God wants all to repent and be saved. What is in store for those in other religions?
FEAST OF TABERNACLES WISCONSIN DELLS, WISCONSIN October 8, 2012 God’s Plan for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists Sermon presented by: Mr. Melvin Rhodes Good morning, everybody. Hasn’t the music been wonderful during this Feast? It’s been quite exceptional and I want to thank all those who have been responsible for it and have performed special music for us. Now before my family gets a bad reputation for being addicted to electronic gadgets, I’m going to turn this phone off so that it won’t go on during this sermon. I called my wife this morning. She’s been helping our daughter and son-in-law with their twins in Indianapolis. I called and asked how the twins were so I could give you all an update on them. The response I got was that the eldest by one minute, has a cold; and the youngest is not a happy boy. Not sure what that means but I’ll find out tomorrow because I’m going to go back with Vic and Bev Kubik down to Indianapolis just for a night and spend some time with them. It’s been really nice to be here with the Kubik’s and also our eldest two grandchildren, who both said to me this morning that I look better than they do today. I’m sure that if you go and look at them you won’t agree with that statement. I certainly didn’t but it was nice of them to say so. Last year you’ll remember that Diane and I missed the Feast. The reason for that was because of the surgery I’d had which was just a routine surgery, outpatient, and I got an infection and that infection stayed with me for almost a year so we were not able to go to the Feast last year and we were due to go to India and Sri Lanka. We were going to split the Feast between the two countries. We finally were able to make a “make up” visit which we did in July. It was a wonderful visit to see the members there. We remember both countries with great affection and all the people in the Church with great love and appreciation for what they did in showing us around, making us feel very welcome. One thing that really struck me about both countries is that religion has defined them both. I want to illustrate that by telling you a little story: On the Sabbath, the first Sabbath, we were in Agra and I spoke to the Church there which meets in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Samuel. It’s a small congregation in India; there were less than 20 people there. India’s a big country, people are scattered around the country but the biggest number are in the area of Agra which is where the Taj Mahal is. We spent that Sabbath with the Church there. I understand there are 47 at Feast right now in India right now, so that’s good. The following day we were encouraged to visit the two big tourist attractions in Agra. We were told that as it was so hot – the temperature, I think, was 103 degrees with 98% humidity – and it gets up to 115 in July so it was a bit better than it might have been. We were told the best time to go was 6:00 in the morning to look at the Taj Mahal and then at 4:00 in the afternoon to go to the Red Fort and spend the hours in between in our air conditioned room at our hotel which we were very happy to do. So we got up at 5:00 in the morning and got ready to go to the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built in the 1700s by Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife who had died giving birth to their fourteenth child. I suspect he was driven by guilt. It’s quite a magnificent monument. In the afternoon we went to see the Red Fort which was built by the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan, one of the mogul emperors. The Moguls were Muslim rulers who ruled over predominantly Hindu India and they ruled right up until the British took over in 1757. It was a gradual thing but 1757 was the battle which decided who would rule the country. An old man gave us the guided tour. He was very nice, very helpful, showed us around and talked about Mumtaz and showed us where she died and the room where all the babies were delivered. It was quite interesting. Then I saw a tomb in the middle of the compound, above ground level, and I said, “Who’s buried there?” He said, “Oh, that’s an Englishman.” I said, “Oh, I’m from England. I wonder who it is?” And he suddenly looked at me and said, “Before, when I thought you were American, I liked you. Now that I know you’re English, I love you.” He threw his arms around me and gave me this big hug. Then he started to elaborate. He said that his father and his grandfather were both in the British army during the colonial period. It’s often forgotten that one third of the British army was Indian. In World War II, two million Indians volunteered to fight for Britain against Germany and Japan. That’s the biggest volunteer army in the entire history of the world. He started to talk about that; then he talked about how they are now suffering. I asked him what he meant and he said he was talking about the corruption in India which is a major problem in the country. The British ruled India with about a thousand, it might have been twelve hundred, civil servants; that’s all it was – three hundred million people and just a thousand administering the country. The Indian civil service was noted for not being corrupt, but now corruption is a major problem. All our members talked about that to one degree or another. I asked him, “What is your religion?” He said, “I’m a Sikh.” I looked at his head and I said, “I thought Sikh men had to wear a turban, but you’ve got a bald head.” He said, “Well, in 1984 when the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated, she was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards. As a result, Hindus went on a rampage killing Sikhs. Thousands were killed,” and, he said, “I made the decision that it was more important for me to provide for my wife and children than to wear my turban so I removed it.” Once