Updated!!! 6/9/2016
Part One of a Bible Study Series Revealing the: "Mystery of PENTECOST"

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Mystery of PENTECOST...
The One True Religion &
Church of God

Why so many different religions?
Why is the world divided by religion?
Why so many different denominations and sects of religions?
Is there One True Religion and One True Church?
If so what and where is it?
What is the purpose of the Church and Why Pentecost?
What does Pentecost reveal about the mysteries of Revelation?

Muslims attack America - 9-11-01

Why is the world so divided? War and terrorism are constant reminders of the political, religious and ethnic differences in the world. Why so many different religions, denominations and sects? Why so many wars in the name of religion? Is there One True Religion? If so, what is it?

How can true and lasting peace come to our world divided by religious differences, as well as by political, racial, cultural, gender, and every other imaginable difference? Today almost one-third of the world's 6 billion people live in societies that profess some form of Christianity, claiming to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, which sprang out of the Old Testament Scriptures. A much smaller number follow Judaism, believing in one supreme God, which traces its roots to Moses, Abraham and Noah and the God "Yahovah Elohim," meaning the Eternal Almighty Ones in the Old Testament.
Another fifth of the world's population falls under the influence of Islam, calling themselves Muslims, who submit to the teachings of Muhammad who rose up in the 7th century A.D. His followers claim him to be heir to the religious authority of Judaism and Christianity. Other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and the many tribal religions around the world claim most of the remaining religious adherents believing in a netherworld or in supernatural powers or forces called spirits, deities, gods, angels and demons.

Many more today, especially in the more developed and educated countries, choose to reject organized religions professing to be agnostic saying they don't know if God and spirits exist. And some profess atheism, denying the existence of God or supernatural or spiritual powers and entities altogether. Many profess a faith in the philosophy of science and some the humanistic philosophy or religion of the supremacy of man (see "Choices of Life").

From ancient times to the present religion has been a major factor for both good and evil. Benefits have resulted from those teaching and promoting good moral principles. Its evils are seen from those who use religion to promote corruption, immorality and deceptions, and in the oppression by despotic religious leaders who claim either to be a "god" or claim that their authority to rule comes from their gods and "holy" books. But then agnostics and atheists often seek to rule promising freedom from what they call "superstitious" religious beliefs and moral codes of a Supernatural God. Others promote their ideas of religious freedom or freedom from religion which amount to anarchy that would allow everyone to do whatever is right in their own eyes in pursuing the riches and pleasures of this life. Some would establish totalitarian states, such as we have seen under the banner of atheistic communism, socialism, fascism, nazism, etc., promising a utopian society, howbeit under their not so divine despotic authority.

Religions often employ emotional appeal and fear to gain and keep their followings, but seldom follow-up with sound logic, reasoning or proofs. Atheistic communist leaders have called religion, "the opium of the people," perhaps rightly so for much of religion. Religion has often been the major influence used by political powers in their conquests and wars. In the 2,000 years since Christ established the New Testament Church, there have been many persecutions, crusades, wars, jihads, inquisitions, etc. Millions have been murdered and martyred in the name of religion by perpetrators claiming to do their evil deeds in the name of God, Allah, Muhammad (as Muslim terrorists today are doing), and even Jesus Christ (as carried out through Catholic crusades and inquisitions). Jesus warned His disciples, saying,

"Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ' (saying they are or represent the Messiah), and will deceive many...
"Then they shall deliver you up to tribulation and kill you; and you shall be hated [among] all nations [because of] My name"  (Mat 24:5,9).
"They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he is doing God service"
(John 16:2).

In the beginning of Christianity Christians were being persecuted by Jews and martyred by rulers and pagans of the Roman Empire. But by the early fourth century Roman Catholicism became the religion of the Roman Empire and Roman Catholics began persecuting dissenting Christians, Jews and pagans - while at the same time adopting many of the traditions and festivals of the pagans, such as the winter Saturnalia and spring fertility festival of Ishtar, renaming them as Christian.

In the 7th century the Islamic movement founded by Muhammad began uniting Arabic tribes of the Middle East with the sword and the new religion of submission to Allah and expanded rapidly conquering Syria, Jerusalem, Persia, Egypt and Babylon. In the following centuries Muslims fought against the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Catholics under the Roman Empire then crusaded against Muslims. Catholics in the Middle Ages also organized inquisitions and crusades and persecuted and martyred Christians beginning the Protestant Reformation not conforming to Catholic authority. Today it seems little has changed except for a few lulls in the fighting now and then as one side or the other regroups under new leaders. Catholics in Ireland, until a recent truce, fought against Protestants and Protestants against Catholics. Muslims fight against Jews, Christians, themselves and everyone - all in the name of religion - and on and on it goes with ever more powerful weapons, today including weapons of mass destruction (WMD's) - when it will end no one knows.

Has God forgotten this world?

How can and will the world ever find peace and become united? What will happen to all those who have died, not having been "saved"? Has God forgotten this world, or does He even care?

The Truth is, God does care greatly and has not forgotten this world, but this world has forgotten God! How? In not keeping His Word as recorded in the Bible - His written Word given as a guidebook for the benefit of man.

The Word of God, which includes both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, contains some of the earliest written records of man. No other book can prove its authority from God by its righteous laws, verifiable truths, science, history and prophecies. No other book than the Holy Bible reveals the truth about the spiritual realm of God, or of the origins of life and the physical universe, or of the causes and solutions of all this world's evils. It alone claims and proves itself to be inspired by God -

"written by "holy ("hagios," meaning morally pure, sanctified or devoted to God) men of God…as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet 1:16-21).
"...given by inspiration of God...profitable for (its) doctrine (teachings), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17).

The Bible, as recorded in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek, is GOD's complete HANDBOOK for HUMANITY. It is the "Book of the Law of God," the "Book of Life" written for mankind for all times (Neh 8:1-8; Mk 12:24-27; Rev 20:12) to teach man the way of peace and prosperity and unselfish love (Deut 4:1,5-14,39-40; Lev 19:1-4,9-18). In it the Eternal God says,

"Now…listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live…
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor shall you take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut 4:2).
"Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good in the sight of the Lord ("YHWH,""Yahweh," "Yahovah," Jehovah, etc.
meaning Eternal) your God ("Elohim," a collective plural word like family, team, church, nation meaning Almighty Ones - See "Who, What is God")
"You shall not at all do as we are doing here today - every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes…
"Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it"
(Deut 12:8,28,32).

The Holy Scriptures alone - the Old and New Testaments - reveal the TRUTH about God and the purpose He is working out on this earth and how man can (and shall in the future) live together in peace and prosperity and joy. The Scriptures reveal God's plan for the salvation of all mankind, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindu's, atheists, and everyone who ever lived in the past, present and future, through a succession of 7 prophetic "feasts ("moed," meaning appointed times) of the Lord," Holy Days, Sabbaths, to be kept annually as briefly outlined in Leviticus 23.

"These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times…'" (Lev 23:1,4…).
The prophetic "Feasts (appointed times) of the Lord" are all about teaching God's laws (summed up as the way of love - Rom 13:8-10) for peace and prosperity; and about judgment, mercy, faith, freedom, salvation; and about the Family and Kingdom of God (Neh 8; Isa 61:1-3,10-11; Mat 7:12; 23:23). They proclaim the Gospel (GOOD NEWS) of the soon coming Kingdom of God and God's plan of Salvation for all mankind.

God's 7,000 year Plan

At the creation of man, God ordained the 7 day weekly cycle and Sabbaths as a time of rest, fellowship with God and one another, and learn God's ways (Gen 2:1-3; Mark 2:27-28; Heb 10:25; 1 John 1:3). After man's rebellion in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) the weekly Sabbaths became prophetic of the timetable of God's overall masterplan of salvation - seven days being representative of the entire plan with each day as a thousand years or 7,000 years to its completion (see Psa 90:4; 2 Pet 3:1-13). The first six days (6,000 years) represent the time, beginning when the first human family rejected God's authority and rule over them, that God is allowing man to experiment and go his own ways and form his own science (knowledge - Gen 2:17), cultures, religions and governments (Ex 20:9 - see "Mankind's Greatest Experiment"). The last or seventh day represents God's Sabbath, the final 1,000 years when God will re-establish the Kingdom of God over the earth to complete His plan for bringing man into His Divine Family (see Psa 90:4; Eph 3:8-15; 2 Pet 3:8-13; Rev 20, 21 & 22).

The 7 annual Feasts ("moed," appointed times for holy convocations, to come and assemble before God - Lev 23:1-4; Neh 8:1-2,7-12) are Sabbath Holy Days, which reveal the details of God's great plan of salvation. The first two annual feasts - the "Passover" and "Days of unleavened Bread" - graphically portrayed by the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, reveal the need for deliverance and redemption from evil and sin through Christ's intervention and sacrifice, the need to be freed from oppression and the bondage to sin and our need for repentance (turning away from sin and to God) to come out from the way of sin and death  - to be reconciled to God and to one another (Rom 5:8-11 - see "Passover…The Beginning of Salvation").

The third annual Holy Day (feast) ordained by God, revealed in the Bible, is called "Pentecost" in the New Testament (Acts 2:1). In the Old Testament it is called the "Feast of Weeks" and "Feast of Harvest of the Firstfruits" (Ex 23:16; 34:22; Deut 16:10). Without repentance and redemption from sin by turning to God pictured by the first two Holy Day Feasts, there would be no spiritual harvest of the firstfruits pictured by Pentecost.    

Pentecost is significant to two of the world's great religions - Judaism from the Old Testament and Christianity in the New Testament. Lamentably, the true meaning and significance of Pentecost is a mystery even to most sects and denominations of those faiths, and few actually understand or keep it as commanded.

What do the Old and New Testaments reveal about the purpose and meaning of the Holy Day of Pentecost and the One True Religion and Church of God?

Table of Contents:
Mystery of PENTECOST - Return to Top

PART I - Pentecost & The One True Religion & Church of God Coming Soon:

PART II - The Nation and Priesthood of Old Testament Israel

PART III - Israel and the New Testament (Covenant) Church

PART IV - The Apocalypse - Prophecies to the Church & Countdown to Pentecost

PART V - Why the Confusion Counting PENTECOST?

Why Pentecost - Harvest of the Firstfruits?
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When man sins they reject God's authority as Creator and wisdom and love to rule over them, essentially cutting themselves off from God and eternal life in the Kingdom and Family of God (Isa 59:2; Eze 18:4,20; Rom 6:23). But God is a loving Father and the love of God is revealed in His plan to redeem man from sin and eternal death (Lk 15:11-32; John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:7-16).

The Feast ("moed," meaning appointed time) of Pentecost, called the Feast of the Harvest of the Firstfruits in the OT, represents a spiritual harvest - the calling, training and selecting of those who will become the firstfruits, or firstborn, the first to receive the gift of eternal life and enter into the Kingdom of God (Ex 4:22; Mat 25:34; Heb 12:22-23; Rom 6:23; Rev 14:4; 17:14; 22:14). The firstfruits of salvation are those,

"who have the firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23),
the first of those who, "will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:21).
"These are the ones who are not defiled… These are the ones who follow the Lamb (Jesus Christ, the Messiah - Ex 12:3-5; John 1:29) wherever He goes.
"These are redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
"And in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God"
(Rev 14:4-5).
"…and they that are with Him who are called, and chosen and faithful" (Rev 17:14).
They are "those who keep His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and that they may enter through the gates into the city (new Jerusalem)" (Rev 22:14).
They are symbolically called the bride and wife of Christ (Jer 3:14; Mat 25:1-13; Rev 19:7; 21:9; 22:17).

There are 7 annual biblical Holy Day Feasts (appointed times), which coincide with the spring and fall harvests of the agricultural seasons around Jerusalem, that depict God's plan of salvation. They represent two spiritual harvests (the spring and fall) of the children of God into His Kingdom. The Day of Pentecost pictures the spring harvest and its completion as the Harvest of the Firstfruits in God's plan of salvation.

Pentecost, the New Testament name for this feast day, comes from the Greek word "Pentekoste," meaning "count fifty," derived from the Old Testament,

"count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath" (Lev 23:16).

