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Brothers and sisters in Christ! Thank you for entrusting me with your thoughts, problems, and questions. As I am guided by the Holy Spirit writing to you, I pray that you may also be guided by Him as you are reading the following teachings.
The answers to your questions are not based on the teachings of any particular denomination but on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit gathers His People so also He gathers the scattered truths from the different churches. For further information see Question 9.
The following answers and statements are not provided for leisurely readings but for instruction. "There are some things in them, very deep, and so not to easy to understand..." (2 Peter 3,16) While you read them - pray and meditate. These writings are inspired by the Holy Spirit - He will guide your study of the following pages. It is a gradual process - do not be discouraged! Remember that I am providing you with meat and not with milk. Compare 1 Corinthians 3,2.
It is important to realize that all Christian study must lead to a deepening of Christian life! The Word of God must become 'flesh.' Without this our life remains sterile and so fruitless...indeed "the seed fell along the path..." (Luke 8,5.12) Live what you learn! The Holy Spirit will support you in becoming Christ-like! Compare Philippians 3,10-16.
Are you walking with the Lord? Remember - He never promised a smooth passage but He has guaranteed a safe landing!
To log into the other sites - apostoliccatholicchurch.org; remnantchurch.info; lastdispensationchurch.com; philadelphiachurch.info; davidkepha.com or thepromisedland.name click on No.1 or No.2 or No.3 or No 4 or No 5 or No 6 or ..
If you wish to contact "the author (see author);" "Contact the Endtime Church," please place your cursor on the relevant 'item' and at the bottom of the screen you will see the email address you have to write. That is: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
1. http/members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/apostoliccatholicchurchorg.htm This web-site contains guide-lines preparing you to receive (renew) the Holy Spirit into your life and will guide you Christian living.
Introduction to Genuine Christian Life: Let yourself be renewed and healed by the Holy Spirit..! My strong recommendation is that, if you wish to fully profit from this web-page, you should first study the "Introduction to Genuine Christian Life" in the apostoliccatholicchurchorg site.
2. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/remnantchurchinfo.htm This web-site reveals the Lord's messages: Prophetic insights for our time..!
3.http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/lastdispenssationchurchcom.htm This site continues to answer questions relevant to our time - the Time of the Eminent Return of Christ.
4. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/philadelphiachurchinfo.htm The Church of Philadelphia is the Church of the Last Dispensation, preparing the Saints for the Rapture. This site considers the life of PETER.
5. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/davidkephacom.htm This sub-web-page gives an account of some of the visions and visitations of the author since early 2002. It is written in a 'form' of a Spiritual Diary.
6.http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/thepromisedlandname.htm This sub-web page is the continuation of the davidkephacom sub-web page.
7. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/christophorusname.htm This sub-web page is the continuation of lastdispensationchurchcom. Discusses contemporary issues.
8. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/christophorusus.htm This sub-web page is the continuation of christophorusname. Includes also contemporary sermons.
9. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/lastdispensationchurchteachinginfo.html Catechism for adult, children etc. Christian prayer, Biblical stories, etc.
10. Philadelphia Church Issues Info - The Church takes, stand (temporary issues), sermons, reports, etc.
11. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/remnantchurchbiblecommentaryinfo.html A comprehensive Bible commentary.
12. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/endtimechurchlifeinfo.htm Divine Liturgy, Commandments, etc.
Nehany angol tema magyarra leforditva
(this is a Hungarian domain) Jezus eljon!
The second Hungarian web-page. Subjects continues from www. jezushamarosanjon.org
www.jezuseljovetelehu (nyissad ki es punch a rajzon)
see also www.jezuseljovetelehu (nyissad ki es punch a rajzon)
15. http://members.iinet.net.au/~end.time/Hitesazigazokumenizmusavegidoben/Hitesazigazokumenizmusavegidobenorg.htm The third Hungarian web-page.
Important explanations: The concept Catholic=Universal,The Apostolic Catholic Church, the Church of the Remnant is Universal, that means, she embraces all believers* world-wide.
*Believers: All those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and follow Him unconditionally.
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5. Click on any of the links below to jump to that question.
Vision: The Ancient Olive Tree as the Body of Christ in the End Time (see Romans 9-11; Ephesians 2,11-22; Acts 15,16-18).
A. In general
B. In particular
C. The Church of the Remnant
The Saviour and His Apostles
The Triumphantly Returning
Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom - Living Water will nourish and heal the Nations (Revelations 22)
1. What is truth?
The lead-motive of many of the essays on this web-page is freedom – freedom in Christ.
The liberating truth
1. Christ, the saving Truth
a. Jesus, the Incarnate Truth
Christ is the unique Messenger, because He is, at the same time, the Message also. He is the Word of the Father - He lives from it and does it also. He is the incarnate Truthfulness and Faithfulness in the fulfilling of His mission. He is the sacramental* Word - the visible Word of the Father; in His entire human reality divinity is made visible (see John 14,9, also 1,1f; 1 John 1,1;1,5-7).
* Have sacred and mysterious character.
Christ, the Word, who breaths Love
Whilst the Father expresses Himself, 'begets' the Son - who is His exact image - He expresses Himself perfectly otherwise the Son would be either more or less than He is. The Son is the Word, but not just some kind of Word, but a Word that breathes Love - this breathing is mutual with the Father. In their mutual love ('breathing') emerges the Holy Spirit (The Mutual Love) – 'begetting' and 'breathing' expresses here a process without beginning and end.
Let us once more summarize our thoughts on the Trinity (Triune God):
The Father is the 'Unbegotten One'; the Son is the 'Begotten One' and the Holy Spirit is the 'Proceeded One' - proceeding from the Father and from the Son (a Patre Filioque). See Question 11.
To explain ourselves in still another way we will use an other analogy: The One primordial (existing without beginning) God is the Trinity: The different Persons found their causality* in an inherently necessary interior relationship with each other: A mind knows itself because it conceives of its own existence, it also has to love its self-conception. A lover needs a beloved and there is out of necessity a love which flows between them but which is of course not identical with either - therefore God, in order to be Himself, had to be a Trinity of Persons, since otherwise neither His Mind nor His Love could function. See also Question 13.
One Divine Substance - Three Persons
Cause for Their existence.
As a logical deduction from the above we conclude that all the works of the Trinity are a result of an interior process - the atonement, for instance, was a result of an inner Trinity process (ad intra) -- Christians are admitted, through the Blood of Jesus, in the Holy Spirit to participate in the inner life of the Trinity- the life of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are sons/daughters and participants by adoption (see Galatians 4,4-5).
c. The Spirit of truth
Before He departed, Jesus promised His disciples the "the Spirit of truth" (see John 14,16f.26; John 15,26f;16,13f; 1 John 4,6;5,6; 1 Corinthians 2,9-13;12,8).
d. Sanctified in the truth
See John 17,17-19;6,63;4,23.
2. Man searching for truth
According to its origin and ultimate aim there is only one truth. One of the great problems of human existence is that, that the One Truth is scattered and the fact that "we see in a mirror dimly" (1 Corinthians 13,12) makes us and our search very difficult. To 'know the truth' is a life long process - we have to be guided constantly by the Holy Spirit.
a. The team
Christian search for the truth needs to happen in a team - that is within the Body of Christ. The search for the truth is a joint adventure - the more we live the Christian-for-each-other, the closer we will get to The Truth.
b. The dialogue
In a genuine dialogue the partners need to give as much as they receive. They take care not to force their opinions on one an-other. If this condition exists then the partners will not focus just on the words but will also look at the person who gives meaning to the words.
The same words can have different meanings to different people under different circumstances - one will not encounter the truth unless one encounters the other respectfully.
We Christians know, that being willing to learn is scarcely possible without being open to the Holy Spirit AND to our fellow Christians - listening within the Body of Christ will bring us closer to The Truth. To listen is an art, a charismata (a gift of the Holy Spirit) - we have to 'learn' to listen not only to what one says but also we have to try to understand who our partner is.
As we walk with the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ we will soon learn that all good things need their time - to know that there is a time to speak and there is a time to be silent is a sign of a wisdom coming from God (see Ecclesiastes 3,1-8). We know from the Holy Spirit that the greatest truth is love and therefore our basic decision for the truth must also be the basic decision for love (see 1 Corinthians 13,4f).
3. The recognition (knowledge) of truth
All educational endeavor has to convey to all Christians (young and not so young) the passion for creativity, justice, true freedom, truth and a very special desire for co-working and co-responsibility in the life of the Church of Christ.
'To be true' in earthly life -- we understand a continual process of cleansing, a process of turning to Jesus and to the leading men of the Church. Through them Jesus speaks to His People - He is turning His face to us (see Philippians 3,10.12; 1 Corinthians 13,12; John 8,31f).
Our knowledge of the truth develops through faithfulness in searching for the truth and in acting according to the recognized truth.
To be oneself (to be true) is necessary to love genuinely.
Only love opens up existence and truth - without love both will disappear (or will not come to be at all).
Truth gives its last answer through love.
