Pentecost

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Meaning of the Feast of Pentecost

–  The Feast of Weeks  –

Pentecost is a celebration which pictures the first resurrection, being ascension of the firstfruits of humanity into the God family as spirit beings. This is symbolized by celebrating the beginning of the harvest season, the earliest part of the wheat crop.

Article Updated: 14 Feb 2015

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The Feast of Firstfruits [also known as Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the Feast of Weeks (Ex 34:22) and the Feast of Harvest of the First Fruits (ESV, Ex 23:16)] is the last of three Holy Days set during the early part of the wheat season of ancient Israel and is the day that uses the very first harvesting of the wheat crop to symbolize the time of ascension for the saints (see Holy Day Table below). The Feast of Pentecost symbolizes the instant in time that ascension takes place ("in the twinkling of an eye",  1Cor 15:52)  – the growth of that part of the "crop" having been completed beforehand (judgment on the House of God being completed, 1Pet 4:17). Pentecost explains the purpose of our existence; it is about where we are headed, our final destination. This article elaborates on the spiritual meaning of the festival, the principal physical aspects relating to the Day and the "first fruits of the harvest" (the two wave loaves that are offered up).

 

 

Resurrection (Ascension) of the Firstfruits

 

In addition to being called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), this festival is also known as the Feast of Harvest of the First Fruits (Ex 23:16), the Day of firstfruits (Num 28:26) and more commonly, the Day of Pentecost (Act 2:1, Act 20:16 and 1Cor 16:8). The last of these names being due to the count of 50 days from, but excluding, the weekly Sabbath before the Wave Sheaf offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Pentecost will, therefore, always be on the first day of the week.

 

The annual wheat crop is only ONE overall harvest, but the beginning of the harvest is a time of celebration. Only the wheat from this beginning is used to make the two wave loaves offered on the Day of Pentecost, so it will always picture a time of very small actual harvest. This small harvest for the Wave Loaf Offerings is not a harvest separate from the overall harvest, it is just the beginning, with the remainder of the harvest being very much larger. The two wave loaves picture the Saints being offered up and ascending to meet with Christ both the dead and those living at the time (1Thes 4:16-17). The Wave Sheaf offering (picturing the risen Christ), during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:10) was part of and actually commenced the very first fraction of the early part of the wheat harvest. Although some churches of God teach that the Wave Sheaf was comprised of green barley, Keil in quoting Philo and Josephus suggests that the barley was already ripe at this time in the warmer areas of Canaan. The Wave Sheaf therefore, was either a sheaf of ripe barley or green wheat.

 

We are told in Ex 34:22 that the first part of the harvest (at Pentecost), like the remaining larger harvest, is a harvest of wheat (khit-tawStrong’s 02406):

"...'And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end.'..." [NKJV].

 

The Hebrew Calendar (not the Jewish Calendar) is a religious almanac given by God to the Israelite nation in order that they may observe His annual Holy Days on the correct days and in the appropriate seasons of year. At the beginning of the year is the month of Abib, the first month in the religious calendar. The Jewish nation (separate from the nation of Israel) later commenced their civil year from 1 Tishri, the seventh month, but the religious calendar still remained the basis for annular calculations. As a religious almanac, even the names of the months had significance associated with events related to the Holy Days. The month of Abib, the month in which the Wave Sheaf was to be offered, literally means "green ears"  and since it is the ears of wheat that are green at this time of year (not barley), the Wave Sheaf Offering consists of a sheaf of green wheat. At this time of year, when the ears of wheat are still green, the kernels are plump and soft, full of protein and sugar. It is at this time, before the wheat has dried and turned golden, that it can be eaten raw. Alternatively, it can be roasted and eaten as a local delicacy known as farike. In Matt 12:1 where we are told that the disciples ate grain as they walked through the fields, it is certain that it was the soft green ears of wheat that were plucked and eaten. Ripe barley grains are too hard and could not have been eaten in the same way.

Matt 12:1

"...At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat..." [RSV].

 

Both Christ and the saints are called firstfruits (1Cor 15:23, Heb 12:23 and Rev 14:4) and just as God demands the purity of Christ in all who ascend to His family, so too are all those in the entire harvest of pure wheat – they are not of wheat and other mixed grain. They must all be pure spiritual Israelites – which is the overall message of conversion to God’s way of life – and this is the essence of Christ’s analogy of the vine as recorded in John 15:4-8:

“…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.’…” [NKJV].

 

Also in the context of conversion, we are asked a crucial question in James 3:12: “…My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?…” [NIV]. This Scripture, by God inspired analogy, shows clearly that as the fruits of the two ascensions to eternal life (the fruits being those who ascend into the God family as spirit beings) are described as wheat in Ex 34:22, then that fruit must have come from wheat – not barley or some other grain.

 

God is not sloppy with His analogies, as man is sloppy - He is very precise and His analogies are intended to be interpreted only one way. If the result is wheat, then the beginning (Christ) must also have been wheat, since we are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). How is wheat conformed to the image of Barley? It is not! Also remember that this analogy for the New Covenant was actually part of the Law of the Old Covenant and to imply that God is sloppy with any part or the smallest facet of His Law shows a complete ignorance of God.

 

 

Ascension of the firstfruits back into the family of God is the principal meaning of the Feast of Pentecost! There are a number of events connected to this day, but they are events either associated with or subordinate to ascension of the firstfruits at the return of Christ. This is the first resurrection and it is a resurrection to eternal life. Many have been taught that the meaning of Pentecost has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit to commence their lives as Christians, but this is actually the meaning of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and is explained in the article covering that festival. Saying that Pentecost pictures the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is getting events out of sequence in God's plan of salvation and is celebrating the shadow rather than the reality pictured by the shadow ascension as spirit beings. One of the main purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help the people of God resist the wrong way of life and to strive for God's way of life. For this purpose it is called the "Spirit of Power" (Luk 24:49, "..'And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.'..." [NKJV]). This power is granted to us at baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit – it helps us to overcome and strive to live God's way for the rest of our lives. The symbolism for this striving to live God's way is seen in putting out leavened bread and the eating of unleavened bread for seven days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, after Passover. The granting (pouring out) of the Holy Spirit is therefore celebrated on the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not Pentecost. It is the first day of this seven day Feast that symbolically begins our lives as Christians (Spiritual Israelites), not Pentecost. Pentecost, which is 50 days after the wave sheaf offering, is at the time of restitution of all things (pictured by the 50 year Jubilee) and is at the return of Christ. At the return of Christ we have the first resurrection, when the dead in Christ shall rise first, then those who are alive shall rise to meet him. This is the first resurrection and is what Pentecost represents in God's plan of salvation. Ascension of the first fruits into the family of God as spirit beings is after the end of our lives as spiritual Israelites, not at the beginning when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us (first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread).

