Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Dan Preston

Pastor, United Church of God

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  • Dan Preston
    Very kind of you to say so, I hope it was helpful!
  • Dan Preston

    Hi Muana, the key to answering this question is understanding if the specific law given was a part of God’s perpetual laws which are to be kept forever, or if it was a part of the old covenant which was made with Israel.

    For example, far before the nation of Israel existed, or even the old covenant, we see God made the Sabbath Day Holy and set it aside as a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3). We see it described and recorded for Israel in more detail later on in Exodus 20:8-11, but it existed as part of God’s perpetual law far before that, and is therefore a law we still keep today.

    An example of a law given to Israel that is no longer necessary to keep would be animal sacrifices. One specific type of animal sacrifice for sin is described in Leviticus 4. Under the new covenant, animal sacrifices are no longer necessary, since Christ’s blood took the place of all sin offerings once and for all (Hebrews 10:8-10).

    For more information, we recommend downloading or requesting a free copy of our Bible study aide “The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God’s Law?” at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law

  • Dan Preston

    Hi Will! In Romans, Paul goes into a thorough examination of sin, the law, grace and justification. He mentions repeatedly the need for the law to define for us what sin is (Romans 3:20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:7). He calls the law good (7:12,22) and talks about our need to be ‘doers’, or obey, the law (2:13). He talks about the need to stop sinning (6:1-2) and about his own desire to obey the law (7:15-16).

    Paul also explains that we are justified through the blood of Jesus (2:25, 5:9) and that no matter how well we keep the law, the law cannot justify us (2:28, 3:20, 5:1). So what’s the deal? Do we need to obey the law, including the Sabbath, as outlined in the Ten Commandments, or are we justified by Christ?

    The answer is both. While keeping the law cannot save us, we keep the law because we have been saved. Paul says plainly in Romans 3:31 that we don’t void the law through faith, rather we establish the law. In Romans 6:15, he says plainly we don’t have an excuse to sin, just because we are under grace. Instead, he points out in verses 16-19, that because we have been made righteous, we strive to obey God’s law.

  • Dan Preston

    Hi Delores, yes, we can be forgiven from any sin, no matter how great or small! Of course, there are two key things to consider when it comes to being forgiven from our sins. First, we must ask God for forgiveness and be truly repentant of our sin. This repentance must lead to a real change of heart, and be reflected in how we think and live (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). For example, someone who was once a thief can’t just say they are sorry, and go back to being a thief again (Ephesians 4:28). If we acknowledge our sins, yet refuse to make genuine effort to give them up, then we may indeed face God’s wrath (Hebrews 10:26-31). Secondly, while the wages of any sin would be death without the sacrifice of Christ (Romans 6:23), the physical consequences here and now in breaking one of the commandments may vary. For example, stealing a candy bar from a store is a sin that would only carry a small punishment, likely involving repaying the store for the candy bar. Murdering someone carries a much more severe penalty. While spiritually speaking God is willing to forgive in either case, the legal system of a nation would not be.

