What about giving spiritual sight to the billions of people living today who do not know the truth of the gospel of God's Kingdom?
Remember the old days in the church when an important news story of possible future fulfillment of prophecy was mentioned at church? I have just one such story here today before getting into the sermon.
I've noticed over the past few weeks a number of scientists sounding the alarm about rising volcanic activity on planet Earth, and you may have seen some news stories along that line as well.
One scientist has an online live map that shows volcanic activity, you know, live -- that's what's happening, and there are more active volcanoes now than in recent memory, and it definitely is something that's being noticed in the scientific community. And of course, we know that Jesus warned that in the end time there would be some catastrophic events here on the earth. Luke 21:11 Luke 21:11And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
American King James Version×talks about there being great earthquakes in various places, famines and pestilences, fearful sights, and signs from heaven.
And in Revelation we read about the sixth seal. But of the great earthquake, the sun became black; no doubt because of ash and debris in the sky. The moon became like blood. You know, the atmosphere turned red, and so there are prophecies of end time cataclysmic end-time events but here's just something that's going on right now.
Here's a story, newspaper story by Alan Caruba from familysecuritymatters.org, and he titled his piece "Troubling Global Volcanic Activity on the Rise." Now I'll just read a couple of excerpts from it for you before I get into the sermon.
This from November 4th, just this week. "The news is all about the Tuesday U. S. Elections, but some of us are concerned about the news on Monday regarding a possible eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland. "Never heard of it?" he says, "You will."
"Grimsvotn is the most active volcano in Iceland. The one that made a lot of news earlier in 2010 was Eyjafjallajokull. He says that, while a smaller one generated such a huge cloud of ash that it disrupted air travel across western and northern Europe for six days in April." And you remember when air traffic was shut down across Europe.
"Here's why volcano watchers around the world are on high alert. This past week in Indonesia, after a tsunami killed several hundred people, Mount Merapi rumbled to life forcing thousands to flee back to evacuation centers as thirty-eight lava avalanches occurred with pyroclastic flows down the south and west slopes, running outward for seven kilometers.
"In August, a volcano on Sumatra erupted for the first time in four hundred years. It was a ‘Ring of fire,'" he continues, "that stretches across twenty-five thousand miles in a horseshoe from eastern Asia to the western shores of North and South America. It has four hundred and fifty-two volcanoes, of which seventy-five percent are the world's most active.
"On August twenty-five, Italy's Aetna volcano, and Colombia's Galeras volcano both erupted." And so, he's pointing out that there is more activity than usual, and as other scientists are saying, "the most that they've ever, ever seen."
"In the U. S., the last major volcanic eruption was Mt. St. Helens in 1980, but it was just one volcano in Washington State that includes Mt. Baker, Felicia Peak, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Ranier. Mt. Ranier is a massive stratovolcano located just fifty-four miles southeast of Seattle."
"In June 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines sending millions of tons of ash and dust into the earth's atmosphere. It caused the global temperatures to drop at least a degree or two for a few years." So, one volcano can do the opposite of global warming for you, really fast.
Why talk about volcanoes in the aftermath of a historic election? Because there has been a significant increase in volcanic activity of late and that is never a good thing.
"The U. S. National Oceanographic Office has now warned that almost all tectonic movement can be linked to magnetic reversals." That's where the magnetic fields on the earth shift, and start to go back the other way.
"Seafloor spreading, sea level changes, and mountain growth, earthquakes, and volcanoes have all seemed to speed up whenever the frequency of reversals speeds up. Thus all this volcanic activity occurring around the world may be signaling the advent of a new magnetic reversal, and, as bad as volcanoes are, a magnetic reversal is the very definition of a cataclysm of such an order that it defies the imagination."
He says, "Think of the sudden end of dinosaurs. When you tie together volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunamis, and these and other natural events together, it behooves the human race to be far more humble about a ‘so-called' effect on the earth's environment." So that's a section from his piece this week.
Now we do know that at some point volcanic activity will ravage the earth when we get into the last seals of Revelation. The question is, "Just when?" But even scientists are somewhat alarmed at the amount of movement right now underneath the earth's crust.