 

All those people from all nationalities who have been predestined to be called by God and having remained faithful to God throughout the days of their conversion can now look forward to receiving the promised ascension into the family of God at the return of Christ to Earth. Although we have God’s Holy Spirit and He looks on us as already being His children we are not yet immortal, because we have not yet ascended in the first resurrection:

1John 3:2

“…Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is…” [NRSV].

 

A key to understanding all the discourse in the NT about the resurrection is that whenever it is mentioned, it is always referring to the first resurrection, unless otherwise specified. Accordingly, we only have to think in terms of one resurrection at this point – the first one. An equally important key is understanding that having the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit is synonymous with being predestined to be in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the saints at the end of this age. Where this is mentioned in Romans (Rom 8:12-22), Paul is preaching to the saints about the outcome for the saints – ascension into the family/kingdom of God:

1Cor 15:50-53

“…What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality...” [NRSV].

The “all” being spoken of by God refers to all of the saints, those with His Holy Spirit – those with the firstfruits of the spirit who have been predestined to be in the first resurrection:

Rom 8:23;

“…Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies…” [NIV].

 

The other principal Verses in Scripture that allude to us being the firstfruits of the resurrection, that is to say participants in the first resurrection, are as follows:

Rev 14:4:

“…They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb…” [NIV].

Jas 1:18 

“…Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures…” [NKJV].

1Cor 15:23 

“…and each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ, afterwards those who are the Christ's, in his presence,…” [YLT].

 

There is no mistaking that the beginning (first part) of the wheat harvest season (pictured by Pentecost) is symbolic of the first resurrection and is comprised of those who have been predestinated for this calling (dependent upon God's foreknowing them) and received the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:29-30). This resurrection is then the resurrection of all those (just described) who remain faithful to God's way of life. This is the resurrection of the saints of God, but the rest of the dead are not to rise until a thousand years later, Rev 20:4-5:

“…I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection…” [NIV].

 

 

Calculating Pentecost

 

Now that Pentecost and its true meaning have been presented we can move on to the most important part, which is how we arrive at the fulfilment of what the day symbolizes.

 

The physical part of this calculation is simple and requires only that one be able to count 50 days from a particular day in order to arrive at the Feast of Pentecost.

 

Unlike other Holy Days, where God has set a specific date (day of the year), for the Feast of Pentecost God specified that it is to fall on a specific day of the week, the first day or a Sunday if you will (Lev 23:16). To arrive at this day we are instructed to count exactly 50 days from and including the Wave Sheaf offering, which is to be offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:10-16). We are told that the 50th day is the day after the Sabbath (the seventh-day, weekly Sabbath) which means if you count backwards from that day you arrive at the one and only Sunday to fall during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is preceded by a weekly Sabbath during the eight (8) day Passover Season (see table below).

 

Sometimes the weekly Sabbath will fall on the seventh (or last) day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On such an occurrence it means that the first day of the eight (8) day long Passover Season is also a weekly Sabbath as well as being 14 Nissan (Passover day). When this occurs, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread also becomes the day on which the Wave Sheaf offering is to be made.

 

The very first example of the Wave Sheaf Offering being on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also showing that Passover of that year was a weekly Sabbath) is given in Josh 5:11. We know this to be the case because of the specific command in Lev 23:14, where the Israelites were commanded not to eat of any of the produce of the Promised Land until they had brought the required Wave Sheaf offering to God. The fact that the Israelites ate of the produce of the land the day after the Passover (the 15th), as related in Josh 5:11, means that this particular 15 Abib was the day of the Wave Sheaf Offering and therefore the previous day (Passover) was a weekly Sabbath. This event also establishes that the “Sabbath” referred to in Lev 23:11 is the weekly Sabbath, not one of the annual Sabbaths of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Accordingly, as the Wave Sheaf Offering is always made on the first day of the week (picturing Christ's ascension to the Father on that day) we know that Pentecost is also always going to be on the first day of the week. This makes it easy to know the day from which we start the count of 50 days.

 

 

 Possible Wave Sheaf offering days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (UB) highlighted in green.

 

The Wave Sheaf Offering Table, above, shows the complete scenario of different days, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on which the Wave Sheaf may be offered during any Passover Season. Using this table it is a simple matter of counting 50 days (seven Sabbaths + 1 day) to arrive at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), which will always be on the first day of the week (Sunday). When there are two weekly Sabbaths in the Passover Season the last is discounted from the calculation, because the Wave Sheaf offering MUST be during the Days of Unleavened Bread. This is established from the example in Josh 5:11, explained above, when there were two weekly Sabbaths in that Passover Season – the actual Passover, the first day of the eight-day season, fell on the weekly Sabbath.

 

 

Why do we count 50 days to Pentecost?

 

While the principal purpose of Pentecost is to be the Holy Day marking ascension for the Saints, it is also the day picturing some other events resulting from Christ’s return, which will be at or shortly before ascension of the Saints (1Thes 4:16-17). One such event will be the restitution of all things, that is a restoration of the condition of things to what they once were under the literal administration of God.

In Acts 3:21, in speaking of Christ, we are told,  

“…Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began..." [KJV].

 

The restitution of all things is pictured by the Jubilee, where, every 50 years in ancient Israel all debts were written off and all people were returned to their family property – their inheritance.

Lev 25:10  “…‘And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.’…” [NKJV].

 

So, with the Old Testament physical example of Jubilee now being expressed in symbolic terms by Pentecost we have the promise of both physical and spiritual restoration. This subject will be covered in greater detail at a later date in the Study Notes section, but in simply addressing the question, as well as having the clear restitutional connection between Jubilee and Pentecost, we have the 50 days to Pentecost applying the Biblical prophetic counting principle of 1 day for 1 year – Jubilee every 50 years and Pentecost always 50 days after the ascension of Christ. The resurrection/ascension of the Saints marks the beginning of the restoration of all things. Pentecost is the only annual Holy Day to be fixed in this manner (tied to another event) – all other annual Holy Days are fixed by reference to the lunar calendar.

