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The Wrath of God

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The Wrath of God

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The Wrath of God

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The word "wrath" has a very powerful meaning and occurs often in the Bible. It's important that we come to understand what it means.

Transcript

 

The title of the sermon today is The Wrath of God. “W-r-a-t-h” is a pretty powerful sounding word. You and I probably understand that we’ve been blessed beyond belief to live at this time in history. Never before have the people of God had the opportunity to study the word of God with all of the explanations along with it and had the time to do it as we have today. Years ago, or generations ago, people were just working so hard to make a living, to grow their own food and so on; but now we have an opportunity—an opportunity of learning. It’s a great luxury. With that luxury, with that opportunity, though, does come responsibility—the responsibility of knowing what this is for, and what we are to do with this word of God.

It wasn’t any more than a hundred years ago, a hundred twenty years ago, people would sign the deed to their property with an X because a lot of people just could not read or write. And we know that even today, there are many nations and many peoples that simply don’t learn to read and write. Girls in places like Iran and Iraq aren’t allowed to go to school, for example. And so, we see that ignorance, the lack of knowledge, is still extant today.

But about 1611, or 400 years ago, the King James Bible was translated for us from the Greek into English; and it was a wonderful translation. Not only was it a good translation, but the King insisted that everybody should read it, because there was very great importance placed upon it; and the British were wise enough to begin making their laws based upon the word of God. So the common laws of England, which are extant in the United States, Canada, and all the British Commonwealth and many other nations of this world, were given to us as a blessing. And yet, we see and understand that so many people do not comprehend the beauty and the majesty of the word of God, of what it means, and of His law.

I was speaking to a man not long ago who was telling me he felt free as a butterfly because he had no restrictions or controls. He could do what he wanted to because there were no more laws. “They’re all done away with.” But I had to explain to him that, you know, a butterfly flies according to laws, as a matter of fact. God has laws for the caterpillar [in order for it] to develop into a butterfly, plus the laws of flight, aerodynamics, gravity, and all the rest that are involved; and if the butterfly doesn’t perfectly follow the laws, it doesn’t fly. It’s as simple as that. Or it’s going to die. And in the same way, there is a spiritual additive to that, too.

He said he was a born-again Christian and he did know the Bible fairly well, although he said that he didn’t hear much from the Old Testament, so he was surprised when I explained to him that for the first twenty or thirty years of the church’s existence after Jesus Christ, the Bible as we know it—that is to say, the New Testament—didn’t exist. Everything came out of the Torah; everything came out of the Old Testament. And, as a matter of fact, I asked him why he thought God selected twelve very zealous Jewish men to form the foundation of the church after the crag of Christ where it was built upon—these Jewish men whose names are actually going to be on New Jerusalem when it descends. Why would God do that? Why would He select Paul, a learned scholar of Judaism, of Jewish words, to then begin to explain how the laws of God, given to the Jewish people, given to Israel, would then apply to the Gentiles? He [the man I was talking with] hadn’t thought of that; and after about an hour and a half conversation, he went his way. I wondered later on if he gave much thought to what we said. I didn’t try in any way to change his thinking. I just got him to think. That was the main thing, because a lot of people just do not think.

Today I would like to share with you the thought patterns that perhaps we should focus on and concentrate on just a little. I’ll start off, if you wouldn’t mind, by imagining a little with you. I say imagining because we have no choice. Imagine what it was like in the beginning, in the beginning where, as John says, there was the Logos (the Word), and there was God; and They were one. And everything was created, and everything was made by Them, by Christ.

John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Can you imagine the time of harmony and peace and rest that existed? There was no such thing as rebellion; there was no such thing as controversies of any kind. There were no wars. There was nothing but pure harmony, beauty, and rest in the beginning. That is the way God is. He reflects that in all that He is. The Bible says He is agape, that is to say, He is love; He is outgoing concern. And because He is that, in all of His creation, He has fallen in love with His creation. He loves His creation, everything He has made. He says, “It was very good,” in Genesis, chapter 1. That certainly pertains to everything—not just the recreation of the world—because God doesn’t make things, you know, in a sort of shoddy way. He makes everything in a wonderful way. And in the midst of this perfect peace and harmony, God designed and created a universe and angels. He also announced a plan that He had [in order] to increase His family, to build an actual family which would be able to inherit everything that He has created and made; and He began working with them [the angels] as well.

It seems that among the first things that God created were the angels. It seems that way, because in the book of Job, chapter 38...I won’t turn to it for the sake of time, but in Job, chapter 38, in the first few verses, God asks Job where he was when God created the foundation of the world and all of the angels, the morning stars, “sang together.” All the sons of God shouted for joy. At that time, all of the angels were considered the sons of God, so we can imagine the span of time. Again, we have the Logos and Word, who was God with God; and now all of the angels were created and there was still peace and there was harmony and there was nothing but goodness and beauty.

And then the unthinkable happened. God, it seems, had given angels the ability to make choices and to think for themselves. They had to develop a certain character; and in that process, some became disoriented, confused, jealous, filled with envy. And we ask ourselves, then, with this unthinkable thing that happened, did God perhaps feel, for the first time, an anger? Perhaps for the first time, a fierce anger, when He could see the outcome of rebellion, the outcome of destruction, the outcome of all that had to do with breaking His laws?