We live in an information age; I mean I pulled this off the internet, as you know. We demand to be informed about so many, many topics. Popular magazines carry articles on how to cope with this constant influx of new information. Technology is moving forward at a dazzling pace.
For example, one of our home office staff writers put together a piece for this week's "Vertical Thought" commentary. Jeremy Lallier titled his commentary, "Giving Sight to the Blind," and it was just released yesterday online. And in it, he writes that "for the past three decades, Miikka Treho's world has been shrinking. At age 16, he developed a condition that began to kill off the retinal cells of his eyes, slowly robbing him of a sense of light. And now, 30 years later, Miikka's eyes just barely allow him to distinguish the difference between night and day.
"His condition is called retinitis pigmentosa. Its damage is irreversible and unstoppable—but, as Jeremy writes, "not impossible."
"In a recent study, Miikka and others underwent surgery to receive an optical implant—one that enabled the legally blind man to ‘read letters, tell the time and identify a cup and saucer on a table.' It's the kind of story you'd half-expect to be reading about in a science-fiction novel, and yet, here it is. This is happening. The blind are being given sight."
So it's a retinal implant. A little computer chip in his eye and it runs on a battery. And, this is an amazing story that Jeremy has highlighted in this week's "Vertical Thought" Commentary. It's one of scientific innovation to help restore the physical sight of someone going blind.
My question today, though, is, "What about giving spiritual sight to the billions of people living today who do not know the truth of the gospel of God's kingdom?"
Jesus Christ told us that when He returns to this earth to rule that the eyes of the blind shall be opened. The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. The lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. That's from Isaiah 35. Is Isaiah prophesying of physically blind people being able to see? Or is there a greater meaning of the healing of the spiritually blind?
What this world needs is truth. It needs the truth of the gospel. It needs the spiritual eye scales of blindness removed. The message of the gospel of the kingdom is that very truth that humankind so desperately needs.
What's coming is a day when people like Miikka, along with every other member of the human race will be made whole spiritually and given a chance to see their God.
And so there are amazing advances in the field of science; however, what is sadly lacking is the basic knowledge. Not the knowledge of how to restore someone's physical sight with a computer chip, but the basic knowledge that is essential to the overall well being of humanity, and in an unparalleled period of information overload this confused world desperately needs essential understanding and spiritual vision.
Well over two thousand years ago the prophet Hosea warned that, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." And how accurate that description is of our society today. Where there is a lot of knowledge, and a lot of information, but it's not what leads to salvation.
As God's people know, what is needed is the kind of knowledge that will strip away spiritual blindness and reveal the truth of God's plan for humanity. Where do we find God's truth today? Let's turn to Psalms 119:160 Psalms 119:160Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of your righteous judgments endures for ever.
American King James Version×. This is where we find truth today. The psalmist writes:
Psalms 119:160 Psalms 119:160Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of your righteous judgments endures for ever.
American King James Version×- The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. So if we want to restore spiritual vision to this world we have to see this world truly come to understand and believe it is God's word where the truth can be found.
I'm going to highlight several letters we've received from our "Beyond Today" program today. "Beyond Today's" been on my mind about every day for the last few weeks and months as we are in the middle of production next week with three more new programs. You may have read online that the program three weeks ago, "Will I Go to Hell?" received over a thousand responses. That was our highest program so far; so we're pleased with the way it's going. The fellows will be in town next week to record three new programs as well.
But here's one letter we received just this week, and it's from Cincinnati, Ohio. "My husband and I watch your broadcast every Sunday morning. It is so nice to listen to preaching that fully coincides with the Bible. Could you please send us the study material you have on Satan. Thank you and God bless you all."
So this is what we believe. As the people of God, as God's church, we're all about truth. We're about preaching a message that fully coincides with the Bible. And so that's why our beliefs, what we write, what we say, is based on His Word, because God's word is truth. This is part of the gospel message.
For the time we have for the sermon today, we're going to be reminded that despite the explosion of knowledge, despite technological advances that amaze us mankind cannot find the truth of God on his own. We will see, however, that time is soon coming when all of mankind will understand and know the truth of God, and come to know what truly matters. Men and women will know who the true God is, and have an opportunity for eternal life with that God and Jesus Christ.