What is significant about counting the 7 weeks and one day to the fiftieth day - Pentecost? This is a countdown in God's plan through 7 prophetic weeks or eras of the New Testament Church to Christ's return to restore the Kingdom of God on earth, which are revealed in the Book of Revelation (Rev 2 & 3). In the 7th week the calling and harvest of the firstfruits of salvation would be complete (more on that later). The counting of the 7 weeks to Pentecost could not begin until the Passover Sacrifice was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. After the Passover, the Lord said to Moses:

"When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest (see Joshua 3,4 & 5).
"He shall wave (Hebrew "nuwph," meaning lift up - John 3:14; 20:17) the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath (during the Days of Unleavened Bread) the Priest shall wave it…
"You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever…
"And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
"Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.
"You shall bring from your habitations two wave loaves... They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord"
(Lev 23:9-11,14-17).

The Passover sacrifice was necessary to redeem man from sin before the spiritual harvest and outpouring of the Holy Spirit could be completed (see "Passover…The Beginning of Salvation"). The spiritual "Harvest of the Firstfruits" figuratively began after the Passover during the Days of Unleavened Bread with the Wave Sheaf offering on the day after the weekly Sabbath, and continues for 7 weeks and one day (fifty days) to the Day of Pentecost (Lev 23:10-22 - see "Why the Confusion Counting Pentecost"). Though some had been called to become firstfruits beginning from Adam's time, their redemption could not be completed until,

"Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5:7).

Wavesheaf offering

Why the Wave Sheaf Offering & Two Wave Loaves?
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What does the Wave Sheaf offering represent? A Sheaf of the Firstfruits of the spring harvest, waved before the Lord during the Days of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:5-15), was prophetic of Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of Man, who became "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20,47) - and the beginning of the spiritual harvest of the firstfruits (1 Cor 15:23; Col 1:18).

In His great love for man whom He created God sent Jesus ("Yahoshua," "Yeshua," or "Joshua," meaning the Lord (Eternal) who saves - see "Who is Jesus Christ?") Christ ("Mashiyach," Anointed One, the Messiah) into the world,

"that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).

Jesus Christ, who was the Word who was with God the Father and with whom God created all things (John 1:1-3,14; Col 1:16-18), voluntarily gave up His divine power and glory with God, humbling Himself to become the Son of Man and offered His life in service to God and man (Phil 2:5-8; Heb 2:9-18; 4:14-16; 5:5-11) as the,

"Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world"(John 1:29,36),
the "Lamb without blemish" (without sin - Ex 12:5),
"and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross", as a sin offering for us (Phil 2:5-8; Heb 10:4-12; 1 Pet 1:19).
As the Son of Man, Jesus Christ voluntarily dedicated His life as a burnt offering in service to God (see "The Burnt Offering"). Then He, as the Son of Man, gave His life to fulfill the purpose of all the sacrifices and offerings and became "Our Passover…sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5:7; Heb 9:8-15; 10:1-23), thus paying the death penalty for our sins to reconcile us to God, "demonstrat(ing) (God's) own love toward us," and setting an example for us to follow (Rom 5:6-11; John 13:34; 1 Pet 2:21-25 - see "Why Old Testament Sacrifices?").

After His resurrection Jesus then became the Wave Sheaf offering as the first of the firstfruits of the spiritual harvest, taking His blood before God,

"to be accepted on our behalf…" (Lev 23:11).
"…with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance…
"For Christ has not entered the holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the true, but in heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us…"
(Heb 9:12,15,24,26).

The spring harvest or harvest of the firstfruits then begins with the Wave Sheaf offering during the days of Unleavened Bread and continues 7 weeks and one day (50 days) to the Day of Pentecost.

"And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the Sheaf of the Wave Offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
"Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.
"You shall bring from your habitations two wave loaves… They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord"
(Lev 23:15-17).

What is the meaning and significance of the two wave loaves? And why were they baked with leaven?

The two wave loaves represent two groups of firstfruits of the spiritual harvest. Both groups are part of the Church ("ekklesia," called-out ones) of God. One represents God's Church in the Old Testament, including all those in Israel who were faithful to God - "the Church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). The other represents the Church of God (God's called-out ones) in the New Testament, "those who are…called, chosen, and faithful" till the return of Christ (Rev 14:4; 17:14). The Faithful of the OT are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
"For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
"And truly if they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
"But now they desire a better, that is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them…
"And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
"God having [furnished in advance] something better for us, [to the intent] that they should not be made perfect [separately] from us"
(Heb 11:13-16,39-40).

The two wave loaves include those who are redeemed from the congregation of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments and the Gentiles (people of all other nations) who are redeemed and grafted into the Church, to become "the Israel of God" (Rom 1:16; 2:4-16; 3:29-30; 9:6-11,15-16,24-33; 10:1-13,16-21; 11:1-36; Gal 6:14-16). The book of Ruth, traditionally read on Pentecost, is a story of Ruth the Moabite, a Gentile who was grafted into the linage and body of Christ to become one of the firstfruits with Israel.

The two wave loaves were baked with leaven, used here to represent sin (Ex 12:15,19-20; Lk 12:1; Isa 59:2; Mat 16:6,11-12; 1 Cor 5:6-8), showing that the firstfruits were not without sin and therefore needed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to redeem them (Rom 3:9-26; Rev 14:4).

What is the significance of counting the 7 weeks and one day (50 days) to Pentecost? That will be discussed later under the Pentecost Prophecies of the NT Church, but first back to our question, "Why so many religions?" and "Which one, if any is the true religion?

Only One True Religion?
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It may not be accepted as politically correct in this world's multicultural society, but the Holy Scriptures, inspired by the One True Eternal ("Yahweh," or "Jehovah," Eternal, Lord) God ("Elohim," Almighty Ones, a collective plural noun meaning the Family of God - Eph 3:14-15; 2 Tim 3:16), plainly declare that there is ONLY ONE TRUE RELIGION, not many pluralistic disagreeing religions. If there is only One True God, there can only be One True Religion. The One True Religion is a proof and witness of the One True God. All other religions are the creation of men and false gods.

The purpose of the One True Religion is to teach man about the One True God (Elohim) Family. That religion teaches God's Law and covenants - the Law and requirements of the Kingdom of God (Mic 6:8; Rev 22:14), and the True Gospel (good news) of God's purpose for man and His master plan of salvation for all of mankind, and the way for man to live together in peace and unity, the way of prosperity and health, the way of God's love, and the way to eternal life.

Two major events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost reveal and define the One True Religion and One True Church of God:

The gift of the Holy Spirit is necessary to empower mankind to understand and keep the spirit of God's law and produce fruits of the Spirit to become the children of God (Acts 1:8; 2:37-39; Rom 8:4,9,14-17; 2 Cor 3:3-6; Gal 5:22-23; Tim 1:7; 1 John 3:10).  

The Feast of Pentecost reveals that the One and Only True Religion of God and the True Church of God are identified by those who keep His law, being the "firstfruits of the Spirit" - for there are many false religions and counterfeit churches in the world (Deut 13; Isa 8:20; Mat 24:4-5,23-26; Acts 7:37-39; Rom 8:9,14,23; 1 Cor 12:12-13; Eph 4:4-16). Jesus warned:

"Take heed that no one deceives you (see "Take Heed…Be Not Deceived").
"For many will come in My name (usurping or using His name to give them credibility and authority), saying 'I am the Christ (Messiah),' and shall deceive many… (see also 2 Cor 11:13-15)
"Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.
"For false christs (messiahs) and false prophets shall arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect ("eklektos,"
"See I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.
"For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be"
(Mat 24:4-5,23-27). (Clearly Christ will not come secretly and whisk Christians off to heaven in a "secret rapture" before His second coming as many falsely teach)

God and the One True Religion and the One True Church of God are a mystery to this world, which is the reason why this world's societies have many gods and are divided by many religious sects and denominations and why many wars are fought in the name of religion. World Peace cannot come until the world is united under the One True Religion of God, which God will do when Christ returns.

World Peace cannot come until the world
is united under the One True Religion of God,
which God will do when Christ returns.

The prophetic messages of Pentecost and the other Holy Days reveal how and when this divided world will finally become United by the Truth to bring an end to this world's religious confusion - the deceptions, divisions and wars; and how all, including those who have died, may finally be saved and receive God's gift of eternal life (Rom 6:23).

"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab 2:14).
"And you (all the world) shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

From the time of Adam to the present, most of humanity has rejected God's instruction and formed their own philosophies and religions, retaining only remnants of the truth. The Bible truth is called a legend or myth by scoffers (2 Pet 3:3-6), including the story of creation from the book of Genesis and stories of the flood found also in many ancient and modern cultures and religions around the world. Indeed, many scholars and even theologians, some calling themselves "apologists," consider the Bible a book of fabricated stories and myths.

Sin blinds man from understanding and believing the truth and caused the true gospel and God's One True Religion to become a mystery when men began to rebel against God's authority and wisdom. The apostle Paul explains,

"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
"whose minds the god of this age
(Satan) has blinded, who do not believe..." (2 Cor 2:3-4).
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this world ("aion," age, time, or duration), nor of the rulers of this world who are coming to nothing.
"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world for our glory,
"which none of the rulers of this world knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory"
(1 Cor 2:6-8).

To the Ephesians he wrote, "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles (nations) the unsearchable riches of Christ,
"and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
"to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church...
"according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord..."
(Eph 3:8-11).

Pentecost reveals the truth about the One True Religion of God through His Covenants, Laws and the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of Truth" (John 14:17), as recorded in His written Word, the Bible, and taught by the True Church of God. The True Church (called-out ones) of God are those whom God is calling, training and selecting for His service as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Pet 2:5,9; Rev 5:10). They are the firstfruits of the Spirit and the CHILDREN of GOD. Their purpose is to teach the rest of mankind God's One True Religion to bring them to salvation, either now or in a later spiritual harvest (Ex 19 & 20; Acts 2:1-4; 3:25-26; Rom 8:9,14,23; 1 Cor 12:12-13,25; Eph 4:1-6; Heb 8:7-13; 11:24-26; 1 Pet 2:9-10; Rev 1:20; 17:14).

Mankind has many gods, but God's True Religion reveals who and what the One True God is and God's great purpose for creating man on the earth. In many of man's religions men have sacrificed their lives or the lives of their children to their gods, or in wars perpetrated in the name of their gods. Tragic examples today include radical Islamic fundamentalists who are so confused by jealousy, hate, false teachings and lust for power that they deceive their followers into believing that their god Allah wants them to blow themselves and their children up to kill those they consider infidels or collaborators for the sake of Jihad to rid the world of all their opponents. The devil was a liar and deceiver and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44; Rev 12:9). Muslim terrorists teach that if one dies fighting the enemies of Islam in Jihad, which they say is commanded in the Quran, they are assured of going directly to Paradise and receiving great rewards, including 70 virgins.

But the True God, revealed by the One True Religion in the Holy Scriptures, is a God of love. God sacrificed the life of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of all man - He does not require man to sacrifice their sons for God (Psa 106:37-39; Jer 7:22-24 - see "Passover…The Beginning of Salvation").

"For God so loved the world that He gave His, [the only begotten ("monogenes," meaning His only kin) the Son]… that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16-17)

No god, gods or goddesses of this world's religions are equal to the LOVE demonstrated by the One True God Family of the Bible.

"For God ("Elohim" in the Old Testament Hebrew and "Theos" in the New Testament Greek languages) is LOVE" (1 John 4:8,16 - see "The Greatest Gift...LOVE").
Love ("agape") is the nature and character of God. The Hebrew word for God in the OT, "Elohim," which means the Almighty Ones, is a collective plural noun like team, family, country, which has more than one member. "Theos" in the NT is the equivalent of "Elohim" in the OT. Elohim (Theos) is the God Family, the Almighty Ones  (see "Who, What is God")! The great desire and plan of God is to expand the God Family and Kingdom (Isa 9:6-7) by creating children to share Their love and power with. God says to the children of men,
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Rev 21:7).

God ("Elohim") created the first man and woman on the earth to be a family like the God Family, and "to multiply and fill the earth" producing children for God. When God placed them in the garden, which He had prepared in "Eden" (a Hebrew word meaning pleasure, delight, a paradise), there was only One True Religion teaching God's laws of love and the truth of God's purpose and plan for man. God had prepared the garden for them,

"And the Lord ("Yahweh" or "Jehovah," meaning Eternal or Everlasting) God ("Elohim") planted a garden eastward in Eden (meaning pleasure or delight); and there He put the man whom He had formed.
"And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"
(Gen 2:9).