it’s removed they apparently cannot put it back on. So he shaved his head when he removed the turban and he survived. He’s still alive now and he still goes to the Sikh temple but I don’t know exactly what category he’s in because he no longer wears his turban. This religious divide has made a major problem in India, not just between Hindus and Sikhs, but also, of course, Muslims. India is predominantly Hindu, but it also has the second biggest Islamic population in the world after Indonesia. You remember four years ago, at the time we were celebrating Thanksgiving, Muslims staged a major terrorist attack at the Taj Hotel, the most prestigious hotel in Mumbai, the biggest city in India, the financial capital. They killed a lot of people including Americans and including Jews and they treated the Jews despicably. They have a major problem between these religions and it doesn’t end there. Because the British ruled the country for two hundred years, despite a few converts to mainstream Christianity, and there’s conflict there. In fact, two of India’s twenty eight states recently passed laws forbidding people from changing religions. You see how some of these situations are becoming more and more complicated. Then we went to Sri Lanka for a few days. Sri Lanka also has its religious divides. Sri Lanka is a majority Buddhist country, but there is a minority of Tamils, who are Hindus. The Tamils live in the north and the Tamils for thirty years struggled for independence to form their own homeland; they fought against the Sinhalese Buddhists. Last year the rebellion ended, but it went on for thirty years and could easily start up again. The two countries are connected. When Indira Gandhi’s son, Rajiv, became her successor as Prime Minister, he was in turn assassinated by Tamils because they thought he had betrayed their ethnic group, sending Indian troops into Sri Lanka to try to be peace keepers and keep the two sides separated. So this is the way it goes on. In fact, even going further back, India got its independence in August 1947 and in January 1948 Mahatma Gandhi, who was not related to Indira or Rajiv, was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist. Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu, but he was assassinated by a Hindu because the Hindu felt he had betrayed India because at independence India was divided up between the Hindus, who stayed in India, and the Muslims who formed Pakistan. He blamed that on Mahatma Gandhi. Even at the beginning of India’s independence in 1947, the country was divided immediately on religious lines. These religions do not get along. It interests me that in the United States and other western countries, we seem to think we can reverse all this conflict by welcoming millions of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and others to our own countries and somehow they’re all going to get along, which they never did back home. That shows the naiveté of Western thinking. Political correctness tells us that all these religions lead to God. Is this true? Look at Acts chapter 4. Acts chapter 4 – we see clearly here that that is not the case. Acts 4:5 Acts 4:5And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
American King James Version×– this is shortly after the Church started. V5 - 6 And it came to pass on the next day, that their rulers and elders and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest were gathered together in Jerusalem; V7 – And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this? V8 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, V9 – if we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man (the miracle they had performed earlier – Peter and John), by what means he’s been made well; V10 – 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 stand here before you whole. So he quite boldly told them these things. V11 – This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Now, note verse 12: V12 – Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved. Salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ so don’t be misled by political correctness especially those of you who are going to our public school system which teaches things that are incorrect when it comes to religion. All religions do not lead to God; all religions do not take us on the path to eternal life. Only through Jesus Christ can we receive salvation and that is what separates Christianity from other religions. Now having said that, I have got to also add that most Christians do not understand the true message that is in the scriptures. False religion dominates everywhere you go. What will be the fate of people enlightened by God’s truth? What is going to be the fate of all these Hindus, Muslims and the Buddhists? What is their part in God’s plan, because they do fit into God’s plan. Let’s understand the hurdles to conversion. Culturally or legally it is impossible in most countries to change religion upon penalty of death. I remember a few months ago on the BBC World News program they were covering the election in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring had taken place. Of course, our media over here was laudatory about the Arab Spring because all these people wanted democracy; that’s the way it was put over here. Some people in the United States realized that wasn’t the case but most of our media saw it that way. So when they had an election in Tunisia, the BBC was talking to people, stopping them on the street and asking them questions and I remember they were talking to a group of young people about what democracy meant to them. They thought it means we can choose our own government, we won’t have a dictator any more, we’ll be much better off, the wealth will be shared more equally between everybody. But then the BBC correspondent, to her credit, asked the question, “What about religion? Will people have the freedom to choose their own religion?” “Oh no, no, no, NO! That’s not what