So I've titled this sermon, "Telling the Truth," because we as a church have to be conduits for that truth. Let's turn to I Timothy 3:14-15. Paul said to Timothy,
I Timothy 3:14 - These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; -- He's writing a letter, but he hopes to actually visit at some point.
Verse 15 - but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, -- He says, "Timothy, this is how you behave in the church." He says, "…the house of God, which is the church of the living God, and this church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
God's church is a pillar, a foundation that lays the groundwork, or is the ground of the truth. And we are part of that church. We are the church of God, and we are to be pillars of that truth. You and I are conduits for that truth. We are pillars in this word of the truth of the gospel. And unfortunately right now, as first fruits in God's plan we stand pretty much alone in this understanding.
Human beings have been running an experiment for the last six thousand years. It's the same experiment that Adam and Eve ran. If it looks good, if it tastes good, sounds good, then it must be good. You decide for yourself.
Genesis 2:16-17 Genesis 2:16-17  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
American King James Version×, "Of every tree of the garden, you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat; (for) in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
We all know, as it's recorded in Genesis 3, that Adam and Eve disobeyed this explicit command. Eve even quoted the commandment back to Satan almost verbatim. They knew what it said. They knew they weren't supposed to take of that tree, and the tree of the knowledge and evil represented the rejection of God's one way of life. The pursuit of what seemed right, what looked right, to make up one's own mind as to what was truth. And every once in a while mankind finds something right but there's a whole lot of error mixed in with it.
God gives us two choices: either we obey him and follow His word, or we don't. And unfortunately, the choice to decide truth for ourselves, just as Eve did, has about six billion options to it as each man decides for himself what is right or wrong.
There is only one version of the truth, not six billion people deciding for themselves what is right and wrong in taking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One version of the truth, John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×, you'll want to make a note of that in your notes. John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×, where John writes, -- These are the words of Jesus right before he was crucified:
John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×- "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." So if we want to know how to live what is expected of us before God, we study His word. God's word is truth.
G. K. Chesterton, the English writer of the early 20th Century once observed, "When men stop believing in God, the danger is not that they'll believe in nothing, but they'll believe in anything." If you don't think this is true look at the tabloids as you go through the supermarket check-out lane and see what people believe. Aliens having babies, whatever it might be, you know? Almost anything.
Why is Christianity divided into more than four hundred denominations? Four hundred versions of even just Christianity itself. And even that number does not fully represent the disagreement and disagreeing in Christianity. How many churchgoers in these four hundred denominations actually believe all that their church teaches? They probably have their own ideas beyond that. How many versions of the truth do you see out there? And it's not only in Christianity. All of mankind's beliefs and understandings in religion.
When we were living in southern California, it was in 1997 that a group in California was waiting for a spaceship to come and deliver them. Do you remember the Hale-Bott comet in 1997? It was in the sky at night, easy to see for quite a few days, the Hale-Bott comet. Well, this group in southern California said, "Behind that comet is a spaceship hiding." And they got together in a group and formed a religious cult, and said that spaceship was coming to deliver them, and take them to heaven. That's what they truly believed.
There are so many different imaginations of the human mind when it comes to what truth is. You can find almost any unimaginable idea circulating somewhere around the world today. And this is exactly the lesson of Genesis 3. God has one way. His word, the truth.
The adversary, the accuser of the brethren has as many ways as there are people on this Earth. There's a warning for us in II Corinthians 11:3, lest we think we may be impervious to some of these strange beliefs, and understandings, and thoughts of the human mind. Paul said to the Corinthians. He says, "Be careful." He says,
II Corinthians 11:3 - But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, as happened in Genesis 3, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Thankfully, for those who know God and His values, it is very simple, the simplicity that is in Christ, not that complex. But the warning is, "Don't be deceived as Eve was." Only God can provide the clarity needed in our world today.
Paul said, "Be careful." If Satan can deceive Eve and a third of all the angels of heaven who saw God themselves, what about you and me? Be on guard. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Be careful. Satan has plenty of alternatives. Satan has inspired every imaginable religion, philosophy, and ism so as to make it impossible, apart from God's calling, for humans to find the truth. He has many clever counterfeits.
