AT THE TIME Of Christ's return to earth in supreme power and glory, God's Word says to us, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7).
The very much alive Jesus Christ is coming to marry His Church. But, brethren, WE ARE NOT READY, and it's high time we WAKE UP and begin to realize that fact! I know that God has now awakened me to realize it, and has laid on me the URGENCY of sounding the warning with all the power He gives me!
A chosen generationBrethren, we are DIFFERENT from other people! You are different from your next-door neighbor! God says we are a different people.
"But," He says through Peter, "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Pet. 2:9).
There is a WHOLE DYNAMIC MIND-JARRING SERMON IN THAT ONE VERSE!
LISTEN! HEED! Jesus said,"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). Probably your next-door neighbor has not been called by God. If so, he simply cannot UNDERSTAND what you can — what Christ has opened your mind to see.
When God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He CLOSED the entrance so NONE but the precious FEW specially called could have access to God's Holy Spirit, symbolized by the "tree of life."
God has called NO ONE JUST to receive salvation (eternal life). Everyone God has called has been called for a special purpose preparatory for His KINGDOM.
I wonder how many — if ANY — of our brethren understand that GOD WAS NOT TRYING TO "SAVE" THE WORLD in the years between Adam and Noah! Instead of SAVING the world in Noah's day, GOD CAUSED ALL TO BE DROWNED EXCEPT THE EIGHT IN NOAH'S ARK! Of course they will be brought back to mortal physical life in the Great White Throne Judgment. Then they may be saved and given eternal life if they repent, turn to GOD'S WAY OF LOVE, PEACE AND ETERNAL LIFE.
Jesus Christ did not come to save the world over 1,900 years ago. He did not plead with ANY, as Billy Graham does, to "make their decision for Christ," or to "give their hearts to Him." The living Christ has NOT been trying to save the world since. He is NOT trying to save it today, Billy Graham and hundreds of other evangelists to the contrary notwithstanding!
Called for a special purposeBut God has called a VERY FEW for a SPECIAL PURPOSE! And everyone He did call Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc., was called for a SPECIAL MISSION preparing for the KINGDOM OF GOD! YOU were called for a very SPECIAL PURPOSE — not JUST for salvation and eternal life, but for a part in backing Christ's apostle preparing for the KINGDOM.
What about the next-door neighbor who has not been called? He simply is not being judged as you are. He will be called when he has no Satan to resist and overcome, but he probably will not be called to reign or rule with Christ, either.
Look again at the passage in I Peter 2:9, "Ye are a CHOSEN generation." God has specially called and chosen you! And WHY? To stand loyally behind Christ's apostle and HELP in whatever way He opens to you in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! Yes, you were specially called for a JOB to do! Not JUST to "get saved" — to receive eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
I sometimes wonder how many of you really comprehend what I have so many times said! God is NOT calling everybody to salvation — YET! Have not all, without realizing it, simply 'accepted the one MOST GENERALLY BELIEVED FALSE TEACHING — that God is now desperately trying to get everybody "saved"? That this is the ONLY "day of salvation" that after Christ returns IT WILL BE TOO LATE?
I think all Protestant churches — Methodist (if not modernist), Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregationalists, Church of Christ — all of them, believe now is the only day of salvation.
But if Jesus told the truth when He said, "No MAN CAN COME TO ME, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44), then most — those uncalled by God — simply CAN'T come to Christ now, and there is no other way to salvation and eternal life, EXCEPT through Jesus Christ!
Let me dwell a bit on that wonderful verse, "But ye" (who are called and in God's Church) are "a CHOSEN GENERATION, a royal priesthood." Why "ROYAL"? We have been SPECIALLY chosen by God to have opportunity to qualify to SIT WITH CHRIST IN HIS THRONE (Rev. 3:21). We, called now, have to battle and overcome Satan, but, in so doing, we qualify to be a KING or a priest (Rev. 5:10). On the other hand, those called AFTER Christ comes to reign will not have to overcome Satan — yet there is no promise of becoming "royalty" by those called after the beginning of the Kingdom on through eternity!
Next, in I Peter 2:9, "an HOLY NATION, a PECULIAR PEOPLE.
"We are to become DIFFERENT! What makes us different? We are ENERGIZED by the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD.
Are we, today, a HOLY Church? I don't want to accuse or judge. But surely not the deeply HOLY people Let me dwell on that a bit.we must be if we the Church shall have made ourselves ready. And we must be DIFFERENT!
How are humans different?Let me dwell on that a bit. Are HUMANS different from dogs,cats, horses, cows? Not only in form and shape, but the BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IS MENTAL. We have MINDS that can THINK, REASON, MEDITATE, MAKE CHOICES AND DECISIONS!