When God created things, He created them, as He said, “very good.” In other words, all that God has created is goodness. Anything which is not, therefore, created by God, has to be the opposite. In other words, that’s where evil comes from. God created good; everything else is evil. So when a person doesn’t follow that—and Satan didn’t follow that—then we read about evil. But the fact is that God does not change. He has always been, as He is now, a loving, merciful, just, faithful Creator. He automatically defines evil, though, just because of what he [Satan] did. And the word “wrath,” then, seems to be almost out of place; and maybe that’s why some people say, “Well, I don’t like to read the Old Testament. That talks about an angry God. I like to read the New Testament, which talks about a gentle, loving, kind God, where all your sins are forgiven and you can just do what you want.” We can be like butterflies, as one man said, and just do what we want. “I’m not a legalist. There’s absolutely no law.” He didn’t believe in any law of any kind. It’s an amazing thing that people can bring themselves to think that way.

The word “wrath” has a very powerful meaning. It’s the strongest of all passions, as far as the description is concerned in the Bible. It is used against man. It’s used in “the wrath of the Lord,” Jesus Christ, it says. It’s God’s anger with Israel in the wilderness and God’s anger with those who disobey God. All these things are used to describe what wrath is. Orge is the word translated “wrath,” and it occurs more than 200 times in the Bible—fifty times in the New Testament, so you can’t say, “Well, I don’t like the God of the Old Testament because He’s kind of angry.” The God of the New Testament is pretty angry, too!

It [the word “wrath”] occurs so often, it’s important that we come to understand what it means. It is certainly against Satan, first and foremost, God’s arch enemy, the spirit being with a third of the angels that cannot die. And it’s against mankind as well. Adam and Eve, when God gave them a very simple, clear command:  “Here’s this beautiful garden. Tend it and keep it, but there’s only one tree out of this garden...” God says, “Don’t touch it; don’t eat from it.” That’s a very simple command. And, of course, Satan was there to say, “God didn’t mean that. He didn’t mean that. He knew that if you did it, then you’d really be like Him.” That’s the same violin we hear playing today. God says, “The penalty of sin is death,” and the person says, “Well, hold it. God didn’t really mean that. He really meant that you’d be like Him.” God does want us to be like Him. He has reason then, to be angry. So let’s think just a little bit about this question and this concept of anger and “wrath,” the strongest form of anger that is used.

God always controls His anger. Some people lose control sometimes. God does not lose control, but He can be fierce and fiercely angry. We need to understand that. We need to understand why it is that He is like that. He has never stopped working with mankind. He has never stopped hoping that man would follow His way, or [stopped] controlling Satan. Satan is under God’s control.

Let’s have a look and ask ourselves, why should God be like this? Where did the word “wrath” actually begin coming in? There’s a beautiful scripture I’d like to start with in Isaiah, chapter 5. Let’s turn there for a moment. Isaiah, chapter 5, is a scripture which pertains to Israel, but it declares the personality of God. The character of God is explained in here. And I’m only going to take a few verses out of here. V. 4 of Isaiah, chapter 5, God says regarding His vineyard...now all creation is His vineyard. The universe is His vineyard. All of the angels are, all of mankind is. He says about His vineyard—now this is Israel, specifically:

Isaiah 5:4 Isaiah 5:4What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? why, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
American King James Version×
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“What more,” God says, “could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it?”
In other words, God is saying, “Is there anything else I could have done to prevent a rebellion, or to prevent an anger, or to prevent this happening? Is there anything I could have done which I have not done?” This says that God has done everything possible, everything possible for His creation, because He loves the creation. And for you and for me, His Son was slain from before the foundation of the earth. God had that already in His plans.

Let’s go to the book of Ezekiel and read about a being that God loved. His name was Lucifer. In Ezekiel, chapter 28, thinking again of the time when there was perfect harmony and peace, and God created, now, trillions of angels; and He gave them positions of responsibility and of authority and of power and of ability to help Him with what He was doing. In Ezekiel, chapter 28, in v. 12, he says:

Ezekiel 28:12 Ezekiel 28:12Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
American King James Version×
Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre...we know this is Satan he is talking about...and say to him, “Thus says the Lord God,‘You were the seal of perfection...’”

In other words, God had worked with him. He had given him a position. He trained him. He was using him for a long time. We don’t know how long it was that Lucifer was the covering angel over God, friends with Michael and Gabriel. We don’t know how long that was. He was in charge of a third of the angels, it seemed.

Continuing v. 12-13,“‘{You were} full of wisdom,’” God said. Who made him that way? Well, God did. God offers that, as He did to Solomon, “‘and {you were} perfect in beauty.’” Can you see the kind of creation that God made here? “‘You were in Eden, the garden of God...’” That’s where Adam and Eve were, so we know He’s talking here about Satan, the serpent. “‘You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering.’” Can you see how carefully God had fashioned and created this angel whom He loved? “‘Every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.’”