Finding the truth is like finding a needle in a haystack, maybe worse. Satan has created a Babylon of confusion. He's created misinformation and even disinformation. He's created a nightmare of fog, and smoke, and mirrors, and darkness so that mankind will not find a true way to God. He doesn't care what crazy religion you come up with as long as it's not the truth of God. Sometimes the error is obvious, but what about misinformation and disinformation?
The author Elizabeth Pond defined disinformation in a feature article in "The Christian Science Monitor." She said, "Just what is disinformation? Simply put, it is the deliberate planting of false or misleading political information to influence either public or elite opinion.
"It is not just misinformation or mistaken information . . . it is planted information with the source secret or disguised." And how all this corresponds with certain passages in the Bible.
This is what Satan, the Devil has done to humanity. He has put so much disinformation out there. So we, too, have to be careful not to fall prey to disinformation.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines misinformation as "False information deliberately and often covertly spread, as by the planting of rumors in order to influence public opinion or to obscure the truth."
And the turn of the 21st Century is marked by a massive ignorance about what the Bible actually says, what God teaches. So much so that irresponsible writers, and speakers, and church preachers say almost anything about the scriptures of God and some people seem to believe them. We are now told that Judas Iscariot is innocent; that shoplifting is not a sin; that Jesus' parables are morally disastrous by some elite thinkers. That Christ studied yoga in the Far East, and that Paul is the founder of Christianity, not Jesus. You know, there's so many different opinions and thoughts out there. And emphatically, this is the age of spiritual disinformation.
People won't and don't read the Bible for themselves to see what it really says, and Mr. Welty mentioned tomorrow's "Beyond Today" program, and it's titled "The Bible You Don't Know," because most of our viewers really don't know their Bible. We have a very biblically illiterate society today even among those who say they're Christians and profess to believe the Bible. They don't really know what's in it.
The program tomorrow morning is titled "The Bible, or The Book You Don't Know." Most people, the majority of professing Christians are very ignorant on what the Bible actually says, and that's why the church of God is a pillar for the truth, the ground of truth. That's what we're about. John 8:31 John 8:31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
American King James Version×is a good passage to turn to here.
John 8:31 John 8:31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
American King James Version×- Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. Once again, it's the word of God, My word.
Verse 32 - "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Well, as we've seen here so far is the world is choosing for itself what is right and wrong, and as a result, the world is not free. The world is in bondage, held captive by Satan in sin.
You'll recall the cover of the September/October "Good News Magazine" of this year, the Earth with the prison bars in front of it, right? And I remember when I was growing up in the church the booklet the church produced, you know, thirty, forty years ago: "A World Held Captive," and it had a very similar image on the front of that booklet, the globe with the prison bars. And that pictures so well what is happening to this world. It is in prison, and the jailer is Satan, the Devil and many are content to accept the values and opinions of so-called experts or their own religious leaders without verifying it in the Bible.
I even found a website where the URL is www.disinfo.com, and on that website is as much disinformation as they can put out there, errors and wrongs on purpose to try and confuse people. I don't encourage you to go there necessarily, but disinfo.com, unbelievable.
Now let's stop and pause for a moment, and change track. Will it always be like this? Will the flow of knowledge and truth always be this way? Will it always be what seems right to a man? Well, there's a dramatic shift on the horizon.
What do we preach? What is the gospel message of God? What does the United Church of God preach, and teach, and proclaim? What is the truth of the matter? What do we cover in our magazine articles, TV programs, our online blogs and weekly sermons? What does the gospel message reveal? Let's turn to Isaiah 2 for an answer to that. Let's look at some scriptures that tell of a time yet to arrive. This has not happened yet; the time when Jesus Christ returns and He's ruling from Jerusalem. Here we see a prophecy of the future in Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
American King James Version×,
Isaiah 2:2 Isaiah 2:2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
American King James Version×- Now it shall come to pass in the latter days…, So this is at the end of the human age of experimentation; …the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. This has not happened yet. So what's going to take place?