Horses and cows have BRAINS almost exactly in design, form, shape, like ours! Elephants, dolphins, whales, have LARGER brains, and if not entirely as perfect physically, at least 95 percent as good quality as the human brain. But they do not have one thousandth of 1 percent as much thinking, reasoning, knowing, designing power, as we humans.
WHY are we so much better than they, mentally? Our BRAIN is no better — to speak of. The DIFFERENCE is that God put a SPIRIT (in form of essence like air or water — not a "ghost" or spirit person) in every human.
BUT — and this word "BUT" is a very big three-letter word sometimes! BUT God made us to NEED ANOTHER SPIRIT — the Holy Spirit of GOD, that comes from the very PERSON of God, as a PART of Him.
In other words, God did not make Adam COMPLETE. I have said before that God is CREATOR — yet He creates in DUAL STAGES! What God created, as described in the first chapter of Genesis, was the PHYSICAL man and woman. But God was not THROUGH creating humans. The PHYSICAL person is merely the physical MATERIAL with which God may BEGIN the SPIRITUAL creation — that is, fully developed SPIRITUAL, HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER!
Only the few called now
Now Adam and Eve REJECTED God's HOLY SPIRIT, and deliberately decided to remain INCOMPLETE — that is, PHYSICAL ONLY.
God drove them OUT from the Garden of Eden and barred the entrance so NO MAN, unless specially CALLED by God, could have access to God or His Holy Spirit.
God has called ONLY A COMPARATIVE VERY FEW — of which I hope YOU who are reading this are one! Apparently God called "righteous Abel" — second son of Adam and Eve. Enoch walked with God. God called Noah, Abraham, Moses and, in a sense, the WHOLE ANCIENT CHILDREN OF ISRAEL — but God did NOT make His Holy Spirit accessible to Israelites, EXCEPT THEIR PROPHETS.
Now I assume, and surely fervently HOPE, that God has called You who are reading this!
If so, and you have received and are being led by His Holy Spirit, you are NO LONGER LIKE others around you, possibly your next-door neighbors.
Does that make you BETTER than they? Of your own self, NO! Yet You ARE DIFFERENT — for you have now that second needed Spirit — the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, which Adam and Eve rejected.
And (assuming you have and are being really LED BY the HOLY SPIRIT) that makes you as DIFFERENT from others around you as THEY are different from cows, elephants and dogs.
They are different from animals because they have that ONE HUMAN SPIRIT. But THEY are confined to knowing and thinking ONLY about physical things.
If YOU have received the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, that opens up your mind to comprehend SPIRITUAL things, to have SPIRITUAL knowledge, to have a mind that THINKS about both physical and spiritual things and values.
So that makes you one of a PECULIAR people — DIFFERENT from others. But remember that before you received God's Holy Spirit, you were just another human like your next-door neighbors, and you certainly should not feel any BETTER than they today — but you should be THANKFUL to the GOD OF GLORY that He has called you — made you PART of this CHOSEN GENERATION, and put within you HIS GIFT!
And even after you received God's Holy Spirit, He expected you to "GROW IN GRACE AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!
Church to be without blemish
But now let us look a little further to be sure whether we, individually, as part of a complete SPIRITUAL ORGANISM — GOD'S CHURCH — are READY for His coming when we shall rise to, meet Him in the clouds of the air.
"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . . That he might present it to himself a GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT, OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING; BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH" (Eph.5:25-27).
Brethren, each look at your own self. Are you without a single spiritual blemish?
When we REPENT, BELIEVE and receive God's GIFT of the HOLY SPIRIT, we must confess we are NOT holy, without spiritual spot or wrinkle, or a single spiritual blemish. But we must "GROW in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (II Pet. 3:18).
Brethren,WE ARE SIMPLY NOT YET READY for that divine wedding, as a part of God's Church, with a HOLY and PERFECT CHRIST!
But DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! No one is that perfect when first converted. The Christian life is a life of constant GROWTH!
PREPARING for God's Kingdom
Let me mention as briefly as I can three of Jesus' parables about the Christian life, PREPARING for God's Kingdom.
First, take the parable of the sower and the seed. In the first three categories, the seed (the preaching of God's Word) either took no root at all, or those hearing it had no depth of mind and purpose and quickly fell away, or became offended, dissident, bitter at persecution or even at GOD'S TRUTH. None of these went on to finally make it into God's Kingdom.
But the fourth group were on fertile ground — the seed of God's Word took root and brought forth a harvest of spiritual righteousness — the spots, wrinkles and spiritual blemishes were gradually overcome and removed. Even so, some grew spiritually more than others — some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold and some a hundredfold.