So God created angels, and He gave them eternal life when He created them. He also gave them the opportunity to choose. He speaks of how He created Lucifer; and from this example, we can accept the fact that other angels were created in the same caring, loving way. God loves His creation, including the angels; and I believe He loved Lucifer and a third of the angels that He so carefully created. V. 14-15, He said, “‘You were the anointed cherub...I’ve given you a job and a position and a responsibility to cover the very throne of God in the presence of God. I established you; I gave you that power. I gave you that ability. You were on the holy mountain of God...’”
God does have a home that He lives in. It’s in the third heaven, outside of everything He has created. That’s where He lives. And that’s where the angels were, and that’s where they were working at the time.

Continuing v. 14-15 – He says, “‘You were on the holy mountain...’” Now, we can accept the fact that there were many other angels—all of the angels, basically—there. All of the angels had access to God and to what He was doing. So they are, then, without excuse. “‘You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.’” What an incredible thought, and how beautiful it must have been to have that oneness of mind and harmony of peace for some time. “‘You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.’”

What is iniquity? It’s sin, contrary to the laws of God. God makes good laws. Satan makes bad laws, contrary to God’s laws. Anything contrary to God’s laws is sin. That’s what the Bible tells us in 1 John [3:4].

Ezekiel 28:16 Ezekiel 28:16By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire.
American King James Version×
“‘By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence...’” Rebellion, and war broke out. The unthinkable happened in heaven, that war broke out. “‘And you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.’” All of his position and responsibility was then taken from him.

I’m a parent. I have four children and grandchildren as well, and I know how difficult it is for parents to have to discipline their children, bar them from the house, kick them out. It’s very difficult to do. Parents would rather die than have their children die. Parents would rather suffer than have their children suffer. So God is a Father. It hurt God. It hurt God to declare Lucifer now no longer to be in this place of peace and beauty and to brand him as Satan and remove him. There was war in heaven, as we read that in Revelation 12as well; but we won’t go there, again, for the sake of time.

But back to this point in Isaiah which I won’t turn to...again, God said He did everything He could do. There was nothing left undone. That’s the mind of God. That’s the being of God. That’s the intention of God. If we look forward from this span of time, then, where, now, with the rebellion of a third of the angels—not just Lucifer becoming Satan, but one-third of all these beautiful angels, creatures that God created, rebelled against Him and turned from Him, God was completely, perfectly, totally justified in His actions.

Among the laws of God, when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, He said that the weightier matters of the law of God are even greater than the laws in the sense that they override them; and they are justice and mercy and faith. So above all, God is just—and He has to be just. He is also merciful—and He has to be merciful. I cannot foresee the destruction of Lucifer and a third of the angels without God first pleading with them and warning them and cautioning them and telling them, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it!” But they pushed Him and pushed Him and pushed Him until He had to act, because He is just. And He is a rewarder of those who do good, as He is a rewarder of those who do evil.

We just read Isaiah 5 where He said He did all these things for Israel. I would imagine He did them all for Adam and Eve, too. I mean, God didn’t just sort of throw them out there and say, “All right, do what you want.” He loved Adam and Eve; He talked with them. When they were married and Adam said, “This is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh,” they understood the oneness; and then, when they did follow Satan, it was not easy for God to find them...He knew where they were. When we say “find them,” it’s kind of funny to say that! They were never lost as far as God was concerned. They thought they were. And then, to bar them from the garden of Eden and tell them that they would not inherit eternal life, it wasn’t easy for God to do that. It wasn’t easy for God 200 years later when the whole world, the intention of everybody in the world was only evil continually, as He says in Genesis 5; and then Genesis 6 about the story of Noah’s flood, and God says He regretted He had made human beings. And He regretted the pain He was suffering, too, because He loved this world. He loved the human beings, just as He loved the angels. But He also had faith that this would ultimately work out, that there would be human beings who would indeed resist evil, resist Satan, and follow Him. And Noah showed Him that there were some that would. Later on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So Noah’s generation was another span of time where God reacted with wrath upon mankind because the intent of their heart was always evil.

When we come to Israel and consider the nation of Israel, there’s a whole story there that we need to think about. Let’s go to the book of Luke for a moment. These scriptures are familiar to us all; but let us think back and put ourselves a little in God’s place, just so we can understand this question of His wrath and of His anger. In Luke, chapter 13, in v. 34, Jesus Christ is speaking. We know that He is the Logos, the Word that became flesh, so we know that He was the one who saw the rebellion of Lucifer and a third of the angels and saw him fall to the earth as God dealt with them. And Jesus says, in v. 34:

Luke 13:34 Luke 13:34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kill the prophets, and stone them that are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not!
American King James Version×
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”

How often did God reach out to Jerusalem in the hope that Israel would change? You know, the prophecies that God gives sometimes are horrible sounding prophecies. He does that in the hope that people will change. He sent Jonah to Nineveh, and Jonah didn’t want to go because Jonah knew that if there was a slight chance they might repent, then God would draw back on His prophecy. And we have to think about the prophecies in the book of Revelation. You know, they’re there for a reason, and I believe that God still hopes He won’t have to act according to those prophecies; but He is just, and He will act according to them IF human beings don’t repent.