4. Truthfulness and discretion by communicating the recognized truth
Our being of the image of God has to reveal itself in speaking, in silence and actions - it should be a reflection of the divine Word (see Matthew 5,37).
We need the gift of discernment (discretion) in order to communicate our knowledge of truth in a healing way. In this way confusions may be overcome, hypocrisy exposed and the truth will be experienced in love. We Christians see our association with the truth in the service of the building up of the Body of Christ - as our mission to become one with truth and love - only those who love will obtain the virtue of discretion.
Simple truthfulness is revealed to the "pure in heart" (Matthew 5,8). Only those will find the way to and advance in the Beatitudes who admit to themselves that they are still only on the way of purification and need to work on their aspirations.
The art of holding one's peace is a vital part of true communication. Only those who can hold their peace, can become gradually the communicator of the image of God. Silence is in a deep sense, a mystical communication - a primary source of the truth - before everything, was the Prime-silence. In silence is born the love of truth, the art of listening to others.
Woe to the liar
In the Bible truthfulness stands in one of the highest places (see Exodus 20,16; Leviticus 19,11; Deuteronomy 5,20; Matthew 5,37).
Contrary to the truth, which the Bible calls a lie, deception or darkness is nothing more than the fundamental decision for untruthfulness in being, in thinking, speaking and doing.
Lies out of weakness, without the intention to harm others - let us assume that this is a venial sin, as long as the overall direction of the person is in order. Compare Question 18.
One should usually not consider incorrect statements and the fantastic stories of children as lies - small children often cannot distinguish between the play of fantasy and the perception of reality. The educator's task is to help the child to learn to differentiate.
when children are lying they do it out of fear or imitating the sins of grown ups. Education in truthfulness happens for all through
the example of the educator, through an atmosphere of trust and through rational,
Towards pathological liars understanding not judgment is appropriate. One's attitude towards them should be a healing one.
There are many reasons for keeping a truth, a piece of information, something we know to ourselves - discretion and the observance of secrecy.*
The sense and aim of communicating the truth is mostly to aim at the acceptance of it (see Matthew 7,6). A Christian will always be looking for the leading (advice) of the Holy Spirit to trust in His guidance and to be led by love and justice when he reveals or withholds (see Matthew 10,20).
A just protection of the reputation of some one - in the interest of justice one may have to reveal the truth;
- Not revealing the truth in order to protect it from misuse;
- Not to misuse someone's trust, here again, in the interest of justice or to protect the innocent one may have to reveal the truth;
- There are circumstances when one has to reveal Christian truth, even if one knows that it will not be accepted - for instance, to warn the sinner or unbeliever of the consequences of his actions;
- The Father Confessor (the mentor) can under no circumstances reveal the content of a (sacramental*) confession!
* We maintain that a person to person confession of sins is necessary and Biblical. We cannot deal here with this subject (questions will be answered) but we will quote some Biblical passages as a reference for further discussion and consideration - see James 5,16; Matthew 16,19.
5. Truth and faithfulness to the Covenant
Biblical covenant is a contract between God and man, including the solemn
promises of God to man.
a. The God of faithfulness
See Exodus 34,4f; Isaiah 40,8; Hosea 2,19f; Luke 1,54f; 2 Timothy 1,11f; 1 Corinthians 1,8f; 2 Thessalonians 3,3f.
b. Human inconstancy and God's call to faithfulness
b.1. Misleading faithfulness
- Laziness, which is often found hidden in stability and faithfulness;
- Subservience - spiritless following;
- Fear of change;
- False concept of honor;
- Enslaving others.
b.2. The call to genuine faithfulness
Faithfulness is, in the deepest sense of the word, commitment for life - it has the character of unconditional devotion.
Trusting faith in God is the foundation of all faithfulness!
The People of God revered God's faithfulness as a grace and a call for mutual faithfulness. The faithfulness to the Covenant, which strengthens inter-human relationships is an indispensable condition for the praise of God - and this praise is a constant new turning to mutual faithfulness:
Our loyalty and faithfulness to the Church, that is to the Body of Christ, the People of God, the People called to unity, is necessary in the service of witnessing (John 17,11.21f).
b.3. Creative faithfulness
Creative faithfulness fixes the eye on the aim, but keeps the eye open for the next step - for the best possible solution - the Christian will let himself be led by the Spirit. The Christian fundamental decision is always for the redeeming love. Creative freedom and faithfulness grant inner integrity - it is a unity, a unity in diversity.
b.4. Faithfulness and discipline
Our faithfulness will first be truly creative, when we unite ourselves with God and His service. As long as we live in this sinful world we must have the courage (we will need to learn) to deny ourselves and renounce everything which may hinder us in faithful service to Him.
6. Human honour
Under human honor we understand our good name and public respect.
The Saints of God are conscious of the fact that without worshiping God there is no honor for man (see Revelation 4,10; Romans 1,21f.28).
Where man does not honor God, the concept of honor degenerates into ambition and arrogance. The disciple of Christ cannot be pleased with an honor which does not correspond to true honor: Our concern should not be, in the first place, to seek honor among men but rather the inner value, a worth which God respects. The honor which a disciple receives from his Lord must be basically sufficient for him.
The Christian concept of honor is to be looked at in the light of the honor of Christ, the Servant of God (see John 12,26; Luke 22,27; Matthew 23,8f, also 1 Corinthians 1,31). The reproachful assessment of the world (compare John 15,18f) for those who follow the Master, is a mush higher honor than the world can ever give (see 1 Peter 4,14, also John 15,20).
a. Self-esteem and respect of others
A true giving and receiving of honor pre-supposes a healthy self-esteem and the respect of others. Mutual respect is an expression of healthy neighborliness and therefore a genuine mark of respect.
Christian self-esteem is not self-admiration or self-contentment but a humble thankful answer toward the Giver of all good gifts.
He who judges others in hardness of heart and even despises others is unworthy of God's honor (see Luke 6,37).
b. Sins against the honor of one's neighbor
- Abuse and refusal or respect;
- Slander and calumniating - slander is a deceitful (lying) allegation damaging to the honor of others; calumniating is a statement which injures the good name of others even if it is not a formal lie;
- Co-operation in slander and calumniating.
2. Is there salvation and freedom in faith?/
The searching, finding and communication of the truth, to live the truth, has its ultimate aim in faith. In faith we receive Christ and open and give ourselves to Him, Who is the liberating truth - Christ is The Truth.
A. Constructive dialogue
a. Revelation of creation
God, the Creator, calls everyone with a solitary, unexchangeable name and at the same time He calls everyone together - the call is, at the same time, an individual and a collective one. The purpose of the call is the glorification of God. The individual call of the Saints is a call into the Community of the Saints - not just 'I' worship You Lord but 'WE,' as His Body do it together also.
In all that God does, He reveals His Glory, His Sanctity and His glorious Name. This revelation fills the Saints with holy euphoria and beatifying happiness - the Holy One lives in the midst of His People.
God's self-revelation and His self-giving love reaches its culmination in Christ (see Hebrew 1,2, see also 1 John 5,12; Ephesians 1,9f).
b. Faith and faith(trust)-attachment
The explicit faith of Christians -- yes, faith in the full sense of the word is a basic decision, a radical turning to, a total self-obligation and submittal to Christ the Revealer of the truth. Christian faith is a Yes to the Covenant which appeared in Jesus Christ Himself.
According to the Bible faith is an act and a fundamental direction of the heart, a decision out of our innermost center - in faith we expect and receive everything from God and return everything to Him.
Faith is necessary to salvation (see Mark 16,16, see John 1,12;6,47;11,25).
Paul understood faith as a faith-obedience, a Yes to the Gospel without reservation (see Romans 1,5;10,16; 2 Corinthians 9,13).
Faith is a call to conversion (see Mark 1,15). See also Question 18/28 - Epilogue B.
On the one hand we emphasizes that salvation does not come from good works but from faith. On the other hand we have to make our contribution too - God gave us a free will.
We hold on to the faith that God desires the salvation of all men. That He will not reject anyone who did not first reject Him.
What was said above will make clear that without faith no one and nothing can please God. Looking at dialogue from this point of view we can say that a constructive dialogue can happen only in faith - Christian faith gives the dialogue between man and God and between brethren the direction, the content and the result which God desires and which we need ... constructive dialogue builds up, creates unity ... I understand you - we are marching together toward the same goal, Jesus the Christ.
B. Christian faith and loyalty to the Covenant
Christ is the center of the Covenant and the faith. The call to believe is at the same time a calling to a deep unity with Christ, in Whom the disciples find their unity also (see John 17,11-23).
To live our faith within the Body of Christ is an essential expression of the covenant-dimension of our faith.
Only one is the Master, Jesus Christ. In Him and never without Him are the Offices of the Church given to us (see Ephesians 4,11). There is no such thing as faithfulness to Christ and not to His Body, the Church or to His anointed Apostles (Office bearers).