 

At the return of Christ this restitution of all things shall extend to all peoples of Earth and they will be returned to their own lands, just as all Israelites (not just the Jews) shall be returned to the land of Israel. Some commentaries apply this restoration only to the nation of Israel, but we must remember that at this time Christ will be ruler of the entire planet, not just one physical nation. At that time God will require the entire world to come under His single administrative system –

Zec 14:18-19  "...And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles..." [KJV].

 

 

Jesus, the First of the Firstfruits

 

The Feast of Pentecost (designated the Feast of Weeks in Duet 16:10) is also known as the Feast of Firstfruits and the paramount meaning of the festival is that it symbolizes the harvest and offering up of the firstfruits of God the saints. This harvest and offering of firstfruits is also known as the first resurrection, which is to take place at the return of Christ to the Earth. 

 

Since Pentecost pictures the first resurrection, which is a complete and distinct part of God’s plan of salvation, the logical question to be asked here is, “Why is Pentecost so firmly attached to an event in another festival?” The simple answer is, the harvesting of the firstfruits actually began 50 days prior to the Day of Pentecost. The harvest began with the offering up to God of the Wave Sheaf (the first of the firstfruits) and symbolizes the Father receiving the risen Christ, who is the first of the firstfruits. That Jesus is the firstfruits is recorded in 1Cor 15:23:

“…and each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ, afterwards those who are the Christ's, in his presence,…” [YLT].

 

Those who take part in the first resurrection are also called “firstfruits,” thus making Christ the first of the firstfruits and this point is made clear in Rev 14:4:

“…These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb…” [NIV].

 

The reference to “defilement with women” is symbolic. In prophecy reference to a woman always points to a church or a religion, so in this verse poetry is being used to describe the bride (collectively the church members) keeping themselves (herself) pure and unpolluted by false doctrines to present themselves (herself) as chaste before a virtuous husband. Marriage of the church (resurrected saints) to Christ is the major event pictured by the "Feast of Trumpets", the details of which will be provided in the next article.

 

God, being consistent in giving all the Sabbaths, including Holy Days, to man (Mark 2:27) set aside Pentecost as the annual Holy Day to celebrate the resurrection of firstfruits (the saints), but in this case ensured the event would be forever fixed to the Wave Sheaf Offering, which pictures Christ, the future husband of the church, being offered as the first of the firstfruits to the Father on the first day of the week after his resurrection.

 

 

The Holy Spirit – Our Helper to the First Resurrection

 

Directly linked to our spiritual progress towards the fulfilment of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and our effective use of that spirit. While Christ was with us physically on Earth there was absolutely no indication that the Holy Spirit was granted to so much as a single human – in fact Jesus stated definitely that the Holy Spirit would NOT be available to anyone while he was here in person, John 16:7:

“…But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him [it] to you…” [NIV].

 

Christ also tells us that the “Counsellor” is “the Holy Spirit”:

John 14:26

”…and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom [which] the Father will send in my name, he [it] will teach you all things, and remind you of all things that I said to you…” [YLT]. 

 

Different translations variously render the Greek word parakletos as Helper, Comforter or Counsellor. In view of the total usefulness of the Holy Spirit all of these interpretations are acceptable. The most important point to remember is that the Holy Spirit is NOT an entity as God, or Christ, or we are entities; it is a divine power sent from God to assist the saints in various ways throughout the days of our conversion here on Earth. Both in Micah 3:8 and later in Luke 24:49 it is made clear that the Holy Spirit is a power for use by the receiver. In Micah, being filled with the Holy Spirit is shown to be synonymous with being filled with power and in Luke when Christ promised that the disciples were to be imbued with power, they in fact received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost 31AD.  

Mic 3:8

“…‘But I, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of Jehovah, and with judgment and strength, to show to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.’…” [Keil and Delitzsch Commentary].

Luke 24:49

“…‘Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.’…" [NKJV].

 

The Holy Spirit has always been available to mankind, it is just that in OT times far fewer people were called to be firstfruits and granted the Spirit compared to the last 2,000 years (approximately). Some people such as David, Elijah and Elisha are mentioned specifically, while others are just mentioned by number, such as the 7,000 about which God told Elijah (1Kings 19:18). However, after Christ's sacrifice, it was time to increase the number of God’s people and that meant supplying them with the Holy Spirit. God knew that when Christ was not present in person, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in His people would be essential not only for their spiritual survival in this world, but to lift the veil of Satan from their minds in order that they may be able to understand God’s basic truths and by these things being our helper to ascension.

 

 

Fulfilment of the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost, ascension of the firstfruits, completes the first harvest season (being the beginning of the one overall harvest) and with its completion so too is the first stage of God’s two-stage plan of salvation for mankind completed.  

 Pentecost Sermon: 8 June, 2014

 

 

 

 

 God’s annual Holy Days, showing the plan of salvation.

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First (early) wheat season

Feast of ACCLAMATION (Trumpets)

Second (late) wheat season

Passover

Promise of reconciliation to God; waiting for us to accept and receive through repentance and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

 

The Day of Acclamation is a memorial of the Old Covenant between God and ancient Israel at Mount Sinai. The Old Covenant was a marriage covenant between God and ancient Israel which foreshadowed the New Covenant, marriage between the church and the Lamb of God (Christ). Accordingly, this Festival is a memorial of the foundation of God’s plan of creation – that foundation being His way of life (Psa 111:10), firstly pictured by the Old Covenant, then fulfilled in the New Covenant.

From the time of Christ the people of God entered into a spiritual covenant with God and became the bride, the betrothed of Christ. After the first resurrection the New Covenant will be entered into fully by the marriage of the church to  Jesus (Rom 7:4 and Gen 2:24). This marriage is to provide the foundation for expansion of the family of God and His way of life forever (Isa 9:7).  The marriage brings with it the promise of almost immediate enlargement of the foundation by bringing more children into the family of God (Gen 1:28). These spiritual children are to be the remainder of humanity who take part in the second harvest season after the second resurrection.

