Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Steven Britt

Pastor, United Church of God

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  • Steven Britt

    1 Thessalonians 4:16 states that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” How you choose to translate the Hebrew “teruah” in light of this passage is almost beside the point, since there will be both a great shout and the blowing of a trumpet at the return of Christ, and no other significant prophetic occasion fits the bill. Not to mention that a loud trumpet blast clearly qualifies as a “teruah,” which literally just means a “great noise” (for what it’s worth, ancient Jewish sources describe a teruah as a specific pattern of shofar blasts, which was a trumpet made from a ram’s horn).

    Also, Trumpets were in fact blown on the Feast of Trumpets in the Old Covenant - we see this from Numbers 10:10, which says the two silver trumpets were to be done on all the feast days as well as at the beginning of each month - the Feast of Trumpets happens to be the only feast day that coincides with the beginning of a month.

    I believe that the Church’s understanding of the Feast of Trumpets is biblical, and I don’t see where you’ve made any compelling point for a different understanding.

  • Steven Britt

    Hi, Lee - the bible doesn’t speak to that issue directly in a way that I can recall off the top of my head. Certainly the answer lies in the balance between the sovereignty of nations to protect their citizens and the moral obligation to help those in need. In essence, this is the same balance of the principles of justice and mercy - two ideals with strong precedent in the law of God that do not compete, but must be administered by righteous judgment in love, as God does toward us. To that end, I’ll just quote what I wrote in the article for reference:

    “For today, the most important thing we can do as Christians is to pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom and that our current leaders will exercise sound moral judgment. America’s leaders must recognize the necessity of maintaining the rule of law if we expect to continue to provide a safe haven for anyone, and most people agree that major reform of the American immigration system is needed.

    One hopes the debate will bear out an improved legal process that helps those truly in need without compromising the stability of the nation or the safety of its citizens.”

  • Steven Britt

    Respectfully, Stephen, this is just plain wrong. To answer the first hypothetical: no, we do not agree this person is a Christian at that point. Without the law of God, this person cannot understand what sin is - John said clearly “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). The law of God in its fullness is found only in the Old Testament. It’s the same law that Jesus Himself lived by and taught!

    You have greatly confused the Old Testament with the Old Covenant, and further confused the Old Covenant with the eternal Law of God that is present in both the Old and New Covenants. Reading the Old Testament and keeping the law of God is not at all equivalent to “joining the Old Covenant.” You fail to understand the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law. The law is the same, simply administered differently now in the New Covenant. For example, New Covenant believers MUST be circumcised in heart - it is completely obligatory, not optional. This replaces and supersedes circumcision of the flesh, but circumcision is still the law! I hope this helps you understand where you are lacking understanding in the role of God’s law for us today, but there is much more.

  • Steven Britt

    Prophecy loses its value if it’s only “kind of” fulfilled - the God of the bible just doesn’t operate that way. We reject that reasoning because of the specificity of Jesus’ words - “3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth” cannot mean anything other than that He would be in the tomb for that period of time. You can’t count a part of a night here or there, and you certainly can’t count it from when His trial started.

    Jesus made less precise statements elsewhere, but in this one we get exacting detail, such that nothing short of fulfilling it precisely would suffice to uphold His words. Have you asked yourself WHY you are so ardently defending the condensed, traditional Easter timeline that requires interpretive gymnastics? It’s just not the best way to understand the scriptures, plain and simple.