C. The 'sacrament' of faith
a. The Church as the 'prime-sacrament' of faith
Through unity with Christ and a faithful Yes to His mission, the Church of Christ is a 'sacrament' of faith and she should become more and more so. Everything she is and does, all her dimensions and structures should give witness to the world of her faith in Christ and should awaken and strengthen the faith in her people.
b. The privileged sign of faith
The seven sacraments* are privileged signs, which were instituted by Christ as effective signs of grace. They are the signs of the Covenant, which is sealed in the Blood of the Redeemer.
*See Question 28 / Epilogue B.
We find our salvation in faith and in faith only. We need to see the sacraments entirely from the point of view of faith. They not only pre-conditions faith, but also nourish it through word and action. For this reason they are called the 'sacraments of faith.' The sacraments can only bring salvation to those who have faith and desire to grow in faith.
The New Testament emphasizes the saving-power of faith, but also the power of the sacraments, received out of faith (see John 6,56).
3. How do we
proclaim the Faith in the Time of the End?/
Faith-formation and proclamation in the End-Time:
moral of the proclamation of faith
See 1 Corinthians 9,16.
a. Proclamation of faith and Eucharist
The future function of the Church in this time - in the Time of the End: Her proclamation of salvation depends fundamentally on the ability of the ministers of the Church to relate to and celebrate the Eucharist.
b. Christ is Lord
Confess in the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is The Lord (see Romans 1,3;10,9; 1 Corinthians 8,6;12,3). Then you will experience a burning desire to acknowledge Him for all men and in all conditions of life as Lord and wish to see that everyone does this - the proclamation of faith and formation of faith is an essential component of our confession: 'Jesus is the Lord!'
c. Unrelinquishable priority of the proclamation of faith
Faith and faith-proclamation encompasses with inner need, the call of conversion to justice, peace, reconciliation, faithfulness and other moral values. The Church of the End-Time must live what she proclaims and proclaim what she lives.
d. 'Evangelical counsels' and the proclamation of faith
The Sermon on the Mount ('the Evangelical Counsels') shows us, through its statements and entire structure the foundation of a living faith, genuine proclamation of faith and education of faith. Blessed are those whose entire conscience is penetrated by that, that everything is grace, that they-themselves are only beggars before God and can do nothing but thankfully receive the gifts out of His hands and pass it on to others (see Matthew 5,3,f). The Lord will bestow the members of His Church of the End-Time with the gift of His Spirit that they may live the spiritual realities of the Sermon of the Mount.
e. Proclamation of faith and time
The proclamation of faith must be done in God's time - there is a time for everything (see Ecclesiastes 3,1f).
The proclamation of the message of salvation has its right time (kairos). The Spirit, who will speak through the disciple (see Luke 12,12) will know the kairos - we have to listen to Him. [Everything which does not happen in 'kairos' is not of God!]
2. Evangelizing and the signs of the times:
a. How can we decipher the signs of the times?
The gift of discernment is one of the most important gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12,10) for His Church and His People. The unfolding of this gift is bound to the eschatological virtues, for example thankfulness for everything God has done and is doing and the living hope and trust in His plans for the future. A constant vigilance and preparedness for His Coming is needed and the readiness to meet Him (see 1 Thessalonians 5,18;4,17; Matthew 25,1ff;24,32ff,etc.).
The gift of discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Who lend it to those who honor Him with their entire life (see Matthew 22,37f) who are searching for the will of God.
In order to be alert and to able to discern the signs of time it is necessary to be firmly rooted in the Church of Jesus the Christ, the Church of the Remnant.
b. The signs of the times, see the book, The Witness of the Times.
4.Faith and true ecumenism of the End Time/
believe in the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic (Universal) Church (see Ephesians
4,5) - it cannot be more then one Church, only in
this way can the essence of Christendom be confirmed.
One and Holy: Her Founder is Holy - Jesus gave us one Church only;
Apostolic: Build on the foundation of the Apostles;
She is Catholic, that is, Universal.
We believe in true ecumenism, that is, an ecumenism of the Holy Spirit, who will call the Apostles of the End-Time to accomplish the task of unifying the true believers (see The Witness of the Times).
B. Faith and hope of the Church of the Remnant?
We are talking about the faith which "is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (see Hebrew 11,1) - a faith with a strong emphasis on hope and of course - a faith which is active in love (see James 2,14f).
1. The subject hope in the Bible
The bearer of hope is the People of God:
"Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1,27);
"For we are saved by hope" (Romans 8,24).
See also Romans 5,3-5.
a. A trusting and faithful answer to Gods promises
We Christians have the single promise of salvation secured for us in Christ whom we follow (compare Colossians 1,25-27; Ephesians 1,3-14). Faithfulness and trust in Him and in the Covenant is the only appropriate answer. The Covenant we are speaking of here is the Renewed Covenant coming alive in and through the Church of the Remnant.
b. Hope and constant conversion
The Christian hope enables us to hold out (to the end) in the healthy tension between the 'already' and the 'not-yet;' the tension between the call "be holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1,15f) and our painful-gradual healing.
The hope in constant conversion is not an automatic event, rather a gradual growth as we thankfully accept grace and cooperate with it in constantly repeated decisions.
2. Characteristics of Christian hope
a. Blessed hope
When we Christians speak of hope, we think of the grace of God, who gives us everything - obliges Himself to us in a creative and redeeming faithfulness. We celebrate hope as a never ending celebration until we enter the Eternal Festival - when we will see "face to face" (1 Corinthians 13,12).
The more we have (walking with God) the courage to entrust ourselves to life and commitment, the more we can accept our limitations - we will always experience a certain (healthy) uncertainty but within the frame of the Last Holy Certainty (compare 2 Corinthians 6,18) which God grants those who love Him.
In every prayer of the heart, praise, thanks, entreaty, intercession, we find life and hope.
Without a radical conversion to solidarity in hope and hope in solidarity we cannot live in creative freedom and faithfulness (see Ephesians 4,3-6).
Christian hope is an expression of the Covenant. The Covenant which the Lord renewed with His People – the result of which is the Church of the Remnant. God is true to His Covenant and calls everyone to faithfulness to His Covenant - the hope of the Church of Christ is an absolute one, that is, not a relative or individualistic one.
Solidarity is an expression of a common longing (the longing and striving of all members of the renewed, rejuvenated Body of Christ) for the unity in which we are true partners of God and each-other. See Question 9C.
c. Courageous hope - hope in suffering
Christian hope is the courage for life, the courage to grow and in the midst of insecurities and of risks to bear a joint responsibility. It is only possible in a turning in faith to the resurrection of Christ - the pledge of our own resurrection. This hope is, on the one hand, grace but also a continual cooperation with this gift.
What kind of cooperation are we talking about? "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (see Matthew 16,24). By carrying our daily "cross" we will grow in hope - we will learn the meaning of our suffering. Our feeling with those who suffer persecution will deepen and we will be enabled to stand by and support those who have less strength than we have received. A co-suffering, a vicarious suffering with our brethren within the Body of Christ is indispensable (see Colossians 1,20). See Question 19.
The greatest Christian freedom is revealed not just in the courage for life and hope -- to find our true selves in the midst of suffering is necessary - not just in spite of the "cross" but because of it.
Those who can accept the necessity of their own progressive purification will see in it the unique possibility for the expansion of their freedom.
d. Joyous hope
- Hope, which we will thankfully receive as a gift;
- Hope, which we have together and which unites us;
- Hope, which makes it possible for us to accept the mystery of our daily cross - hope will help us to discover the inner power of the Resurrected One. This kind of hope is always a joyous hope (see Philippians 3,8.14;4,7; Colossians 1,24; Gal 5,22).
e. "Awaiting our blessed hope" (Titus 2,13)
The "blessed hope" of all Christians is the glorious return of Jesus the Christ. This hope will not let us hope in vain! The meaning of this hope, for those who are still alive at the time of His return, is that they will be raptured (see 1 Thessalonians 4,17). See also Question 7.
3. Christian hope and responsibility for the world
Preparing the world for the Return of Christ (see The Witness of the Times).
Sacramental nature of hope and the sacrament of hope
Christ is The Sacrament of Hope!
The Church is a sacrament of hope - being in Christ, the Church is a basic-sacrament of the unity with God and the unity of Christians with-each-other.
The seven privileged signs of hope - the designation of the seven sacraments - is to help Christians to become what they are called, a sign of hope for the world - hope has a sacramental nature.
5. The human body as a sign of hope
See 1 Corinthians 15,12f.35f.54; Philippians 3,21; 2 Corinthians 4,10; Romans 8,21-23.
6. Sins against hope:
- Being a prisoner of self-addiction.
Who seeks security more than salvation will fearfully cling to the past and refuses to act responsibly.
5. Living the truth in love/
visionary painting from Sarai
"God is love" (1 John 4,8). This is the truth from which all human freedom emerges and to which it is linked.
1. The truth of Christ is revealed in love
The creation is love, because God, the Creator is love. Man cannot have a more worthy aim than to partake in His love. Man and the human community at its best is (must be) the revelation of God's love - He created them to mirror His love.
Through the incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus the divine love assumed a human dimension in history and gave it its ultimate sense.
