Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Joshua Creech Comments

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Joshua Creech

Pastor, United Church of God

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  • jcreech6
    Verse 5 contains this parenthetical note: "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished." The NRSV appropriately places this sentence in parentheses. Since the resurrected Israelites of Ezekiel 37 are not saints—indeed, they receive God's Spirit only after they are raised from the dead (verses 13-14)—they will not be part of the first resurrection. Therefore they must be part of "the rest of the dead" in the second or general resurrection, which occurs after the Millennium. Since the resurrection of Israelites in Ezekiel 37 must be part of the general resurrection at the end of the Millennium, it follows that all others of that resurrection will experience basically the same thing. So this prophecy is representative of how God will deal with all people, not just Israel. What this means is that all the unconverted of mankind who have ever lived—which is almost everyone—will be raised at this same time to physical life. Revelation 20:11-12 describes this time in which people will be judged according to their works.
  • jcreech6
    There's more to God's plan than just those who understand His truth now. There's a touching portrait of a great resurrection in Ezekiel. A vision in the 37th chapter speaks directly to the desperate plight of Israel down through the ages. No matter how many times one rereads it, this account remains both arresting and suspenseful to the converted mind. But even more important is the profound meaning for us—and for our departed loved ones, who may never have been called of God or spiritually converted during this age. This remarkable, comforting vision assures us that we will see them again! Now, what is the time frame of this resurrection? We find that spelled out in Revelation 20:4-6. That passage explains that the saints of God—His spiritually transformed servants of all ages (that is, the faithful people of Old Testament times and all faithful true Christians of New Testament times)—will be resurrected at the time of Christ's return in what is referred to as the "first resurrection," to reign with Him over all nations for 1,000 years, a period Bible students often refer to simply as the Millennium.
  • jcreech6
    Doug, Lena has fully answered your question, but I would just like to add one scripture that supports her answer which you might find helpful. In John 3:13 Jesus Christ states, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." There are several other scriptures that we could also turn to which also supports the fact that we do not go to heaven at death.
  • jcreech6
    Sherril, to add to what Skip has already mentioned, the word “soul” in this context implies “the capacity to live.” At any point we may have this physical life stripped away from us, but we still have the capacity to live again. God can always bring us back to life in the resurrection. On the other hand, God has the authority to deny bringing us back to life—destroying the capacity to live ever again. “Hell” in this verse refers to the gehenna garbage heap fire burning in the valley outside of Jerusalem. The fire was used to destroy the sewage and refuse of the city. It’s symbolic of what the Bible calls “the lake of fire.” If we die “the second death” in the lake of fire, there remains no hope of a resurrection (Revelation 21:8).
  • jcreech6
    Continued.... 1 Thessalonians 15-18, "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." God has given us detailed signs both visually and audibly that will be recognizable at His return. Another thing to note would be that both the living and dead in Christ will be resurrected at His return. Using the verses I quoted along with others, we can see that it will not be a secret rapture where some people just disappear before Christ's return, but a resurrection of the living and dead who are faithful at His return which occurs at the seventh trumpet.
  • jcreech6
    Michael, I'm confused about the questions that you present in the first few sentences of your comment, and what you are actually asking. My inclination is that you are stating that the next step in God's plan is a secret rapture. We believe God have given us His Holy Days as representations of what will occur, and yes, the Feast of Trumpets does represent the return of Jesus Christ. You mentioned how orderly God is. If a secret rapture occurred, chaos would be created. One possibility would be that unmanned cars would create devastation after the drivers were raptured. There's many other examples of critical situations that would be created if people just disappeared from their positions. Christ's return is going to be well know. Luke 21:25-27 states, "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." We are given additional details in
  • jcreech6
    God is loving and merciful. He has created a plan in order to grow His family, and that includes all of mankind. 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." Those who haven't heard the truth haven't had an opportunity to understand what is required which repentance is part of that process. God's plan involves multiple resurrections. The second resurrection can be found in Revelation 20, but it isn't specifically referenced by name. Revelation 20:12 reads, "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." The reference to "books were opened" is talking about the book of the Bible. This verse helps us to understand that everyone will be given a chance to understand God's way of life before being judged. They will have some amount of time to gain an understanding of the necessity for obedience to God and the life that He expects us to lead.
  • jcreech6

    After Zacharias completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John’s conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John’s birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus, Luke 1:26) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.

  • jcreech6
    Darren, please note that we do our best to adhere to what scripture actually says. Deuteronomy 12:29-32 states, "take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." We are commanded in scripture to worship God in the way he has instructed. God considers it an abomination when one tries to worship Him in a way that he has not commanded, and that includes any adoption or adaptation of other religions. Christmas and Easter don't just have superficial similarities, but have roots that link back to the worship of false gods. We can read in the New Testament that God's Holy Days in Leviticus 23 are kept by both Jews and Gentiles.
  • jcreech6
    Darren, please note that we do our best to adhere to what scripture actually says. Deuteronomy 12:29-32 states, "take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." We are commanded in scripture to worship God in the way he has instructed. God considers it an abomination when one tries to worship Him in a way that he has not commanded, and that includes any adoption or adaptation of other religions. Christmas and Easter don't just have superficial similarities, but have roots that link back to the worship of false gods. We can read in the New Testament that God's Holy Days in Leviticus 23 are kept by both Jews and Gentiles.
  • jcreech6
    The closest church is in Beloit, WI. Regular Sabbath services are held at 1:30.
  • jcreech6
    You can find a list of church locations and times of services at the following link. https://www.ucg.org/congregations
  • jcreech6
    The preaching to the spirits you reference in 1 Peter 3:19 refers to angels. Biblical history shows that Lucifer initially rebelled against God, at which time he became Satan or the opponent of God. This is detailed in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-16. He subsequently drew a third of the angelic creation into mutiny against God, Revelation 12:4. When these formerly righteous spirits rebelled, they became demons. We learn more about these spirits and their prison in 2 Peter 2:4. The word translated hell in this verse is from the Greek word tartarus, which doesn’t mean hell in the way that people today commonly think of it. Rather, it means a place of restraint or a prison.
  • jcreech6
    When we look at this account in light of other scriptures and in its historical context, it becomes apparent that this is an allegory, a familiar story of the time that Jesus uses to point out a spiritual lesson to those who knew the law but did not keep it. It was never intended to be understood literally. In Christ’s story God was the beggar’s only source of help, for the rich man was certainly not going to do a single thing for him. It is important to see this parable of Jesus as a continuation of His conflict with the Pharisees over riches. Christ has said, "You cannot serve God and Money" in (Luke 16:13). When the Pharisees sneered, Jesus responded, ‘What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God’ (Luke 16:15). There’s no doubt that the Pharisees remained unconvinced. Christ therefore told a story intended to underline the importance of what He had just said.
  • jcreech6
    Mr. and Mrs. Weed, In Leviticus 23:7-8 we are instructed to have a holy convocation on the first and seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For the wave sheaf, the phrase “on your behalf” (Leviticus 23:11) is striking in regard to what the wave-sheaf offering symbolized when it was lifted up and waved before God by Israel’s high priest. Christ’s presentation of Himself to the Father as the real “wave sheaf” had been planned long before as a vital aspect of God’s plan of salvation. The Father accepted Him as our perfect Sacrifice, declaring Him “the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). As our resurrected High Priest, He ascended to the Father to present Himself on our behalf, the perfect and unblemished Sacrifice for our sins.