God visited the first humans regularly (on His Sabbaths - the true Lord's Day - Ex 31:13-17; Lev 23:2-4; Mat 18:20; Mk 2:27-28) teaching them His ways and revealing to them knowledge of His purpose and the way of blessings and eternal life (Mat 19:16-22) - His moral/spiritual laws to live by to know the difference between good and evil. And they were given a FREE WILL to choose for themselves what they would believe and do - for that is essential to accomplishing GOD'S PUROPSE of FORMING His moral-spiritual CHARACTER, which is LOVE as defined by His LAW (Gen 1:26; Mat 22:36-40; Rom 13:8-10; 1 Cor 13:4-8; 1 John 4:8,16), in His children. If they choose to submit to and learn from God, God would mold them like a potter molds clay to form His perfect spiritual character in them (Isa 29:15-16; 45:9-13; 64:8; Jer 18:1-6). God instructed them, saying,

"Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat (including the tree of life represented as the source of the fruits of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-24; Rev 22:2), but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (representing deciding for oneself what is good or evil from knowledge obtained through reasoning of the human mind and emotions, including man's science apart from the laws and revelations of God - Rom 8:5-8,13; Gal 5:19-21) you shall not eat, for [when] you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen 2:9,16-17).

Only God has the wisdom to determine good from evil. God instructs man to trust (have faith in) God's wisdom and "lean not on (his) own understanding" (Prov 3:5). For,

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov 14:12 & 16:25).

The creation of CHARACTER REQUIRES MAKING CHOICES. One must choose between two ways - the way of GOOD or the way of EVIL - God's Way or our own way (see "Choices of Life"). It is important to learn that one cannot compromise between the two different ways represented by the "tree of life" and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" and enter into the Kingdom and Family of God.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God?" (1 Cor 6:10).
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.
"Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?"
(1 Cor 10:21-22).
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire"
(Mat 7:17-19).
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit" (Mat 12:33).

God's instruction as the loving Parent of man teaches:

"…I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (the two ways of life represented by the two trees in the garden), in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you…
"…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, therefore choose life
(as represented by the tree of life), that both you and your descendants may live" (Deut 30:15-16,19).

Why the Tree of Life?
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The Tree of Life is an enigma to this world. Men, such as Ponce De Leon, have been inspired by this mysterious account in the book of Genesis 2 and Revelation 22 to search the world looking for a "fountain of youth," the "Water of life" and "Tree of Life" for the secret to immortality. What does it represent?

When God ("Elohim," plural) planned to create man, They said,

"Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness…
"So Elohim [Aleph-Tav] created man in His own image, in the image of God created [Aleph-Tav] him; male and female created [Aleph-Tav] them"
(Gen 1:26,27 - Aleph-Tav, left out by the translators, is Jesus Christ, the Alpha-Omega, by whom God created all things - Col 1:13-18; Rev 1:8,11 - see "The Alpha and Omega" in "Who is Jesus Christ").

But man was not a complete or a finished creation, just as a new-born infant is not grown up or mature yet. God ("Elohim") created mankind in Their own image ("tselem," meaning resemblance, or shadow of something but lacking the essential characteristics of the original), but not yet in the likeness ("demuth," similitude or likeness) of God's spiritual character. That would require a lifetime process in which man must learn God's laws and ways and make right choices to build righteous character - growing up in the

"grace and knowedge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18),
"till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13 - who is our example - 1 Pet 2:21-22).

This would require God's help and instruction through the "gift of the Holy Spirit," represented by the "tree of life," which God would give as a gift to those who chose to obey Him to help them overcome the innate self-centered nature and instincts of man (Lk 11:13; John 14:15-17,26; Acts 2:38; 5:32; Rom 7:14-25; 8:14,27; 2 Tim 1:6-7).  

The fruit of the "Tree of Life" represents the knowledge of God's ways and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which enables us to produce the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), which are of the character and Law of God - all that is right and good and holy, the truth, the light, the way of righteousness and love ("agape"), the way of eternal life - the One True Religion of the Kingdom of God as revealed by God and Jesus Christ (Mat 5:1-12,17-20). The Tree of Life in the garden of Eden in Genesis chapter two represents what is in the Kingdom of God:

"And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
"In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each yielding its fruits every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations"
(Rev 22:1-2).

The Tree of Life represents the One True Religion and law of God. The LAW of God is TRUTH (Psa 119:142,151; John 17:17). The LAW of GOD is summed up in the one word LOVE ("agape" see "The Greatest Gift…LOVE"). God's Law is the foundation of the One True Religion and reveals God's holy righteous character - differentiating between what is good and what is evil (Psa 19:7,9; 119:172; Rom 3:20; 7:7).

"In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death" Prov 12:28).

God judges all things according to His righteous law.

"For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without (knowledge of) the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned in (knowing) the law will be judged by the law - for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law shall be justified…" (Rom 2:11-13; Jam 2:17-26).

The law of God distinguishes between the One True Religion and One True Church of God and the false religions and false churches of this world's societies.

"To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word. It is because there is no light in them" (Isa 8:20).

Sin is the transgression of the law of God.

"Whoever commits sin also transgresses the law, for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).
"And the wages of sin is death…" (Rom 6:23).

Beginning of False Religions
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False religions teach false knowledge, sometimes mixed with truth, a mixture of good and evil as represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. False knowledge causes confusion and conflict. Man's innate selfish nature and ego along with false knowledge are major causes of all the problems afflicting humanity (see "Mankind's Greatest Experiment"). That is why only the One True Religion, teaching God's Truth, can begin to solve all of mankind's problems and bring peace. What is less obvious is the unseen influence behind the false religions and the false knowledge in the world.

Man's innate selfish nature and ego along with false knowledge are major causes of all the problems afflicting humanity.

The Scriptures reveal that invisible spiritual powers appeal to and influence man's thoughts, institutions and politics and that we must resist these influences and powers:

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
"Therefore take on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand"
(Eph 6:12-13).

The spiritual power behind these unseen influences is Satan, meaning "adversary." This great cherub was called "Heylel," meaning bright, to shine, make a show, or to boast, in the Hebrew Scriptures. Satan surreptitiously took the name "Lucifer," a Latin word meaning "Light Bringer," by inspiring a false translation of his Hebrew name, "Heylel," in Isaiah 14:12 to "Lucifer," by the Roman Catholic Church. History records secret societies, such as the "Illuminati," proclaiming themselves to be the enlightened ones. Satan masquerades as an angel of light, as the apostle Paul wrote,

"For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel (messenger) of light" (2 Cor 11:14).

Jesus Christ is the true Light Bringer.

"In Him (Jesus Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Light shines in the darkness…
"…John…came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light…
"That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world"
(John 1:4-9).

The apostle Peter also referred to Jesus Christ as,

"the prophetic word…which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Light Bringer ("Phosphoros," in Greek - mistranslated as morning star) rises in your hearts…" (2 Pet 1:19).

Heylel was originally created as "the anointed cherub who covers ("sakak," meaning to protect, defend - Eze 28:14 see "Mystery of Satan…Power behind Terror and Evil"). God said of him,

"You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (ver. 12).
"You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (ver. 15).
But then God says, "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor…" (ver. 17).
"By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned…" (ver 16).
"You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities…" (ver. 18).
"For you said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars (angels) of God; I will also sit on the mount (representing the top of government) of the congregation (church), in the [secret places (as an invisible influence)].
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'" (Isa 14:12-14).

This cherub became Satan, the devil, the adversary of God and man, "a murderer" and the "father of lies" (John 8:44), when he became lifted up with great pride. He was one of the greatest of God's angels and became jealous that man, whom God created out of the dust (Gen 2:7), made "a little [while] lower then the angels," was created to become sons of God whom would judge and rule over him and the angels (1 Cor 6:2-3; Heb 2:6-8).

Satan the Devil ("diabolos," meaning false accuser, slanderer - Rev 12:9-10), our adversary, has his own purpose and master plan, which is to thwart God's purpose and plan for man. He cannot attack or harm or curse any man without God's consent, but he knows the way to cut man off from God is to tempt and deceive man into sinning and rebelling against God (Gen 3:1-6; Isa 59:1-2; Num 22:9-12,18; 23:7-12,19-26; 31:16; 2 Cor 11:3; Rev 2:14).

God allowed Satan to tempt Job, as he also did to Adam and Eve, to test him to see if he would turn away from Him and sin. Satan said to God,

"Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him…? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!
"So the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.'"
(Job 1:9-12).

So Satan brought great calamities upon Job, but in all that Job did not sin, but he was humbled and repented of his pride and vanity (Job 42:1-6), as he was a very great man, "the greatest of all the people of the East" (Job 1:3).

"Satan is his name and deception is his game." Therefore he is called,

"that serpent of old (who deceived and tempted Eve in the garden of Eden - Gen 3:1-6; 2 Cor 11:3), …the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world… the accuser of our brethren" (Rev 12:9-10),
and "a murderer" and "the father of lies" (John 8:44).

No one should be ignorant of Satan's devises or tactics (2 Cor 2:11). His major weapons are deceit and temptation by which he stirs up human pride, emotions and passions to exalt one's self causing most to turn away from God and His laws. He has inspired false and corruptive religions, cultures, sciences, philosophies and entertainments to deceive and tempt man to sin and cut him off from God's blessings and destiny (Deut 28:15; Isa 59:2). He is making an all-out offense against the family, which God ordained for man to learn family relationships to become a part of God's Family (see "The Greatest Gift…LOVE").

As the "father of lies," Satan is the founder of all false religions, false knowledge (or science so-called - 1 Tim 6:20) and erroneous philosophies. God therefore warns us,

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Col 2:8).

Satan's followers are deceived by his lies. They may be sincere, but they are sincerely deceived. His ministers cleverly mix together their lies with God's truth, many probably believing themselves to be God's true servants (John 16:2-3). But God warns us,

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles (those sent) of Christ.
"And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light
(calling himself Lucifer - light-bringer).
"Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (2 Cor 11:13-15).
Jesus warned that some would even,
"…put you out of the congregation," and those "that kill you will think that they are doing God a service.
"And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me"
(John 16:2-3).

Jesus tells how we can identify the ministers of Satan in a warning to His disciples:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing (they are often very charming), but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
"You will know them by their fruits… every good tree bears good fruit
(fruits of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-24), but a bad tree bears bad fruit (fruits of the flesh - Gal 5:19-21).
"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit…
"Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied IN YOUR NAME, cast out demons IN YOUR NAME, and done many wonders IN YOUR NAME?'
(they appear to be doing good works, but under trials or tests their true nature will come out - this is why God must test man - Jer 17:9-10; 1 Cor 3:12-15; Jam 1:2-8; 1 Pet 4:12-19).
"And I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!" (Mat 7:15-23). (See "Take Heed...Be Not Deceived")

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa 8:20).

The scribes and Pharisees in Jesus' time were teaching the traditions of men rather than the commandments of God. When they accused Jesus of transgressing the "tradition of the elders," Jesus answered,

"Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?…
"Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
"And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men"
(Mat 15:2-3,7-9).

Over many centuries religious leaders in Judaism established traditions and rituals of what are called the "Oral Law," which they claimed were orally delivered by Moses, but not written down in the Law of Moses in the books of the Law ("Torah"). These oral traditions, "tradition of the elders" (Mat 15:2-3,6-9), were later codified by Jewish Rabbi, claiming divine authority, in the writings of the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash. Many claimed the "traditions" or precepts received from their fathers were to be obeyed with greater reverence than those written in the Torah (Mat 15:1-14; Mk 7:1-13). But God clearly says through Moses writings,

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut 4:2).

Jesus said to the multitudes and to His disciples,

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat (actually usurping the position - the Pharisee's later became the predominant party of the rabbis in Judaism after the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.).
"Therefore whatever [he (Moses,
not they - in the Hebrew book of Matthew)] commanded you to observe and do, that observe and do; but do not do according to their (the scribes and Pharisees) works (the enactments or traditions they instituted); for they say ("lego," speak, put forth, boast) and do ("poieo," qualify, make, do, abide, agree, perform, fulfill) not.
"For they bind heavy burdens (oral laws they've added) even grievous to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; which they will not move themselves with their own finger.
"But all their works they do to be seen by men; they make their phylacteries
(encased texts of Scripture) broad and enlarge the border (fringe or tassel) of their garments.
"They love the place of honor at the feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues,
"and greetings in the markets, and to be called by men, Rabbi, Rabbi
(meaning master).
"But be you not called Rabbi; for One is your Master, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
"Do not call anyone on earth your Father
(or Papa, Pope - Latin for father); for One is your Father, He is in heaven.
"And do not be called masters; for One is your Master, the Christ.
"But [the elder] among you shall be your servant.
"And whoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted"
(Mat 23:2-12).