democracy means. Nobody can leave Islam.” There is no freedom when it comes to somebody in the Islamic faith. Nobody can leave the Islamic religion. A few people have done; there were two prominent people have done – Salman Rushdie, the author, for example; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who left Islam and is now very secular. She wrote an article in a recent Newsweek called “Muslim Rage.” She said in her article, writing specifically about all those riots across North Africa, the Muslim men and women (and yes, there are plenty of women) who support whether actively or passively the idea that blasphemers deserve to suffer punishment are not a fringe group. On the contrary, they represent mainstream of contemporary Islam. If I had a dollar for every time I heard on the news that all these people rioting and all the extremists are a minority, I could retire with great wealth. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim from Somalia, says that that’s not the case; this is mainstream, contemporary thinking. She says in the age of globalization and mass immigration such intolerance has crossed borders and become the defining characteristic of Islam. Of course it’s crossed borders, it’s coming to this country, to England, to France and to other countries. There was an article in the latest issue of Christians and Israel, which is quite a good paper; you can “google it” sometime. It’s written here by an Israeli man who was ambassador and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. His name is Dore Gold and he writes about what is going on in the Middle East. He says, “Given these regional trends with the Muslim Brotherhood, it should have come as no surprise that when President Morsi’s campaign for the presidency of Egypt was formally launched on May 1st this year, an Egyptian cleric, who shared the stage with Morsi, announced, “We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized. This is the dream of Sunni Muslims right across North Africa and the Middle East. We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Morsi and his brothers, his supporters and his political party. Now listen to this, it was not reported in our media. Our capital of the Islamic Caliphate shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina; it shall be Jerusalem. Allah willing, our cry shall be millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem. Garzi then proposed the unification of the Arab states under Egyptian leadership. Morsi did not challenge this message. So the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan is to unite all of Sunni Islam in one caliphate. That would make it the most powerful power in the world. The article goes on and was written in July and was in the August issue of the paper. It goes on to say if Syria falls to the rebels, who are Sunni Muslims, they will unite with the Islamic power that Egypt now is under Dr. Morsi and then Jordan in the middle will also have to become Islam fundamentalist. I heard on the news a couple days ago that the demonstrations in Jordan demanding the king handover to the Muslim fundamentalists. This thing is spreading really fast; this rise of Islam, which is a false religion. It is not a godly religion; it’s a false religion, as are the others, as is traditional Christianity. One of the reasons why we’re hated so much in the Middle East is because when the Christians crusaders went into the Middle East starting in 1095 and they were in there for a couple hundred years, they treated the Muslims and the Jews and even the Orthodox Christians really badly. They committed incredible atrocities, far worse than what Saladin and his Saladin forces did to the Christians and they remember that. So traditional Christianity, of course, is no better than these other religions. Culturally and legally it’s almost impossible for Muslims to change religions. In the Lansing State Journal there was a letter from somebody, this was a year or more ago, but it was a Muslim in Lansing who wrote and said, “It is the duty of every Muslim to kill anybody who leaves the Islamic faith.” This was somebody in Lansing who supposedly lived in the United States for a few years and has become just like us. That isn’t what happened. Secondly, here’s another hurdle to conversion; we’re going back to India now. Hindus will readily embrace Jesus Christ but he’s added to their pantheon of gods which number thousands. I’ve visited Hindus; they’ve read our literature and they love it and they want to be part of the church. But when you talk to them, Jesus Christ has just been added to the other hundreds of gods that they’ve already got. So there’s another cultural hurdle to get over. Another one is that both Buddhists and Hindus believe in reincarnation so there’s not much of a real desire to seek salvation; they think they’re coming back anyway, multiple times and the Buddhists believe you can come back as an elephant if you were good or a mosquito if you were bad, so you have to be careful swatting anything in public in case people get upset. Look at 2 Peter chapter 3. Just to digress for a moment – when we were in India, it’s so different than the United States. You can drive out of here at lunchtime and go down the main street in Wisconsin Dells. You might not see one person walking. But if this were India, from the moment you get out there in your vehicle you are surrounded by millions of people. You can’t drink the water there either so this is nice. 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×– The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. So God doesn’t want anybody to perish. There’s a billion and a half Muslims in the world; in fact, at some point around now, I’ve forgotten exactly when, the number of people claiming to be Muslim will exceed the number claiming to be Christian. Maybe we’ve already passed it. The number of Hindus runs into the hundreds of millions. Sikhs I don’t know, you’d have to “google” it and have a look, but the vast majority of people in the world are in these religions which in our own culture a hundred years ago would have been considered pagan. Today they’re considered equally valid faiths. When you add in also all the Christians who are deceived, you’ve got 99.9% of the world population. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. No one can receive salvation unless they repent and that means they have to change. You know, it really is wonderful to go to places like India and Sri Lanka and meet the congregations and you realize that people, many in countries that overwhelmingly practice non-Christian faiths, that God has called people, that they’ve repented, they’ve been baptized, they’ve received the Holy Spirit and it’s sheer joy to be with people in those countries who have come out of this world, so to speak. Look at Acts chapter 10. This was Peter’s turning point or one of them anyway, where Peter came to understand that God is calling gentiles as well as Israelites into His Church. Peter had a vision, he saw a lot of unclean animals and God was telling him to eat them and he couldn’t understand what the vision was all about but then he was told to go to the home of Cornelius. When he got to Cornelius, who was a gentile – a Roman soldier, therefore a gentile… Acts 10:34 Acts 10:34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
American King James Version×– Peter opened his mouth and said, In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality (or as it says in the King James, God is no respecter of persons). V 35 – but in every nation, whoever fears Him works righteousness is accepted by Him. So it doesn’t matter what ethnic group somebody comes from; it doesn’t matter what country they live in; God can still call them. And if they work righteousness, they repent, they change and decide to follow God and obey Him, God will bless them just as He has blessed us. It’s very encouraging to see that. This was quite an eye opening moment for Peter because you can read in Galatians 2 that he had certain prejudices against non-Israelites. God forced him to see that He was also calling gentiles. It’s interesting to me, going to many nations, how gentiles are called and the whole family comes into the Church. In verse 24 for example, when Peter went to see Cornelius, it says that Cornelius was waiting for him and had called together his relatives and friends which is quite a difference from the way it is in the west. We have some families where most people in the family are in the Church, or maybe even all people and it’s wonderful when that happens. But usually in the western world people are called on an individual basis. Later on, the family may come along. But often in other countries, it seems like the whole family comes in. When we went to Sri Lanka, the Church there seems to be predominantly one extended family. Frank Reckerman and his family, 29 of them meeting for the Feast of Tabernacles while we are here – in fact, they are probably on their way home because they are nine and a half hours ahead of us. The whole family gathers together every Sabbath. It’s not just the family, there are others in the Church as well from outside the extended family, and a wonderful, warm and loving Church. They made us feel very welcome and while we were there we visited every single member; we went to everybody’s home in Sri Lanka. Fortunately, it’s not as big as India so it was easier to do that. We were able to get around to see everybody. Look at Matthew chapter 8. Here we see a truly inspiring example of a gentile called, a gentile who had come to understand many things. Matthew 8:5 Matthew 8:5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,
American King James Version×– Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him… Again, a centurion, an Italian, or at least a gentile, not a Jew. V 6 – saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented. V 7 – and Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. V 8 – the centurion answered and said, Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof; but only speak a word and my servant will be healed. I often hear that; I’m not worthy for you to come to my home because people feel that their home is very humble and not adequate, not up to the usual standards that Diane and I are used to, so often people are reluctant to have us come to their home. I am not worthy that you should come under my roof; but only speak a word and my servant will be healed – that shows an incredible degree of faith. V 9 – for I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this and he does it. V 10 – and when Jesus heard it, he marveled and said to those that followed, Assuredly I say to you, I have not found such faith not even in Israel. That’s an interesting incident here. Notice what he says next. V 11 – I say to you, that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: V12 – but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. V 13 – then Jesus said to the centurion, Go your way, and as you have believed so let it be done to you. And his servant was healed that selfsame hour. So there’s a warning here not to rely on our credentials as physical Israelites and believe that somehow we have the advantage and we’re going to be in the first few to receive salvation, to realize there are a lot of people from around the world and Christ was talking here about gentiles who will be like the centurion, with incredible depths of faith, deep conversion. Their attitude is better than ours is what he’s saying here. I see that in so many ways. For example, no matter how hot and humid the country is, people dress for church in their best clothes. Sometimes I wish they didn’t because like in India for example, with 103 degrees and 98% humidity and no air conditioning in the home where we were meeting for services, I just had sweat streaming off me all the time I was speaking. All my clothes were completely soaked through as I gave that sermon. I wished they would not uphold such a great standard of dress because I just wanted to take my shirt off and sit there in my tee shirt because it was so incredibly hot. But I don’t want to encourage them to go against what they believe. They believe they are coming before God and they should wear their best just as they would if they went to meet the president of Sri Lanka or the president of India. They would wear their best and they wear their best when they come to church. They attend church every week and have an incredible attitude of service to each other. I think there’s a warning here that applies to us. Christ is condemnatory of those whose thinking is like the Pharisees – that somehow we’re better than these people and that God guarantees us salvation because we’re physical Israelites. Look at Galatians chapter 3. Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×– there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. So there’s no discrimination where God is concerned. As Peter said, God is no respecter of persons, He knows no partiality. So where do Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims fit in, and Sikhs for that matter? Firstly, let’s realize that most are not going to change in this life; I’ve already said that two of India’s 28 states have made it illegal to change religions. I was told that only 3% of Indians consider themselves Christian. Those are the people that we are most likely to reach with the message that we are preaching in India. Three percent sounds very small but is actually 35 million people, which means more than the entire population of Canada. Therefore, there is incredible potential in India. In fact, when we have Kingdom of God seminars, Good News lectures, we always get a good response in terms of new people coming. When I was in Sri Lanka, I gave two Good News lectures on the same Sabbath and we had 38 new people on a small island. After that, we invited them to stay for the service; I gave a sermonette and a sermon in the service, and we had quite a few stay for that as well. Sri Lanka is a country where the six day work week includes Saturday up until 2:00 for both government employees and the private sector. So it is particularly difficult in that country for people to change; it means giving up their job and obviously that’s a hurdle and people need time to think about that and a lot of faith to make the change but the responses are very good. But most people are not going to change. Zechariah chapter 14. We need to understand that when it comes to preaching the gospel. Although we can preach the gospel to these countries, we’re not going to see millions of people changing religions. Here is a book that is a millennial prophecy and this is what it says about the time when Jesus Christ returns. Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×– And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King… By the way, this might tie in with what we just read about the Islamic caliphate because it talks about it coming to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem (remember the call by the Muslim Brotherhood for millions of marchers to march upon Jerusalem). Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
American King James Version×(cont’d) – they shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. I don’t know if any of you would like to volunteer to preach to a crowd in Cairo about the Feast of Tabernacles. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that. I don’t think anybody would listen. But this prophecy says these people are going to keep the Feast of Tabernacles and it specifically mentions Egypt. V 17 – It shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain. So Egypt is mentioned specifically; Egypt is likely to be the base or the center of the Islamic caliphate when it’s restored because Egypt is the biggest single Arab country in terms of population and that’s where the strength of the caliphate is going to be. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain. V 18 – And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague, wherewith the LORD strikes the nations that come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. V 19 – This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. So even after Christ returns, they’re still going to want to continue with their pagan customs. People really in some of these religions and especially in the one we’ve been talking about, are brainwashed, they can’t think for themselves. Salman Rushdie makes that point. I’m no fan of Salman Rushdie, by the way. I do not recommend his books. But he’s an interesting person because he’s one of the few prominent people who turned their backs on Islam and now speak out about it. Salman Rushdie made the point in New York and he mentioned Michigan and it made me listen. He said when a Muslim from the Middle East comes to Michigan, he doesn’t move to Michigan to better himself or to take advantage of the American way of life. He sees himself as part of the advance guard that will spread Islam to the United States. The goal is to raise the Muslim crescent flag on the White House. In London one of the Islamic leaders has called for the flag to be raised over Buckingham Palace. That is the goal and again, we’re not told about these things. Clearly the Egyptians are still following their pagan ways at Christ’s return. They are 90% Muslim. Someone sent me an article just this morning about how Christians – and by that I mean mainstream Christians – mostly Coptic Christians but in some cases Catholic Christians are driven out of the middle east because of persecution by various Islamic forces that are in place. As the Middle East becomes more and more militantly Islamic it’s pushing out those who are not Muslims. With this in mind, the realization that most will not change, we still have a responsibility to preach to peoples around the world as we are able. Look at Matthew chapter 24. Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×– this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations; and then the end will come. I remember as a student at Bricket Wood 40 years ago, how exciting it was that we were preaching the gospel in so many parts of the world. We’d often have ministers come from various parts of the world, like Bob Fahey for example from South Africa at that time, and they inspired us by talking about what the Church was doing. It was an exciting time because we were growing and we had a lot of new people coming into the Church and we were preaching the gospel quite fervently around the world. But even now God’s still calling people – in India, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and South Africa. I’m going to Zimbabwe in early January because we’re going to have our first Kingdom of God seminar there. We just had a very successful seminar in South Africa. South Africa intrigues me and I’ll share this with you. The majority of our members in South Africa are Caucasian and ethnically they are pretty much the same as everybody here. We have better responses in South Africa to our Kingdom of God seminars than we do here and I try to figure out why. A friend in the Church in South Africa said, “Well, that’s because you Americans have so many distractions.” I said, “Well, you have the same distractions.” We have 200 plus television channels, 198 of which that have nothing on that you’d ever want to watch. Those are distractions. In South Africa, you’ve got satellite TV with all the same awful programs that are made over here and also, with sports, very big in the U.S. on a Saturday, but sports are very big in South Africa. They play rugby and cricket which lasts for days so it’s a really boring game. So why then are the responses better in South Africa and I’ll tell you what I think. If you know the history of South Africa, the country was ruled by people of Caucasian descent up until 1994 and then the native population took over and the future is very uncertain for that white minority which is roughly 10% of the population. In a sense they lost the country they identify with and also their future is uncertain. That concentrates the mind and they realize that no country can offer you security. The only real security comes through faith in God. I think Americans will reach that point at some time too. That’s when people will be more ready to listen. But right now, people may still look to Washington for their security which I’m sure you’ll agree is rather foolish. Look to chapter 28. The last two verses. Matthew 28:19 Matthew 28:19Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
American King James Version×– Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: V 20 – teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Our two-fold mission is to preach the gospel and to prepare a people. We preach the gospel to the world, God opens people’s minds. It is through the goodness of God that they are lead to repentance. People repent and we have to be there to baptize them, to lay hands on them so they receive the Holy Spirit and then we have to prepare a people because people are being called from all parts of the world to be a part of the divine family that is going to rule this world when Christ returns. Look at Ephesians chapter 2. We heard in the sermonette that we need to remember the vision and I would say the same thing here. Let us keep this vision in mind. Jesus Christ is returning and he’s going to establish his Kingdom on this earth and we are going to rule with him. Ephesians 2:19 Ephesians 2:19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
American King James Version×– Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners… And he’s writing this to gentiles, so imagine India or Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe, or somewhere like that. Ephesians 2:19 Ephesians 2:19Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
American King James Version×(cont’d) – but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, V 20 – having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; V 21 – in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; V 22 – in whom ye also are built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 3:1 Ephesians 3:1For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
American King James Version×– For this reason I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles,–– So he was writing this to gentiles and they were being called into the Church the same as Israelites were being called into the Church. Remember, God is preparing a team to rule this world when Jesus Christ returns. Who better to rule over India and Sri Lanka than people who have grown up in those societies in those nations. They know the pagan religions people practice; they know them intimately because they were in them themselves at some time. Who better to rule over those people and to guide them and to show them where they were wrong and to show them that God’s way is the right way to live. Look at verse 14 of Ephesians chapter 3. Ephesians 3:14 Ephesians 3:14For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×– For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, V 15 – from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, V 16 – that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inward man; V 17 – that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, V 18 – may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, V 19 – and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. You know, the gentiles need to be fed just as we need to be fed. And again, we have the opportunity to be able to do that. Without the literature that we give them and the regular visits that they have many of them would drift away. We have to help them remain focused and to realize the ultimate goal which is the Kingdom of God and to be in God’s family. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, I’ll omit one or two scriptures here for the purpose of finishing on time. In 1 Cor 15, again thinking about Hindu and Muslims and Buddhists and their part in God’s plan, some are being called now. Most who are being called now have come from other Christian churches. We do have one or two that are not, but generally they come from other Christian churches. 1 Cor 15, when we look at God’s plan for the peoples in these various religions, in verse 22 it says: 1 Corinthians 15:22 1 Corinthians 15:22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
