The following Scripture passages are offered to aid beginning fellowships. The readings and commentary for this week are more in line with what has become usual; for the following will most likely be familiar observations. The concept behind this Sabbath’s selection is the coming rebellion.
For the Sabbath of January 9, 2016
[A Second Followup to the December 26th Reading]
The person conducting the Sabbath service should open services with two or three hymns, or psalms, followed by an opening prayer acknowledging that two or three (or more) are gathered together in Christ Jesus’ name, and inviting the Lord to be with them.
[Repeat citation] When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, "Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt 16:5–12)
Jesus’ disciples were not, while Christ lived physically, able to understand what Pharisees and Sadducees couldn’t understand: the signs of the times. They couldn’t yet comprehend the movement from physical to spiritual that accompanies spiritual birth in the so-called Christian era that began at Calvary, which began the darkness of the second day of the Genesis “P” creation account. … In the Genesis “P” Creation Account, a day begins with darkness and ends with light fading into darkness. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is the light and life of men (John 1:4). His presence in this world begins the light or hot portion of a day in the “P” Creation Account; His absence from this world removes both “light” and spiritual life from men. And when men have no spiritual life, none are born of spirit; none are twice-born. Therefore, the return of Christ Jesus to this world—His resurrection following Calvary—becomes the light of the second day as He was, prior to Calvary, the light of Day One. His return gave indwelling spiritual life to His first disciples as he had received indwelling spiritual life when the spirit of God [pneuma Theou] had descended upon and entered into Him when raised from a watery grave in the Jordan (Mark 1:10).
Jesus’ first disciples received indwelling spiritual life when Jesus “breathed” His breath on them (John 20:22): the first disciples were then born again, or born from above, or born of spirit. They were then twice-born. The spiritual Body of Christ had been born of the glory of God. However, for the spiritual Body of Christ to continue living required the Father to draw additional disciples from this world and give them to Christ Jesus as He gave the first disciples to Christ. This He did for a generation. This He didn’t continue to do when unbelief overwhelmed believers, unbelief caused by Jesus not returning when believers had come to expect His return.
In the Genesis “P” Creation Account, “Day One” is said to be “good”; the third day [disciples should never use the identifier “Day Three” for the third day] is twice said to be “good.” But the second day is not declared “good”; for on the second day—its light portion—the spiritual Body of Christ died from the unbelief of second generation disciples … when there was no good reason for the spiritual Body of Christ to die; when second generation disciples continued to be unable to discern the signs of the times as evidenced by certain men coming from James in Jerusalem to Antioch (Gal 2:12) causing Peter to continue assigning importance to circumcision of the flesh, there was also no reason for God to continue drawing disciples from this world. Any He drew would be ideologically contaminated by converts from Judaism who apparently believed that a Christian proselyte had to first become a physical Jew before becoming a spiritual Israelite. Thus, with the death of John (Justin Martyr, born about 100 CE, claimed John was his contemporary), the Body of Christ ceased to be alive spiritually although the Jesus Movement continued to grow physically, and has continued to grow at least through the middle of the 20th-Century.
The Genesis “P” Creation Account is not a reliable account of the physical creation, nor should it have ever been taken as an account of the physical creation. The “P” Creation Account is about the Father’s spiritual creation of sons … the physical creation is physical by definition. Human eyes are physical and can, with optical aids, see what is physical. But even with optics, human eyes cannot see the spirit of God that is “spiritual” and not physical. Therefore, Genesis 1:2 should have told believing disciples that the “P” Creation Account wasn’t about a physical creation: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” … as an account of a physical creation, the second sentence of verse 2 doesn’t belong: there would be no way to know that the spirit of God hovered, as a hen over her clutch, over the face of the waters. The spirit of God couldn’t have been seen except from a spiritual perspective, meaning that this creation account moves from physically filling the earth to the hovering spirit of God. This movement would seem to be sufficient for all but the dullest of readers to comprehend that the “P” account in the dark portion of Day One moves from describing a physical universe to describing the spiritual creation of human sons of God, glorified on both the fourth and sixth days of the week, with each day determined by the absence [the darkness] or the presence [the light portion of a day] of the Creator in His creation.
Again, Genesis 1:2 reveals movement in the “P” creation account from the Lord “filling” [bara] the physical world [what can be seen with eyes] to the creation of spiritual sons of God, with the naming of physical entities used to establish a spiritual hierarchy that has what appears “first” being first—and what appears first is the “light” of “Day One,” which Paul identifies as the face of Christ Jesus:
Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor 4:3–7)
Our physical bodies are the clay jars [fleshly vessels] that hold inside of us the light of Day One … the disciple who has truly been born of spirit through the indwelling of Christ Jesus, the spirit of Christ [pneuma Christou] having penetrated the spirit of the person [to pneuma tou ’anthropou], is a firstfruit of God, and will be part of the harvest of firstfruits that began with the Resurrection of Christ Jesus as the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering and will continue until the resurrection at the Second Advent, foreshadowed by the Feast of Weeks of the annual High Sabbaths calendar. The greatest part of this harvest of firstfruits will come from the Endurance in Jesus, the last 1260 days of seven endtime years of tribulation.