  • Dan Preston
    Very true, there are many names for both God and Jesus Christ. In part 2 of this series, we will get into more details on those!
  • Dan Preston
    This is a really great short film! It's a relevant message and speaks well to young people. Keep up the good work and I hope we get a chance to see more of these!
  • Dan Preston
    Thank you - I'm glad it was helpful!
  • Dan Preston
    Thank you for your comments and it's good to hear from you! We should indeed be willing to forgive, regardless of the attitude of another person. But as I mentioned in the message, forgiving someone does not require that we continue to associate with them. While we are to forgive and not have hate in our heart, sometimes the best thing is to separate ourselves from those causing us harm. Forgiveness is just that: forgiveness. It means to forgive an offense or debt of some sort. It does not mean that offense or debt was 'okay.' Only after the fruits of repentance are shown can people begin to truly reconcile.
  • Dan Preston
    Hi Lisa, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We must be careful not to read into the Bible more than what is there. The Bible simply says there will be two 'witnesses.' It does not indicate their gender or relationship - married, siblings, etc. What the Bible does tell us is that they will indeed be witnesses for God's truth at the end time.
  • Dan Preston
    Hi Ken, the word used in Hebrews 11:5 for taken is better translated 'translate' or moved. This same word is used in Acts 7:16 when referring to Jacob's bones being transferred from Egypt to Shechem. Jacob was of course already dead, so this clearly refers to a physical move. Also note what Gen 5:23 (KJV) states, "All the days of Enoch were 365 years." It does not indicate he is still alive on this planet or anywhere else. This, combined with the statement in Hebrews 11:13 that all those previous mentioned died leads us to the conclusion that Enoch did indeed die.
  • Dan Preston
    Hi Ken, thanks for your comment about Enoch. Some people believe Enoch to be one of the two witness because of the statements that God 'took him'. in Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5. If we look at this word more closely, we see it has the meaning of 'to be moved' or translated. It does not mean they ascended into the spirit realm, or 3rd heaven, at that time. We understand it to simply mean they were physically moved to be spared from death at that moment. After all, in John 3;13, Christ makes the statement that no one but He has done that. In addition, a little later in Hebrews 11, we see clear evidence that Enoch, as well as the other examples listed there, did in fact die. Verse 13 (NKJV) states, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them..." We understand that Enoch, as well as other faithful were kept by God as faithful stewards. While they may have been temporarily spared death for a time, they did indeed die and remain in the grave, in a state much like sleep. There, they are being kept, and await the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:49-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16).
  • Dan Preston
    The Bible indicates that these two witnesses are indeed physical, mortal men. Note that are given power to prophesy for 3-1/2 years. While the old and new testaments can correctly be considered as speaking to us today (Hebrews 1:2, 2 Tim 3:16, Rev 1:1), they have certainly been doing so for more than 3-1/2 years. The Bible in the form we have it today has been around for hundreds of years. As a group of smaller books and letters, it has been around for thousands of years - well more than the 3-1/2 years the two witnesses will be. We also see a description in Rev 11:8-9 of their physical bodies being drug through the street for 3-1/2 days and being desecrated by not being buried. In addition, they are drug through the streets of a physical city. While the Bible has been desecrated by many over the years, it has not, and will not be destroyed. In addition, it extends beyond the bounds of one physical city. All of these things point to the fact that these two witness are indeed real, physical people, and not the old and new testaments.
  • Dan Preston
    Thanks Wayne, glad you found it encouraging! It is a long, difficult battle we face, but we must keep fighting the good fight till the end!
  • Dan Preston
    Thank you for your question regarding the two women grinding at the mill. The context of this scripture is Christ's warning that there will be many people claiming to be Him or that He has already returned. His actual, physical return, will be quick and seemingly out of nowhere, just like a lightening strike (Matthew 24:5, Luke 17:22-24). The women at the mill, along with the others that Christ mentions in this section of scripture, were ordinary, every day kinds of activities. Christ illustrates through these example that n the middle of ordinary, daily life, Christ's return will be a shock to many. Some, left standing, will not understand what has happened. The faithful, those spoke of as being taken, will be rising in the air to meet Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The references in Job and Isaiah point to the diligent, watchful eyes of the eagle. As Christ concludes his warning about not to be caught off guard, He gives us admonition to be like the watchful eagle (Luke 17:37, Matthew 24:28). We should maintain a diligent attitude as we seek for the Kingdom of God!
  • Dan Preston
    We certainly do live in a world that is under spirit influence, don’t we? There’s no doubt these evil spirits can influence our mind, heart and way of thinking. John 4:24 reminds us we must worship God in spirit and truth. To ensure we worship God in truth, we must guard what goes into our minds. Proverbs 4:26-27 tells us, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” Keeping ourselves on the right path requires recognizing and removing the very real evil influences of this evil age and staying close to God through prayer and study of Biblical truths!