American King James Version×– For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. V 23 – But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards those who are Christ’s at his coming. Jesus Christ was the first one resurrected, the next resurrection takes place when Christ returns when all the saints will be resurrected, all of those with the Holy Spirit, and then we rule the earth. Now look at Revelation chapter 20. I won’t spend much time here because I’ll leave that to Mr. D’Alessandro who is speaking this afternoon and will go more deeply into the meaning of the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day. Revelation 20 verse 4, looking forward to the time Christ returns: Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×– And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was committed to them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast, or his image, and not received his mark on their forehead or on their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years (the Millennium that we’ve been looking forward to during the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles). V 5 – But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. The first resurrection, then, is when Christ returns. V 6 – Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power; for they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years. I hope you took note that the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. So those in this first resurrection then, look at Revelation chapter 5 and see what it says here because it’s important to see exactly what those resurrected will be doing for a thousand years. We’re not just going to be sitting in some sort of a divine retirement home watching soap operas all day, thankfully. Rev 5: 9 – And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, So again, a reminder that God is calling people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. V 10 – And have made us kings and priests to our God and we shall reign on the earth. We’re going to be kings and priests, and not just us, but all those people God has called in Sri Lanka and India and Zimbabwe and South Africa. Those are the countries I go to the most, and England. I mustn’t forget them or they’ll get upset. In all of those countries, people being called by God, and are going to be ruling with Jesus Christ when he returns. Again, what better people to call to rule over India and Sri Lanka than those who have grown up in those cultures. God is continuing to call people from those nations. Now you read in Revelation 20, the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. Then it says that those in the first resurrection, upon those there is no fear of the second death. They’re resurrected to spirit; they will never die. Then those in the second resurrection could still die. The second resurrection is pictured then in Ezekiel 37 and I think you know how the dry bones in the vision were all put back together and people were given muscles and made to stand up on their feet. Let’s have a look at it quickly again. I know Mr. D’Alessandro is going through this again this afternoon. In Ezekiel 37, these people who’ve been dead for a very long time are put back together and come up in a physical resurrection, physical because they’re not ready yet to receive eternal life, physical because they have not been given the knowledge of God the Father and Jesus Christ, God’s plan for mankind. They’ve not had an opportunity for repentance. The Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims have not had an opportunity for repentance. They don’t understand God’s law though many of them keep their own laws very strictly. I had more than one lecture from people in India about the western way of family life. I remember one taxi driver talking to me. He said, “You know, the problem in the west is that you have a 50% divorce rate. So what can we learn from you?” And even our members say, when there are articles in the magazine about marriage and the family, they’re not really inclined to read them because marriage and family is not something we have any right to preach about because our families are such a mess. That’s what they see on television. I try to tell them that is not the way most people in the Church are, but certainly from television they would get the impression that our family life is terrible. In India the divorce rate is one percent, eleven couples out of a thousand. This taxi driver tells me that the people that divorce are all from “love marriages”. In other words, when a man chooses his wife instead of letting his parents do it for him, that’s when you’re going to have problems. You can’t persuade them otherwise. A couple has no right to choose their partners; it should be done by the parents. That’s an interesting discussion I’ve had on more than one occasion with people. Ezekiel 37:11 Ezekiel 37:11Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