Jesus says that the history of divine love, which reached its climax in Him, will continue in His disciples (see John 17,26).
b. The Covenant of love
realized in the unification with Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant (see John
17,20-23; Philippians 2,1-5) in the power of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5,3-5;
15,30; Philippians 2,1; Ephesians 3-4).
c. Unity in God's love, the neighbor's and self-love
In the same love we love God and the neighbor - God for His-sake, ourselves and the neighbor for God-sake (see 1 John 4,20).
If we love the brethren with true love, then we love them in God. Therefore it follows that the two commandments (see Matthew 22,37-40; Mark 12,28-31) cannot be separated from each other.
The Bible teaches us that it is impossible to speak of true self detached for-each-other and with-each-other unless man finds true self-fulfillment and freedom by opening himself to love and recognition of love by others - he is returning it through word and deed. "Love your neighbor as your-self" (see Matthew 19,19; Mark 12,31; Romans 13,9, see also Leviticus 19,18).
As the love of neighbor and self-love belong together, so also do the love of God and self-love. Only those who love them-selves genuinely, love themselves for Gods-sake - to love oneself genuinely one has to love God.
Our prayer (life) has to mirror and strengthen this triangle of love. The issue in prayer is the mutual penetration of giving-, receiving-love, praising- and adoring-love. Everything must be incorporated (included) in prayer in a way that everything will be penetrated by it. See Question 15.
d. Characteristics of love
See 1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 5,48; Luke 6,36; John 15,12.
2.Love in the community of the Saints
a. Love in friendship
Jesus calls His disciples His friends (see John 15,13f). Friendship means an entering into a relationship of free choice - the friend is a chosen one. Friendship includes respect and awe and it means a joy to be together.
b. All-embracing love
Without the capability to give and receive friendship-love, no universal love is possible.
c. Eros and friendship
We see in Eros a deep openness of the human person and a deep desire which makes man capable of receiving the undeserved love of God and the love of a fellow man.
A love-in-need, Eros, calls for a giving-love, that is Agape.
d. Eros and Agape
We see in Agape the highest form of Love. It is a gift of God's absolute, free and undeserved love -- from this perspective we praise Him also for our Eros-love; any stage of love makes us more receptive for His Agape-love.
In Agape-friendship with Jesus the disciple learns to have friendship with other members of the Body - a friendship based on giving and receiving.
Only the redeemed (in Jesus) and redeeming love are capable of the genuine expression (in every respect) of love.
e. Love of the enemy
The test for the genuineness of our love is the love of the poor and the enemy (see Matthew 18,21f; Proverbs 25,21f). Love of the enemy is characterized by compassion - it is a very effective love as the following quotes will show (see Romans 12,20; Matthew 5,43f; 1 Corinthians 13,5f).
3. Love in the service of salvation
a. A call for everyone
Christ came to make the Father's love visible - in the love of the Father and in His love man is called to come home - into the Father's House. The Church was founded to perpetuate this call among men.
The liberation of the disciples to holiness is essentially a call to perfect love - the zeal to proclaim the Gospel is an essential test of the love of the disciple ... love to God whose love has to be proclaimed and love of the neighbor who has to be saved through this love - "The love of Christ compels us" (see 2 Corinthians 5,14). Who loves the Lord wants everyone to honor Him, who loves his neighbor wants him to be saved - all apostolic activities have their root and receive their vigor from this love.
The Church is apostolic:
She has its roots in the Twelve Apostles;
- She has to return to the Twelve Fundaments, directly chosen by Christ;
- Has to devote herself entirely to the apostolic work.
The task of the Apostles and all other office-bearer in the Church and all members of the Church is to promote an evangelism (apostolic work) entirely motivated by love.
b. The sacraments (see Question 28 – introductory thoughts) and love -- apostolate
In the sacraments the Church celebrates her unification in love with Christ, the source of all sacraments and salvation - the sacramental mysteries (very specifically the mystery of the Holy Eucharist – the last Supper) are the source of our apostolate - because they are the visible source of the invisible well of love, Christ Himself.
c. Fundamental forms of caring to bring about salvation
Apostolate* of prayer and suffering (see 1 Timothy 2,1-4; 2 Corinthians 4,10; Colossians 1,24; 2 Timothy 2,10; Matthew 10,38;16,24; Mark 10,21; 1 Corinthians 1,17f).
*Missionary endeavor of...
Apostolate of good example -
Our prayer, our sufferings and sacrifices are directed directly to God and reach our fellow-man through the mysterious salvation-oneness in Christ (see Matthew 5,48; Luke 6,36; John 13,15). However, our good example inspires our neighbor directly (see Matthew 5,16).
d. Brotherly encouragement and consolation (see 1 Thessalonians 5,14; Gal 6,1)
official apostolate of the Church (see The Witness of the Times)
4. Love and justice
The we-relationship and the relationship in the (civil) community
Love has its preferred field in the informal You-I-We-relationships, in which everyone is accepted and loved as a unique person and in a direct relationship. The We-relationships are to be found in the Body of Christ, marriage, friendship, etc.
Different from this relationship is the formal You-relationship - relationship in the civil-community: A relationship of mutual services, functions and offices. The relationship here is not a personal one, but rather an official one - love functions here on the level of justice and meaningful order. The institutions, laws, contracts give stability and reliability - in all this the individual must still be in the center.
5. Sins against love
a. Sins against the love of God
All sins reveal a lack of love of God. Mediocrity and a weak commitment contradict the love to God also. The venial sins* are 'just' a temporary sidetracking and a passing defect in loving God, but mortal sins* are a break with the friendship of God - they are a clear contradiction of the essential calling (see Philippians 3,14; 2 Thessalonians 1,11; 2 Timothy 1,9; Hebrews 3,1).
* See Question 18.
b. Direct sins against the neighbor
majority of sins against the love of neighbor consist
of the omission of those things which love requires.
The most piercing sins against the love of neighbors are those which are directly opposed to the welfare of others, for example, hate, enmity, hostility, etc.
Enmity against our neighbor:
- Hate - we distinguish between three kinds of hate; the hate of sin (sin of others also); the hate for individuals, families, groups, nations, etc.; the so called diabolical hate - directed directly against the spiritual welfare and salvation of others and against the friendship of God;
Envy, to grudge the good of the neighbor - it becomes a diabolical envy if someone grudges others the friendship of God.
Hate and envy are the most common roots for quarrelling, wars and other conflicts.
In the following we will deal with a few more sins against the neighbor - the sins which are directly set against the salvation of the neighbor.
Seduction is a conscious attempt to lead others into sin - thought, desire or act. This can happen by encouragement, advice or command or also by suggestive actions. Success or failure changes nothing as to the sin of the seductor.
We have to differentiate between a salutary and sinful scandal:
a. Christ is "the stumbling stone" (Romans 9,32f; Luke 2,34; 1 Corinthians 1,22f).
b. Christians and churches can sin grievously by sinking into mediocrity and by adapting to the world in such a way that they cease to become 'stumbling blocks' - it belongs to their calling in Christ to call the world to a true decision.
Those who sinfully cause a scandal have to make reparation as well as they can - praying, constructive influence, confessing, etc.
3. Sinful participation
a. Formal participation - a complicity in a sin of an other.
b. Material participation - an unknowing, unintentional cooperation.
6. Are there two different Messiahs, one Suffering Messiah and one King Messiah? (4)/
There is only one Messiah! The Old Testament describes two different types of the coming Messiah. One description is of a humble servant of God who would be rejected and suffer at the hands of His own people:
"The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53,5-6).
The other type of Messiah, was to be a King of great power who would suddenly come to conquer the earth and save man from destruction at the height of a world catastrophe. Those who believe in Him would be given the offices of spiritual leaders of the world to create an abundant age free of injustice and prejudice.
"...for unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9,6).
The Jews of the time could not conceive one Messiah, and looked for two different ones. It was thus commonly believed long before the birth of Jesus the Christ that there will be two Messiahs, one a 'spiritual deliverer' who would deliver the people from their sins by suffering the penalty of death on their behalf; the other a 'political deliverer' who would be a king, conquer Israel's enemies and bring world peace. The latter Messiah gradually assumed precedence in the midst of the people while the former sank into oblivion. Jesus, who was the incarnation of the first ideal, that of the 'Suffering Messiah,' was thus rejected by the people who favored a 'Political Deliverer' despite the fact that His words and deeds were in accordance with the prophecies of the Old Testament. The people of the time, as today, had degenerated in their religious convictions to the point where they did not really believe they were sinful. They saw no need for a Suffering Messiah to deliver them from their sins because they believed they were adhering to the laws of Moses.
of biblical interpretation had been established and encouraged by the
religious leaders which rendered the keeping of God's laws merely a matter of
form for the sake of appearances (see Mark 7,1-15). Jesus came to us as the
Suffering Messiah, but most rejected Him because they expected and wanted a
conqueror. They wanted a great king to deliver them from the oppression
of Rome. Being more concerned with the political needs of the time, they
blindly overlooked many predictions in their sacred writings concerning the
Suffering Messiah. The fact that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies was
ignored by those who preferred to accept the prejudiced views of their leaders
who were entangled in the CONTEMPORARY SPIRIT. Were it possible to disprove any
of the historical realities of the fulfilled prophecies, the Jews would have
done so in order to destroy the whole movement, started at Pentecost, from the
very beginning. There are many prophecies concerning the Reigning Messiah who
is yet to come. This Reigning Messiah and the Suffering Messiah are one and the
same, Jesus the Christ! Many of the prophecies relating to the Reigning
Messiah can be found in the same paragraphs as those relating to the first
coming of the Suffering Messiah. Will you fail to see these prophecies for
yourself? Are you too occupied with everyday life to notice the fulfillment of prophecies in the world and in the
churches; will you depend on others? Will you allow those who claim to be
religious leaders to explain away these prophecies, and not even take time to
investigate for yourself? Will these prophecies be fulfilled as accurately as
those of the first coming? Will you be among the scornful who once shouted: "Crucify
him! Crucify him!"? (Mark 15,13.15) The book, The Witness of the Times,
will present some of the prophecies which relate to the pattern of world events
shortly before the coming of the Messiah for the second time in history, but
this time to RULE the earth.