 

 

 

 

Day of Atonement

Promise of reconciliation to God; waiting for us to accept and receive through repentance and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

1.Jesus died so that we may,  upon repentance and baptism, be reconciled to the Father (Col 1:21-22) – symbolized by partaking of the Passover emblems (Matt 26:26-28). It Symbolizes the OFFER of redemption spelling out what Christ has done for us and how we are always to REMEMBER his sacrifice (1Cor 11:24-25).

2.Symbolic promise of Satan's banishment from our lives and thereby being freed from the death penalty (Rom 8:1-3).

3.Passover shows us, through the symbolism of the foot washing ceremony, the requirement for us to live God's way of life – the way of service to others. Those who do not participate in foot washing will be cut-off from the Kingdom (John 13:8).

1. Jesus died so that humanity may, upon repentance and baptism, be reconciled to the Father – symbolized by the goat sacrifice (Lev 16:15). It Symbolizes the OFFER of redemption spelling out what Christ has done for humanity.

2. Literal spiritual rest from Satan and change to direct rule by God is symbolized in making the day a Sabbath.

3. Afflicting the soul (some accept as fasting, but really means to humble or become compliant) symbolizes the requirement to live God’s way of life. Those who do not afflict themselves will be cut-off from the kingdom (Lev 23:29).

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Growing Season for first harvest

Feast of Tabernacles

Growing season for second harvest

1. A seven day festival commencing on the 15th day of the 1st month.

2.Symbolizes the period when judgement is on the house of God (1Pet 4:17) and lasts for the physical lives of the ones predestined for the first ascension. Receiving the Holy Spirit through repentance and baptism marks the beginning of this period.

3.Symbolizes the Saints striving to live God's way of life while still human.  It is depicted by eating unleavened bread on all seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1Cor 5:7-8).

4.Symbolizes the Saints living under the rule of God through the help of God's Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9-16) while still being in, but not of, the world.

5.Symbolizes our lives as Christians, which can be likened to Abraham’s wanderings and dwelling in booths (Heb 11:9-10). Like him, we are to remember that this life is only a temporary existence prior to permanent rest in the Kingdom of God (Heb 11:13-16).

1. A seven day festival commencing on the 15th day of the 7th month.

2. Symbolizes the time known as the great white throne judgement – a period of 100 years (Isa 65:20) after the second resurrection and applies to all those predestined for the second ascension.  Receiving the Holy Spirit  through repentance and baptism marks the beginning of this period of judgment for an individual.

3. Symbolizes the remainder of humanity striving to live God’s way of life while still human (Ex 24:7). This was depicted by Israel eating manna during Israel’s total time of 40 years of dwelling in booths (Ex 16:35).

4. Symbolizes the remainder of humanity living under the government of God, both through the Holy Spirit and under the direct rule of Christ.

5. Remembering that this life is a temporary existence prior to permanent rest in the Kingdom of God - symbolized by the time of Israel's wanderings in the wilderness (Duet 8:2).

Pentecost

Last Great Day

1.Pictures the start of the harvest season, which is ascension of the firstfruits into the God family as spirit beings in the first resurrection (Jam 1:18, 1Thes 4:16-17 and 1Cor 15:50-52).

1. Pictures the remainder of the harvest season, which is ascension into the God family as spirit beings for all those who choose wisely (John 7:37) during the 100 year long great white throne judgement day (Rev 20:11-12).

 

 

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Next Article:

Feast of Acclamation (Trumpets) is the Marriage Covenant Festival, being a memorial of the Old Covenant between God and ancient Israel and looking forward to fulfilment of the New Covenant - marriage between Christ and the ascended Church. 

 

 

 

 

Pentecost Sermon

Murray L Barker

 

Doctrine of Election – What It Means For Us

 

 

Very simply, the Doctrine of Election is a formal way of saying that we believe in the predestination of God’s people by Him and that such predestination ensures our salvation.

 

Why is it important?  Again, very simply, it changes our focus, from ourselves to others – it changes our focus from us trying to get ourselves saved to focussing on how we can help the rest of humanity. It helps us to go back to the basics of God’s way of life of being kind to people, of not adding to their burden, of trying to relieve oppression where it is possible to do so. This is very similar to the Days of Unleavened Bread, when we realize that the focus should be on living God’s way for 7 days (symbolizing our entire spiritual lives) rather than on our sin (leaven), which we were commanded to put out ON the first day of the Days of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:15).

 

That is the briefest of introductions to this subject, but I wanted to give you an idea of what we are going to cover to make it a little easier to follow.

 

Now, before getting into the explanation of the subject, let's first have a quick look at how the Doctrine of Election is understood by the overwhelming majority of Christendom by seeing some comments on just one verse that references this very large subject:

 

Rom 11:5 

“…Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…”

 

I.S.B.E – “…He hath chosen us in Christ" out of the rest of the world, ‘predestinated’ us to all things that secure the inheritance for us…”

McLintock and Strong Our Lord thus teaches that those who are saved are certain persons chosen out of the world and given to him by the Father; that those thus given to him certainly come to him; that this certainty is secured by the drawing of the Father; and that those thus given to him are certainly saved.

Barnes The apostle thus shows that neither all the ancient people of God were east away, nor that any whom he foreknew were rejected.

Clarke – “…And these are saved…”

J.F.B. – “…persons graciously chosen to salvation…”

Gill – “…God’s choice of these persons before the world was, which is the source and spring of all the blessings of grace, both in time eternity: hence these persons were put into the hands of Christ, secured in an everlasting covenant, took special care of by divine Providence, were called by grace, justified, sanctified, and at last glorified:…”

 

The interesting fact here is that they all believe those who have been elected (predestined of God) are saved, no matter what – their salvation is guaranteed and unconditional. This is part of the matter we shall examine today, by looking at the promises made to God’s elect and the various types that symbolize the elect such as the first-born and the firstfruits.

 

 

So, the first thing we need to do is prove that the first-born and the firstfruits are one and the same.