Jesus said, “How often would I have gathered you together...” We’ve heard about Hezekiah. That was one beautiful day, in a sense, in the plan of God, for one man stood up. Josiah, another man who stood up. King David, later on, stood up. These were wonderful days for God in proving to Him that there were individuals here and there, like the salt of the earth, that would stand up against Satan, against what is evil, and love God’s laws and love God’s way of life and become the kind of a butterfly who knows that the perfect flight of the butterfly is perfect obedience to the laws of God.
Jesus said in v. 35, “See! Your house is left to you desolate...” Most of Israel—well, all of Israel but the ten tribes—and most of the Jewish people never ever came back to Jerusalem. About 40,000 returned out of Babylon out of the hundreds of thousands that were taken. “Your house is left to you desolate...” and it was going to be even more desolate because after the time of Christ in 70 A.D. when the Roman army took over, from then almost until just the recent years, there haven’t been very many Jewish people living there. “Assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

You know, when we see the book of Luke, and thinking about Jesus Christ, who was the express image of God the Father, do we ask ourselves, then, how God the Father thinks? Jesus expresses that, I think, in Luke, chapter 19, and in v. 41. Jesus came near the city; He came over the top of the Mount of Olives, which, if you’ve ever been to Israel, it’s a beautiful place to go. Somehow or other, when you’re standing on the Mount of Olives and you look to the west to the city of Jerusalem, there’s something different about it, something just striking about it. You can’t just walk away as you can anywhere else in the world. It is the apple of God’s eye, His favorite place in the whole earth, which He will one day come to and change. But in Luke, chapter 19, and in v. 41, as Jesus came near the city, He knew that He was about to lay His life down because of the sins of mankind, to pay the penalty—not to remove the laws of God, which define sin. I mean, God forbid! As Paul said, “Now that we’re under grace, shall we go ahead and sin or just do what we want?” It would be like a butterfly without flying by laws. Of course not. God forbid that we should forget why Christ died. He died because people would not keep the laws of God.

Luke 19:41 Luke 19:41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
American King James Version×
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Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it...

I believe that God weeps secretly, too. I believe that God has such heartache sometimes from what we do and from what Satan has done that He weeps, because this is God in the flesh who is, in fact, weeping here. God had to divorce Israel, and He says that He turned from her for a little while; but He’s going to return again and rescue Israel because He knows the source of her perversion is Satan. He knows that He has created humans a little lower than the angels; and the source of their perversion, then, is Satan.

Let’s go to Hebrews, chapter 2. These are some words that were not available to people who didn’t have the New Testament in the first beginnings of the early church after Christ. The first thirty years, everything was just taught out of the Old Testament, or the Torah; and then Paul began writing his letters. No one really understood at the moment that they were going to be scripture. But he wrote his letters, and so then, we see from that, some of the points which God gives us here to understand. In Hebrews, chapter 2, the first few verses...v. 1 says:

Hebrews 2:1 Hebrews 2:1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
American King James Version×
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Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

It’s an interesting point to understand, when you read the prophecies of the Bible, more than anything, those prophecies are written for the chosen people of God. They’re written for the people of God who have accepted the offer of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus Christ, forgiving them for their sins, and are now walking together with Christ toward eternity. But Paul and Peter and all of the others, and Jesus Christ certainly, were very concerned that God’s people may drift away.

There’s a scripture in the book of Revelation, the beginning of it says: Blessed is he who reads this book, the book of Revelation. And you say, “What do you mean? What’s the blessing about reading this book? It talks about a lot of blood and guts! It’s the wrath of God personified. It’s really scary, the book of Revelation.” It’s intended to be! It’s intended to be, in the hope that people will change; but in the very beginning of the book of Revelation, who is the book addressed to? Revelation 2, Revelation 3, to the church of God in Ephesus and Thyatira, in Sardis; and God says, “If you don’t overcome, I’ll take your candlestick out of here. Don’t make Me do it! If you don’t overcome, I’ll erase your name from the book of life. Don’t make Me do it!” You see the heart of God pleading with mankind.

Hebrews 2:2 Hebrews 2:2For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
American King James Version×
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For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward...

God is just. He has no other choice. He had to punish Lucifer and a third of the angels. He did have to punish Adam and Eve, the world in Noah’s time, Israel, and His own people today whom He loves and wants all men to be in His family. He is just to give a just reward for disobedience.

So then, Paul says in v. 3, How shall we...now, he’s talking to converted people...if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, how shall we escape?

Of course, we cannot. We cannot because God is just, and we put Him in a position that He doesn’t want to be in. He doesn’t want to have to act, but He will. If He needs to act, He will act.

V. 4...God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?  For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

The world which is to come will be controlled by the family of God, by the children who don’t stand before Mt. Sinai, which is just a regular mountain, but before the very mountain of God, before this awesome Creator. And sometimes we forget how awesome He is, how all-powerful He is, how mighty He is, and what a great insult it is to turn against Him, to discard His laws or  discard the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and treat it shabbily. What an incredible insult for a human being to do that. God says He has done everything for His creation, so we go back to all of His creation. But ever since the rebellion of Satan, there has never again been the kind of peace and harmony throughout the creation of God which He had at the beginning. There has not been that kind of peace and harmony, which God does love.

Let’s go to chapter 6 of Hebrews, since we’re in this section now. In chapter 6, it says in the first verse:

Hebrews 6:1 Hebrews 6:1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
American King James Version×
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Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles, just the basic principles of Christianity, of following God, let us go on to perfection...