7. What are the signs
of the Coming of Christ?/
Let us here consider just some of the major historical signs of the time:
1. Israel must be reborn as a nation in its ancient land; the land God allotted to them.
2. The Jews must repossess the ancient City of Jerusalem.
Possible sequence of events:
3. Rebuilding the Church of Jesus the Christ.
4. The "Ten `Members' Coalition.
5. The antichrist.
6. The ancient Temple must be rebuilt in its original place.
7. Appearance and working of the Two Witnesses.
8. Rapture of the true Christians.
9. The Jews who are waiting for the Messiah will be hidden.
10, The Arab-Israeli war.
11. Israel attacked by Magog.
12. "Asia" enters the Middle East war.
The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
The climax is the Return of Christ Jesus.
A few of the major prophecies relating to those events: (possible sequence of events)
ad 1 Israel reborn
"After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste: but is brought forth out of many nations, and they shall dwell there..." (Ezekiel 38,8).
The "latter years" is a phrase which in the Old Testament refers to the time of Israel's final national restoration followed by the spiritual redemption.
The physical restoration (re-establishment) will take place at a time when the Jewish people return from exile "out of many nations."
"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; So also, when you see all these things (see Matthew 24,1-51), you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24,32-34).
The Fig Tree (Olive Tree) is a historic symbol of the Nation of Israel. When all the given signs begin to multiply and increase it will be time for the leaves to come on the 'fig tree.' After nearly two thousand years of exile, the Jewish people once again became a nation. On May 14th 1948 the "Fig Tree" put forth its first leaves.
The generation of which Jesus speaks is the generation of the rebirth of Israel (completed by the repossession of Jerusalem), therefore we are living during the signs of the time!
ad 2 Jerusalem repossessed
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look upon me (Christ) whom thy have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born" (Zechariah 12,9.10).
During the Six-day War in June 1967 the Israeli army marched to the Wailing Wall, the last remnant of the Old Temple, returning to their holiest of holy place. We are still waiting for the time (spiritual restoration) when the whole Jewish nation will mourn for their First-born Son, whom they "pierced" and will accept Him as their Messiah.
ad 3 Rebuilding the Church - the Church of the Remnant
"After ('hereafter' or 'in that day') this I will return and rebuild the fallen tent of David; Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it and set it up again; that the remnant of men may seek the Lord - all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called (all those marked with my name), says the Lord, who made this known so long ago" (Acts 15,16.17 see also Amos 9,11-12)
"Hereafter": This quotation originates from the Old Testament: Amos 9,11: "in that day" means here: "at the time of the end" (e.g. Daniel 11,40; Ezekiel 38,8.10). The Apostles were living and thinking 'in the time of the end' (see 1 Corinthians 15,50-53). See also Acts 2,16f: "in the time(s) of the end..." This expression is applied for the time of the 'Early-Church' as well as the time immediately before the Second Coming of Christ (see also Joel 2,28f; Matthew 24,22f; Hebrew 1,2; 2 Timothy 3,1).
God established His Tent, His House, through David the King [1 Chronicles 17,10b-14]. This "House" [Ark or Tent or Tabernacle] became the symbol of the Covenant which Yahveh made with the entire House of Israel [1 Kings 8,9].
"...I declare to you that the Lord will build you a house ..." (1 Chronicles 17b)
The Covenant which the Lord made with the House of Israel was broken (2 Kings 17,15). God promised that He will restore this Covenant in a New Form ... (see Jeremiah 31,31ff)
In the New Covenant the Ordinances, the Will of Yahweh will be written in the heart of His New Covenant People (see Jeremiah 31,31-34). They will receive the Holy Spirit (compare 2 Corinthians 3,3) and, as Covenant People, will follow the Lord.
The New Covenant People broke God's Covenant, departed from His Will just as the People of the First Covenant (see the chapter in this writing: 'What is ailing the church?' Question 9).
"I will return ..." has two meanings -
1. The fallen hut of David was restored once (at the time of Jesus) - it will be restored again (present time - Church of the Remnant) and
2. The underlining meaning of this text "after this" is made clear to us (even if not to Peter) in Acts 2,17 "in the last days ..." The 'Age of the Church' – the 'Age of the New Covenant' is a preparation for the final days, during which the Restored New Covenant will be in effect and prepare God's People for the Rapture(1 Thessalonians 4,17). Acts 2,17.19-20 clearly shows that the hidden meaning of all these events refers ultimately to the Return of Christ .. the Second Coming!
"And in the last days it shall be, God declares ...I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath ... before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day ..." (Acts 17.19.20 see also Revelations)
Therefore the final restoration of the Hut of David is the Church of Philadelphia (see Revelation 3,7ff and see sub-web-page philadelphiachurchinfo). The time will come when the churches will amalgamate to a United Church. This unification will include other religions as well. Revelation calls this 'church' the great whore or Babylon (see Revelation 18). Even before this amalgamation happens (how much more after this) God will call His People out of this fallen structure, called church.
"Come out, my people, away from her, so that you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear" (Revelation 18,4)
Those who will come out must join ...the Body of Christ must continue to exist until the Rapture, after which She will be taken up into the Presence of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4,16-17). This Church, which will prepare the Saints for the Rapture is, The Church of Philadelphia (see Revelation 3,6-12). See also the chapter in this writing: 'What is ailing the church?' (question #9)
There will be an other 'restoration,' that is, a rebuilding after the Return of Christ, the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 19,11-16;20,4-6). This Restored Hut of David will prepare entire humanity for the Heavenly Jerusalem (see Revelation 21;22).
There are TWO RETURNS: The First Coming of Christ and then the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ.
The concept of remnant: In the Old and New Testament it refers to the People of God who did not abandoned the Covenant and in the above mentioned 'remnant of men' those whom God, through His providence, called to follow Him. God fore-knew who will accept His calling and these Gentiles were 'marked' with His name. They received the chance to enter the Restored Hut of David.
All the remnant of the nations who bore His name will be seeking the Lord. It is important to realize that the members of the Church of the Remnant are former members of different Christian denominations - world wide: They bore His Name and will be build in to the re-erected Body of Christ - God always worked through (with) a rest, that is, the remnant..
The Church of Jesus the Christ will be rebuilt with its original Charismatic Offices (Ephesians 4,11f).The Bride will be prepared for the Coming of the Bridegroom. Peter's Office will lead the College of the Twelve Apostles from Jerusalem. The separation between the Church of Christ and the "great whore" (see Revelation 17-18) will take place.
ad 4 Coalition of the Ten
Daniel's dream of four great beasts:
"The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings; and behold another beast, a second, like a bear; after this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of fowl; the beast had also four heads; and domination was given to it; After this I saw in the night vision, and behold a fourth beasts, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it. It was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns" (Daniel 7,4-7).
This dream was explained to Daniel by an angel:
"These great beasts, which are four, are four 'kings,' which shall arise out of the earth" (Daniel 7,17).
In Daniel 7,15-25 we find a description of the revival of ancient Rome just prior to the Coming of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Here we learn that a 'coalition' will rise up from the ruins of the old Roman Empire. These will become a vast industrial and economic power. For further information see the book, The Witness of the Times (WT).
ad 5 The antichrist
"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and this apparently deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Revelation 13,3-4)
The antichrist will recover from an apparently fatal wound. Satan, the dragon (see Revelation 12,9) will fake the resurrection of the dictator and after this 'miraculous' recovery from the seemingly fatal wound, the whole world will follow him.
Out of the revived Roman Empire will suddenly arise a dynamic leader. He will be a great world dictator, the antichrist himself. The dictator will make certain decisions and give seemingly genuine answers which will elevate him in the eyes of the masses to the point where they will accept him as a deity (see Daniel 7,24-25).
ad 6 Rebuilding the Temple
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2,4).
The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2,3f stated that a world dictator (antichrist) will sit in the Temple of God and declare himself to be god.
