Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Andy Duran

Assistant Pastor, United Church of God

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  • Andy Duran

    Hello Joseph,
    I recently noticed a "Not Attending In-person UCG Services 2020" option. Likely this is the option you can select, if you are changing from a site to not attending in-person.

  • Andy Duran
    Hello Ray, It is true, the word rapture does not appear in scripture. The theory of a rapture is not found within the Bible. However, what can be found is that God's people will be resurrected form the dead, or transformed while living, to a spiritual and eternal life at the return of Jesus Christ. Although Christ's return is after the tribulation period, the Bible does not reveal a post-tribulation rapture. Reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, the main verses used to support the rapture, we find God's people will be "caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air". First the dead will be resurrected, then those alive will be transformed. Reviewing the Greek words that Paul was inspired to use we see the word "apantesis" used for "meet". In ancient Greek this word describes a delegation of citizens leaving a city, meeting a dignitary, and escorting them back in, with honor. Cross referencing with Zechariah 14, Revelation 5:10, and Revelation 20:6, we can see that those caught up to meet the Lord will return to earth and reign with Him for 1000 years. I encourage you to read our bible study guide at: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-rapture-vs-the-bible
  • Andy Duran
    Hello Naeem, you are correct in that no one has ascended into heaven, except for Jesus, as quoted in John 3:13. Concerning the opening of the graves and the resurrection of many saints, although uncommon, it isn't unseen for bodily resurrections to take place before Jesus Christ came and died (1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:18-37, 2 Kings 13:20-21). In addition to these resurrections, Jesus Himself performed several recorded in scripture (Luke 7:11-17, Luke 8:52-56, John 11). There are other examples as well, but one thing that is similar between all these resurrections is that they are all resurrections to physical life. Matthew 27:52 is describing an event where several saints are resurrected to physical life. We can know this by cross referencing with other scriptures, for other scriptures clearly say that those that are to inherit eternal life (saints) will do so at a resurrection at Jesus's second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:12-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Revelation 20:4-6). These individuals who are resurrected to eternal life at Christ's second coming are known to be a part of the first resurrection.
  • Andy Duran
    Hello Ramith, in the Bible there are recorded several examples of people being resurrected after death (1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:18-37, 2 Kings 13:20-21, Matthew 27:52-53, Luke 7:11-17, Luke 8:52-56, John 11, Acts 9:36-43, Acts 20:7-12). All these examples however, are resurrections to physical life. When the title of "firstborn from the dead" is used in reference to Jesus Christ, one application that can be applied, is that Jesus Christ is the first person to be resurrected to spirit (eternal) life after living a physical life. When it comes to the resurrection to eternal life, there is an order in God's plan: "Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming" (1Corinthians 15:20-23).
  • Andy Duran
    Hello Martin, understanding when God's Sabbath day is important. Looking throughout the Bible, we see that God views a day as the evening portion first and daylight portion second - generally speaking, from evening to evening, whereas our modern reckoning is from midnight to midnight. Starting as far back as creation, we can see this pattern (Genesis 1:8,1:13,1:19,1:23,1:31). Along with this, we can see that the evening began when the sun goes down (Joshua 8:29, 2 Chronicles 18:34). One specific example of the Sabbath ending at sunset is found in Mark 1:32, where once the sun was setting, many people brought ailing people to Jesus to be healed. One specific example of a Sabbath starting at sunset can be found in the event of the burial of Jesus Christ. The Gospel records that they wanted to have Him entombed before the approaching annual Sabbath - the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42). If you would like to read more from us concerning this topic, feel free to read our Bible Study Guide - "Sunset to Sunset - God's Sabbath Rest" at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/sunset-to-sunset-gods-sabbath-rest.
  • Andy Duran
    Hello Michael, the Bible is clear, there is one God. Understanding the Unity of the Father and the Son, their oneness, has led to much confusion over the years. This topic is quite large and therefore isn't the best to be discussed through our comment section. It is because of this, that I would point you to our Bible Study Guides - Is God a Trinity (https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity). There are many helpful sections concerning the oneness of God, including "There Is One God, the Father...and One Lord, Jesus Christ" found here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/there-is-one-god-the-fatherand-one-lord-jesus-christ. Concerning Acts 3:25-26, the bible is clear that Jesus Christ - known before His human birth as the Word (John 1:1-18) - was the One who interacted, both in speech and visible form throughout the Old Testament period of history. However, just because the Most High God (the One who would become the Father) did not speak directly to the people of the Old Testament doesn't mean He didn't communicate - it was however through the Word (Jesus Christ).
  • Andy Duran
    Part 2 of 2: Concerning Acts 3:13, it clearly shows that the Father is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, that doesn't preclude the Word (Jesus Christ before being born of flesh) is not also, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understanding that the Word was the One who interacted with people during the Old Testament period is key (John 1:18; John 5:37; John 6:46, 1 John 4:12). For more information concerning this subject, feel free to read the following two articles: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/does-acts-3-verse-13-mean-that-god-the-father-alone and https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/there-is-one-god-the-fatherand-one-lord-jesus-christ.