Verse 3 - Many people shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, (and) we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Is this happening now from Jerusalem? In the Middle East? People wanting to be there to hear the word of the Lord preached? People wanting to be taught the way of God? Obviously not.
This is a future prophecy, but contrary to our current society that teaches no absolute standards, and moral relativism, there is coming a time when information and knowledge will be based upon the word and law of God, not on what mankind thinks on his own.
No longer will the tree of the knowledge of good and evil prevail, no more. Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×, just one other passage here in Isaiah.
Isaiah 11:9 Isaiah 11:9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
American King James Version×- They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Right now we're a very small group on this planet that believes in the truth of the gospel, God's soon coming kingdom, with an opportunity for salvation eventually for all of mankind.
Can you imagine what it will be like for all of humanity to be full of the knowledge of the Lord just like the water covers the seabed completely, thoroughly? Can you imagine what it will be like to have God revealed to them? To have the veil of blindness removed from their eyes? Spiritual blindness removed. To really see for the very first time. Mankind will be told the truth of God's incredible purpose for each one of them. This is more than a computer chip running on a rechargeable battery. This is a spiritual awakening for mankind who right now is deceived and blinded by Satan, the Devil.
There was a touching story in the September/October 2006 issue of the "Good News" magazine, about four years ago where you could read about the emotions surrounding the moment a seventeen-year-old girl saw her real father for the first time. And it was presented in a television program, and at age eleven she'd come home from school one day to find her mother with a photo album, and her mother said, "You'll find a picture in here of a man that you don't know. He's your real dad."
And out of her confusion and the questions she had she took on an intense desire to try and meet her real dad, try and find him. And as an adolescent, the girl searched for him for six years without any success; couldn't track him down. But someone who knew about her, and knew about her longing to see her dad chose to personally intervene, and through a private investigator she found this young woman's father, and not knowing whether it was the right thing to do, she arranged for the girl to meet at a certain location without telling her why. And this, of course, is revealed on TV, and there this benefactor, this lady who had made these arrangements and found her dad said, "Do you really want to see your father?"
And the girl said, "Yes, more than anything."
And she said, "Well, he's in the room next door waiting to see you." Now after six years of disappointment, she broke down in tears and disbelief. As her real father walked into the room holding a bouquet of flowers, and he explained that after the marriage had broken up he had not wanted to confuse her by having her grow up with two fathers.
Well, humanity too has the father that it has never seen. It's not a physical, flesh and blood father, but it's a heavenly father. The emotions of a young girl seeing her father for the very first time may be similar to the experience this world will have when it comes to believe the truth; to have those scales removed from its eyes.
We have a foretaste of that now in God's church. We do have a relationship with our Father. We can tell people the truth. We have answers that people will one day want; will one day desire and appreciate; will one day, you know, look to Jerusalem to find out more about. What's coming is the day when every member of the human race will be made whole spiritually and given a chance to see their dad, to see their Abba Father, to see their God truly for the first time.
Here's another letter that was written in from the Beyond Today program. This person is from Savannah, Georgia, and said, "Dear United, I just want you all know just how much we enjoy "Beyond Today." It is so refreshing to hear the truth taught for the beginning of our week to get us started off right. Thank you. And it says, "P.S., we watch on WGN and we try to tape every program."
The truth taught to get their week started off right because in this world there is very little truth, the true message of the gospel of God's kingdom. Isaiah 26:9 Isaiah 26:9With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
American King James Version×, let's turn over there. Thinking of the young girl looking for her dad. Thinking of a time when all of mankind will meet its dad for the first time, truly.
Isaiah 26:9 Isaiah 26:9With my soul have I desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early: for when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
American King James Version×- With my soul I have desired You in the night,… You know, this is a longing to findGod …yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Once again, a prophecy of this world desiring God. Thinking about Him in the nighttime. … the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
For several decades many of the academic elite of our society, the world's intellectual leaders have actively promoted the concept that absolute values do not exist. "There is no absolute truth," they say. They have advocated embracing moral relativism, and in their published writings and lectures they ridicule the idea that any set of standards permitting proper human behavior can apply universally to humankind. So no wonder that today's entertainment media and popular culture so often belittle, and reject, and make fun of traditional religious values. They offer no solid alternative.