  • Steven Britt
    Hi Rod - if you'd like to explain what we said that you don't agree with, I'll be happy to discuss it. The gist of what we've said is that God created man "in His image" with a level of intelligence and reasoning ability that He did not give to animals.
  • Steven Britt
    The bible doesn't make a direct statement about Sabbath observance on a global scale, but the practice of Jews and the sabbath-keeping church of God throughout history has been to use the local sunset wherever you live. I believe this is the best way to understand the commandment today. Regarding the creation of humans and dinosaurs, you may be interested in our article ,"Where do the dinosaurs fit?" (https://www.ucg.org/vertical-thought/where-do-the-dinosaurs-fit).
  • Steven Britt
    Hi Jerry - Skip and Danny have made some good points. For a detailed explanation of the 7 literal 24-hour days of creation, see our article "Genesis 1 and the Days of Creation" (online at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/creation-or-evolution-does-it-really-matter-what-you-believe/genesis-1-and-the-days-of-creation). More information about the timing of the creation of man and where Satan's rebellion fits in can be found in "The World Before Man" (online at https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/creation-or-evolution-does-it-really-matter-what-you-believe/the-world-before-man-the-biblical-explanation). Both articles are from our free study aid, "Creation or Evolution: Does it Matter What You Believe?" which you can read online or request a free copy in print.
  • Steven Britt
    Hi MD - we do our best to fulfill God's law, and each of the reasons you've cited falls short of a command from the word of God. God requires holy convocations on the first and last days of Unleavened Bread - we fulfill that command. Abstaining from leaven during the entire week is commanded, and so we also do that. It would not be wrong to hold services on each day of the Days of Unleavened Bread as you've suggested or as was done in the past, but it is certainly not required. We must also carefully separate between God's law and tradition. Regarding the comparison to the Feast of Tabernacles, we are specifically told to live in temporary dwellings during that time, and this guides our current practice. Again, we have holy convocations on the 1st and 8th day, according to the commandment.
  • Steven Britt
    Hi Vickie - I just wanted to give you direct links to the resources that Skip mentioned. One is our Fundamental Belief statement on water baptism and the laying on of hands, found here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/fundamental-beliefs-of-the-united-church-of-god/water-baptism-and-the I would also suggest our free study aid "The Power of the Holy Spirit" (https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-power-of-the-holy-spirit) which has a collection of articles on what the Holy Spirit is and does as well as how to receive it and become part of the spiritual Body of Christ.
  • Steven Britt

    You assume I wrote the article with the common biases of pro-Israel sources, but these were not part of my motivation or perspective. We at the United Church of God are not pro-Israel. We do recognize Israel’s modern rise as a part of the plan of God. I said as much in the article, but I’ll recap here.

    Over the last 100 years, Israel rise to prominence does not add up by mere human effort. Some mistakenly interpret this to mean that God supports their every move. We do not endorse the actions of Israel’s military or that of any human government - this article is about recognizing God’s power to bring about His prophetic plan. Part of that plan, like it or not, is for Jews to be in Israel at the end time, and God has clearly worked that out.

    My heart breaks for Palestinians living in Gaza - especially for the fatalistic thinking and hopelessness that Israel’s actions have bred in their minds. Not one nation God has used through history has acted righteously in accomplishing His purpose - Israel included! That is why we look forward to the Kingdom of God rather than trusting in any government of man.

  • Steven Britt

    Hi, Dan - I’d also like to point out that the Resurrections and Eternal Life is one of the Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God - see https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/fundamental-beliefs-of-the-united-church-of-god/the-resurrections-and. The “resurrection of the dead” is listed as one of the “elementary principles of Christ” in Hebrews 6:1 - notice that it’s not just Jesus resurrection, but the resurrection of the dead in general. If you want to dig into the truth of this in the bible, start with reading Revelation 20 carefully and honestly and pay attention to what it says about the dead “living again,” a “second death,” the “first resurrection,” and related statements - you really might be surprised!

  • Steven Britt
    We have a Q&A article on that topic if you'd like more detail: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/does-the-bible-say-anything-about-cremation
  • Steven Britt

    Hi Khloe - God cares so much about you, and even just from the small bit that you’ve shared here, so do many of us. I know it can be hard to see the value in living sometimes when life gets so hard, but God is a God of life, not death. If you commit yourself to Him, He has a capacity to heal - and to bring peace, love, and even joy into your life, no matter how far away that may seem right now. If you start to think about suicide, please get help - you can call 1-800-273-8255 at any time, night or day, for immediate support.

  • Steven Britt

    Hi, Lonita - I think Skip is trying to say that there must be a proper balance of priorities and that we can’t be content with the attitude that we’ll just pay God later without actually following through with a plan. Either way, your situation is not for us to decide or dictate to you: it’s between you and God. It’s important that you are honest with yourself and with God as carefully consider how you can best honor Him and obey His commandment to tithe.

  • Steven Britt

    Hi, Ricardo - the most important thing is to be honest with God in your assessment of your financial situation and what constitutes your increase. Generally, we do not include one’s rent or mortgage in this, but would include costs associated with doing business, such as a farmer’s cost in purchasing seed and fertilizer. Here is a link to our Bible Study Tool, “What Does the Bible Teach About Tithing?” for further reference: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-tithing