  • Andy Duran
    Part 1 of 2: Hello Michael, You have a great question. Fundamentally, the question could be asked, is both the one known as the Father and the Son both God? Simply put, yes, both are God. The apostle John makes this clear in the opening of his Gospel, John 1:1-14. You asked about John 17:3. We know there is only one God, although there are, at the present time, two beings in the Godhead—God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. An analogy that helps explain the nature of the Godhead is the idea of a family. God can be defined as a family—one God family, although currently consisting of two beings. This analogy is used in the Bible to describe the unity of the Father and the Son (John 17; Ephesians 3:15; Romans 8).There are two God Beings in the form of God (Philippians 2:6; John 1:1; Hebrews 1:8-9), God (the Father) and the Word (Christ).
  • Andy Duran
    You're welcome. I encourage you to read our bible study guide mentioned in the program, this guide covers many of the scriptures we have discussed, including Revelation 6:10, you can read this guide at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/heaven-and-hell-what-does-the-bible-really-teach
  • Andy Duran
    You're welcome. Concerning the biblical event commonly known as the transfiguration, we have a short article titled "What was the transfiguration?" found here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/what-was-the-transfiguration. The quick answer is simply that what the disciples saw was a vision of something to come, not necessarily a resurrection to glory in that time. Seeing Matthew's record in Matthew 17:9, Jesus states "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead", this would support the conclusion that this was a vision. Another thought, is Revelation 1:5 and the title of Christ of "firstborn from the dead", the article mentions: "Since Christ is first, it is impossible that Moses and Elijah were resurrected to glory before Christ. This helps show that the transfiguration was only a vision of things to come."
  • Andy Duran
    Hello cachman426, Jesus was not telling the criminal he would be in paradise “today” with Him, because Jesus Christ wasn’t going to be in Paradise “today”. We know this from another scripture, where Jesus states what would happen immediately after his death. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus gives a sign concerning His identity, He says: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Jesus was telling the people of the day, that He would be killed and spend 3 days and 3 nights, dead in the grave, until resurrected again. For more information concerning 3 days and 3 nights, feel free to read about our fundamental belief on the subject: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/fundamental-beliefs-of-the-united-church-of-god/three-days-and-three-nights. Jesus was simply telling the criminal, paraphrasing, let Me tell you something today, you will be with Me in Paradise. Moving the comma (which are not in the original texts but added by modern translators) from before today to after today, you can see this better understanding. Thanks!
  • Andy Duran
    Hello Das, A true believer is synonymous with a true disciple. If you review the program, we show that a true disciple of Jesus is one who not only knows and believes in Him, but also follows in His teachings. It’s important to mention again, being a true disciple means more than just having knowledge concerning a teacher. A true disciple puts to action what the teacher tells the student to do. Looking at Luke 6:46, Jesus Christ says, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Throughout the Bible we have a similar thread, God gives His people instructions and teachings and expects those people to obey all He commands. God is building a family and in doing so has shown the world His true nature and character, encompassed by His eternal law. God is not a “spiritual term” with secret meaning, based on human philosophy, but rather God is a family name, a family currently consisting of the one known as the Father and the one known as the Son (Jesus Christ). Romans 11:36, in context is speaking to the unsearchable mind of God (by human reasoning) and how mighty and depth of riches is the knowledge of God. Truly God is above all and all glory goes to Him.
  • Andy Duran
    Mat, I believe if you continue reading in Hebrews 1, specifically in verse 2, maybe it's evident how God the Father spoke to "the fathers" by the prophets. Maybe God the Father didn't interact physically with the prophets (as preincarnate Christ did), but spoke to them through Christ. Verse 2 says "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;" Where I would like to draw attention here, is that God made the worlds, through His Son. There are plenty of scriptures that show the One who became the Christ made all that was made, yet we can see that God the Father is also labeled as Creator... Creator through the Word. Can it not be the same concept that the Father dealt with people through preincarnate Christ, the Word?
  • Andy Duran
    Colleen, I agree that alone the phrase, "Jesus was the God of the Old Testament" is incorrect. Listen to the sermon around minute 5:50 and you will hear some good simple statements regarding this. However, if you say "Jesus was the God of the Old Testament" then clarify "and by that I mean, the God that interacted with those in the Old Testament, was the one who later became Jesus Christ" this would be correct. As to reconciling Acts 3, I don't think it's incorrect to say God the Father is God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, I think we must think in terms of who interacted with the people and also who was not seen. In these terms we can understand God the Father as God, but also Christ (that is pre-incarnate Christ) as God (who interacted physically) in the OT.
  • Andy Duran
    Mat, John 5:37 states "And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." Now it doesn't say that no one has heard the father, but this could be something people think about maybe?