|Vol. 1, No. 5||Page 14||May 1999|
The balance of Matthew 24 is devoted to the answers to these two questions. In verses 4-34, Jesus primarily answered the query regarding the destruction of the city of Jerusalem. In verses 35-51, Jesus primarily answered the question about the end of time and when the Messiah would return. All of Matthew Chapter 25 also concerns the end of time when the Messiah would return.
Verse 34 signals the close of the discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem by announcing that the events mentioned in the preceding verses would be fulfilled within the generation of the disciples to whom he was speaking. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Appropriately, so-called signs of the times were to be discernible prior to the destruction of Jerusalem (i.e., “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places,” verse 7). Since these types of things occur in every generation, the only way in which they could signal an approaching event is to understand that they pertain to the same time-frame during which Jesus spoke Matthew 24 and during which the apostles lived. Further, that these verses pertain to the time preceding the destruction of Jerusalem and not to the end of time is obvious, since fleeing to the mountains (verse 16) and lamenting the Sabbath Day or winter months for that flight (verses 19-20) would have no advantage regarding the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ.
Verse 28 is simply a reference to Jerusalem being the point of convergence by the Roman army that was sent to subdue the Jewish rebellion. Verses 29-31, though, are figurative expressions employed to emphasize the utter destruction of the Jewish way of life. These same figures were used repeatedly in the Old Testament regarding other nations who previously were utterly devastated. Therefore, this figurative language cannot literally refer to the end of time and the Second Coming (including the so-called ‘rapture’), otherwise the first century world would have never existed--the world having been destroyed hundreds of years earlier when those figures were previously employed.
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land” (Isaiah 13:9-14).These verses above refer to the conquest of Babylon by the Persians, according to Isaiah 13:1. Verses on either side of the citation above describe the devastation of Babylon by invading armies and give some graphic details regarding the combat.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:30-31).These verses from Joel above appear in a prophecy concerning the establishment of the church and the official end of Judaism. The interpretation is certain since the apostle Peter by inspiration quoted this passage and applied it to the establishment of the church with power on Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21).
Matthew 24:32-33 are more ‘signs of the times’ verses that pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem. Verse 36 commences the discussion regarding the Second Coming of Christ. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (verses 36-37). Notice, that unlike the preceding verses, the event here being discussed will occur at an undisclosed time--no ‘signs of the times.’ The Second Coming in this regard shall be like the universal flood of Noah’s day--unexpected!
“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (verses 38-39). Before the flood, people engaged in normal, everyday activities--because they did not know God’s destructive visitation was about to come. Preceding the coming of Jesus again, because no one knows when that will be, people will also be engaged in normal, everyday activities.
Verses 40-41 describe some of the everyday, normal activities in which people were involved before the flood and which also represent the everyday, normal activities in which people will be involved prior to the Second Coming. In Noah’s day, the saved were extracted from among their fellows to ride the ark above the flood. Others were left--not removed to the salvation of Noah’s ark. Likewise, at the Second Coming, the saved will be extracted from among the lost.
The apostle Paul also taught that the saved will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
So, in Matthew 24:40-41, some will be extracted from the rest of humanity for salvation--to meet our Lord in the air. Incidentally, 1 Thessalonians 4:17 indicates the closest that Jesus will ever come to the earth again (and the saved ones’ final departure from planet earth). Matthew 24:40-41 do pertain to an end of time departure from earth by the saved, but neither they nor any other verses teach the premillennial ‘rapture’ which includes years of tribulation for the wicked and the establishment of an earthly, physical kingdom on earth.
"How do you explain Romans 5!? in relation to Original Sin.