And He rebuked the scribes and Pharisees, saying,

"But woe to you…hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of heaven before men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in" (ver, 13).

God's word also exhorts His true ministry to be on guard against the secular philosophy of gnosticism,

"Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called science ("gnosis," knowledge - 1 Tim 6:20).

Man's defense against the lies and deceptions of Satan is God's Truth and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said:

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
"...the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, [it] will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrancve all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "...when [it], the Spirit of truth, has come, [it] will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13).

Man's defense against the lies and deceptions of Satan is God's Truth and the Holy Spirit.

What is Truth? Jesus said in His prayer to God the Father,

"Sanctify them by Your truth. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH" (John 17:17).

When any minister or Church ceases to teach God's Laws and Truth, they cease to be God's true ministry or Church! David wrote in the Psalms,

"Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are your judgments…
"Your word is pure, therefore your servant loves it…
"Your law is truth…
"You are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are truth"
(Psa 119:137,140,142,151).

Satan's favorite lie is that Jesus came to do away with God's law, but what did Jesus say? Read it in Matthew 5:17-20. He said,

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
"For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away
(it hasn't happened yet), one jot ("yod," the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, or "iota," 9th letter of Greek alphabet) or tittle (the least mark in the Hebrew alphabet) will by no means pass from the law till all be fulfilled."
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven
(if he repents); but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.
"For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Satan twisted the Scriptures, taking them out of context, trying to tempt and deceive Him, but Jesus understood and quoted God's word with its' correct meaning and intent to thwart Satan's temptations and deceptions,

"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'…" (Mat 4:4 - see  Deut 8:3).
And He rebuked the devil and commanded him to leave,
"Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'" (Mat 4:4,10).

Jesus left an example for us of how to resist the devil and thwart his temptations and deceptions (1 Pet 2:21-23; 5:8-11). And Satan (meaning adversary) left Him for a time. However, afterward the adversary proceeded to persecute and deceive many in the Christian churches established by Christ's apostles, so that many departed from the true faith, some establishing a false Christianity (Mat 24:4-5,11,24; John 6:64-70; 15:18-25; Acts 8:1-23; 12 Cor 11:12-15; Gal 1:6-10; 2 Thes 2:1-10; 2 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Pet 2:1-3...; 1 John 2:18-23; Jude 3-4; Rev 13:11-18).

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
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The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents deciding for oneself what is good or evil from knowledge acquired by carnal human reason and emotions and the fruits of self-centered human nature - some true and good, some false and evil - influenced by the temptations and lies of the adversary of God and man. That way is referred to as the way of the unconverted selfish carnal mind and the selfish desires of the flesh (Rom 8:5-8; Gal 5:19-21) - man choosing his own ways, as depicted in Frank Sinatra's song "I Did It My Way" (see Judges 21:28), the fruits of which are a mixture of good and evil - that is, what man decides is good or evil - the way that ends in death.
"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov 14:12; 16:25; Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9-10; Rom 3:10-12,23).

The Scriptures reveal the shortcomings and pitfalls of the carnal human mind and emotions. The prophet Jeremiah wrote,

"O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps."
He prayed, "O Lord, correct me, but with discretion; not in anger, lest You bring me to nothing" (Jer 10:23-24).

Concerning human emotions, he reveals,

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ("anash," frail, woeful, sick, incurable, desperate, desperately wicked); who can know ("yada," know, discern, understand, be aware of, consider, recognize, instruct, teach, answer) it?" (Jer 17:9).
Paul, God's apostle, adds,
"For to be carnally minded is death…
"Because the carnal mind is enmity
(hostile, or in opposition) against God; for it is not [submissive] to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom 8:6-7).

God instructed and nurtured Adam and Eve and warned them that going their own way, eating the fruits of their own knowledge, deciding for themselves what is good or evil, would cause them to die (Gen 2:17). After living in Paradise (in Eden) and being taught for perhaps 30 years (that's how long Jesus lived before Satan was allowed to test Him, and God is always fair - Lk 3:23; 4:1-13; 1 Cor 15:45), God then allowed "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan" (Rev 12:9), to test Adam and Eve allowing them to choose who or what they would believe and follow (see Rom 6:16). The serpent subtly maligned God, saying to Eve,

"Has God indeed said. 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?…
(Eve naively recognized Satan's lie and replied, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat of it...lest you die'", which should have been a clue to her to get away from this liar!
And the serpent replied, "You shall not surely die!
"For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil"
(remember Satan also said in his heart, "I will be like the most High" - Isa 14:14).
And when Eve reasoned in her heart (emotionally), it,
"…appeared that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate (she decided for herself what was good or evil, ignoring what God had said). She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (Gen 3:1-6).

Satan's lies appealed to their lustful desires, their vanity and ego and THEY began questioning the validity of what God had said, and CHOSE to follow SATAN's WAY to decide for themselves what is good or evil, exalting themselves as if they were "like God" (Gen 3:1-7), which God had warned them not to do, lest they sin and die.

"For there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov 14:12).

After their transgression they felt guilt and tried to hide from God. But when God confronted them they would not accept responsibility for their wrong choices and repent. And because they would not repent, but rather justified themselves by blaming each other, God and the serpent for their sin, they were evicted from the garden and cut off from the tree of life (Gen 3:8-24 - tough love, but remember, God through Jesus Christ was willing from before the foundation of the world to give His own life, if necessary, to redeem man from the penalty of sin, that's how great His love is! - John 3:16; 1 Pet 1:18-21).

If man had continued to obey God's righteous laws, the world would have continued in peace and prosperity under the government and One True Religion of God in a paradise with God's blessings and protection from evil and all natural disasters and Satan's influences.

But God would not take away man's freedom of choice. And the consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve, our first human parents, is that they and their offspring, all mankind, were from that time cut off from free access to the tree of life and Spirit of God. Thus Man from Adam's time began to form his own governments, philosophies, knowledge, cultures and religions and making their own laws apart from God - partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - deciding for themselves what is good or evil, thereby exalting themselves above the Divine Wisdom and Intelligence of God (Prov 1:7; 3:1-8,13-23 - see "Mankind's Greatest Experiment").

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned:
"for [as long as there is] law, sin has been in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
"Therefore death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of Adam's transgression…"
(Rom 5:12-14).

"For even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not [appropriate or good];
"being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
"who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also have pleasure ("suneudokeo,"
approve together, have companionship with, have pleasure together) with those who practice them" Rom 1:28-32).

Beginning of the Church of God
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Because Adam and Eve did not fully believe God and rejected His instruction and authority, God then began to call and choose individuals out from man's society to be His ambassadors - prophets, witnesses and priests to man's society. Many are called, but only some few would believe and be chosen to become the firstfruits of salvation (Mat 20:16; 22:14) who would willingly live by and teach the laws of God's One True Religion and the gospel of salvation to prepare the way for the Savior to bring salvation and restore the Kingdom of God to the earth (Acts 1:8; 3:18-21; 2 Cor 5:20).
"As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world ("aion," age or time - of man) began,
"that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…
"And you, child
(speaking here of John the Baptist), shall be called a prophet of the Highest; for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare His (the Messiah's) way,
"to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,
"through the tender mercy of our God, by whom the Dayspring ("anatole,"
meaning purpose, goal, end or purpose) from on High has visited us,
"to give light to those who sit in darkness and shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace"
(Lk 1:70-71,76-79).

Those whom God called and chose as His servants are His True Church ("ekklesia," meaning called-out ones - they were called out of the sins of man's society). Abel is mentioned as the first of God's called-out ones to become a witness of His righteous way.

"By faith Abel (he believed and obeyed God) offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he bear witness that he was righteous. God testifying of his offering; and through it he being dead still speaks" (Gen 4:4 ; Heb 11:4).

When Cain, the firstborn, was not accepted for his offering, he went into a jealous rage and killed his brother, righteous Abel (Gen 4:3-11). Adam and Eve were given another son to replace righteous Abel, and called his name Seth. And Seth had a son and called him Enos.

"For God has appointed another seed…instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.
"…Then men began to call on ("qara,"
call out to, proclaim, preach, publish) the name ("shem," name, honor, authority, character) of the Lord" (Gen 4:25-26).

But in Noah's time men began to multiply and there was a population explosion on the earth, and even those whom God had called began to intermarry with Cain's rebellious clan and forsake God's way.

"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God (Seth's line) saw the daughters of men (Cain's line), that they were beautiful and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose…
"when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men who in antiquity became men of renown.
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
"And it [sorrowed] the Lord because He had made the man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart"
(Gen 6:1-2,4-6).

Society had become so evil and corrupt and the earth became so filled with violence that,

"the Lord said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is but flesh; yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years…
"For the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually…
"And the Lord said, 'The men whom I have created [will be] destroyed [because of the turning surfaces] of the earth
(the breaking up and turning under of the earth's continental plates - see Gen 7:11), both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, [and I am grieved, because] I have made them'…
"The earth also was corrupted before God, and the earth was filled with violence…
"for all flesh had corrupted His ("Aleph Tav's,"
who is Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega - Rev 1:8) way on the earth" (Gen 6:3,5-7,11,12).

Because of their evil, and because they would not repent and turn back to God, God would no longer intervene to protect man from natural disasters such as great earthquakes, tsunamis, asteroids striking the earth, etc.

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of God" (ver. 8).

God called Noah, a just man, perfect in his generations, a preacher of righteousness out of that evil society to warn that world, but they did not listen or take heed and turn to God - only Noah and his family were saved (Gen 6:9,13-18; 7:1.5; Mat 24:38-39; Heb 11:7; 2 Pet 2:5). God said to Noah,

"The end of all flesh [is surely coming to pass because the turning surfaces of the earth will end with violence (in catastrophe) because of it's turning]; and behold [they] will be destroyed from the earth…
"But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark - you, your sons, your wife, and your son's wives with you"
(Gen 6:13,18)…
"Then the Lord said to Noah, Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation…
"And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him"
(Gen 7:1,5).
"By faith (believing and obeying God) Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen (the coming catastrophic destruction and woldwide flood), moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he [was a judge against] that world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb 11:7).

That world was destroyed because they ignored God's warnings and the signs of impending disaster for 120 years and would not repent and turn to God so that He would intervene to prevent the catastrophic destruction and deliver them (Eze 18:23; 2 Pet 2:5-9). After all mankind, except Noah and his family, was destroyed by the great worldwide flood, God renewed the surface of the earth again, as He did after Satan's rebellion, which had caused the first great worldwide destruction that buried the dinosaurs (Gen 1:2; 8:1-14; Psa 104:29-35). After the flood Noah taught the world that sprang from him God's ways and again there was only the One True Religion and One True Church in the world.

But born in the third generation after the flood, Nimrod, a son of Cush and grandson of Ham, influenced by the unseen powers of Satan, began to challenge Noah and his teachings and,

"Nimrod…began to be a mighty ("gibbor," powerful, warrior, tyrant, champion, great, mighty, valiant) one on the earth. He became a mighty hunter before ("panim," meaning here to turn against or in opposition to) the Lord; wherefore it is said, 'Nimrod, a mighty hunter [against (or opposing)] the Lord.'
"And the beginning of his kingdom ("mamlakah,"
dominion, rule, realm) was Babel (Babylon), Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar" (Gen 10:8-10).

God had instructed Noah to disperse the "families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations ("toldhah," families, descent, race, origin, linage, pedigree, genealogy, family history), in their nations…over the earth after the flood" (Gen 10:32). But Nimrod, who "began to be a mighty one on the earth," gathered the people together under himself in rebellion against Noah and God.

"And they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower (a temple) [for our ruler ("rosh," head, chief, ruler)] is in the heavens; and make for ourselves] a name ("shem," position, authority, honor, fame), lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth" (Gen 11:4).

They were thereby opposing the authority of God (who was in the heavens) and the instructions that God gave through His servants Noah and Shem (Gen 9:26-27). Shem ("Shem" or "Sem," meaning authority), whom God chose for the linage of His priests in the OT and the linage of Christ (Lk 3:36), is the origin of Semites, which is the reason for antisemitism - for Satan inspires hatred against Semites and tries to exterminate those who represent God's authority and teach His one true religion on the earth.