American King James Version×– Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: V 12 – Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up from your graves; and bring you into the land of Israel. V 13 – Then you shall know that I am the LORD… V 14 – And I will put my spirit in you, and ye shall live… So, after this resurrection, people are taught the truth of God and they have the opportunity to repent, receive the Holy Spirit, and then can look forward to salvation which we in this room already have if we remain loyal and faithful to God until Jesus Christ returns. This that we saw in 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×, God is not willing that any should perish; that all people would have this opportunity for salvation. Look at Acts chapter 5 and verse 32. Here is the reason why there’s a difference between the first resurrection and the second. Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
American King James Version×– The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey him. So people who are not willing to obey God, or people who do not even know what they should be doing – some people have not had their eyes open – or are steeped in this world’s religions, whatever they might be, whether false Christianity or Hinduism or Islam or Sikhism, all those people do not have the Holy Spirit. They may be nice people and most people in India and Sri Lanka are wonderful people, but they don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they have not repented, they have not been baptized, they have not received the Holy Spirit and they’re not wanting to obey God. So Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and the vast majority of Christians are not on the way to salvation. Before they can receive salvation, they will have to change just as we had to change. Go back to Acts 2 and verse 38. This is the sermon that Peter gave on the day that the Church received the Holy Spirit, a very powerful sermon that he gave after which 3,000 people came into the Church in one day. And when the crowd asked him, after he gave his sermon, they said to him in verse 37: Acts 2:37 Acts 2:37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
American King James Version×– … they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? V 38 – And Peter said to them, Repent, and every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So here were people who did not know Jesus Christ prior to Peter’s sermon and now they were being told to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and have their sins washed away. Then, of course, they could look forward to salvation. This is the way it is for everybody and there’s no other way, no matter what political correctness tells you, there’s no other way to salvation. This brings us back to preaching the gospel in India, Sri Lanka, Africa, Europe, the U.S., etc. In fact anywhere we can, we need to go through the doors as God opens them. In Revelation 5, we already looked there, in verses 9 and 10, we saw how we are going to be kings and priests. God is calling people in all of these different countries to be a part of that future government. Let’s look at John chapter 14 and see how Jesus Christ puts this: John 14:1 John 14:1Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.
American King James Version×– Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. V 2 – In my Father’s house are many mansions; I went to look at a mansion in India, a famous one built by the British over a hundred years ago, the Viceroy’s palace. The Viceroy was the British governor and it’s just a magnificent building, bigger than Buckingham Palace in England, bigger than the Whitehouse, now the president of India lives there. The president is just a ceremonial head of state. When Jesus Christ talks about mansions, that’s what he’s talking about. Mansions are what the rulers live in and we are going to be rulers. V 2 (cont’d) – if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you; V 3 – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. So when Jesus Christ returns and the government of God is established on this earth, we are going to be a part of that government. And those whom God is calling now, from all over the world – United States, Canada, Africa, Asia – all the people God is calling are going to be a part of that government which is going to rule over the different nations. Right now India’s biggest problem, apart from its ethnic conflict or its religious conflict which potentially could explode and destroy the nation, is corruption. So when we rule these different countries we will not be corrupt, and what a change that will be for the people. Instead of losing most of their wealth that they earn each week or each month in all the different drives that the police and other officials want, they’ll be able to start improving their lives. It’ll make a vast difference to the peoples in those countries when we’re ruling over them, or when their own people who are resurrected at that time are ruling over them. This is what we have to look forward to. Then at the end of the thousand years, we can rebuild these nations, we can make the changes that are necessary in these nations. Then at the end of the thousand years comes the second resurrection when all the people who have never known Jesus Christ – all the Muslims, all the Buddhists, Hindus, all the people rioting in the streets of the various cities of north Africa or the Middle East – all of those people will come up in that second resurrection and once again they will be physical. The difference between then and now is that then they will come to understand the truth of God and will be given the opportunity to repent, to be baptized, to receive the Holy Spirit, and also become part of the family of God. I told the people in India and Sri Lanka that instead of looking at people as pagans and looking down upon them, look upon them as future brethren because that’s what they are. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Everyone will have their opportunity. For us, it’s now, but for the vast majority of people, 99.999% it will be in the future when they get their opportunity for salvation. But everybody will have an opportunity to hear the word of God and they’ll be given the choice to choose God’s way of life or to reject it. #####