 

Very briefly, we have a short Scripture list from both the Old and New Testaments – you may wish to just note down the Scriptural references at this time, as we will be commenting on them individually momentarily:

 

Exodus 4:22 (NKJV)

“…Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is My son, My firstborn.’…”

Jeremiah 2:3 (NKJV)

“…‘Israel was holiness to the Lord, The firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; Disaster will come upon them,’ says the Lord…”

Hebrews 12:23 (NKJV)

“…to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, …”

Revelation 14:4 (NKJV)

“…These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb…”

 

Clearly the firstborn and the firstfruits are one and the same.

 

In more detail, starting with the Old Testament, we have God’s plain statement about the nation of Israel:

Ex 4:22 

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, my firstborn:

 

The Old Covenant, a physical covenant, was made with the nation of ancient Israel and this Covenant was to foreshadow and symbolize the New Covenant, a spiritual covenant. To be part of the nation of Israel and partake of the Old Covenant the males had to be physically circumcised. The New Covenant deals with spiritual Israel in a similar way and to become a spiritual Israelite one must be circumcised through baptism with the Holy Spirit. We thus become the church of the firstborn awaiting resurrection upon the return of Christ. In Col 2:11 we are told that the “circumcision made without hands” results in putting off sin – the only way this can happen is when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit,

Col 2:11 

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

 

So, we are spiritual Israelites and as such we are the spiritual firstborn referred to in Heb 12:23:

Heb 12:23  (KJV)

To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

 

Of this verse Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown comments as follows:

“Written in heaven” enrolled as citizens there. All who at the coming of ‘God the Judge of all’ (which clause naturally follows) shall be found ‘written’ in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27).

 

In Rev 14:4 we are also told that we are the redeemed of God and that makes us firstfruits to both Him and Christ.

Rev 14:4  (NKJV)

“…These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.…”

 

Very quickly we have been able to establish that we are both the firstborn and the firstfruits and therefore they are indeed the same. God merely uses different types to show different facets of the one subject, which, in this case is us.

 

One of the most important principles to remember here is that God has no regard for what humans consider to be the firstborn – He and He alone decides whom are His firstborn. This is for a very good reason – God’s firstborn were foreknown and predestined by Him before creation of the cosmos (Eph 1:4 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world). There are many examples of God choosing the first fruits and the firstborn and here we shall cover a few:

 

Isaac chosen over Ishmael – This was done before Isaac was born making his election as God’s firstborn unconditional.

Gen 17:18-19 (NKJV)

 “…And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!’ Then God said: ‘No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.’…”

 

Jacob was chosen over Esau – this was done before either was born, making Jacob’s election as God’s firstborn unconditional,

Rom 9:11-13 (NKJV)

“…But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, ‘Your older son will serve your younger son.’ In the words of the Scriptures, ‘I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.’…”

 

Ephraim was chosen over Manasseh – this was done despite Joseph’s objection and was later ratified by God Himself. There were no conditions set – there was simply a declaration as to who shall be the firstborn.

Gen 48:18-20

“…And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh…”

Jer 31:9 

“…They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn…”

 

God is making it clear, through physical examples, that He and He alone decides whom He shall elect as His firstborn. The reason being that He has already decided who are the spiritual firstborn regardless of any physical or other situation. The matter has already been decided (before creation of the universe) and that decision shall not be changed.

 

God’s Guarantee of Salvation

 

Originally God said that all the firstborn of man and beast were His. Later this was refined by the Levitical system of which tithing was a part. The tribe of Levi was chosen to replace the firstborn of Israel and only clean animals were to be offered to God. Of the clean animals God said of the newborn, every tenth one that passed under the rod was His.

Lev 27:32  (NKJV)

And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.

 

We know that these are only the newborn of the flock or herd, because God says that we are to tithe only on our increase, not everything in our possession. So, here is a prime example of God choosing which of the physical newborn shall be His firstborn (remembering that for animals the tithing system replaced the firstborn of all beasts). It is interesting that the first nine got through okay and they were to be retained by the herdsman – God is deciding which shall be His firstborn. This truth becomes even stronger in the next verse where God commands that His firstborn (the tenth under the rod) shall not be changed.

Lev 27:33  (NKJV)

“…He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it:…”

 

God demands that what is His remains His.

 

Now, does God say the same of His firstfruits?

Having established that Spiritual Israel is God’s firstfruits we can use physical Israel as a type – so, with this in mind lets have a look at Amos 9:9:

“For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

In the New Testament Jesus himself makes the matter clear, as recorded in John 6:37-39 (NKJV),

"...'All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.'..."

 

Indeed the symbolism is the same – God does not change – what is God’s remains God’s and He shall lose nothing! What happened to physical Israel is happening to spiritual Israel and God is showing emphatically that none of His spiritual children shall be lost.

 

Is this saying that since God is guaranteeing our salvation, then there is no need to try to live His way of life – that we can do what we want? Absolutely not! What we have establish so far is that God’s decision about who are His firstborn is final and shall not be changed. Also, according to predestination they shall be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29) and therefore shall be striving to live God's way of life. There are, of course, certain other implications, but first let us pursue the matter of the finality and sovereignty of God and His decisions a little further.

 

What we have just covered is substantially different from anything that has been taught in the Church of God in the past and it may take a little while to absorb, but it is all the Word of God – it is from the Word of God. For the time being let’s return to Heb 12:23 and have a look at what the JFB Commentary has to say about it.

 

Heb 12:23 (KJV)

“…To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,…”

 

Looking again and in more detail at what is said by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

"Written in heaven" – enrolled as citizens there. All who at the coming of "God the Judge of all" (which clause naturally follows) shall be found "written" in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27). Though fighting the good fight on earth, still, in your destiny and life of faith, which substantiates things hoped for, ye are already members of the heavenly citizenship. The spirits of just men made perfect – at the resurrection, when the "Judge" shall appear, and perfect believers' bliss by uniting the glorified body with the spirit: the New Testament hope (Rom 8:20-23; 1Thes 4:16). Those heretofore spirits, but now to be perfected by being clothed upon with the body. In no other passage are the just said to be perfected before the resurrection and the completion of the number of the elect (Rev 6:11). In the resurrection bodies of the saints the spirit shall preponderate over the animal soul.

 

Now, getting to the core of our election, let’s turn to,

Rom 8:29-30

“…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…”

 

These passages are of great interest for a number of reasons:

·        The predestinating requires foreknowing us and the language used demands an acquaintance relationship – two entities knowing each other.