We have to learn to go on to the further ramifications and magnification of the laws of God. It’s not just a matter of not killing your enemy. You’re not supposed to hate your enemy. You’re supposed to love one another. We are to reflect the attitude of God. As I said in the beginning, He loves everything He has created. He loves all people, and He loves those who rebel against Him, too, and wishes they wouldn’t. And His prophecies are sent with the hope that they would repent, as I said with Jonah and Nineveh, the first city recorded that actually repented. And see, God held back; and I think God rejoiced in holding back on the destruction of Nineveh! That made Him very happy. Jonah wasn’t happy, but God was. He loved those people in Nineveh. He loves everybody in this world. You know, John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
is a beautiful verse. It says:
John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that people in China or Siberia or Japan or Thailand or Australia, wherever they may be—God loves all people, all races, all religions. He doesn’t like what they do sometimes, and He sends His messengers to guide them; but He loves them, nevertheless.

He goes on to say here in Hebrews, chapter 6, and in v. 4, after we’ve done all this through baptism, the laying on of hands, we’ve received forgiveness, received the forgiveness through Jesus Christ, we stand in His blood before the throne of God, we stand with an open door...you get on your knees and you pray to God—it’s like having a red telephone, you know, the oval office! You can speak directly to your Father. You don’t have to speak through a priest or through a minister or through anybody else. You just speak directly to your Father. Once that’s there, though, He says in v. 4:

Hebrews 6:4-6 Hebrews 6:4-6 [4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [6] If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×
For it is impossible...now, why is it impossible? Because it would cancel out everything that God is if this were to happen. It’s impossible for those who received the gift of His Son, the blood of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness from God, the attention from God, the messengers He sent, the preservation of the scriptures and the Bible through the years—those who received all of that and understood it and walked in it and felt the beauty of the laws of God and living His way—it’s impossible for those who were once enlightened, to whom God has done everything that He can do—that verse in Isaiah, chapter 5:  “Is there anything I have not done that I could have done?” The answer is no. God will have done everything that He could possibly have done for His people. It’s impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, because as Jesus said, He goes to prepare a place for you. He’s before the very throne of God preparing an office and a position and a responsibility for each one of God’s people whose names are written in the book of life. They’re planning that for you and for me, and God is hoping—that’s His faith and trust—that we will come through with our part. But He is also a realist, and He knows that some will fall. If they fall away, it will break God’s heart. He’ll weep over them as He wept over Jerusalem and Israel, as I believe He wept over Lucifer and a third of the angels. How could He not have when He loved them and made them so carefully? And to have them rebel against all that He has offered. How is it possible? I mean, how can we be so insane as human beings to do that; but we are, because we follow Satan sometimes too much with our thinking. I’m not talking about God’s converted people. I’m talking about mankind as a whole. But for the converted ones, nevertheless, if they fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance because we butt up against God, who is the God of justice.

Yes, He sits upon the mercy seat, but He’s also a God of justice. He has to respond and react just as He did for Lucifer, just as He did for Adam and Eve, just as He did for the people in the time of Noah, just as He did with Israel. What more could God have done for Israel that He didn’t do? He sent them prophets, He gave them His word, the Torah, He preserved all of that over the years, gave them all of that, finally sent them His Son, and they killed Him, too. What more could God have done that He didn’t do? You see, God does expect us to make choices, the right choices, the good choices, to want to be in His family, in His Kingdom, as Lucifer should have wanted to be. He should have been glad to have been there. Can you imagine, you know, the incredible scene that Lucifer and a third of the angels or two-thirds of all the angels could see on a daily basis, and then to reject that is incredible.

V. 6 – If they fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

God cannot allow that to happen and will not allow that to happen. And that’s why, for everything I can comprehend and understand of the scriptures, every time I read in the Bible, there’s these warnings, these cautions that Paul gives and Peter gives, and the others give to the people of God, who don’t get second and third chances. Now, we all fall. The Bible says you sin and you repent and it is forgiven. We understand that. But we’re talking about denying, willfully denying the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive us our sins. That’s a serious thing.

Let’s go to 1 Thessalonians and ask ourselves this question of what more could God do. Paul writes to all the people he loved...you know, Paul shed a lot of tears for the members of the church that he pastored—a lot of tears—because some of them just sort of turned away. But in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4:

1 Thessalonians 4:1 1 Thessalonians 4:1Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.
American King James Version×
Finally, Paul says, then, brethren, we urge, beg you, and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God...

Paul is begging them to listen to the word of God. That’s what we preach from. We preach from the Bible. This man I talked to asked, “Do you preach from the Bible?” I said, “Yes.” “Do you believe it’s the word of God?” “Of course, it’s the word of God.” It tells me what’s right and wrong. I don’t tell it. I don’t tell God what’s right or wrong. He tells me. And in areas where God is silent, then I’ve got to zip it up, too, you see. God did not call us to uncleanness, but He called us to holiness. That is, to be like Him, to think like Him; to be just in our dealings, to be merciful, and to have faith and trust.

V. 8Therefore, he who rejects this, and this is, again, Paul talking to members of the church, he who rejects this doesn’t reject man, but he rejects God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

And that’s something we cannot do. So, much of what is written in the Bible, as I said, really is a caution to God’s people.