When the people followed Nimrod's rebellion, God ("Elohim,"plural) saw what they were doing and said,

"Behold the people are [together] and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing will be restrained from them which they imagine to do.
"Come, let US go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
"Jehovah ("Yahweh,"
the Eternal, Lord) scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth… Therefore its name is called Babel (Babylon, meaning confusion), because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth…" (Gen 11:4-9).

The dispersion of the people from Babel about 2254 B.C. (all the ancient nations begin to reckon their kings from this event) did not stop Nimrod (also called Tammuz, Osirus, Baal, etc. in the different tongues after Babel) and his sister/wife Ashtaroth (also called Isis, Ishtar, Astarte, Semiremis, etc.) from continuing to try to usurp power and influence over the people. They were largely responsible for starting the false religious systems of the world after the flood - therefore it is called in Revelation 17:5,


Ishtar, from which Easter comes, was the first Madonna, with her child Horus, which she claimed to be the resurrected Nimrod - the prophesied Savior. They counterfeited and perverted the One True Religion, taught by Noah and Shem, into a mystery religion - calling good evil and evil good (Isa 5:20) - setting themselves up as gods and goddesses, authorities on what is good and evil, generally glorifying the desires and lusts of the flesh, such as sex worship, etc. to gain a following in rebellion against God's laws, and corrupting and denying the right use of what God made good.

"…although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things…"

They "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator" (Rom 1:21-25).

They, and those who have followed them since, have perpetuated Satan's great deceptions such as the doctrine of the immortal soul, "You shall not surely die," calling God a liar, and, "you shall be as gods, knowing ("yadha," meaning to discern, understand, observe, to order, designate, appoint, declare, discover...) good and evil" (Gen 3:4-5).

"For such are false teachers, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles (teachers sent) of Christ.
"And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
"Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works"
(2 Cor 11:13-15).

Satan's cleverest deceptions have been counterfeiting God's One True Religion by twisting the true meaning and intent of God's word and perverting the true gospel (Gal 1:6-7) to establish the false religious systems of this world, which enslave people bringing them into the bondage and corruption of sin cutting them off from God (Isa 59:1-2; 2 Pet 2:18-20).

Satan's disciples and ministers began intimidating and persecuting followers of the True Religion of God. Many of the tribes, nations and empires that rose; Egypt (from Mizraim), Assyria (from Asshur), Babylon, Canaan, China (from Magog), Media, Persia, India (from Put), Greco-Macedonian, Roman, etc. (see Gen 10) worshipped Isis and Osiris and followed their perverted and pernicious ways. Many rulers became known as gods and goddesses in various cultures and claimed to be resurrections or offspring of these false deities. Hence the many gods and goddesses and various mystical and superstitious religious beliefs, some of which are perversions of the truth and counterfeits of God's prophetic plan of salvation, recorded in their histories, legends and myths. Many customs and beliefs of the major religions in the world today can be traced back to times after the dispersion from Babel or Babylon.

God's Calling and Promises to Abraham
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After Noah died 350 years after the flood, Shem (origin of those called Semites) succeeded him. Noah had said,
"Blessed be the Lord God of Shem… And God… shall dwell in the tents of Shem…" (Gen 9:26-27).

Shem, father of those called Semites, was born 98 years before the flood and continued in and taught God's ways on the earth. Because he taught God's one true religion, those under Satan's influence persecute those considered to be Semites. Hebrews and Jews, from Shem's linage, are also persecuted by Satan's followers for the same reason. Shem lived for 502 years after the flood down to when Isaac, Abraham's son, was 50 years old, just 10 years before Jacob was born. Eber, Shem's great grandson and the father of those called Hebrews, lived 430 years down to the time Jacob (father of the Israelites) was 19, outliving Abraham by 4 years. Israelites, whom God called to be teachers of His law (Gen 49:10; Rom 3:1-2), became known as Semites, Hebrews, and later Jews (from Judah, one of the sons of Jacob (Israel) through whom Christ was born - Satan was trying to destroy the royal lineage of Christ - Rev 12:1-5).

God called Abraham in the centuries following the rebellion and religious deceptions, propagated by Nimrod and Ashtaroth after the dispersion from Babel, to be His ambassador and teacher of His ways as a blessing to the nations (Gen 18:17-19; 20:7). God made a covenant (agreement) with Abraham and promised great blessings to him and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) if they would obey Him and keep His commandments, statutes and laws and teach His One True Religion (Gen 12:1-4; 13:14-18; 15:18-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18; 26:1-5; 28:10-22; 32:24-30).

God's promises to Abraham were dual. They are the promise of inheriting the earth and national greatness, and the promise that through his Seed (Christ) all nations would be blessed. God said to Abraham,

"Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house (for his father Terah worshipped the false gods and idols started by Nimrod and Ashtaroth - Josh  24:2), to the land that I will show you.
"I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.
"I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and through you all of the families of the earth shall be blessed"
(Gen 12:1-3; Acts 7:2-4). "

The promises could only be fulfilled through the righteousness of faith.
"For the promise that he would be heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his descendants through the law, but through the righteousness of faith ("pistis,"assurance, belief, confidence, faith, fidelity, faithfulness)...
"...it is of faith that it might be according to grace
(favor from God) , so that the promises might be sure to all the descendants, not only those who are of the law..." (Rom 4:13,16).
"Therefore know that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
"And the Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel
(good news) to Abraham beforehand, saying, '[Through] you all the nations shall be blessed'...
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law
(penalty for breaking the law)...
"that the blessings to Abraham might come upon the Gentiles
(nations) through Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit (which was cut off from man when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden - Gen 3:22-24; Rom 5:12,14,17-21) through faith" (Gal 3:7-8,13-14).

After many years Abraham still had no children, no heirs. When the Lord spoke to him in a vision, Abraham said to Him,

"Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? …Look, You have given me no offspring…
Then the Lord said, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.
"…Look now toward the heavens and count the stars if you are able to number them… So shall your descendants be.'
"And Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him [as] righteousness"
(Gen 15:1-6; Rom 4:3,5).

When Abraham was 86, his wife Sarah had still bore him no children. At the prompting of his wife, he had a son, Ishmael, conceived through Sarah's Egyptian handmaid Hagar (Gen 16). But God rejected Ishmael as the birthright heir, the firstborn of Abraham, for the spiritual promises and covenant He made to Abraham (Gen 17). Concerning Ishmael, the angel of the Lord said,

"He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him" (Gen 16:11-12). Ishmael is the father of Arab peoples today, through whom Islam had its beginning - who claim to be the heir rather than Issac.

After another 13 years,
"When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared…and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.
"Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:
"As for Me, behold, My covenant [shall be] with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.
"No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
"I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.
"I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
"Also I give to you and to your seed after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God…
"This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you; every male child shall be circumcised… and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you"
Gen 17:1-11).

Why Circumcision? A Covenant of Faith?
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CIRCUMCISION was given as a SIGN ("oth," meaning sign, mark, symbol, token, memorial or reminder) OF GOD's COVENANT with Abraham.
"This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your decendants after you: Every male child shall be circumcised;
"and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a SIGN of the covenant between Me and you"
(Gen 17:10-11).
"And he received the sign of circumcision, a SEAL of the RIGHTEOUSNESS of the FAITH, which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe… (Rom 4:11).

Circumcision is not the covenant. Circumcision was given as a sign and seal of the covenant (agreement), which is God's covenant of RIGHTEOUSNESS through FAITH - believing and obeying God. The covenant includes the PROMISES for BELIEVING and OBEYING God and His laws. It is God's covenant to His Church (called-out ones), which is His priesthood (Ex 19:5-6; 2 Pet 2:1-10). Circumcision was given as a sign of Abraham's righteousness through his FAITH, which he had before circumcision. Here it is important to understand, What true FAITH IS, and the significance of faith to the Church, the called-out ones:

"Now faith ("pistis," persuasion, belief, faith, assurance, confidence, conviction that produces obedience and good works) is the [understanding ("hupostasis," meaning assurance, confidence, understanding, substance, from "hupo" meaning under and "histemi" ("stasis") meaning to stand, establish, confirm, stand firm)] of things hoped for ("elpizo," expected, hoped for, trusted or believe in); the evidence ("elegeho," evidence, proof, conviction, reproof) of things not seen.
"For by it the elders obtained a good report…
"For without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek ("ekzeteo,"
meaning to search out, investigate, crave, demand, worship, enquire, diligently seek after) Him" (Heb 11:1-2,6).
"...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom 14:23).
"But we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith which works through love"
(Gal 5:5-6).
"So then faith comes by hearing, that is, the hearing of the Word of God" Rom 10:17).

True faith is a gift of the Spirit, a fruit of the tree of life (1 Cor 12:1,9; Gal 3:5-9; 5:22). Adam and Eve did not have a spiritual faith to fully understand and believe and trust God's word, though God appeared and communed with and taught them personally. When they were tempted by Satan's subtle deceptions (2 Cor 11:3) they sinned. But,

"Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness…
"to him who…believes on Him who justifies the ungodly
(Rom 3:21-26), his faith is accounted as righteousness,
"just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness [separately from]
(past) works:
"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
"Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin
(Rom 4:3,5-8; Psa 32:1-2).

The apostle James, the brother of Jesus, sheds more light on the subject of faith and works:

"What is the profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?…
"Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.
"But someone may say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
"You believe that there is One, the God. You do well. However the demons also believe and even tremble!
"Now do you want to know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
"Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
"And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him [as] righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God.
"You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only
(contrary to what Martin Luther preached)
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also"
(Jam 2:14,17-26).
The apostle Paul, who had been a Pharisee of the law, wrote after his conversion,
"… For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham as righteousness… while uncircumcised… that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,
"and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while yet uncircumcised.
"For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith…
"Therefore it is of faith that it might be through grace
(through God's favor of forgiveness and the gift and power of the Holy Spirit), so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations")… (Rom 4:9-13,16-17).
"For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
"Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
"And shall not the uncircumcised, which are by nature, if they fulfill the law, judge you who by the letter and circumcision then transgress the law?
"For he is not a Jew
(spiritually) who is one outwardly, neither is circumcision, which is apparent in the flesh;
"but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God"
(Rom 2:25-29).

Circumcision of the flesh is a symbolic reminder that God's promise would not come through the power of the flesh, but through faith in the power of God. Ishmael, Abraham's son from Hagar, was a fruit of his flesh (Gal 5:19), not faith or trusting God's promise and power, and did not produce the promised son.

"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by the free-woman (Sarah).
"But he (Ishmael) who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, but he (Isaac) of the free-woman was by promise... born according to the Spirit..." (Gal 4:22-23,29).
"Therefore it (the promise) is of faith that it might be according to grace (through the gifts of God's forgiveness and Spirit), so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all...
(Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb.
"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened by faith, giving glory to God,
"and being fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He was also able to perform.
"And therefore 'it was accounted to him [as] righteousness'"
(Rom 4:16,20-22).

Circumcision was thus given as a physical sign to Abraham and his descendants as a sign (reminder) of his commitment of faith to believe and obey God. True circumcision is circumcision of the heart, which is to repent and live by the Spirit and no longer according to lusts of the flesh and vanity of the carnal mind (Rom 8:1-6). Moses therefore wrote,

"Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer" (Deut 10:16).
"And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live" (Deut 30:6; Rom 2:25-29).

"Then God said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her…'
"Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is 100 years old? And shall Sarah, who is 90 years old, bear a child?'
"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
(meaning laughter); I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. '
"As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful… and I will make him a great nation.
"But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year…
"That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house…were circumcised with him"
(Gen 17).

"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
"and being fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He was also able to perform.
"And therefore
(because Abraham believed and obeyed God), "it was accounted to him [as] righteousness" (Rom 4:20-22; Jam 2:21-24).

God said of Abraham,

"…Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed [through] him.
"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him"
(Gen 18:18-19).

Isaac, the promised son - a prophetic type of Christ, was born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. When Isaac was weaned Ishmael mocked him, therefore Sarah said to Abraham,

"Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son…Isaac."
This grieved Abraham, but God said to him,
"Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.
"Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed"
(Gen 21:10-13).

