Gleaning Topics of Interest and Relevance to God's Called and True Saints
Expounding upon the Faith Once Delivered
RT 5/2/08 web.v.
When called upon to explain how Church of God beliefs differ from main stream belief systems, a regard for ‘the Sabbath and Holydays’ is often denoted as prime example. With most, this can be a conversation ender. They may mean a lot to those who are aware of their historic and prophetic relevance, but the general religious public usually sees these as archaic and downright irrelevant in this ‘evangelical’ age.
Perhaps it would be more effective to lead off with more relevant differences, such as the issues: mis-defined grace and the immortal soul. These differences have sound Biblical back-up and move straight to the heart of the essential distinctions between Biblical teachings and the errors of apostate Christianity.
The popular religions embrace a mis-defined “grace” that justifies and even legitimizes disobedience. Paul saw that tendency even in his own time, and specifically forbade that we think such a perverse thing. No matter! It’s so bad in some quarters, that many see ‘obedience’ to anything Biblical (especially Old Testament) as an offence against the auspices of grace, interpreting any apparent compliance with Biblical instruction and example as ‘legalism’, not realizing what the term really means, let alone that it isn’t used in the New Testament! Taken to the logical extreme, such reasoning makes obedience a virtual SIN, as it (in their view) expresses a certain degree of contempt for ‘the Grace of God’! Can we see the challenge? Ephesians 2:10 (a verse modern religion usually disregards) sets a correct final trajectory on the defective idea developed from the oft-quoted verses 8 & 9, typically used to launch toward a wrong conclusion.
The most prevalent idea of ‘Going to Heaven’ is another major distinction with potent leads-into further conversation, should the hearer be remotely interested in further pursuit. The Bible doesn’t mention going to heaven, and in fact, reveals much to the contrary. The early Church set their hope firmly in a resurrection! But one needn’t be resurrected in order to go to heaven as taught by modern religion. Following this issue thru to its logical destination, there’s an opening to also undercut the non-Biblical (but common in ancient pagan religions) idea of the ‘immortal soul’. It is Biblically evident that God has a better plan than religionists envision, in the Millennial Kingdom of God on Earth, which involves resurrections (more than one) and a visible return of Christ to take power over the nations. Thus it’s also evident that there is no ‘end of the world’ as mankind usually expects, but rather, a new age, under the administration of Christ and His Saints. Not your typical picture of things! God’s Plan also addresses the enigmatic question of what happens to those who died not having had a real opportunity for salvation!
IF considering the Sabbath and Holydays as differences, we should note potent historical references. For example, the New Testament Church was Sabbatarian well into the fourth century. This is a clear fact found in the historical record. It kept the Passover, as Paul also instructed the gentile Galatian Church to do, well into the early 300’s AD, a fact also well preserved in the historical record. Pentecost, the anniversary of the founding of the New Testament Church and of the outpouring of God’s Spirit, was a long-established Old Testament Holyday, strictly determined from within the several interdependent Holydays associated with the first annual harvest, not the least of which being Passover, the day commemorating when the Lamb of God finalized the process of taking away the sins of the world!
Holydays are presented as the outline for understanding end-time Bible prophecy, carrying a greater interest factor than just a mention by themselves. Biblical Holydays frame and help place the astounding events described in the books of Daniel and Revelation in a light that no other lines of explanation can remotely come close to. Anyone who correctly understands end-time prophecy will immediately see the correlation! And, oh yes, the banishment of Satan from society for a thousand years should also provoke a certain degree of profound thought as to what kind of world order that will be. This being yet another anomaly that ‘doesn’t compute’ from the typically taught ‘heaven and hell’ perspective.
It is anticipated that the reader is generally aware of the many scriptures that re-enforce these basic differences, and if not, it is suggested that one review where they are to be sure our quivers are full of irrefutable and thought-provoking arrows. Our ‘differences’ are in fact profound, exciting and vital.