In the Luke/Acts account, forty days after His resurrection Jesus left His disciples, who were still in Jerusalem, but this Luke/Acts account is a redaction of the oral gospel and of early written accounts, used to craft a Second Sophist novel [Acts] that employs the episodal motifs characteristic of Greek novels strung together as if Acts were a shell-bead necklace. The Luke/Acts account is not to be trusted, but is to be used only to show why the Father would cease to draw persons from this world after a second generation. So while it is fairly easy to show why the Luke/Act account is not to be trusted, this Reading is not the place to again do so.
Therefore, leaving Acts to be the only 1st-Century Greek novel most Christians will ever read, we need to look at John’s Gospel: once the glorified Jesus “breathed” His breath on His disciples and said, Receive spirit holy (John 20:22), Jesus was inside His disciples in the form of His spirit, His glory, His life. So spiritually, Jesus didn’t leave His disciples after forty days but remained with them for as long as the “clay jar” [fleshly body of the disciple] lived physically. He would continue to be with them in the form of His spirit in their spirit [the Father’s spirit in Christ’s spirit], with their spirit in their souls [psuchas] that sleep under the heavenly altar (Rev 6:9) after the destruction of the clay jars.
In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus was given a bag of wind that wasn’t to be opened … modern North Americans and Europeans would be skeptical that wind could be put inside a bag, but what is a balloon if not a bag of wind? What is a tank of compressed air if not a steel bag of wind?
With the same manner of skepticism, modern humanity will doubt that “light” can be held in a clay jar. But a lantern is light held in a glass jar of sorts … what Paul asks, what John asks, what Matthew says disciples are to believe is that the light and life of men, namely Christ Jesus, can be held in the inner self of a human person. And there will be—are—Christians who simply cannot wrap their minds around the concept of an indwelling Christ Jesus giving life to a new living creature inside the fleshly body of a physically living person.
In the modern period, the Christian pastor and would-be prophet (whose ministry spanned the globe) that was least able to accept the reality of the light and life of men dwelling in clay jars was Herbert W. Armstrong, who in his writings consistently denied that disciples were (or even could be) born of spirit prior to the resurrection of firstfruits. A few of Armstrong’s disciples continue to linger as homeless waifs around the outer edges of greater Christendom … actually, they scurry here and there as if they are wharf rats searching for any spiritual tidbit that has been dropped by others in this present dark portion of the third day. They are spiritually starving; for the now fossilized food left to them by Armstrong will not sustain spiritual life. They are to be pitied, but as with rats, they will attack and eat the person trying to help them if they could. So care must be used when trying to feed them real spiritual food.
It is easy, however, to mock them, not something that should be done even when these waifs invite mocking.
In this present era, Christians born of spirit constitute the Elect, foreknown by God, predestined to be glorified while still dwelling in physically living fleshly bodies, called by Christ Jesus (John 15:16), justified by Christ dying for the person while the person was still a sinner (Rom 5:8), and glorified by the indwelling of the spirit of Christ in the spirit of the person.
The remainder of greater Christendom is to the Elect as the people of Israel in Egypt were to Moses, whom they didn’t believe and didn’t appreciate his intervention with Pharaoh on their behalf.
Israel in Egypt apparently couldn’t imagine the Lord delivering them from slavery to Pharaoh via Moses, an old man with a staff. When Israel in Egypt prayed to the Lord for deliverance, they apparently expected a deliverer with more charisma than Moses had. And today, greater Christendom that prays for Christ’s return [the Second Advent] doesn’t want to prepare itself for seven endtime years of tribulation: greater Christendom apparently expects Christ to spare Christians from what the world will experience. Greater Christendom wants a deliverer that wears a Brooks Brothers suit, Gucci shoes, and delivers to Christians peace and prosperity, not war, famine, plagues, and death.
Islam looks for the coming of a prophet who will speak again the words of Moses and of Jesus—and what were the words of Moses:
Take this Book of the Law [Deuteronomy] and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger through the work of your hands. (Deut 31:26–29)
And what are the words of Jesus:
I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (John 5:42–47)
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has Himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me. (John 12:46–50)
The light portion of the second day of the Genesis “P” Creation Account ends when Christ Jesus, as Creator of all that is physical, leaves His creation, His spirit no longer dwelling in the spirit of any human person; the spiritual Body of Christ dying from want of spiritual breath. And this didn’t happen forty days after His resurrection but seventy years after Calvary: the Body of Christ visibly died with the physical death of John the Elder (ca 101 CE).