Some among the intellectual elite have rejected religious and traditional values that were held for centuries by civilized societies, and by encouraging people to experiment, by thinking and acting independently, doing what they feel is right they promote individualism at the expense of responsibility. They reject the old standards but offer no effective guidelines to replace them, and the intellectual elite leads society aimlessly adrift with no moral, you know, anchor.
Like it or not, and recognize it or not, we are bombarded daily by these concepts and ideas. In this world, truth is lost. The leaders of our society are not telling the truth. There are deals and beliefs that go through our mind defining who and what we are, are the target of a valueless, secular society.
One more letter to read you here from a "Beyond Today" reader. This fellow is from Burkeville, Virginia. It's a little bit longer this time, this letter. He says, "Dear BT…" That's what we call Mr. McNeely, Mr. Petty, and Mr. Myers; we call them the BT boys.
So this viewer's calling, "Dear BT, I have just finished watching your telecast today, and I was very, very, very blessed by the broadcast of ‘Dancing with the Dark Side.' I, too, am a former witch, and everything that Mary spoke of I totally agreed with. But I give all praise, glory, honor, and thanksgiving for this delivering me from the occult world to God.
"I've a burning desire to really learn and live by God's spoken, written word. All my life I've been searching and searching for absolute truth. I only kept getting half-truth, half man's opinion about the truth. The lack of knowledge has led me down a road of lies, deceit, homosexuality, the dark side, and hatred. But thank God, Almighty, that he didn't let me go too far down that road of self-destruction. He really meant that he will never leave nor forsake his children.
"I was given back to him when I was small, but growing up without proper parenting left me lost, but God didn't give up on me. You see, I am h u n g r y (hungry) for the knowledge of understanding of my desire for God's mercy, grace, and salvation."
This fellow is actually in prison right now for his life, but he recognizes the truth, and he's so thankful for it. And so, he's been, you know, making it into the TV room now every Sunday morning to watch WGN and catch that program, and now he's a Good News" subscriber, and getting booklets, and all of that.
See, what we understand here today, what we preach as God's people in proclaiming the gospel is that this earth will soon find a restoration of truth. A restoration of all things, as you read in Acts, and at last all people will hear a voice that gives them direction, that shows them the path to eternal life, not to destruction. They will be told the truth.
Here's a letter received at the home office that illustrates how this works in a small way today as a precursor. This person is from Lunenburg, Virginia.
"Not many churches walk the truth of God's holy word so I don't run from church to church looking for the joy of the full gospel. I had never heard of United Church of God until I've just received my first copy of the "Good News." What really amazed and overjoyed me was reading your article about Easter. The holiness without bunnies. Passover service with all its beauty has never been done away. Please inform me of a church near me, nearest my address and the phone number."
So this reader recognized that this church, God's church, walks the truth of God's holy word. And that is the foundation that we stand upon as His people. And so, here today, I tell you the truth. God's kingdom is coming. It's going to happen. Jesus Christ is going to return to Jerusalem to set up God's kingdom that will engulf the whole planet as the waters cover the sea. This world will be recreated spiritually just like each of us here now are transformed by the power of God's Holy Spirit working in us.
II Corinthians 5:17 talks about this process. The power of the Holy Spirit that comes upon us and lives within us upon our conversion. Because its God's Holy Spirit, as it transforms our lives also will transform the entire planet.
II Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore if anyone (man be) is in Christ, he is a new (creature) creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things (are) have become new. Just like it talks about in Acts, the restitution of all things.
In our life, the same thing happens when we become filled with the Holy Spirit. Everything becomes new to us. Old things become restored. We start to live by a different value system, and this world will live by a different value system. All things will be made new. The world will start all over again, but this time based on the word of truth, not of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil.
When you embrace God's values you are embracing what are, to this world, new values and new ideas, new truth. New in the sense that the world has not tried this before as a whole. God offered the truth to Adam and Eve but they rejected those ways.
The apostle Paul defined the new creation as a spiritual transformation, a metamorphosis. It's at first a change only in a person's nature and character but this change or conversion is eventually followed by change into a literal spirit being with eternal life. A total transformation.