UNDERSTAND THIS! Those who produced spiritually only thirtyfold will be given eternal life in the Kingdom. We are NOT SAVED BY OUR WORKS — but we ARE rewarded according to our works. The parables of the pounds and of the talents show that.
Jesus pictured Himself (Luke 19) as a man going to God's throne in heaven to be crowned and officially given God's Kingdom. He gave each of 10 servants (symbolic of the 10 tribes of the house of Israel) a pound each. This represented giving each one at conversion one unit of the HOLY SPIRIT.
On His return, crowned and with supreme divine AUTHORITY to rule God's Kingdom over the whole earth, He called each to accounting. One had increased the one unit of God's Holy Spirit, in standing solidly back of God's apostle in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and helping, praying fervently and remaining loyal — in Bible study, increasing his own spiritual knowledge, 10 times what he started out with.
Earth's King Christ rewarded him by making him ruler over 10 cities. Another had increased his one unit of God's Spirit five times. He didn't get as great a reward he was given rule over five cities — but he was only REWARDED according to his works — he was "saved" by grace — he didn't earn his salvation.
A third one had not grown in grace and in Christ's knowledge — nor had he contributed to GOD'S WORK by tithes, fervent praying or loyalty. HE HAD THE ONE UNIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ORIGINALLY GIVEN AS GOD'S GIFT TAKEN AWAY. HE DID NOT GET HIS SALVATION OR ETERNAL LIFE —
So, as I said, DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! True, time is now short. But certain prophesied events still must occur before Christ comes — though He might come any second to any one of us — if we were taken by sudden death.
But to conclude, GOD'S CHURCH IS NOT YET READY! But God brought me back from death in August of 1977, and has since been using me in VOLUMINOUS WRITING, and in taking over DIRECT PERSONAL LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCH, THE COLLEGE AND THE WORK — and through me Christ our LIVING HEAD has been turning God's Church around, PUTTING IT BACK ON GOD'S TRACK!
Church is making rapid progress
The Church as a whole IS MAKING RAPID AND VITALLY IMPORTANT PROGRESS! Christ NOW is moving to put His Church back on God's track SPIRITUALLY!
He has allowed the terrible persecution from the HUMAN government of the state of California to come upon us to TRY US, to WAKE US UP — to cause us to START ANEW AND AFRESH in His Work.
The few (six) members and expelled members (now all out) thought that, when they and their attorney managed to persuade a deputy attorney general, and then, with him, in an unlawful SECRET meeting with Judge [Jerry] Pacht in his chambers (his private office), won official assurance of the power of the largest state in population in the Union, that they could DESTROY this Church the judge called "a bowl of spiders."
It was a MASSIVE strike. Without warning, and with a number of ARMED LAW ENFORCEMENT MEN, they descended on the headquarters of GOD'S CHURCH!
But, brethren, the entire state of California is a tiny speck compared to GOD and the supernatural power of God.
Do you suppose that, when news was telephoned to me that I panicked, in FEAR?
No! NEVER! I always remember that those with us are more and mightier than those (the whole LAW ENFORCEMENT — even the military National Guard) of America's largest state!
Brethren, I KNOW the supreme almighty divine POWER Jesus Christ has set behind His chosen apostle! They arrested the apostle Peter more than once — threw him in jail — even bound him with CHAINS. But Christ sent an ANGEL to break the chains, and the prison locks and lead Peter and John out of the prison — to carry on with the mission God gave them.
Brethren, we must be the same kind of staunch, fearless, STRONG soldiers and ambassadors for Christ that Peter, John and Paul were.
God ALLOWED the State of California to go as far as they did. And the TRUTH is, the judges, lawyers and state officials now are looking for some way to GET OUT OF THIS without losing too much face!
But I don't think the all-powerful Jesus Christ whom I serve is going to let them off so easily!
Actually, what they have done — and the CBS most-listened-to program 60 Minutes have only CATAPULTED God's WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD into the public limelight a thousand times more than we were before!
I am preparing a series of full-page ads in leading newspapers — Los Angeles, Calif., Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago, Ill., Tribune and dozens of others. People will read them, because now EVERYBODY has heard of the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD. One ad will have as a headline: Just What IS the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD?
The ad will tell them briefly the shameful, unconstitutional thing the State of California did, and also that this Church is the ONLY VOICE ON EARTH PROCLAIMING TO THIS DYING WORLD ITS ONLY HOPE! No one for over 1,900 years has proclaimed the message brought from God by JESUS CHRIST!
People are going to hear the GOSPEL now as NEVER BEFORE.
But all this will take MONEY — more money than our membership can give. Beside giving all we can, we must PRAY MORE FERVENTLY, MORE IN EARNEST — MORE PASSIONATELY THAN EVER BEFORE!
by Herbert W. Armstrong Good News June/July 1979
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