When the spiritual Body of Christ visibly died, the dark portion of the third day began: no future disciples would be truly born of spirit as the first disciples were born of spirit until the spiritual Body of Christ was resurrected as Jesus’ earthly body was resurrected from the Garden Tomb after the third day … there are approximately fifteen unaccounted-for hours between when Jesus would have been raised from death and when He ascended to the Father as the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering. These fifteen hours represent a historically brief period of time immediately before the Second Passover liberation of a second Israel, a brief period before the harvest of firstfruits truly gets underway.
The harvest of firstfruits began with Christ Jesus being born of spirit (being twice-born), but not much of a harvest occurs until the Second Passover liberation of a second Israel.
Today, Christians dwell in a spiritual lacunae, a gap that permits deconstruction of the Christian narrative; a gap that exposes the biases and assumptions undergirding greater Christendom; but a gap that also serves to reveal the base plate from which Christian character has grown as if character were crystalline pillars, some near perfection, some fractured and broken, most rather ordinary like quartz in beach sand.
Returning to what Paul wrote to the holy ones at Corinth: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9–10).
Today, when in the lacunae where the biases and assumption undergirding greater Christianity can be seen, what becomes immediately apparent is that an increasing number of Christians have been deceived into believing that what applied in antiquity doesn’t apply today … apparently there are Christians today who believe that a little bit of greed isn’t bad, just as long as the “greed” is used for good. Certainly there are Christians who do not consider cohabitation prior to marriage morally wrong. There are even some Christians who believe homosexuality isn’t inherently evil, that a person’s sexual orientation isn’t something over which the person has control …
Did Jonah have control over the whale when he was alive in its belly? No. Then the argument can be made that a Christian doesn’t have control over his or her sexual orientation—and this might well be the case. But the inner self of the Christian can control whether he or she keeps clothes on and chastity in tact regardless of sexual orientation, meaning that the Christian attracted to persons of the same gender should not act upon that attraction and should abstain from sexual relationships. This also means that the Christian attracted to someone of the opposite gender should abstain from a sexual relationship with the other until after marriage. And if the other person is not a suitable marriage prospect, then no marriage should occur; no sexual relationship should exist.
Cohabitation is, in modernity, a socially acceptable form of fornication: cohabitation is fornication, and fornication has no place inside assemblies of Christ Jesus.
The unbelief of the 1st-Century that caused the spiritual Body of Christ to “die” in this world was created by unfulfilled expectations … endtime disciples don’t really know what Jesus said to His first disciples. The gospel accounts were written decades after Calvary. They were then hand-copied by believers for centuries, the number of copies produced being large in comparison to other manuscripts of the period but the overall number still being as small as a single printing from a press such as the 18th-Century press of the Ephrata Cloister. Therefore, the words that endtime disciples have that are attributed to Jesus can be problematic: these words are of late 1st-Century disciples who either had the mind of Christ through being twice-born, or who were conscious or unconscious pretenders—
Without ourselves having the mind of Christ through being twice-born, there is no way for an endtime disciple to discern the difference between words that Jesus actually said, or might have said, or wouldn’t have said.
If the person born of spirit—if the person who has truly been born again—can begin to think of him or herself as Jonah inside the whale, the person can understand the signs of the times that the men who came from James to Antioch couldn’t understand. The person can begin to understand why greater Christendom cannot seem to rein-in its lawless ways.
Love isn’t condoning sin (unbelief manifested as transgression of the Law), but is warning sinners to repent without condemning the sinner … a Latter Day Saint has bad theology that somewhat carries over into the Arian Christian’s interactions with other Christians. But Herbert W. Armstrong, even as a Sabbath-keeping Christian, also had bad theology that did carry over into his interactions both with his disciples and with other Christians; for Armstrong in his British-Israel theology placed importance on race and skin color just as those certain men who came from James placed importance on circumcision of the flesh.
The Roman Church has bad theology; has theology that embraces the trappings of ritualistic worship of a deity as ancient paganism substituted ritual for obedience to God, thereby worshiping the creature rather than the Creator.
But if Jonah is still dead inside the whale—if the inner self of a human person has not been born of spirit, then what shall be said: all whales are evil continually? No, not true. When the natural fleshly body obeys the desires of the belly and loins, the natural bodies reveal that they still remain subject to the spiritual King of Greece that shall rule over the earth as the firstborn [first convert] of the Adversary, the spiritual King of Babylon. And it is the sudden breaking [death] of this demonic King of Greece, because he is first, at the Second Passover that will cause dissension to rip apart the spiritual kingdom of Babylon … as dissension has ripped apart greater Christendom, dividing and redividing the greater Christian Church, dissension will rip apart spiritual Babylon as rebelling angels fight against each other, the element that is foreknown to occur in the Affliction but the element that cannot really be foreseen.
When Paul wrote, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Cor 6:3), Paul wasn’t referring to angels that never rebelled against the Lord. Rather, Paul was referring to angels presently sentenced to death who will seek to escape death once they realize that they, indeed, can perish; that the Adversary has lied to them from the beginning.
Christians that cannot discern the signs of the times are today as rebelling angels are today, and this is a good place to end this Reading and to pick up the subject in next Sabbath’s Reading.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."