In Matthew 24,15 Jesus speaks of the "abomination of desolation" which the prophet Daniel predicted. This means the desolation of the Holy Place in the Temple. In order for the antichrist to desecrate the Temple, a temple must exist. This Temple of God must be the reconstructed Temple of Ancient Jerusalem.
Jesus predicted a catastrophe for the Jewish nation just before His Second Coming: The "abomination of desolation" or desecration of the inner sanctum of the Temple before the setting up of His Kingdom on earth:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place..." (Matthew 24,15; Daniel 9,27).
The "abomination of desolation" has a technical meaning for the Jewish people indicating the desecration of the Temple by an unholy event such as a Gentile entering the Holy Place (a consecrated compartment where only Jewish priest may enter). For the abomination of desolation to take place there would have to be a repossession of the ancient Temple site and the re-erection of the Temple.
Vision: The Witness David being dragged away by the henchmen of the antichrist to be stoned (see Revelation 11). Painted by a visionary Messianic Jew.
"And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth" (Revelation 11,3).
At His Second Coming, the Messiah will come with power. Likewise the 'two preparers of His way' will function with power. Prior to His Second Coming the Two Witnesses will remind the world of the Second Coming of the Lord continually; punishing the world for its wickedness (Revelation 11,6).
ad 7 Appearance and working of the Two Witnesses
See Revelation 11
ad 8 Rapture
"Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15, 51).
What is rapture?
Rapture means to change and at the same time, snatch away or take out. Some day, which only God knows, the Christ will change and remove all those who profess Him, believe in Him, that is, the members of His Church. These will be transported to a beautiful and glorious place which we are presently unable to comprehend. The "Blessed Hope" (rapture) for the true Christian is found in Titus 2,13-14.
"Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ."
"Behold I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed" [raptured] (1 Corinthians 15,51).
We must now consider some important facts before the secret (mystery) is revealed:
a. In 1 Corinthians 15,50 we are told:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit in-corruption."
Christians cannot inherit the "Kingdom of God" (i.e. in heaven) in their earthly form, that is, in flesh and blood; therefore, they must be changed (transformed).
b. "We shall not all sleep" (1 Thessalonians 4,13f). Christian death is referred to as 'sleep'. Sleep does not mean here that one's soul, or one's consciousness sleeps. The moment a true Christian dies, his soul goes to Christ (see Philippians 1,21-23; 2 Corinthians 5,1-10).
c. In 1 Corinthians 15,52 we learn some more about the mystery:
"...in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet-call; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we (who are still alive) shall be changed."
"At the last trumpet" all true Christians will move in one moment to Christ.
d. "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (dead), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (first resurrection): Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort on another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4,13-18).
Now we shall summarize the mystery: The members of the true Church of Jesus the Christ will be in a moment:
- resurrected, if they are already asleep (died);
- raptured to Christ, if they are still alive. We will be changed in essence, yet remain recognizable.
We NOW live, as the different signs are indicating, during the age when Christ's Church will be REVEALED and the great responsibility of this Church is to prepare the whole world (especially the true Christians) for Christ's return.
After the Lord gives the signal, the dead in Christ will be raised incorruptible and the true Christians shall be transformed from mortal to immortal (see 1 Thessalonians 4,16-17; 1 Corinthians 15,51-54; Hosea 13,14). Then they shall stand face to face with Jesus.
ad 9 The believing Jews will be hidden
"...and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days..." (Revelation 12,6 and v.14-16).
The Jews who are waiting for the Messiah will be hidden.
ad 10 The Arab-Israeli war
"And at the time of the end shall the king of the south (Egypt) push at him (Israel): and the king ..." (Daniel 11,40.42-43; Ezekiel 30,4-5)).
In Daniel the time of the end is defined. This is the time when Jesus the Christ will return. In this same chapter the "king of the south" is identified as Egypt, the leader in a league of Arab nations. This "king of the south" will attack the state of Israel.
ad 11 Israel attacked by Magog
"...and the Gog of the north (Magog) shall come against him (Israel) like a whirlwind, with chariots (tanks?) and with horsemen (cavalry), and with many ships" (Daniel 11,40b, see also Ezekiel 38,10-12.14-16).
Chapter 38,8 of Ezekiel predicts the restoration of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland. It states that after the Jews return from their world-wide dispersion, there will arise a great power from their "uttermost north." This nation will become their arch-enemy and will actually be involved in a direct attack upon the Israeli nation.
Magog will attack through the Middle East and begin the conquest of the African continent. However, it would appear from Daniel that while Magog is conquering the continent of Africa, reports from the East (Asian mobilization) and the North (European mobilization) will greatly alarm him. Magog will withdraw (into Israel) in a fury to annihilate and destroy many (see Daniel 11,44). The Magogian army will be destroyed.
ad 12 'Asia' enters the Middle East war
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared" (Revelation 16,12).
Jesus will enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate (compare Matthew 21,1.4-10 and Zechariah 9,9). Mount Olives is opposite the Golden Gate. At the hight of this battle JESUS THE CHRIST will return and establish His Millennial Kingdom.
The Asians will profit from the chaotic conditions which exist in the Middle East to march against the Roman dictator in a showdown for world control. Two hundred million (see Revelation 9,16) Oriental Soldiers will march to the eastern banks of the Euphrates. The western world under the Roman dictator will move its armies into a Place in Israel (see Revelation 16,13.14.16)) to meet this Oriental Dragon. See also Joel 3,9-14.
8. What is the relevance of John's Revelation?/
I believe that a short summary of the Secret Revelation will answer this question.
The Secret Revelation contains the prophetic account of the history of Christendom and the Church from the beginning until the end. However the events of the last days are of such decisive importance and such enormity that they encompass almost the entire Revelation.
The Revelation begins with the seven epistles to the seven early congregations in whom the church has its origin (see Revelation 2-3). The unusual and extraordinary concrete nature of its content is very apparent; why should it be any different in the other parts of the Secret Revelations?
After this introduction follows the history of the World over which the Will of God prevails, 'in a book with seven seals' (see Revelation 6). The sixth seal announces a separation and sealing (see Revelation 7) of the elect of Israel; it is in the events of the 'last days' (see Revelation 6,12-17). This is the announcement too that we must have made our decision before these events occur. We would be mistaken to wait until the events which the seventh seal brings. No one knows whether it will be possible to change our ways during the actual occurrence of the catastrophe, "in the night when no one can work any more" (John 9,4).
After the time of the seventh seal has been made manifest, all theologising will sink into insignificance before unconditional obedience to the Word of God.
Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vessels. The Secret Revelation consists of seven seals which encompass all of history. The first six seals contain general 'pre-history' until our days; the seventh seal consists of the seven trumpets which encompasses the entire history of the end. The first six of its trumpets contains the introduction to the history of the end; the seventh trumpet on the other hand consists of the seven bowl (vessels) which encompasses the entire fulfillment of the history of the end (-time): The first six of its vials contain the introduction to the final act in the carrying out of judgment upon the world and fallen humanity.
The first 'seal-judgment' was opened: The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed (70 A.D) and the Jews lost their nation. They were dispersed all over the world.
The last 'seal-judgment' was opened: The Jews regained their homeland (1948) and Jerusalem with the Temple-site (1967). See Question 7.
The 'first-trumpet judgment' has already been sounded. We are living in the time of the Trumpet-judgments.
Sequence of events:
About seven years before Christ's visible return, the following events will occur (a possible sequence of events):
- The antichrist will appear (see Daniel 7,23-24);
- The Two Prophets (Witnesses) will start to prophesy (see Revelation 11,3-12);
About three and a half years before Christ's visible return:
- The Two Witnesses will be murdered (then the last trumpet will be sounded - see Revelation 11,15);
- The rapture will take place (see also 1 Thessalonians 4,17);
- The antichrist will proclaim himself as god (see also 2 Thessalonians 2,4);
- The short period of peace will be over; wars will begin everywhere.
At the end of this period The Word of God will return to rule the earth for a Thousand Years (Millennium)! See Revelation 19,11-16;20,4-6.
See WT - visions to this chapter.
9. What is ailing the church?/
A. In general
There will be a very powerful religious organization prior to the seven-years of tribulation. This organization will aid the antichrist in subjecting the world to his absolute authority. For a short time the dictator will be controlled by this religious system (see Revelation 17,3).
This world religion is also referred to as "Babylon." True Christianity is not a religion! Religion is a system whereby man strives to achieve perfection, goodness and acceptance by God through his own effort. True Christianity is God reaching out for man, for God states that it is impossible for man to reach Him except through the one path which He provided; the complete acceptance of Jesus Christ, His Son and this acceptance can be through God's grace only (which perfectly unfolds only in His Church!).
"No one can come to me (to Jesus), unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6,44).
The Apostle John in Revelation 17 has a vision which forecasts what will happen in the last seven years before the return of Jesus Christ (see also WT - the relevant visions of the author). In this vision John is given an important prophecy, the establishment of a one world religion which will bring religions under one unity of great power. Using this system, satan will give the antichrist the authority and power to take over the world and control it.
"So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications. And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abomination of the earth" (Revelation 17,3-5).