When Isaac was grown, God tested Abraham, telling him to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. When Abraham proved his willingness to do as God commanded, God intervened and said,

"By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son (prophetic of God's sacrifice of His only Son - John 3:16), in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.
"[Through] your Seed
(a prophecy of Christ - Gal 3:16-17) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (Gen 22:1-2,15-18).

But Abraham did not inherit the promises at that time, God said,

"that his descendants would sojourn in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.
"'And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.'
"…so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eight day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs"
(Gen 15:13-16; Acts 7:5-8).

After Abraham died the Lord appeared to Isaac and said,

"… Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
"And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and [through] your Seed
(prophetic of Christ) all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
"because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws"
(Gen 26:2-5). (Notice that this was hundreds of years before God gave His commandments, statutes and laws to Israel at Mount Sinai.)

Later Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau (Edom) the firstborn, in a moment of hunger, sold his birthright to Jacob, and thus despised his birthright (Gen 25:21-34; Heb 12:16-17). God thus rejected Esau, who intermarried with the Cannanites and Ishmaelites (Gen 28:9). And he became the father of Edomites (Idumeans - Isa 34:5; Eze 35:15; 36:5; Heb 12:16-17) and the present day Turkish peoples. And God chose Jacob (Israel - Gen 32:28) to fulfill the calling of His commission that, "through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." This is related to the command Jesus gave to His disciples to,

"teach all nations… to observe all things I have commanded you" (Mat 28:19-20).

Jacob was 15 years old when Abraham, 175, died (Gen 21:5; 25:7-11,20,26). When Jacob was 77 he fled to Padan Aram to escape Esau's anger and jealousy over losing the birthright and blessing, and to take a wife from the daughters of his mother's brother, Laban (Gen 27:41-46; 28:1-1-7). As he fled he had a dream and the Lord said to him,

"I am the Lord God of Abraham your grandfather and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
"Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and through you and through your Seed
(prophetic of Christ) all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
"Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you"
(Gen 28:12-15).

Jacob (Israel) was in Padan Aram 20 years and had 11 sons and a daughter before returning to Canaan at the age of 97 (Gen 29:31-35; 30:1-25; 31:41-42). A 12th son, Benjamin, was born after returning to Canaan (Gen 35:16-20). His father Isaac, 180, died when Jacob was 120 (Gen 35:28-29). When Jacob was 130 (Gen 47:9), he and his family ended up in Egypt, 13 years after his son Joseph (at the age of 17) had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers (Gen 37:26-28; 46:2-27; Ex 1:1-14). Joseph then ruled Egypt, but after Joseph and that generation died, "a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" and brought them into bitter bondage(Ex 1:6-14).

Israel - God's Chosen People?
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Then exactly 430 years after God had confirmed His covenant with Abraham with the birth of his son Isaac (Gen 17:1-13,19,21,26-27; 21:1-12; Ex 12:40-42; Gal 3:17-18; 4:22-31), God delivered the children of Israel (Jacob) out from bondage in Egypt to become His firstborn (Ex 2:23-25; 3:4-12,15-17; 4:22). Moses, who had been brought up in the Pharaoh's household and learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt (at the age of 80 - Acts 7:20-36). Moses had,
"refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb 11:24-26).

God was beginning to fulfill His promises to Abraham and his descendants through Israel, as God's chosen people. Moses was inspired to write:

"For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deut 7:6)

David wrote concerning Israel: "O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob, HIS CHOSEN ONES!
"He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth.
"He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
"the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac,
"and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an EVERLASTING COVENANT..."
(Psa 105:6-10).

Chosen for what?

Israel began their Exodus from Egypt to the promised land with the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12 - 14). Then,

"In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt…they came to the Wilderness of Sinai…
"And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, 'Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself.
"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
"And you shall be to Me a KINGDOM of PRIESTS and a HOLY NATION"
(Ex 19:1,3-6).

Because of Abraham's faith and obedience (Gen 15:5-6,13-15; 17:1-11,15-17,21; 26:2-6; Gal 3:5-9), God called his descendants, the children of Jacob (Israel), out of slavery in Egypt and chose them for His special mission or purpose. This was in keeping of His promise and covenant with Abraham to become a great nation and a blessing to all nations. As God delivered Israel out of bondage and oppression in Egypt through Moses, God purposed to use them as His priesthood in bringing His blessings to free all nations of the world from the bondage of sin and oppression, as He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel was called to be God's firstborn (Ex 4:22 - the "church of the firstborn" - Heb 12:23). They were promised great blessings IF they would obey God and fulfill God's purpose (God's commission).

God had planned, even from before the foundations of the earth, His master-plan for the salvation of man from sin (1 Pet 1:13-21). And God had foreseen the need to raise up a nation called ISRAEL for accomplishing His purpose and plan, a holy nation with the power and ability to carry out His work on the earth.

But Who really is "the Israel ("Yisrael") of God"? "Yisrael" means, those who prevail and rule as princes with God (Gen 32:28). There is a spiritual Israel - the "Israel of God" (Gal 6:16), and the "Israel after the flesh," those of the physical linage of Israel (Rom 2:28-29; 1 Cor 10:18). Spiritual Israel, the "Israel of God," are those whom God calls and are chosen and faithful (Rev 17:14). They are those who prevail and will rule as princes with God. They are the Church (called-out ones) of God - called out of the sins of Egypt, called into the Body of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ (Col 1:18,24).

God called and chose Jacob, the grandson of faithful Abraham, and changed his name to Israel (Gen 32:28). His name, Jacob, meant "supplanter," meaning to take the place of another, especially by force or trickery - as Jacob did to Esau (Gen 25:29-34; 27:1-36). Then years later, Jacob met and wrestled all night with the One who appeared as a Man and prevailed. Jacob said to the Man,

"I will not let you go unless you bless me!
"And He (Christ) said to him, 'What is your name?' And he said, 'Jacob.'
"And He said, 'Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel ("Yisrael"), for you have struggled ("sarah,"
meaning to struggle, prevail, have power as a prince) with God and with men and have prevailed" (Gen 32:26-28).

God planned to use Israel, as those who would prevail and rule as princes with Him, to bless the nations of the world, all peoples. Their destiny was to become the firstfruits of salvation (Rev 2:26; 14:4; 20:6). Israel was prophesied to become many nations and kings (Gen 17:4-7,15-16; 49:1-28), colonizing around the world as a beacon of light of God's ways, living and teaching the One True Religion, as an example to all the nations of the earth (Deut 4:5-8; 2 Sam 7:22-24). As Israel was about to enter the promised land, Moses spoke these words in a song for the congregation of Israel,

"Give ear, O heavens…and hear, O earth…
"Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you:
"When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel,
"for the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob (Israel) is the place of His inheritance"
(Deut 32:1,7-9).

The children of Israel had known the oppression of man's ways and of the false religious systems while in bondage in Egypt and were now being called out and blessed to embrace and teach the world God's ways - the One True Religion of God, to teach God's moral spiritual laws, and reveal the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God and of His salvation to come through the promised Messiah, His Firstborn Jesus Christ (see "Who is Jesus Christ"), as a blessing to all peoples of the earth.

Now if the children of Israel would be obedient to God and to His covenant, they would be blessed above all the peoples of the earth. Moses said to them,

"The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, His inheritance, as you are this day" (Deut 4:20).
"Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.
"And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land which He swore to your fathers to give you.
"You shall be blessed above all peoples…"(Deut 7:12-14).
"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments, which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
"And these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…"
(Deut 28:1-2).

The Pentecost Covenant - Restoring God's True Religion
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The children of Jacob (Israel) had lived in bondage and oppression under the false gods and false religious system of Satan (Gen 3:4-5; 2 Cor 11:3,13-15) centered in Egypt, which had been started by Nimrod and Astheroth in Babylon (Babel - Rev 17:1-6). Now the Lord ("Jehovah," meaning Eternal) God delivered them from bondage to become His chosen people, "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" - to teach the world the One True Religion, the way of blessings and good, the way of life (Ex 19:5-6; Deut 30:15-19; 32:7-10; Psa 105:6; Acts 7:38).

But first, they would have to be taught the One True Religion of God. The first lesson was to restore the knowledge of the Sabbaths, sanctified (made holy) by God for man (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:8-11; Mk 2:27-28). Jesus said,

"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (Mk 2:27-28 - The 7th day of the week is the Lord's Day, as Jesus said, not Sunday as many falsely believe).
The Sabbaths were sanctified ("qadash," make holy, clean, sanctify or set apart for God's purpose or use) for man just after God created man.
"God ("Elohom," the ALMIGHTY ONES) blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it [They] rested from all [Their] work which Elohim created and made" (Gen 2:3).
And God commands man,
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
"Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
"but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
"For in six days the Lord [prepared ("asah,"
to work, fashion, make, build, create, prepare..., not the same as created "bara" in Gen 1:1)] the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed (sanctified - to set apart as special for God's purpose) it" (Ex 20:8-11).
The Sabbaths ("Shabbath"), meaning intermission, a day or time of rest, which include the 7th day weekly Sabbaths and specially appointed feast days ("moed," appointed times, feasts - Lev 23:1-4), and the Sabbath and Jubilee years (Lev 25) were ordained as a blessing and commandment for man's benefit and to reveal God's purpose and plan of salvation to man. God wants a close relationhip with man whom He created to be His children, the children of God.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1-3).
And man needs a close relationship with God, who is our Creator, Provider, Sustainer, Healer, Protector and Savior. The Sabbaths require man to take periodic rests from his own labors and pursuits to come before and have
"fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ...
"And if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin"
(1 John 1:3,7).
The Sabbaths are God's appointed times, times for assembling together before God. God said to Moses,
"Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts ("moed," appointed times) of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations (meetings to assemble together), these are My (not Jewish) feasts (apointed times).
"Six days shall work be done, but the SEVENTH day is a Sabbath of solomn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings
(the SEVENTH day is God's weekly Sabbath, not Sunday or Friday or any other day).
"These are the feasts
(appointed times) of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times ("moed")" (Lev 23:2-4).
God's Sabbaths and Holy Days (Feasts - appointed times) are for teaching man the knowledge and wisdom of God and His laws (Psa 81:3-10; Jer 10:10-16), His One True Religion - knowledge and wisdom which the world, blinded by vainty and the god of this world (Satan - 2 Cor 4:4), gropes for on its own, "ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7), without God (Isa 59:9-10; 1 Cor 1:20-21).

The Sabbaths are a sign of those who believe and obey God. God's Sabbaths are one of the signs setting apart true believers, the One True Church of God, from false churches of the world. The Lord said to Moses,
"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for they are a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you...
"It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord [prepared] the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed"
(Ex 31:13,17).
In the wilderness, in the second month after Israel began their journey out of Egypt toward their promised homeland, before they came to Mount Sinai where they received God's covenant and law, God taught them a lesson on keeping His Sabbaths.
"The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness" complaining to them,
"Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a promised provision every day, THAT I MAY TEST THEM, WHETHER THEY WILL WALK IN MY LAW OR NOT.
"And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily...
"So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.
"And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface in the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.
"So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, 'What is it?'... And Moses said to them, 'This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat...
"Let every man gather it according to each one's need...let every man take for those in his tent...
"So when they measured it...he who gathered much had nothing over, he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one's need.
"And Moses said, 'Let no one leave any of it till morning.'
"However they listened not to Moses, but some men let some remain over until the next day and it bred worms and stank, and Moses was angry with them...
"And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread...
"Then he said to them, 'This is what the Lord has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath
(rest), a holy Sabbath [of "la-Yahweh," meaning "the Eternal"]. Bake whatever you bake today...and that which remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until tomorrow.
"So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it.
"Then Moses said, 'Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath of the Lord; today you will not find it in the field.
"Six days you shall gather, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there shall be none.
"Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.
(the Lord) said to Moses, 'How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?
"See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath, therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
"So the people rested on the seventh day.
"And the household of Israel called its name Manna
(What is it?)..." (Ex 16).

As they continued their journey after their delivery and exodus from bondage in Egypt,  

"In the third month (in the 7th week) after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day (the same day of the week which they had left Egypt, which had been the first day of Unleavened Bread, the 5th day (Thursday) of the week that year, - Ex 12:2,18,41-42 - see Calendar of the Exodus), they came to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness… there before the mountain" (Ex 19:1-2).

There the Lord made a proposal to establish His covenant with the children of Israel (Ex 19:3-7). God speaking through Moses, said,

"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine,
"And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…
"And all the people answered together and said, 'All that the Lord has spoken we will do…'"
(Ex 19:3-8).