How do you explain from the psalms, ‘In sin did my mother conceive me and in sin was I born. Psalm 51.’I am personally acquainted with the doctrine of original sin, as I was reared in Catholicism. However, based on the following biblical principles, it is no longer my belief that original sin is a divine doctrine. Further, the doctrine of original sin was unknown until introduced in the 14th century according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, among other resources. Obviously, that doctrine, then, was introduced too late to be divine and eternal in origin. The doctrine of Immaculate Conception was not devised to shield the mother of Jesus from the supposed original sin until the year 1687. The doctrine of total depravity, which is Calvinism’s treatment of original sin, was not developed until 1794. According to Philip Schaff in his History of the Christian Church, the Council of Trent in 1546 decided the question of original sin in favor of what became the popular doctrine in the Catholic Church. All of this indicates the time period in which the doctrine of original sin became popular and was adopted. Of course these dates are far removed from the introduction of mankind on earth, the beginning of revelation from God and well beyond the close of the New Testament when revelation from God concluded.
Regarding Romans 5, please note the following: “12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead . . .” (Rom. 5:12-15). Please read the above quotation from Scripture carefully. The verses say that (1) Adam was the first person to sin. (2) The consequence of sin was death. (3) Through Adam sin and death were introduced into the world. (4) Death passed to all men because “that they all have sinned,” too! The verses do not say that sin passed to all men because of Adam. What passed to all men was death, and that because all men have sinned, not because they received the sin of Adam. Through Adam’s introduction of death into the world, as many as sinned also faced death. That is true irrespective of whether the “death” in Romans is taken to mean spiritual or physical death (or both). (5) The contrast between Adam and Christ is that Christ brings life whereas Adam brought death.
Regarding Psalm 51, consider the American Standard Version rendering of verse 5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.” In neither the KJV nor the ASV does the verse teach original sin. Simply, the reference (twice, a parallelism) refers to the immorality in which babies are sometimes conceived, and David made application of that circumstance to himself. Whether David referred to his immediate parents is not clear; he may have referred to adultery in his ancestry between Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. Also, the child who died who was born to the adulterous relationship between David and Bathsheba (which sin haunted David and may have been the catalyst for Psalm 51) .
Your reference to “How do you explain the verse that says this promise is for you and your children” is somewhat vague regarding your complaint for original sin. Apparently you are referring to Acts 2:38-39, which reads: “38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The promise referred to here is miraculous power. Acts 2:1-4 shows the apostles receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit which causes quite a stir in the city. Asked for an explanation, the apostle Peter quoted Joel 2:28-3:2 in Acts 2:16-21 in which miraculous power was promised in conjunction with the beginning of the church or kingdom. The prophecy in Joel, though, was not completely fulfilled in the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (women were to be included in the reception of miraculous power, etc.). In Acts 2:38-39 Peter repeated the promise to include those who obeyed the Gospel and became members of the church.
Obviously, I concur that baptism saves, as 1 Peter 3:21
says it does. Notice 1 Peter 3:20-21, “20Which sometime were disobedient,
when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the
ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Though “infants are included in all nations,” as you note, they do not otherwise qualify for biblical baptism according to Scripture. Note the following, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved . . .” (Mark 16:16). Infants are incapable of believing the Gospel, indicating that the command to be baptized does not apply to them. Remember Acts 2:38 says “repent and be baptized.” Small children cannot repent either, so baptism does not apply to them.
The real reason that baptism does not apply to small children is because God does not (1) impute original sin on anyone, and (2) does not impute sin upon them for the bad things they may do while as infants they do not know the difference between right and wrong. Read what Ezekiel wrote regarding responsibility for sin. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). Clearly, one is only guilty of the sins that he or she commit. No one is guilty of sin committed by others, including one’s father or even Adam. The soul who sins is guilty of the sins he commits. That is what God’s Word teaches. Jesus would hardly use children as examples of heavenly habitants were their souls blacked with sin (original sin or their own sins). “13Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:13-14).