This church which professes an allegiance to God is actually worshipping a false system of religion.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her; I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, 'Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns'" (Revelation 17,6-7).
The ten horns represent the revived Holy Roman Empire of the 'Ten-Nations' led by the beast or world dictator (the antichrist). This woman, mystery-Babylon, is riding on the back of the beast which indicates she will control the dictator.
"The seven heads are seven mountains (hills), on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space" (Revelation 17,9-10).
This satanic religion has already controlled many empires in the past. The angel speaks of seven kings, five of which are fallen:
First: Chaldean religious system of star-worship;
Second: Egypt with the pyramids, which also had an astrological significance.
Fourth: The Median and Persian Empires;
Fifth: The Greek Empire;
Sixth: "Five fallen, one is" This kingdom which was present at the time John wrote was Rome;
Seventh: "the other is not yet come." The revised Roman Empire of the future, the 'Ten-Nations.'
We are now living during the rebirth of mystery-Babylon with its astrology, spiritualism, drugs and the supernatural.
Recognize religious heresy
The church which claims to belong to God but which worships false systems, is a 'whore' - prostituting its God-given purposes.
We must be on our guard when church leaders, priests, preachers and teachers begin to question biblical truths, for example, the visible return of Jesus the Christ; the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth; the virgin birth of Jesus; that Jesus is the only way to the Father; that the Spirit came from the Father and the Son, etc.
People who believe that their solution to the problems of the church is the right one and desert the church, often founding their own (sect). It is true that the church has great problems. We believe that God will correct it but in His own way and not ours. As a matter of fact, we believe that only God can restore His Church!
The ecumenicity will take place on two levels. One will be guided by the Holy Spirit, the other by the spirit of the world (= satan). We will at first examine the ecumenicity of satan.
The call for the unity of the churches may sound beautiful, but it is happening at the cost of Christian doctrine. If churches and denominations begin to unite, doctrine of faith will soon be 'watered down,' modified or even rejected. The emphasis is on tolerance! Church leaders tolerantly overlook Christian teachings! Many church-men come forward in the name of Jesus, preaching a christ according to their own understanding and opinion, yet they are deceiving themselves and their followers.
should a Christian do in such situation?
Later in this writing I will continue to explore the situation of the different churches and will project God's ways to solve the problem. This will also answer the above question! God's words to the author will also add to the understanding of the true believer - John 6,44: those whom the Father draws.
B. In particular
I. An important fundamental truth
"After this ('in that day') I will return and rebuild the fallen tent of David; Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it and set it up again; that the remnant of men may seek the Lord - all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called (all those marked with my name), says the Lord, who made this known so long ago" (Acts 15,16.17 see also Amos 9,11-12) For further explanation see question 7, paragraph 3.
There is not enough space in this web-site to list all the reasons for the temporary rejection of Israel (see the Old Testament). Here we will list only one:
Jesus before Pilate: "... 'Let him be crucified ...' 'His blood on us and on our children'" (Matthew 27,22b.25b)
the rejection of its Messiah.
There are also many reasons for the rejection of the church as a whole (see church history and other statements in this essay). Here we will mention just a few:
The Lord is talking to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse ..." (Genesis 12,3)
Paul (the Holy Spirit) is talking to Christians: "Do not become arrogant, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), neither will he spare you ... provided you continue in his (God's) goodness, otherwise you will be cut off too" (Romans 11,20b.21.22b; compare Romans 9;10;11).
Almost from the very beginning the church despised and persecuted the 'seeds of Abraham.' In her arrogance the church taught (and still do) that she replaced Israel. Therefore God has no plans for Israel. God's promises can never fail. The covenant with Israel is on hold "until the full number of Gentiles enter the church ..." (Romans 11,25b)
God's planes can not fail ... therefore when the nation of Israel or the church failed Him He preserved for Himself a remnant to fulfill His will. As was the case then so also now ... A Jewish remnant, gathered around Jesus, brought God's plane of salvation to the Gentiles ... as we speak, God is gathering His remnant to prepare His Church for the rapture!
The process of decay: The first effort of satan was aimed at destroying Christ's position as Leader in the Church, namely, he attacked the Holy Office of the Apostles in order to suppress the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Congregation.
The Apostles themselves were forced to witness the beginnings of this wrong development. This crisis did not begin only in the second century but already during the period of the 'Original Apostles.' This crisis, indicated in the New Testament (see for example, Revelation 2-3; 1 Corinthians 10,6; 2 Corinthians 11,3; Galatians 4,11) occurred mainly because the church had fallen away from its first love and the living hope - the return of the Lord! The Gifts (1 Corinthians 12,8-10) and the Charismatic Offices (Ephesians 4,11-14) given directly by the Christ and by the Holy Spirit, were ultimately taken from the church because under these circumstances, they could not fulfil their purpose.
Symptoms of the falling-away:
1. The bishops (overseers), anointed by the Apostles, gradually usurped the tasks of the Apostles (see an example 3 John);
2. Secularisation: Previously the church had found itself in the middle of a world alienated from God; later we witness the world in the middle of the church. The church had opened its doors letting in the flood of worldly life. The unity and sanctity of the church had been damaged;
3. The merging of the church with the state to a 'State-Church;'
4. A further consequence of the loss of the Office of the Apostles and the Bounty of the Spirit was the urge of the custodian of traditions (overseer, later called bishop) for uniformity. Paul regarded plurality as the original condition and refused the error, i.e. uniformity.
It is quite impossible to re-establish the existing apostate churches because the Lord-given foundation, that is, the Office of the Apostles has to be re-given to the church. Only the Lord Himself can re-estate this foundation for the church and when the time of re-unification of the true Christians will come, He will do it. The preparation for the reestablishment of the Charismatic Offices (Ephesians 4,11f) is already in progress.
It is a fact that the spiritually aware and zealous members of the existing apostate churches (sects) are continuing to pursue their own planes for the improvement of the church. It is carnal and, as in the past so in the future, all these efforts will doom to failure. It must be emphasized that all theological programs for the establishment of unity are completely worthless. Christ Himself will establish the desired unity by reviving the original foundations of His Church - the Apostle Office!
The sign of all the Children of God to leave the sinking ship of the imperfect and apostate churches is the establishment of the Office of Peter in Jerusalem.
II. The different churches
We wish to emphasize here, that in the following discussion about the fallen churches we do not wish to judge or to put ourselves above them, but rather we want to warn of further false steps and wish to call them to repentance and conversion.
We also recognize and accept the good and the truths which are present in these churches.
At the end of this section, we especially recommend the reading of the prophetic visions of the author (see WT).
a. Churches which are based on the so called 'apostolic succession':
In these churches the restoration of the Old Testament was completed in a Christian form and thereby an actual relapse into Judaism occurred. The rule and ways of these churches are a rule of the law. Since the death of the Apostles, these churches were gradually transformed into institutions of the Old Testament.
b. The churches of the so called 'reformation:'
A reform was necessary! The reform movements began by destroying the whole edifice and trying to re-establish it immediately on the oldest and simplest foundation of Christianity.
The churches of the 'apostolic succession' wanted to be everything. This led to the point where Christ was put in the shadows. The deepest aspiration of the Reformers was to remove this misconception and to glorify Christ to the utmost. Christ, by whom they were so deeply moved, was to be everything. By wanting to attain this, however, they succumbed to erring by reducing the divine establishment (e.g. the Church-offices) of the Church to nothing (e.g. the Church Offices were abolished or abused). The Protestantism sought the divine life at the cost of the divine institutions.
The false externalisation of the Church which reached its highest degree in the churches of the 'apostolic succession,' had been succeeded by just as false internalisation by the Reformation.
In the written word of the Apostles, Protestantism believes erroneously that it is in possession of the equivalent of their living word. The churches of 'the apostolic succession' keeps to the living succession of the Apostles (i.e. apostolic succession) and believes that the Apostles are represented in them. Neither the one nor the other is derived directly from the Holy Scripture.
It is true that Scripture is the corrective for the beliefs and morals of the Church, but it cannot be interpreted freely according to one's own discretion. Protestants, contradicting each other, claiming to interpret the Bible correctly. An individual or a church may insist, having no Apostle-authority: 'The Bible is my only authority.' What is really being said is this: 'My authority is what I understand the Bible to say.' One cannot escape the subjective judgment which is involved in interpreting the Bible. The sheer existence of Protestant sects over the centuries is mute testimony to the fact that the Bible - which calls Christians to real unity - in and of itself is not the instrument which will bring about the unity. The Bible cannot interpret itself.
c. The sects:
The history of Protestantism is not the history of the one church but of many sects: Not the history of one faith, one hope, one baptism, but of many beliefs, many hopes and many baptisms. The spirit of Protestantism is the spirit of Individualism. According to this principle everyone can be his own judge about everything and everyone. The Protestant himself is a self-appointed leader, preserver and teacher of the biblical truths; according to his opinion of course. None of the so called revival movements changed the chaos into which Protestantism sank. These revivals are from men who are (were) not called by God.