They accepted God's proposal. And then they were told,

"Be ready for the third day…
The third day after they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai was PENTECOST, which always occurs on the first day of the week, the 50th day after the wave sheaf offering (see "Why the Confusion Counting Pentecost?" Then on the third day (ver. 11,15-18 - on the first day of the week - Pentecost) He came down upon Mount Sinai to restore His Law, the conditions of the covenant - the One True Religion of God - to counter the false gods and false religious systems of the world by which Satan had deceived and corrupted the whole world (Rev 12:9).

"Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
"And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain…
"Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai…"
(Ex 19:15-20).

And God gave them the Ten Commandments, which are the foundation of the moral laws of His Kingdom and the basis of the One True Religion. These are the CONDITIONS of His COVENANT with Israel and His True Church.

"And God spoke all these words, saying:
"I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me…
"You shall not make for yourself any graven image…
"You shall not take the name ("shem,"
meaning, name, honor, authority, character) of the Lord your God in vain ("shaw," meaning in falsehood, as being meaningless, unreal or of no worth or power, or in profanity)…
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy… (the Sabbaths include the weekly Sabbaths, the 7 annual Holy Days and the Sabbath and Jubilee years and identify who God's people are, testing who will obey Him (Ex 16:4-5,22-30; 31:12-17; Lev 23 & 25) …
"Honor your father and your mother…
"You shall not murder.
"You shall not commit adultery.
"You shall not steal.
"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
"You shall not covet…"
(Ex 20:1-21).

And God gave them the rest of His laws, statutes and judgments through Moses (Ex 21, 22, 23...).

"So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And (again) all the people answered with one voice and said, 'All the words which the Lord has said we will do.'
"And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord…
"Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said
(a 3rd time), 'All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.'
"And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, 'Behold, the blood of the covenant which the Lord had made with you according to these words'"
(Ex 24:3-4,7-8).

The blood of the covenant represented the penalty for breaking the covenant and was prophetic of the sacrifice Jesus Christ would make to pay for man's sins with His own blood (Heb 10:28-29; 13:20-21). But God did not give them laws requiring the other sacrifices and offerings at that time.

"Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh.
"For I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.
"But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you"
(Jer 7:21-23).

At the end of their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, God renewed His covenant with the children of those who died in the wilderness because of their disobedience, and,

"so it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished,
"that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying,
"Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you"
Deut 31:24-26).

"For He (God) established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children;
"That the generation to come might know them, the children who should be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children,
"That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments"
(Psa 78:5-7).

Thus the children of Israel became God's chosen people, the people of God (Psa 47; 1 Pet 2:9-10) the children of the covenant (Acts 3:25), the "Church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38), the Church or congregation ("Ekklesia," meaning the called-out ones, church, congregation, assembly) of God, called out of Egypt, to become the chosen or elect ("ekletos") people of God.

"O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob (Israel), His chosen ones!…
"For He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant.
"He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness.
"He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations,
"That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the Lord!"
(Psa 105:6, 42-45)

Many "Christians" who read the account of Old Testament Israel have been confused concerning the God of Israel and the covenant God gave them on Mount Sinai. Some think the Lord God of the OT and His laws were harsh and that Jesus Christ, the Lord of the NT came to do away with His Father's laws. This may come as a shock to many, but Jesus Christ Himself said,

"Do not think that I came to destroy (or do away with) the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away
(this hasn't happened yet), one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all be fulfilled.
"Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven
(if he repents); but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven" (Mat 5:17-19).

Perhaps just as confusing to many Christians, and to Jews who reject Jesus as the True Messiah - not knowing the Scriptures, is the apostle Paul's statement:

"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized through Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ (the Messiah)" (1 Cor 10:1-4).

He is saying that it was Jesus Christ, who delivered OT Israel out of bondage in Egypt. How could that be?  

Is there Only One True Church?
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Here it is important to understand the Truth about God's Church (called-out ones) in both the Old and New Testaments and who is the Head that directs that Church, what its purpose is and how to identify it's true members.

The CHURCH ("ekklesia," meaning called-out ones) in both the Old and New Testaments is defined as the BODY of CHRIST, and is made up of those whom God CALLS OUT from the SINs of this world to become followers of God and His One True Religion, as revealed by His Covenant, which is His Word and Law - the Truth - which He gave to Israel at Mount Sinai on Pentecost - (Isa 8:20; Psa 119:42-43,142,151; John 8:31-32; 17:17; Eph 5:1-2). God's people, His Church are called the seed (descendants) of Abraham, the children of Jacob (Israel).

"O seed of Abraham His servant, you children of Jacob His chosen…
"He has remembered His Covenant FOREVER, the Word which He commanded for a thousand generations.
"Which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac;
"and confirmed unto Jacob for a Law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant…"
(Psa 105:8-10).

Because men rejected God's rule over them and sinned, man became cut off from God and the hope of eternal life. When we become corrupted by sin we bring death upon ourselves, as the law says. For,

"The soul that sins shall die" (Eze 18:4,20),
"For the wages of sin is death..." (Rom 6:23).

Sin separates man from God and the hope of eternal life, as Satan knows, which is why he tries to tempt and deceive and lead us into sin (Rev 12:9). The Scriptures say,

"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you"
(Isa 59:2).
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (Psa 66:18).

Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, the world became cut off from direct access to the tree of life and God (Gen 3:22-24),

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom 5:12),
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23).

All mankind has sinned and has been cut off from God, therefore ALL HAVE NEED OF SALVATION. And because all are cut off from God, none can come to God, except for those whom God would call (John 6:44,65; 14:6; Acts 2:39). God is calling some out of sin to become ambassadors of the Kingdom of God - His representatives to this world as witnesses of His One True Religion.

"For (their) citizenship is in heaven, from which also (they) eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…" (Phil 3:20; see also John 14:3-4,28; Heb 11:16).

Their reward is the promise of salvation as the firstfruits in the Kingdom of God and to rule over the earth as kings and priests with Jesus Christ at His return (Rev 5:9-10; 20:6).

God called-out individuals such as Abel, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be witnesses of His Truth and righteous ways to this world. He called the children of Jacob (Israel - Gen 32:27-28) out of Egypt to be "a special treasure…above all people… a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:5-6), as His Church - called-out ones. God is recruiting and expanding His Church to represent Him and the way of righteousness and salvation as a blessing to all the peoples and nations of the world as He had promised to Abraham (Gen 22:15-18).

The Church (called-out ones of God) is collectively called the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27; Col 1:24). To understand the truth about the true Church of God it is necessary to also understand who Jesus Christ is (see "Who is Jesus Christ"). Modern translations of the Scriptures have hidden the true meaning and significance of the name of Jesus Christ. Many, not having a "love of the truth" (2 Thes 2:10), nor "knowing (understanding) the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mat 22:29) have been confused or blinded from understanding the truth (2 Cor 4:3-6).

The name Jesus is a transliteration of the NT Greek "Iesous," which is a transliteration of the OT "Yahoshua" (or "Yashua"). The direct English translation of the Hebrew "Yashua" is Joshua, for which the book of Joshua is named. Yashua is a contraction of two Hebrew words, "Yahovah" (or "Yahveh"), meaning Eternal, translated in the OT as LORD, and "yasha," meaning to save, to free, avenge, defend, deliver, help, preserve, rescue, bring salvation, get victory. In other words, Jesus ("Yahoshua," "Yashua" or Joshua) is the LORD (meaning ETERNAL) WHO DELIVERS or SAVES in the OT (He delivered Israel out of Egypt), and is the prophesied Savior who would come and give His life to save man from sin in the NT - as "our Passover sacrificed for us" (Ex 14:30; Isa 25:9; 45:15,17,21-22; Mat 1:21; 1 Cor 5:7).

Christ, meaning anointed or Anointed One, is from the Greek word "Christos," a Greek translation of the OT Hebrew "Mashiyach" (Messiah), meaning anointed. The patriarchs, priests, kings and prophets, and the tabernacle and instruments of the worship service were anointed with the holy anointing oil (Ex 28:41; 29:7-9,36; 30:22-32; 1 Sam 15:1; 16:3,12-13; 1 Kg 19:15-16; Psa 105:15). The sick are also anointed with oil to be healed (Mk 6:13; James 5:14). The anointing with holy oil symbolically represents the Spirit and power of God by which God works and transmits His spiritual blessing and gifts to men (Gen 1:2; Ex 31:3; 1 Cor 12:1,4-11; 2 Tim 1:7) to perform their God appointed duties and administer miracles such as healing. Jesus, the ANOINTED ONE, said,

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…" (Isa 61:1; Lk 4:18).
"…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. For God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).

Jesus ("Yahoshua," the ETERNAL SAVIOR) Christ ("Mashiyach," the MESSIAH) is not only the MESSIAH who was prophesied in the OT to come to save His people, but was also,

"the Word ("Logos," meaning word, intelligent thought, Spokesman), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
"He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made"
(John 1:1-3).

"His name is called The Word of God" (Rev 19:13).

As the Word (Spokesman), Jesus was the Spokesman of the God (Elohim) Family to Israel and the called-out ones in the OT. He said to the children of Israel on Mount Sinai,

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
"You shall have no other gods before Me"
(Ex 20:2-3).
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb 13:8). He has not changed from OT times to the present.

"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
"He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God, even those who believe in His name…"
(John 1:10-12).

Jesus ("Yahoshua") in the OT was also called "Melchizedek (meaning King of Righteousness) …Priest of the Most High God" (Gen 14:18; Heb 4:14; 5:5-6; 7:1,21-27) to Abraham and the patriarchs of the Church before Israel became a nation. Jesus Christ, as King of Righteousness and King of Peace (Heb 7:1-3), will return as "King of kings and Lord of lords" to rule over the earth in the near future (Rev 11:15; 19:16).

Jesus ("Yahoshua") has therefore, in both the Old and New Testaments, always been "the Head of the body," of the true Church of God (Eph 1:22; Col 1:18).

"…Christ is the Head of the Church, and He is the Savior of the body" (Eph 5:23).
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth… All things were created through Him and for Him.
"And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
"And He is the Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence"
(Col 1:15-18).

The apostle Peter was brought before the Sanhedrin of the Jewish nation - including their rulers, elders and scribes, and Annas the high priest, which were gathered at Jerusalem. He, being filled with the Holy Spirit said to them concerning Jesus,

"Rulers of the people and elders of Israel…
"let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
"This is the Stone which was rejected by you builders
(they had been established by God to help build His Church), which has become the Chief Cornerstone.
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"
(Acts 4:5-12).

No man who has ever lived, other than Jesus Christ who was both God and the Son of Man, can save another person from eternal death, not even Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Daniel, Peter, Paul, John, the pope, Buddha, Muhammad or any other man, for all have sinned and die for their own sins. All that have died are still in the grave (Psa 49:7-15; Eze 14:14,20; Rom 3:10,23).

"No one has ascended to heaven, except He who came down from heaven, that is the Son of Man who is in heaven" (John 3:13; Acts 2:34).

Jesus Christ is that Rock that led Israel out of Egypt and fed them spiritual food and spiritual drink in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4). Israel, God's "Church in the wilderness," was called to become part of the body of Christ. They were His called-out ones - called out of Egypt, which represents calling out of the ways of sin and the false religions of the world.

The apostle Paul explains how the True Church is ONE (united) CHURCH, as the Spiritual Body of Christ:

"I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…
"endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
"There is ONE Body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling…"
(Eph 4:1,3-4).
"I now rejoice in my sufferings for you…in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of HIS BODY, which IS the CHURCH,
"of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,
"the MYSTERY which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints ("hagios,"
meaning holy, pure, sanctified, devoted or set apart for God's purpose).
"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles ("ethnos," meaning nations, peoples, all mankind, races, tribes, heathens, Gentiles): which is CHRIST ("Christos," meaning the anointing or Anointed One - Christ-His Spirit and power) IN YOU, the hope of Glory.
"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in ("en"
by, through, to…) Christ (the Anointed One) Jesus ("Yahoshua," the Eternal who saves)" (Col 1:24-28).