·        Predestinating = foreordaining = sanctification = pre-determining

·        Election is according to the foreknowledge of God (1Pet 1:2)

·        It has been pre-determined that we shall be conformed, justified and glorified. Thus, the guarantee of salvation through the Holy Spirit.

 

That is not just a conditional promise, it is a GUARANTEE.

 

Now, we all know what a guarantee is, but what does God mean when He says He has guaranteed something? Again, this is something that has never been taught in the old WCG or in any of the new Churches of God. This is not a normal guarantee – it is the only personal promise by God that He has enshrined in Law. It was in the Law of the Old Covenant and that Covenant was a type of the spiritual New Covenant. Do you get that brethren?  God has made this guarantee part of His Law !  This is why in Rom 8:29-30 He is always speaking in the past tense God's election of the Saints to salvation is so absolute it is a Law of God. God foreknew us, He predestinated us, He called us, He justified us and in the same language we are certain to be glorified.

 

Please think about that it may just make our present trials and chastisement a little easier to bear!

 

Purpose of sanctification is to learn obedience after the example of Christ: ‘obeying the truth through the Spirit’ (1Pet 1:2).

1Pet 1:2 

“…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:…”

 

The example of Christ:

Heb 5:8  “…Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;…”

Php 2:8   “…And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross…”

John 13:15  “…I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (Example of service, which ultimate service was death)…”

 

This is our purpose in life – to learn obedience to God as His children and God will keep correcting and chastising us until we learn what He wants us to learn. So long as we keep trying, we are saved through the sacrifice of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Give up trying >> we lose the Holy Spirit, lose Christ’s sacrifice. However, we must remember that what God wants us to learn may be entirely different than what we think we should be learning from any particular trial. Most often we will only know what we were supposed to learn after we are resurrected – so do not be disappointed with yourself if you think you are not making any progress. Remember the all-night wrestling "match" between Jacob and the Word – Jacob made absolutely no progress, but he did not give up and that was what God wanted to see.

 

  

The Price of the Guarantee

 

Here we come to the part where the alternative title “Good News and Bad News” may be considered by some to be appropriate. The guarantee is the pleasant part – the price is the not so pleasant part.

 

First let’s look at 2Cor 1:22, where we find out that the guarantee, or pledge, is something very real – the Holy Spirit.

2Cor 1:22  (KJV)

“…Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts…”

 

For this verse we have some interesting comments by Barnes and Clarke.

 

Barnes

Who hath also sealed us. The word used here (from sfragizw) means, to seal up; to close and make fast with a seal, or signet—as, e.g., books, letters, etc., that they may not be read. It is also used in the sense of setting a mark on anything, or a seal, to denote that it is genuine, authentic, confirmed, or approved. In a similar manner Christians are said to be sealed; to be sealed by the Holy Spirit, #Eph 1:13 4:30; that is, the Holy Spirit is given to them to confirm them as belonging to God.

And given the earnest of the Spirit. The word here used (arrabwna) means, properly, a pledge given to ratify a contract; a part of the price, or purchase-money; a first payment; that which confirms the bargain, and which is regarded as a pledge that all the price will be paid.

Clarke

And given the earnest of the Spirit. The arrabwn of the apostle is the same as the erabon of Moses, {#Gen 38:17,18,20}, which we there translate pledge. The word properly signifies an earnest of something promised; a part of the price agreed for between a buyer and seller, by giving and receiving of which the bargain was ratified; OR a deposit, which was to be restored when the thing promised was given. From the use of the term in Genesis, which the apostle puts here in Greek letters, we may at once see his meaning above, and in #Eph 1:14; the Holy Spirit being an earnest in the heart, and an earnest of the promised inheritance means a security given in hand for the fulfilment of all God’s promises relative to grace and eternal life. We may learn from this, that eternal life will be given in the great day to all who can produce the arrhabon, or pledge. He who is found then with the earnest of God’s Spirit in his heart, shall not only be saved from death, but have that eternal life of which it is the pledge, the earnest, and the evidence. Without this arrhabon there can be no glory.

 

As pointed out above, there is more to the seal/pledge than meets the eye. The Holy Spirit may be likened to what God sees on the outside of the envelope, but there is more to it than that. Yes, we must be foreknown of God before any predestinating is done, but He foreknew everyone – which is why some were approved to be the bride of Christ (to be the elect of God) and the others were not. So, part of the seal requires election – if there is no election, then the seal is not the real deal (not meant or intended to last). If there is no election, then there is no chastisement as sons. If there is no chastisement/correction by God for the purpose making His people apply due diligence to addressing shortcomings, then the seal is not the real deal (not meant or intended to last). So, for the seal of the Holy Spirit to be intended to be the genuine seal of the elect of God we must search the Scriptures and find all the elements that make the seal the seal of the elect.

 

 

HOW IT WORKS

 

In making the guarantee work, we must remember that it is God, as the guarantor who MUST make it work – it is not something about which we have to be concerned, except maybe HOW God goes about making it work, because that will impact on the level of comfort in our lives. In the past we have been told to examine ourselves, find out what we are doing wrong and correct ourselves (“with God’s help” tacked onto the end of the exhortation). So that leaves us continually looking for fault in ourselves instead of simply trying to live God’s way of life. We must remember that we put sin out and were justified by God at baptism (symbolized by the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread). What we are supposed to be doing now is following the typology given in the Feast of Unleavened Bread – eating unleavened bread for seven days symbolizing striving to live God’s way for our entire converted lives. This approach is positive and uplifting, while continually looking for sin in our lives is negative, depressing and in clear opposition to God’s command. Let me explain in bullet form – for me, at least, it is much clearer:

 

1.   The putting away of sin was done on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which symbolized our baptism.

2.   So, yes, we are already justified by God, but we are still told to grow towards the stature and maturity of Christ.

3.   Unless the flaws are really obvious (and even then they may not be flaws with which God is overly concerned) there is no way we can know where we ought to be focussing our attention.

4.   We must allow God to draw our attention to the areas of HIS concern and He does this by correction/chastisement.

5.   Even when God does draw our attention to matters in this manner we may not see the relevance and even when the trial is over we may have no idea what we have learnt.