Lastly, your following statement, though you sincerely believe it, does not correspond with biblical truth. You wrote: “Any decision we make for Christ was urged and guided upon us by the Holy Spirit creating faith within us. We have nothing to do with it.” Romans 10:17 reveals the true source of biblical faith: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If it were as you believe, that the Holy Spirit is responsible for one’s faith and subsequent salvation without the willing participation of the saved, the Holy Spirit would not only be responsible for those who are saved, but equally responsible (culpable) for everyone who is lost.
In truth, though no one could be saved with the intervention of the Godhead (Father, Holy Spirit and Son), mankind must also use his free will and opt to meet God on his own terms (recorded in the Bible). Therefore, the New Testament indicates that human activity is necessary (obedience — imperfect as it is) to be the recipients of God’s grace and mercy. Consider these verses regarding obedience and human activity in redemption. “8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Jesus saves those who obey. He will punish those who do not obey; “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). It is no surprise, then, that the apostle Paul commanded souls to work out their own salvation; “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Hebrews Chapter 11 lists several Old Testament characters who were praised for their faith — in conjunction with active obedience in their lives.
God sent Jesus into the world to save mankind. The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets, apostles and others God’s revelation to mankind (the Bible). Jesus willingly sacrificed himself for us — the perfect, sinless for the imperfect, sin laden. Essentially, regarding redemption, God (Godhead) voted for us; Satan voted against us; and we cast the deciding vote by either our obedience or disobedience. Man’s part, simplified, includes hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), believing or faith (Mark 16:16); repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30); professing Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37); immersion for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16); and, faithfulness (Rev. 2:10).
Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts and passages with you. I am sincerely interested in the welfare of my soul and your souls, too.
“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).God patterned the Jewish Sabbath according to God’s creation of the world in six days, ceasing from his creating on the seventh day. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
However, both Patriarchy and Judaism (the Old Testament, inclusive of the Ten Commandments or so-called moral law) have been replaced with the Gospel (the New Testament). Today, we live under Christianity, not Patriarchy or Judaism. We turn exclusively to the New Testament for doctrine. Everyone who turns to the Old Testament today for doctrine is fallen from grace. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
While Seventh Day Adventists acknowledge that the New Testament has replaced the Old Testament (for instance, we are not compelled by God to offer animal sacrifices today), they maintain that the so-called “moral law” in the Old Testament, namely the Ten Commandments, is still valid today. The following passages teach that the Old Testament has been replaced with the New Testament: 2 Corinthians 3:6-16; Ephesians 2:11-18; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 8:6-13. Romans 7:1-7 also teaches that the Old Testament was replaced with the New Testament, but it shows that the Decalogue or Ten Commandments were replaced, too. The Ten Commandments are specifically included in this passage through reference to one of the Ten Commandments.
“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:6-7).Generally, it is recognized, that in one form or another, nine of the Ten Commandments are reiterated in the New Testament, whereas the commandment to “keep the Sabbath Day holy” has not been re-instituted in the New Testament. Christians adhere to the nine commandments, not because of their inclusion in the Old Testament which has been retired, but because of their inclusion in the New Testament. We are obliged to live by the New Testament today, and by the New Testament we who live today will be judged before the throne of God (Revelation 20:12).
Not only did Jesus Christ rise from the grave on the first day of the week (we call that day Sunday) according to Matthew 28:1-6 and Mark 16:9, several other significant references to the first day of the week appear throughout the New Testament. (1) Jesus appeared to his disciples on the day he resurrected (John 20:19). (2) The Lord’s church began on the first day of the week (Acts 2). Pentecost refers to 50 days, counted from the Passover Sabbath. Seven weeks after the Passover comes to 49 days, also a Sabbath. The fiftieth day, then, is the first day of the week. (3) The only New Testament passage that indicates the day on which and the frequency with which the communion was observed by the early church names the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). (4) The only New Testament passage that indicates the day on which the early church worshipped by giving a collection names the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
The apostle Paul and others frequented the synagogues on the Sabbath to teach Jews who were gathered there. However, all references to Christian worship that make any specification indicate the early church, which was led by the Holy Spirit through the apostles and others, worshipped on the first day of the week. This information should provide you with sufficient response to proponents of worshipping on Saturday today. The biblical evidence above predates any allusions to what the Catholic Church may or may not have done regarding the day on which people worship. Your Adventist acquaintances may not be convinced, but it will not be because there is any lack of biblical evidence.