Chapter 5 of Thessalonians: 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 [1] But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you. [2] For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. [3] For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
American King James Version×
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, Paul says, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. So, again, he’s just cautioning God’s people. He’s trying to do everything He can do to prepare God’s people for the return of Jesus Christ, everything he can do. It’s an astonishing statement. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

Dropping down to v. 9For God did not appoint us to wrath...He didn’t appoint His people [to wrath]; He doesn’t want to do that. He didn’t appoint the angels to wrath. It’s only when Lucifer and a third of the angels rebelled right in His face that He had no choice. When Adam and Eve rebelled, He had no choice. When He saw the evil and wickedness on the earth in Noah’s time, He had no choice. When Israel rebelled, He had no choice. And when we rebel, He has no choice.

V. 9 – For God did not appoint us to wrath but He did appoint us to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing...And we urge you, brethren, he goes on saying in v. 12, to recognize those who labor among you...

And so, God is supporting all that He is doing for us, and He is totally and completely and perfectly justified in what His thoughts are. There is a time that we know about and we’ve heard about at the Feast where we understand that there is a second death, and anyone whose name is not in the book of life will be put to death. And God loves those people. You may think of some people that you know that you worry about. God loves them. He knows them far better than you may know each other, better than we know ourselves. I mean, God knows the person, and He is the one who judges. Jesus Christ is our judge, and He is the one who will condemn a person to a second death, to be dead for all eternity. That’s not a good day that God’s looking forward to. It’s a very bad day; it’s a dismal day. It’s like condemning a third of the angels. It’s a sad day for God.

So the Bible has a warning. “Come out of this world,” He says. The world is drunk with the sins.

Let’s go to Ezekiel 33. God intended for the nation of Israel to be a teacher for this world. He intended them to have His temple, have His laws, keep those laws, and have nations, just like the Queen of Sheba, came to say, “Wow! What a country you live in! What a beautiful place you have. What wonderful blessings you have. How do you do it? Let’s learn how to do it.” There was a time when the United States and the British Commonwealth were in that kind of a position—not perfectly, but the laws of Great Britain in the last 400 years have been made according to the laws in the Bible. It’s included in much of that; and the common law, when the United States rebelled in l776, they kept the laws of England in the United States because they’re based upon the Bible. The United States, like England then, was founded on the Bible. And God blessed that; and our lands, the British Commonwealth and the United States, became the envy of the world. “Give me your tired and your poor.” People wanted to come because there was an opportunity and there was hope and there was decency and there was goodness. But we’re giving that away. We’re turning away from all of that. Again, you say, “Well, why?” Because we’re turning away from the Bible. England is now a secular nation. We want to take God out of everything; and when we do, we force God to back away. He doesn’t want to, but He has to, because He is just. So, in Ezekiel, chapter 33, here’s what God would like to see, in v. 11:

Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
American King James Version×
This is God speaking through Ezekiel, His great prophet, to the children of Israel, but to the whole world: “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD,” our Father in heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, who was the God of the Old Testament, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,’” and He doesn’t have. It breaks His heart. It’s a horror story for a father when his children act in such a way that a father has to turn from them or the mother has to disown them. It’s a horror story, and God is that way. He feels that inner anguish which He never felt before. Before Lucifer became Satan, there wasn’t anguish and anger and frustration and wrath in God. It was forced upon Him, because He took the chance of giving angels the ability to choose, as He has given us the ability to choose. “‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’” That’s what God wants. That’s what He has always wanted. He gave all of the angels an opportunity to be angels to serve Him for all eternity in all that He is going to create and to make.

We’ve learned such marvelous things, you know, here on the earth. We’ve learned incredible things. Can you imagine that 400 years ago, before Galileo developed the telescope, people thought that stars were little specs out there. They had no idea what they were; and they believed, at the pain of death for Galileo, that this earth was the center of the universe. Boy, we have come a long way from there. In the days of Christopher Columbus—it wasn’t that long ago either, in 1492—they believed the earth was flat. You’d just fall off the edge when you go sailing out there. That’s 400 years ago. There was such ignorance, and now we’ve got a lot more knowledge. With that comes a lot more responsibility. God says, v. 11 continuing, He takes “‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’”

So Christ said to you and to me, “Go and preach the gospel. Preach the good news. Preach the message. Maybe some will listen. Maybe they’ll change. Maybe they’ll turn to Me and I can rescue them and help them.”

Continuing v. 11 – “‘...but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’”

“Why are you making Me do this?” God says to Lucifer. I’m sure God said that to Lucifer. “Lucifer, don’t do that! You’re forcing Me to react.” I mean, God is almighty. To rebel against God or to wage war with God is pure insanity. He is so powerful. He just zaps. Lucifer becomes Satan, and he goes wherever God sends him. But God allows him room to act and to do things, and He’s using him, actually. V. 11, “‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’”
There is joy in heaven, it says, when one sinner repents. Isn’t that a wonderful statement? That Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ and the angels rejoice when one more name is written in that book of life? And I’m sure they weep when a name is erased from that book of life. I’m sure there are, as Jesus wept when He saw Jerusalem, I’m sure that there are sad days when God removes that [name].

Continuing v. 11-12 – “‘Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his sin or transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness...’”

In other words, we know that it requires a forgiveness from God, not our good deeds, that make these things happen.

