began to keep the precepts of the law
comes to the parent to ask the same question that the rich young ruler asked
Christ Jesus, the parent needs to give the same answer that Jesus gave—then
the parent needs to bring to the young person’s attention the Apostle
Paul’s instructions to Timothy before sending the young person forth into
the world to take Christ the lost sheep of the house of Israel. For
today’s greatest mission field is within the 8th-day Church,
that majority of
The top-down, centralized governmental structure
of the derivative splinters of the former Radio Church of God [Worldwide Church
of God] effectively stymie personal evangelism and missionary activity. And
when personal evangelism is stymied, the organization will die. Thus, these
splintered fellowships have, within their institutional patterns, the seeds of
their own demise, as do fellowships like the Seventh Day Adventists. For within
two generations, few are left who have cleansed their hearts by faith. The
organization is spiritually dead. And this is what happened to the 1st-Century
Body of Christ … because of the letter sent from the Jerusalem
Conference, the children of Gentile converts journeyed no farther than their
parents journeyed. And without a journey of faith of sufficient length to
cleanse the heart, these children were not spiritually circumcised—and
without being spiritually circumcised, the laws of God were not written on
their hearts and minds. Thus, these children, leaders in the second
The fellowship that will grow is the one which sends forth second generation disciples as missionaries for Christ Jesus, with each missionary teaching first generation converts to cleanse their hearts by faith. It does no good, say, for a Seventh-Day Baptist household to send forth missionaries who do not teach that the Sabbath is to be kept (i.e., to send their young people out as missionaries with 8th-day Baptists). Likewise, it will do no good for a United Church of God household to send forth missionaries who do not teach that all of the Sabbaths of God are to be kept.
Households of differing faiths cannot truly work together for they do not walk together before the Lord. Participation in a great ecumenical work will not produce the quality of faith necessary to cleanse hearts, for beliefs must be compromised so that all can get along—and a compromised belief is an erasing of faith.
We can show that the Body of Christ is dead, and will remain dead until fully resurrected through empowerment by the Holy Spirit at the second Passover. We can show why the Body died, and can show within a decade or so when the Body died. But we cannot show when the resurrection begins, and we cannot know with certainty how long this restoration to life takes. Thus, it is enough for now to say that the Body lost its divine Breath late in the 1st-Century, and that visible Christendom from the beginning of the 2nd-Century on has been built on a purloined name and Greek philosophical paradigms. That old dragon, Satan the devil, has truly deceived the whole world (Rev 12:9), especially those who believe they are followers of Christ Jesus. And it is these who sincerely believe that are most dangerous to those of us who actually have been born of Spirit.
* * *
© 2007 by Homer Kizer
"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."