Your references to the “Christian Sabbath” require further explanation here before we close. There is a reference of sorts to a Christian Sabbath, but it is not a reference to any day of the week. Rather, it is a reference to a time (the last day) and a place (heaven). At that heavenly place only will God’s children from all religious ages (Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity) find ultimate “rest.”
In Hebrews chapters Three and Four, though the word “sabbath” is not used, the word “rest” is used to stand for the sabbath. References appear relating the “rest” to the seventh day on which God rested from creation. In a sense, Canaan at the end of the Israelites 40 year march from Egypt is in those chapters called a “rest.” Likewise, the context of those passages refers to heaven as the journey’s end for the Christian as a comparable and much sought “rest.”
“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” (Heb. 3:8-11).
“While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:15-4:11).Strictly speaking, the “Christian Sabbath,” then, really pertains to the eternal heaven for which Christians long and toward which they make their pilgrimage day by day. I hope this helps, in two ways: (1) providing you the biblical references you sought for evidence of Christian worship on the first day of the week, and (2) biblically clarified the use of the terminology “Christian Sabbath.”
The Bible, and for people living today the New Testament, is God’s final, absolute and unchanging standard of authority in religion. Every religious question must be answered with a wholly biblical answer, whether the religious world fully appreciates what God has legislated. For instance, contrary to what many religionists teach, the Gospel indicates that man’s part in the redemptive plan of God includes: hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), faith or belief (Mark 16:16), repenting of sins (Acts 17:30), professing Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), immersion in water for the remission of sins (Romans 6:3-5; Acts 2:38) and faithfulness (Revelation 2:10).
God created Lucifer "the devil". He obviously knew that Lucifer would try to overthrow Him, and that He would eventually banish him to hell. When humans do something "wrong" they attribute their behavior to the devil, "the devil is to blame, the devil is the father of evil and the devil made me do it," they say. The devil is responsible for everything bad, everything that is not good. Ask yourself this: what, where or who was the evil influence on Lucifer when he was a "good" angel and why? Why are people to this day saying that the devil is the worst when he was created like all of us, from the same heavenly body? People say that everything that God creates is good. Ha,ha. respond with a intellectual explanation.One thing that your statement and inquiry appears to overlook is the topic of free will. God neither created robotic angels nor robotic humans. Though God through omniscience has the capacity to know the future, inclusive of the fact that Satan and other angels would rebel, and that humanity, likewise, would rebel, he still chose to create angels and humans--with free will.
Both Satan and humans bear respective responsibility for their sinful actions. Despite the fact that Satan introduced temptation to sin into the world, Adam and Eve were punished for their transgressions--because they were guilty.
Every passage that calls upon mankind to respond in a designated way implies the capacity of mankind to satisfactorily respond of his own free will or volition. As an example, consider the following abbreviated plan of salvation found in the New Testament. Hear God’s Word and believe (Romans 10:17; Mark 16:16). Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). Profess Jesus as Christ (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:37). Be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). Be faithful (Revelation 2:10). Erring Christians are also called upon by God through the Bible to repent and pray for forgiveness of sins subsequent to baptism (Acts 8:22-24).
Equally clear, every passage that warns mankind also implies
the capacity of mankind to satisfactorily respond of his own free will
or volition. Consider: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be
in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God”
(Hebrews 3:12) and “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”
(Romans 12:21). Every instruction in the Bible assumes man’s ability to
comply or refuse it, thereby confirming man’s ability (and responsibility)
to use his freewill correctly (but acknowledging that he may opt to use
his freewill incorrectly).