6.   Do not be concerned or distressed, because it is God who must be satisfied with the result of the trial, NOT us.

7.   We simply go on striving to live God’s ways of life, trying to be kind to others, relieving oppression where we can, providing encouragement where we can.

 

Now getting back to exactly how God makes His guarantee work, lets take a look at Scripture,     first turning to,

2Pet 1:10 

“…Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:…”

 

How is this done?

 

If we are truly God’s elect, then HE makes sure it is done. If we are not His elect, then He does not correct us and the Holy Spirit, the guarantee or pledge, is lost or depleted to an insignificant level and cannot be produced (recognized by God) as mentioned by Clarke, above (read again). This is why the 5 foolish virgins were sent away – from the beginning, they never were approved by God (not any of His elect), so He did not correct them, so they were not able to apply due diligence to make their election sure. Without God’s correction these people thought they were doing okay, when all the while their Holy Spirit was being depleted.

  

Heb 12:6-11  (NKJV)

6  For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."

7  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

8  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

9  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

10  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

 

Here is a simple test to see if you believe God or man

 

The Bereans only believed God, not men, and they were commended by Paul for even checking up on what he preached to them.

Act 17:11  (NIV)

“…Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true…”

 

Example:

The Churches of God preach that all leaven shall be removed from your home BEFORE the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but God says you shall remove it ON the first day of the Feast. Even with this simple command whom do you obey, God or man?

 

Ex 12:15  (NKJV)

“…Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel…”

 

If this is the first time you have read this Scripture and have been putting leaven out of your home prior to the Feast for the past 40 years or so, then it may take a while to get rid of the baggage of past incorrect teaching. However, it must be acknowledged sooner or later that what God says is not what you have been previously taught and God is waiting to see if you will obey Him rather than man.

This is exactly what He did with ancient Israel in the wilderness – He tested them to see if they would obey Him and He surely will not treat spiritual Israel any differently, since the stakes are so much higher.

Deut 8:2 

“…Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands…”

 

There never was a promise that living God’s way was going to be easy, or even pleasant for that matter. In fact, God says the very opposite!

1Cor 15:19 

“…If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…”

 

This sentiment, that we must suffer, is repeated in Rom 8:17

“…And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering…”

 

But what is one of the principal reasons for our suffering? God is dealing with us as His children and this must be done because of His guarantee that we shall be saved and inherit the Kingdom.

 

Please go back to,

Heb 12:7-8

“…If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons…”

 

Also, the suffering is for the purpose correction – we are to accept the chastisement of God because we recognize He is doing it for our good and treating us as His children, not bastards. Therefore we can be encouraged, rather than discouraged by God’s trials. We are told to count all our trials with joy, but since we are also told that they do not seem joyous for the present, I simply choose not to be discouraged at this time.

 

James 1:2-4 (NLT)

“…Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing…”

A further word of encouragement may be found in Rom 8:18, 

“…Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later…”

 

 

God’s Absolute Control

 

There would be many times in our lives when we feel insignificant, that God is not watching, the He is not seeing our suffering, that we are probably “too far down the ladder” to be concerned about too much. Nothing could be further from the truth and to begin this section I would like to quote from what God caused David to write, please turn to:

Psa 139:16 (NLT)

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

 

God had mapped out every experience David was going to have in his life before he was even born and we are no different (God is no respecter of persons – Act 10:34, Rom 2:11, Eph 6:9 and 1Pet 1:17). We also are the children of God !

 

Some of us may complain about how our physical parents may have had our physical lives mapped out for us (interfering with OUR lives we thought) – deciding what school we were to attend, whether we would attend university and become a professional, or just finish school and become a tradesman or an office clerk. That level of planning is microscopic compared to how God deals with us – giving us the example of David, who had ALL his days planned by God. Trust this brethren, God’s stake in our lives is way too high for anything affecting our salvation to be left to chance.

 

God believes in detail and lets take a look at a couple of verses where we can be reminded of just that:

Matt 10:30 

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Note, this is NOT saying He can number the hairs on your head, but that He has already numbered them – obviously His job in this area gets easier as we get older. Nevertheless, it is done – God again displaying His interest in absolute detail.

 

Psa 147:4 (NKJV)

“He counts the number of the stars; he calls them all by name.”

We cannot even number the stars, but God has said that He has not only numbered them, He has also named them! Also Note, this is NOT saying He can name them, but that He has already named them. Unlike the hairs on our heads, this doesn’t get easier with time, because new stars are being created continually.

 

 Now that we have some perspective about God, lets regain some perspective about where we are in the scheme of things.  We are in hell!

1.  God cast Satan to Earth (Ezek 28:17)

2.  God later says He cast Satan to hell (Tartaroo) (2Pet 2:4)

3.  Tartaroo is both a place and condition of restraint – in human terms a prison.

4.  Putting 1, 2 & 3 together, Planet Earth is God’s prison for Satan, demons and humans.

 

Yes, we are in hell and God is our prison warden. How much free will does a prisoner have – not much – he can choose whether or not to obey, but must suffer the consequences, correction/chastisement, if he does not obey or learn his lessons. The prisoner is there for a purpose and the warden sees to it that purpose is fulfilled.

 

 

Are we alone in our trials?

What does God really think of us?

 

Heb 11:36-40

36  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.

37  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented––

38  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

39  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,

40  God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

 

No, we are not alone – God’s people have always undergone severe trials and God has said that the world is not worthy of His people!  This is very different from what has been emphasized in the past and in all our trials we can somehow lose sight of these important matters.

 

In all of this God only asks one thing of us – it was the same thing He expected of Jacob in his all-night wrestle with the Word. Even though Jacob had absolutely no chance of winning, the sinew in his hip was shrunk just to give him a little (actually quite a lot) of pain to struggle against.

 

God expects us to keep on striving, to endure, to stick with Him – this He has told us many times, probably because in our trials we need continual reminding.

Gal 6:9 

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Matt 24:13 

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

John 6:27 

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”

2Cor 1:6 

"And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

2Thes 1:4 

"So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:”

2Tim 2:3 

"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

 

Please Note:

Although we must continually try to live God's way, the test is to endure God's correction, it is NOT to overcome sin there was only one who overcame and that was Jesus!

 

So, yes, we do have God’s guarantee of salvation – which thing you have not been told before – but the price is we must endure God’s correction, which we may not understand during or even after the trial. God says that if we do this one thing then our salvation is guaranteed.