V. 14 – “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”

That’s a day of great rejoicing for God. But because the angels could see everything that God was, worked with Him, and were there before His throne and still sinned, for them there is no Savior. For them, there is no second opportunity for the third of the angels. For all eternity, they’re going to be sent into outer darkness and banned by God. That doesn’t bring Him pleasure either; but it’s absolutely just and fair, and He must do that.

In v. 31 of chapter 33:  “So they come to you,” Ezekiel writes, “as people do, they sit before you as My people...”

There are a lot of Christians in this world, almost two billion calling themselves Christians. They have the Bible in their hands and sit before God as though they are His people; but they won’t do what He says. The same swan song that Satan played for Adam and Eve:  God says, “Don’t eat of this tree; don’t touch it.” Satan came in with his violin, and he says, “He didn’t mean that. The laws are done away. You can touch the tree. You can eat of the tree because you’re going to be like Him.” Same thing today. “The laws of God are done away with, nailed to the cross,” or whatever all these reasons are. “So go ahead and do it!” And so people sin, unwillingly, ignorantly; and, therefore, there is such a thing as a second resurrection. There is an opportunity, then, for every human being because God is just and fair. Every human being does have to have that opportunity and has it now. I mean, anybody right now can read the word of God and begin doing it.

It’s an amazing thing—when you study the word of God and take one step in the right direction, it’s amazing how understanding opens up. I can recall when I first began to learn about the Sabbath, about 1962, when I heard Mr. Herbert Armstrong speaking. I was convinced in my mind that all of these religious centers...I could imagine the Pope with row after row after row of monks who did nothing but study the Bible...I met a monk. He was in a monastery for two or three years and never touched the Bible, he said. Martin Luther never, ever touched the Bible until he was allowed, given permission finally, to read, because he was a brilliant man. This was Martin Luther who became the head of the Lutheran group; and when he understood it, he realized how wrong the teachings were.

Continuing v. 31 – So they come to you, as people do, they sit before you as My people  and they hear your words, but they do not do them...” They don’t do them. They know they should. People have said to me, “I know I should do this. I know it’s right,” but they don’t do them. “...for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” That’s the mind of Satan. That’s what Lucifer wanted. That’s what a third of the angels wanted. “...they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song,” God says, “of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.”

And, therefore, God has very good reason to be filled with wrath and with anger toward His creation which He has made. His creation is causing Him tremendous troubles and tremendous difficulties.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul writes a bit more about this. In the book of Ephesians...Paul was a minister who shed a lot of tears for God’s people; and I think ministers who care about God’s people and who love people do worry about them and sometimes weep because of what they do and what they have done. Maybe we weep secretly. We don’t go bawling up and down the streets or anything like that, but it hurts your heart. It really does. In Ephesians, chapter 5, it says:

Ephesians 5:1-2 Ephesians 5:1-2 [1] Be you therefore followers of God, as dear children; [2] And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling smell.
American King James Version×
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. It’s a wonderful thing to know and to understand, to be a kind of imitator. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

So Paul is giving these instructions, which he always gives to all of God’s people; and then he goes on giving cautions and warnings.

V. 3 – But, “but” is a big word, fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints...he goes on saying all these other various things in here.

He says in v. 8, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light...

The Bible is written for God’s people who do want to understand and who do understand. It’s written for everybody in the world to understand if they would want to. But it’s something which a lot of people don’t. Some people don’t read the Old Testament because they don’t like it; and some people just read the Bible without trying to understand it and comprehend it, without thinking about it; and thinking is a very, very important task for you and me to be engaged in.
In v. 6, going back a couple of verses, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It was Satan’s words that caused the difficulty for Adam and Eve, and for everybody who lives. He was the one that brought everybody to the brink of death in the time of Noah. Satan was involved in all of that.

In Revelation, chapter 6...I won’t turn very much to the book of Revelation, but the word “wrath” appears very often in this book. Revelation, chapter 6, gives you all of these causes that are mentioned in here. We won’t turn to all of them, but you’ve read about these seals that are there. I’ve always been interested in the fifth seal, v. 9:

Revelation 6:9 Revelation 6:9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
American King James Version×
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried to God, asking how much longer it would be. V. 11, Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

I take it from this, there is a martyrdom coming. I would hope that God, who loves His people, sees some who maybe have slipped and fallen; and through martyrdom, through laying their life down, come to understood what they’ve done and can find their way back to God, as King David did. Purge you with hyssop, if necessary. David did. And so, for us all, there is that great hope, because of God’s very great love for us all.