This is the salvation that we preach about, and it will extend to all of mankind after Christ returns, not just to the first fruits today but to all of mankind. Notice Romans 6:4 Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
American King James Version×, God will accomplish a marvelous transformation in the lives of His followers through His holy spirit, and it will eventually fill the whole world. Romans 6:4 Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
American King James Version×, it's speaking of baptism here in the first part of this chapter, verse 4, Paul writes to the Romans, therefore,
Romans 6:4 Romans 6:4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
American King James Version×- …We were buried with Him through baptism into death, (a symbolic death) that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. It's a spiritual transformation that, as I said, and as we know leads actually to, you know a transformation of our bodies into spirit.
The apostle Paul is an excellent example of this transformation. He caught it here for us in the book of Acts. The apostle Paul, who was called Saul at the time, was deeply immersed in his Jewish culture. He said he was one of the best Jews there was around. He had the best theological education available at the time. He went to the top theological institute you could. You know, the Ambassador College of his day, the Jewish seminary. The great scholars of the day were his to learn from, but in the eyes of God all of that education, all that knowledge was a big zero, nothing.
When striking Saul down on the road to Damascus, God asked him, "Why do you persecute me?" And you probably recall that he was persecuting the true Christians, and even wanting them to be killed. So God struck him down, and interestingly enough, blinded him, and said, "Why do you persecute me?"
And what is it that Saul asked? What did he ask, with all his education, his theological background, his study of the ancient scrolls? Paul asked, "Who are you?" That was God talking to him. All that education and he didn't even know who God was. You see, you have to have your mind changed. You have to be converted. You have to be called. In fact, he was so confused; he was fighting against the God he thought he was supporting. You can't get anymore wrong than that. And yet he had the greatest education the world could offer at the time.
Well, mankind will soon get his strength and values from the tree of life, not from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All will come to know the unknown God that Paul espoused. Paul came to see that the world did not know God either. And so when he was in Athens he talked about the unknown God. You know, there was a time when he didn't know God either.
The final letter for you. "Dear ‘Beyond Today', While channel surfing this morning I came across your program at eight thirty a.m. on WGN. I found it to be very informative and refreshing. I must admit, after examining the scriptures cited by you, your interpretation is correct, and mainstream Christianity's teachings are in error."
So that's why we encourage people on the program to go check it out. You know, we tell them to go pull their Bible off the shelf and follow along with us. See if what we're saying is true. And the person continues, "I will be eagerly looking forward to watching your program every Sunday morning from now on. Thank you and God bless." That's from Huntington, Pennsylvania.
I'm reminded that we had a letter from another "Beyond Today" viewer who said, "I didn't even really like that Sunday morning stuff anyway. I was never interested in the Sunday morning televangelists until I saw your program, which was different. And you guys were telling the truth."
As George Washington, the first president of the United States so aptly said, "It's impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Because it's the truth. His word is truth.
God has allowed the world to try every way. Like I said, there are about six billion different ways of understanding what the truth is but when the world comes to utter destruction, when those volcanoes start going off, and those earthquakes start happening, when people are fleeing for their lives, and Christ returns, mankind will then make the choice that Adam and Eve should have made six thousand years ago, and that is to take from the tree of life. And it's been a terrible detour that humanity has taken for six thousand years.
For six thousand years we've had to put up with war, and violence, and destruction, children who die, individuals who suffer, bodies blown apart for six thousand years of life without God. And, of course, it's our own fault, and God has shut himself off from mankind until Christ returns.
Because a decision was made that did not obey God and take of the tree of life truth was lost. What a terrible waste of six thousand years, you might think, when it could have been so different. Well, it will be so different in a new world to come, in a new world ruled by the Prince of Peace himself.
Jesus Christ told us that when he returns to this earth to rule, that the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. The spiritual eye scales of blindness will be removed. There'll be more than just a computer chip. Like I said, the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God is the very truth that humankind so desperately needs. And do we have, as a church, the commission to preach? This is the message of the gospel. This is the message of truth. Our job, as the Church of God, is to be telling the truth.