 

Brethren, if we do this one thing, then we shall be in the first ascension, which event is pictured by this Day of Pentecost

 

 

 

List of Encouraging Scripture:

 

Now, let me read out a Scripture list relating to this matter so you can know that God left us with significant encouragement and that there is purpose for the trials in our lives. For now I will just give you the list – please read them in full in your own time. 

Jam 1:12  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Matt 5:10  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:11  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matt 5:12  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Luk 6:22  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

Luk 6:23  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

Act 5:41  And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Rom 8:17  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Rom 8:18  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Php 1:29  For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

1Pet 4:13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

 

 

Now, to answer the question that the previous administration has never been able to answer.

 

Why Were We Chosen As The Elect Of God?

 

Many have wondered about this question and even enquired of men who were supposed to have knowledge, only to receive the response that you were elected as a matter of God’s grace. That answer, while basically correct, is entirely insufficient! It implies that God had no reason other than to satisfy a whim and is actually quite an insult – God never does anything without a very good reason and our election is no different.

 

Please turn back to,

Rom 8:29-30

“…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…”

 

This Scripture tells us what happened, but gets nowhere near why it happened. God foreknew us and that was a pre-condition to being predestinated. According to the I.S.B.E. the foreknowledge in this case cannot mean a mere prescience or foresight of faith. This would not only contradict Paul's view of the absolutely sovereign and gracious character of election, but is diametrically opposed to the context of this passage. It can only mean one living entity knowing another living entity.

 

However, we were not the only ones whom God knew. The difference is, God approved of us to the extent of guaranteeing our salvation, while of the others Christ said that he never approved of them.   Why ?

 

At this stage it is probably a good idea to briefly revisit the doctrine of premortal existence, but just in note form as it is part of a previous sermon:

 

1.   We were foreknown of God and elected before the foundation of the world, Rom 8:29-30

“…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…”

Eph 1:4-5 

“…According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,…”

I.S.B.E. Extract

"...it is manifestly impossible to regard it as a mere intellectual foresight, not only because of Paul's doctrine that election is absolutely sovereign (Eph 1:3-4; Rom 9:11; 2 Tim 1:9), but also because of the contexts in which the term occurs. In Rom 8:29-30 the word "foreknow" occurs in immediate connection with God's predestination of the objects of salvation. Those whom God foreknew, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son. Now the foreknowledge in this case cannot mean a mere prescience or foresight of faith or love in the subjects of salvation, which faith or love is supposed to determine the Divine predestination. This would not only contradict Paul's view of the absolutely sovereign and gracious character of election, but is diametrically opposed to the context of this passage..."

It can only mean a living entity foreknowing a living entity.

2.   The Church existed spiritually, as did Christ.

2Clement 14:2

“...And the Books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but hath been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that it might save us...”.

3.   The entire Church existed prior to creation of the universe and all things were created for the Church

Shepherd of Hermas 8:1

"...'Who do you think the elderly woman from whom you received the little book was?'............'Who is she?', I said. 'The Church', he replied. I said to him, 'Why then is she elderly?' 'Because,' he said, 'she was created before all things: therefore is she elderly and for her sake the universe was formed.'..."

5.   We were diminished from the Godhead (Elohim) for a short while,

 Psa 8:5

“For a little while You have diminished him from the Godhead” (Translation from Young's Literal Translation and Clarke's Commentary)

6.   Jesus was put on Earth to learn obedience as a son (Heb 5:8). We also have to learn the same lesson in following the example of Christ (John 13:15-16).

Heb 5:8

"...through being a Son, did learn by the things which he suffered – the obedience,..." [YLT].

John 13:15-16

"...For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him..."

 

That short summary brings us up to date with the present and now we can go back and continue with the question as to WHY we chosen as the elect of God.

 

To put it simply, we agreed to the plan of salvation, while the others were opposed to it. This is not conjecture, I am not making up any stories, this is what God tells us. Please turn to,

Rom 8:20 (KJV)

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,”

 

Again the KJV has a number of words where the translation is not accurate and with any translation, it only has to be off slightly to have a totally different meaning from what was intended by the original text.

 

Why is the word "creature" used?

Quite simply, ALL spirit beings were referred to as creatures because humans did not exist until they were created a little less than 6,000 years ago. Spirit beings are not called creatures because of misdeeds or anything else.

 

Of the phrase “not willingly” Barnes comments:

‘Not willingly’: Not voluntarily. It is not a matter of choice.”

 

The phrase “not willingly” is passive and therefore does not display the intended meaning. Even Barnes’ says that  “not voluntarily” is too passive. Strong states that the word “not” (Greek ookh) is the “absolute negative adverb”. Accordingly, the correct translation would have been “opposed”. The creation was opposed to the part of the plan of salvation that required it to become physical, subject to decay and die.

 

The New Living Translation (NLT) is superior in that it has “against its will”.

Rom 8:20-22 (NLT)

“…Against its will, all creation [sentient creatures] was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation [sentient creatures] looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all [sentient creatures] has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…”

 

Also, many commentaries apply the “creation” (in Rom 8) to the whole of physical creation, but this is an unfortunate, if not absurd, misunderstanding because only sentient beings have a will and therefore only they can opposed or support a plan. The absurdity of the whole of creation being opposed to God’s plan is also brought out in the prophecy that at the end of the plan of salvation the whole world shall be burned up and everything physical in it shall be destroyed. Accordingly, why would anything eagerly await their destruction? Clearly, the statement only refers to sentient beings.

Isa 65:17

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

 

Now, returning to Rom 8:20-22, note here that God is making a significant difference between His children and the rest of sentient creation (the other spiritual creatures). With this difference being made we can also see that that while the “creatures” were opposed to the plan of salvation, the spiritual creatures who were to become the elect were in favour of the plan. This is the only place in the Bible where there is an indication of a reason for our election – that we were in favour of His plan while the rest were not.

 

So, why were we chosen as the elect of God?  It is because we sincerely agreed with Him.

 

Because of our decision to support God and His way, including His plan of salvation, He has guaranteed our salvation. We may not like the way He does it, but we are guaranteed salvation.

 

 

Pentecost, this day, pictures that salvation coming to fruition.