The Church is One Body under Jesus Christ. The members are not independent, but are part of a spiritual body of believers who obey God. The body may include various individuals and groups of believers who are physically separated or scattered from others of the body (Dan 12:7), but they are spiritually united under Christ and keep the same One True Religion of God. Jesus said to His disciples,

"I am the good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own...
"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"
(John 10:14,16,27).
True believers would spiritually recognize those of other groups if they are true believers obeying God's One True Religion. Two such groups include those springing out of OT Israel or Judah, some of whom today may call themselves "Messianics" because they accept, believe and follow Christ as their Lord and Savior; and those others who call themselves "Christians" (Acts 11:26; 26:28) of NT Christianity who believe and obey Christ and the Law of God. The two wave loaves offered at Pentecost represent the true believers who followed Christ in both Old and New Testament times.

In the NT, the 7 churches of Asia represent 7 eras of the NT Church as mostly separate groups God would call from Christ's time to the end. Many of those groups or eras are commanded by Christ to "hold fast what you have till I come..." (Rev 2:25; 3:3,11). Some may believe that they are the only group obeying God, not knowing that God has others He is working with, even as Elijah thought that he alone was the only true prophet of God left, but God revealed to him He had 7,000 others "whose knees have not bowed to Baal" (1 Kgs 19:1-3,14-18).

"The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim 2:19).
"For as the body is ONE and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, ARE ONE BODY, so [likewise] is Christ.
"For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free
(Israel was baptized in the cloud and in the sea - 1 Cor 10:1-2) - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit…
"For in fact the body is not one member but many.
"If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,' is it therefore not of the body?…
"If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
"But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
"And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
"…the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you."
"…But God has composed the body… that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
"And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually"
(1 Cor 12:12-27).

No one can be a member independent of the body of Christ, the One True Church of God. If a member is cut off from the body it will soon die, just as if a finger or an arm were cut off from your body. The same is also true if we are cut off from God, we cannot sustain our own life forever as Adam and Eve found out - contrary to Satan's lie that they would not surely die (Gen 3:4). And if a branch is cut off from a vine or tree, it will soon wither and die. Therefore Jesus said of His spiritual body,

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away...
"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...
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered..."
(John 15:1-6).
Even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said as the Son of Man,
"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30).

"So the many, are ONE body IN CHRIST (by the anointing with the Holy Spirit - 1 John 2:20), and individually members one of another" (Rom 12:5).

The 12 sons of Jacob (Israel) were called, as a family grown into a great multitude while in Egypt, to become the Old Testament Church of God. Jacob's 12 sons became nation states, united and organized into a federation called Israel in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt. God chose one tribe, Levi from whom Moses and Aaron came, to be His priesthood to serve as His representatives in teaching His one true religion to the nation. Though all Israel was called out of Egypt, they were NOT YET "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." They were yet to become spiritual Israel. They were not yet all part of the spiritual Church of God as their fathers' Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) had been.

True Church Led by Spirit and Truth
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The spiritual Body of Christ or true Church of God includes those who are "called, chosen and faithful" (Rev 17:14), those who are led by the Spirit of God and delight in and obey the Law of God. King David, of whom God said, "I have found David…a man after My own heart, who will do all My will" (Acts 13:22), wrote,
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night"
(Psa 1:1-2).
"Oh, how love I Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
"You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies…"
( Psa 119:97-98).

When David sinned, he humbled himself and beseeched God (Jam 4:5-10),

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
"Cast me not away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
"Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your free Spirit"
(Psa 51:10-12).

James, a brother of Jesus wrote,
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble...
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you...
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up"
(James 4:6-7,10).

Self-righteous pride and vanity, not realizing our dependence and need for God and His guidance (His Divine intelligence) and sustenance through His instruction and the Holy Spirit, cuts us off from God (Gen 3:5,22-24; Jam 4:13-16).

The apostle Paul reveals that only through Jesus Christ can we receive God's Spirit, which enables us to keep the law of God to free us from the way of sin and condemnation of death. He wrote,

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death…
"that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God
(and of the Body of Christ)…
"The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…" (Rom 8:1-2,4,14,16).
"But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (not of the Body of Christ - Rom 8:9).

When one humbles himself and turns in repentance and obedience to God, Jesus Christ makes intercession for them to receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit as the apostle Peter said, speaking to the "men of Israel":

" Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ("which God gives to those who obey Him" - Acts 5:32).
"For the promise is to you and your children, and to all those who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).

One cannot join the spiritual Body of Christ strictly of their own volition without Jesus Christ (the Head of the true Church of God from Adam's time to the present) making intercession for them.

"for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Jesus said to His disciples,

"No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him ("…the goodness of God leads [a person] to repentance," through His Spirit - John 16:8,13; Rom 2:4), and I will raise him up at the last day (in the resurrection)…" (John 6:44).
"…as many as receive Him, to them He gives the power to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (authority)" (John 1:12).
He continued, "It is the Spirit that gives life…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
"But there are some of you who do not believe…
"Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father"
"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more"
(John 6:63-66).

When Israel was led out of Egypt into the wilderness, they drank of that spiritual Rock, which was Christ to enable them to become His Church. As Paul explains,

"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
"all were baptized by Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food,
"and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was the Christ
(the Messiah, Anointed One)" (1 Cor 10:1-4).
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13).

It is the Holy Spirit, the power of God (2 Tim 1:6-9), and the truth that sanctifies us, sets us apart from the world through Jesus Christ into God's One True Church, which is kept in God's name (power and authority - John 17:6-19).

"God, from the beginning, [has chosen us] to salvation through sanctification of the SPIRIT and belief of the TRUTH" (2 Thes 2:13).
For "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24).

Jesus asked God to sanctify His disciples.

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your (God's) WORD is TRUTH.
"As You sent Me into the world, I also send them into the world…
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word"
(John 17:17-18,20).

The Church of God is empowered by God's Spirit to be His witnesses to the world (Lk 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 22:14-16; 26:16-18).

"…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

The Spirit and the Truth (the Word of God) are the criteria defining those who are part of the spiritual Body of Christ - the True Church of God.

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa 8:20).
"Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God"
(Rom 8:14).

Does God play favorites?
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Jealousies rage in the world of religion over who are God's special people, His true Church, His favorites. Many desire to have the blessings of God's chosen people.

What persons or nation wouldn't want to be God's favorite people and receive His blessings and protection? King David loved God and greatly desired God's blessings and protection for Israel. He wrote in the Psalms,

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He has chosen as His inheritance…
"No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength…
"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, and those who hope in His mercy,
"to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine"
(Psa 33:12,18-19).

King Solomon, David's son, wrote: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov 14:34).

Many false religious leaders have risen up claiming to be God's chosen ones, establishing their own religions and churches. They usurp divine authority deceiving many to gain their own followings, causing strife and divisions, often dividing God's true Church (Mat 24:4-5; 1 Cor 1:10-11; 2 Tim 2:14-26; 3:1-7; 2 Pet 2; 3 John 9-11). Some become despotic religious maniacs who lead others to kill and war for control or power over people and nations, even murdering those they consider to be infidels or unfaithful to their cause, thinking they are doing God's service (John 16:2-3).

Did God choose Israel above all other peoples and nations because they were great or a very righteous people?

God is always just and fair. All who keep His Word are special to God. The prophet Malachi wrote:

"Then those who feared the Lord spoke often to one another, and the lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.
"'They shall be Mine,' says the Lord of hosts, 'on the day that I make up My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.'
"Then You (Christ) shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him"
(Mal 3:16-18; Mat 25:31-46).

Did God choose Israel because they were a great and righteous people? Moses answers,

"The Lord did not set His love on you (the children of Israel) nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples" (Deut 7:7).
"Do not think in your heart… 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you…
"Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.
"Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord"
(Deut 9:4-7).

God wanted to demonstrate His mercy and love and the blessings of keeping His righteous ways through Israel to all the nations of the earth. Moses wrote,

"Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess.
"Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
"'For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?
(Deut 4:5-8).

God chose the children of Israel because of Abraham's faith and obedience as He promised to Abraham,

"because Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him…
"For I have known him, that he will command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken to him"
(Gen 18:18-19).
"because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Gen 26:5).

Those who are the "Israel of God," that is spiritual Israel, will be the firstfruits of salvation. They are those who, having the faith of Abraham, believe and willingly obey the truth,

"…just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Gal 3:6; Gen 15:6).

But many, who are "Israel after the flesh," genetically, do not believe and obey the truth, many reject Jesus Christ (the Messiah and Savior). Some try to justify themselves and their disobedience by strictly keeping the rituals "works of the law." The apostle Paul, who had been a "Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee," had lived "according to the strictest sect of [his] religion," and "concerning the law, a Pharisee" who formerly persecuted the Church of God, "now preaches the faith which [he] once tried to destroy" (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Phil 3:5; Gal 1:23). He writes concerning those of "Israel after the flesh" (1 Cor 10:18), who try to justify themselves by the works of the law,

"Indeed, you who are called a Jew, and rely on the law and boast in God,
"and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,
"and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
"an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
"You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?
"You who say, 'Do not commit adultery,' do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
"You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?
"For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles
(nations) because of you, as it is written.
"For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision…
"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh;
"but he is a Jew
(spiritually) who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God" (Rom 2:17-25,28-29).
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
"But Christ ("Christos,"
the Anointed One, and the anointing or baptism with the Holy Spirit - Mat 3:11) is the end ("telos," goal, purpose) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believe... (God's purpose of the law is to reveal our sin and lead us to repentance to accept Jesus Christ and receive the Holy Spirit through Him that we may be able to keep the spiritual intent of law - as demonstrated by Him (Rom 2:4; 3:19-20; 7:7; 8:4; Gal 3:19-24; 1 Pet 2:11-24)…
"For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' …
"For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"…
"But they have not all obeyed the gospel
(good news). For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?" (Rom 10:1-4,11-13,16).

It is those who believe and willingly surrender to and remain faithful to God, obeying His Word as faithful Abraham did, having the "firstfruits of the Spirit" and are "led by the Spirit" and "Walk in the Spirit," that are God's chosen people - the spiritual "Israel of God" (Acts 5:32; Rom 8:14,23; Gal 5:16,18; 6:16; 1 Thes 2:13; Rev 14:4; 17:14).

"Just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,
"therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
"And the Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel through Abraham saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed'
"So that those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham"
(Gal 3: 6-9).

Clearly, God is not partial or a respecter of persons as the apostle James wrote:

"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ…with partiality…
"…Has not God chosen the poor
(in spirit, humble - Mat 5:3) of this world rich in faith to be heirs of the Kingdom, which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:1,5).

God does not play favorites, but rather looks on the heart and not the outward appearance as man does (1 Sam 16:7). He gives all equal opportunity to believe and obey the truth through,

"…the gospel of Christ…(which) is the power of salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'
"And the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness"
(Rom 1:16-18).

Those who deny Jesus Christ (Mat 10:33-34; Lk12:9; Acts 3:13-15; 2 Tim 2:12; Tit 1:16; 2 Pet 2:1-3; 1 John 2:22-23) and refuse to believe or obey the truth will be rejected from the Kingdom and Family of God, unless they overcome their pride and repent of their sins and evil desires and reject the deceptions of this world and Satan (Mat 13:18-23; 1 John 2:15-17; Rev 12:9; 13:14-17; 17:1-6; 18:2-5).

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10).

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers ("pharmakeus," drug makers, peddlers and users), idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev 21:8 - if they do not repent - 2 Pet 3:9).

To be continued in PART II:

When is PENTECOST for 2016?

Where can you keep PENTECOST?

For information concerning where you can keep PENTECOST with an organized group and a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, you may contact a Church of God nearest you that believes in and is obeying the Bible and Christ's instructions.

Coming Soon

PART II of Mystery of PENTECOST - The Nation and Priesthood of Old Testament Israel
What was Israel's God given mission? How did God organize and prepare Israel to become His kingdom of priests to spread His Word around the world? Why did Israel end up in captivity again?
PART III of Mystery of PENTECOST - Israel and the New Testament (Covenant) Church
Why a "New Covenant"? How is Jesus Christ building His Church? What is their mission?
PART IV of Mystery of PENTECOST - The Apocalypse - Prophecies to the Church & Countdown to Pentecost
Why the 7 Churches of Revelation? Why 7 Seals? Why 7 Trumpets? When is Pentecost?
PART V of Mystery of PENTECOST - Why the Confusion Counting PENTECOST?
Confused about when to keep Pentecost? Find out what the Scriptures Reveal!

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Copyright ©: June 2, 2005 - 2016, Serf Publishing, Inc. Updated - 6/9/2016