In the book of Lamentations...Jeremiah wrote the book of Jeremiah, and sort of a conversation exists between him and God sometimes. Jeremiah loved the people of Jerusalem, of Judea, and yet, he saw their evil and he sort of said to God, “Well, how long are you going to put this off? You said You’re going to nail them, You’re going to hit them, You’re going to hurt them. Why do You put it off?” Well, God is merciful. He waits and He hopes and He sometimes waits until the last moment, in the hope that people will change. And Jeremiah understood that and felt that, although he went through a lot of difficulties himself, but let’s go to the book of Lamentations. We don’t read the book of Lamentations very often, and we sometimes think these are the lamentations of Jeremiah. I think they’re the lamentations of God as well, the lamentations of a loving Father who has tried so hard to work with His people and to love them. He says in v. 22 of Lamentations, chapter 3, Jeremiah is writing:

Lamentations 3:22-23 Lamentations 3:22-23 [22] It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [23] They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
American King James Version×
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

That is, the faithfulness of God. Justice, mercy, and faith. Great is His faithfulness. Great is His mercy. Great is His justice. That is God. That’s who He is. That’s what He is. That’s what He must always be. He never changes. He is the same. He has experienced things He never experienced before. In the beginning before the angels rebelled, I don’t think God experienced the anger that came later, the wrath which developed when He saw the evil that was there. But of human beings as well, He says, “I regret making them.” He didn’t think we could be that evil.
Continuing v. 23-27 ...great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.

It’s a wonderful thing to find God when you are young, and you don’t have to bear the scars of all you do that’s wrong. You know, King David found God when he was young, but he made some big mistakes. And God said, “David, the sword will never depart from your family.” David made big mistakes, and his children and children’s children still pay for it till this day.

V. 28-29 – Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope.

In other words, you prostrate yourself before God in humility and understanding and knowing His majesty. You and I, what are we? We’re just dust. We’re just dirt. That’s all, but we breathe and we think. It’s a fascinating thing to understand, you know, that out of the small number of elements that make up a human body that this can live and function and think and breathe and hope and laugh and cry; and then, when the spirit in man leaves you, you go right back to the dust you came from. We come before the throne of this Almighty Creator. How can we dare to be an affront to Him? How can we dare to rebel against Him? So let us put our mouth in the dust...

V. 29-33 – ...there may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, and be full of reproach. For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief...He is love. He is agape. He is on the throne of mercy. He will not cast off forever. Yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly...God does not afflict willingly. He didn’t afflict Lucifer willingly or the angels or Adam and Eve or mankind or anybody else, Israel, or even you and I...nor does He grieve the children of men.

God wants the children of men to be saved. He wants them to live happy, fulfilling lives. His laws are given so we can fly like that butterfly within those laws. Obedience to the laws of God is where a good life comes from. You can look back over a long life and say “Thank God” for His laws and directions that have allowed you to live a profitable life.

I believe that God longs for peace and harmony, the peace and harmony that He has known, that which existed before He created the angels and humans. And because He is God, and because He is almighty, that peace will once again come. That peace and harmony where there will be no rebellion, where there will be no evil, where there will be nothing that will be rebelling against God, nothing to break the harmony and the peace which God has known since the beginning, which was disrupted by Lucifer and Satan, that has remained disrupted and will remain disrupted until Jesus Christ returns and the Kingdom of God is established on this earth and the Father dwells with man. From that time onwards, we will see that peace re-established.

Let’s close by going to Hebrews, chapter 4. This is a scripture which I heard many, many years ago, and you did, too, when we were learning about the Sabbath day, way back in 1962 when I began to learn this. In Hebrews, chapter 4, God invites human beings into His rest, He says. “I invite you into My peace and harmony. I invite you into that which was from the beginning. I invite you into the family of God, which is going to go on in peace and harmony and creating and working throughout all eternity in this universe,” God says. “I invite you.”

Hebrews 4:1-7 Hebrews 4:1-7 [1] Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. [2] For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. [3] For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. [4] For he spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. [5] And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. [6] Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: [7] Again, he limits a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
American King James Version×
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest—a promise that God has made, and that promise will be fulfilled. He’s got faith and trust that human beings who understand will struggle against evil, struggle against Satan; and when they do that, He reaches out and helps them. The promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear, even here, Paul says, lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said, this is God’s promise: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’”...there will be nothing evil in there, nothing wicked in there, nothing rebellious in there. There will be oneness of mind, oneness of heart...although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. V. 4, For He has spoken in a certain place about or of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”...That rest looks forward to a time of perfect rest and peace and harmony...and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”  Since therefore it remains that some must enter it...that’s His plan. Some must enter into it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

V. 9 –  There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

That’s the rest that God had in the beginning, the Father and the Son. In the beginning there was the Word; the Word was with God; the Word was God. There was peace, there was harmony, there was goodness, there was hope, there was direction in life. That shall be there once again. Let’s all plan to be a part of that.

Comments

  • KARS
    I found this to be a well informed sermon for the day of prep last week. Thanks for posting it.
  • Sherrie G
    I have been doing a lot of personal study and meditating on mercy. This sermon tied in while giving me a lot more to think about. I have never considered the relationship between God and Lucifer as being much like a father and son, not until now. Thank you, I found this very thought provoking.
  • Barbara Abbott
    Mr. Brendt, Thank you for your Sermon concerning God's Wrath and pointing out God's ultimate mercy to all mankind. I do have concerns about a statement you made in the Sermon. You said that God loves all religions. I am sure that in context you meant that God loves people of all religions and that He wants them to repent of false religious beliefs including false christianity. But certainly He does not love all religions as many scriptures tell us. Rather He desires people to worship Him in spirit and truth. My concern is that someone perhaps in the Church or someone in another Church of God organization could take a statement like this, remove it from it's context and then use it to say that United is watering down our commitment to totally follow God's commandments as to how to worship Him. Respectfully, Nathan Abbott
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