Which is then the right divine order for the Church of Jesus the Christ? Only through Christ's directly appointed Apostles (as e.g. Paul) is it possible to found a Church of Jesus the Christ. Only a church rebuilt by the Holy Spirit with all His offices and gifts, can promise true success. When the God-appointed time will come the Lord will appoint His Twelve Apostles and will gather the Remnant - the Church of the Remnant will be established. The next section will deal with this subject in details. See also WT.
C. The Church of the Remnant
Why the confusion in the church?
What happened to the unity of the church (Ephesians 4,5)? The original order of the church (Ephesians 4,11f) which was established by our Lord Himself, was lost! The foundation upon which the Lord build His church, that is, the Apostle-office disappeared. We are now building on a foundation not based upon Christ's ordinances. For further and detailed information see the book, The Witness of the Times.
The true "apostolic" Church which is united and is in possession of the whole truth is the Church which comes into existence through the ecumene of the Holy Spirit. The ecumenical movement which leads to the re-establishment of the Church of Jesus the Christ will be the true ecumene, in contrast to that which is becoming the "whore" (see Revelation 17,3--18,1-24). It will embrace all believers whom the Holy Spirit will gather around the Twelve Apostles of the End Time, professing Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. This True Church may be called the Church within the churches or among the churches - wheat among the chaff! This Church of the Remnant, the Bride of Christ, will be prepared for the Coming of the Bridegroom Jesus the Christ --
"... shall return (preceding event of the Second Coming of Christ)
and rebuild the fallen hut of David, which is fallen down (the Church of the Remnant);
and I will build again the ruins thereof,
and restore it.
Then the rest of humanity,
and of all the nations once called mine (the one who are called, are the Remnant),
will look for the Lord..." (Acts 15,16-17)
See for detailed explanation the book 'The Witness of the Times.'
The word "return" points to the Coming of the King, the Ruler Messiah. As the above mentioned book and some of the explanations in this web-mail indicates: The Return of the Messiah will be prepared by the Holy Spirit by "rebuilding" and "restoring" the Hut of David, the fallen church and enabling those who were "once called" and now fallen away, to return and being prepared, will look for the coming of the Lord!
By what has been said, it should be clear that before the return of Christ there will be a true united Church of Jesus the Christ not only in the spiritual but also in the visible dimension. This Church of the Remnant will consists of former members of different churches and denominations: They will accept the Cross of Jesus (see Matthew 10,38;16,24;4,19f;19,27f); will put on the whole armor of God (see Ephesians 6,13-18) and follow the narrow path unconditionally (see Matthew 7,13-14) under the leadership of the Twelve Apostles.
Christ will re-establish the original order of His Church! He is working on it right now. See 'The Witness of the Times.'
The true ecumene must be established through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and will follow these principles:
- There must be an essential, fundamental unity of belief - without any possibility of compromise, neither with regard to doctrine nor the spirit of the world.
- There must be ONE leadership - one shepherd and one herd - under the Twelve Apostles of the End-Time.
Let us not forget that this Church of Jesus the Christ is destined to suffer and will be persecuted. The Church of the Remnant is the companion of Christ in His humiliation.
"But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you; the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15,19-20).
Let us make some observations at this point:
- There is no such thing as 'diluted Christianity.'
- There is no possibility of a merger between the true Church and the world. The one is "not of this word," the other is "of this world" (John 8,23). The two cannot be harnessed together because no sense of community, contact or accord exists between them.
- The true Church is in the world but not of it (see John 15,18f).
- If we wish to take the Gospel seriously we must take "the narrow gate" and the "little band of chosen ones" seriously (see Matthew 7,13-14).
- The constancy in faith and love which the disciple must have, correspond to the demands which Jesus places upon them.
- The disciple must remain with and in Jesus regardless of the social climate in which a fanatical hostility will gradually develop toward them. It will be in the name of religious tradition and political goals (the arch enemies of Jesus were the religious leaders of the time!).
The College of the Twelve Apostles of the End-Time
The vital organ for the unity in question, is the College of the Twelve Apostles. It is in acting through it, as His chief instrument of authority, that Christ means to maintain His Church in unity, and reveal to her the truth. It is inherent in the very nature of the Apostle by virtue of its direct appointment from Christ, that the highest authority in the Church rests here.
The Apostles are instruments through which the Lord Himself speaks from heaven, and carries out His work as the true Moses, the ultimate law-giver and ruler of the Church. Not as individuals, but only as a body, a unity, a college: When an Apostle speaks or acts in virtue of his office, he always does so as representative of the Twelve, responsible to Christ and to them.
It is a fact that God will send Apostles even today. Paul was called, illuminated and equipped to be an Apostle in a manner which will be repeated (see Acts 9). Such men will be 'born' from the womb of the different Christian denominations; will be nurtured within them and should acquire all the experience which the Church has gathered during the passage of time. The Apostle-college will recognize everything which is good; assemble and assimilate all truth which is available in the churches but has been scattered and distorted - but will reject all false teachings and practices.
"He (Jesus) gave...Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ...unto mature manhood" (Ephesians 4,11-13).
If Christ provided these ministries for bringing His Body to perfection, how can we presume today that it will come to perfection without them?!
Now we endeavor to answer a question what we raised above, that is, what should a Christian do in the present spiritual chaos?
All Christians must ask God for God's Messengers, the Apostles!
Until the College of the Apostles is established in Jerusalem Christians should:
A Greek Icon of the Holy Spirit
- remain in their church;
- should serve Jesus as far as possible;
- prepare themselves for the coming of the Apostles;
- spread the good news of their coming and
- join them as soon as they call!
This will be the time when the Holy Spirit will call to all members of all churches:
"Come out, my people, away from her (the apostate churches), so that you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear" (Revelation 18,4).
For further information see lastdispensationchurchcom - sub-website -- "The Age of the Church is Coming to an End ..."
I will divide this complex question into three parts:
a. Christian or Jew?
b. Jew or Arab
The Two Witnesses (Revelation 11, see also Zechariah 4,12-14) are coming from the 'Two People of God' (see Colossians 2,11) - united by Christ
c. Comparison between Israel and the Church
There are two kinds of blindness:
Israel is blind to her own calling as nation before God to be a light to the nations, a special people, a Holy Nation. She is also blind to her Messiah, Yeshua, the Holy One of Israel!
The Churches (with some exceptions) are blind to Israel's calling also and claim Israel's prophetic promises for themselves and ignore Israel's divinely ordained destiny! True circumcision (Romans 2,29 but also see Romans 9-11).
ad a. As the question was related to me seems to indicate the belief that Christianity replaced Judaism. Let me start by quoting Paul's letter to the Romans 11 -
"Did God rejected his people (the Jews)? (v.1)
"Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? By no means!" (v.11)
"...some of the branches have been broken off and you (Gentile Christians), though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in...and now sharing in the nourishing sap of the olive root" (v.17)
"You do not support the root, but the root support you. You will say then, 'branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.' Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith" (v.18b-20a).
"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles* has come in...then Israel will be saved**!" (v.25b-26a) -- that is after (at) the Return of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ! See also remarks in philadelphiachurch.info web-site.
"...for God's gifts and call are irrevocable!" (v.29)
The so called church of Laodicea (see Revelation 3,14-22) has two distinct components:
1. The first message of the Lord is to the "lukewarm" (v.16) church (es) turning into the great whore (Revelation 17;18);
2. The second message is to individuals [who realized that they left behind - the rapture has already taken place - and now willing to give their life to the Lord]:*
*"Behold I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. He who conquers ..." (v.20.21) The message is not to the Church ... the Church will be in heaven!
** "... all Israel will be saved" ..! (Romans 11,26), that is, at the Coming of Yeshua! Until then see Romans 9,27.
But what about " For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal" (Romans 2,28-29);
"But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile), there is neither..." (Galatians 3,25-28);
"For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in Spirit and glory in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 3,3).
The Holy Spirit is talking here about faith - in which we stand as long as we have faith ..! But we must not forget that "God's ... call is irrevocable." We are planted into the Noble Olive Tree (Israel) and we are and will remain guests there. Again, our remaining there is by faith and faith alone ..! See also chapter 21 of this web-mail. In Christ we are all equal but the privilege of the Jews remain ... the promises of God to them remain ... See again Romans 9-11. Through baptism we are entering the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12,13; Galatians 3,27-29) - Jew and Gentile become one ... a descendant of Abraham and a child of the Heavenly Father!
When we accept Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, we are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel (see Romans 11,17); we are adopted by God the Father into His Family (see Galatians 4,5-6); we became a child of promise (see Galatians 4,28) and a descendant of Abraham (see Romans 4,16) - in other words we are a spiritual Jew. Thus, we are one of those lost sheep of the House of Israel whom Yeshua came to redeem (see Matthew 16,12-13).
The olive tree is an ancient symbol for Israel. Paul (= the Holy Spirit) teaches us that God cut off the branches of the "olive tree" because of their unbelief: After the Jews rejected the Messiah Jesus the Christ, God distanced Himself from them for a season. In 70 A.D., as Jesus prophesied it (see Luke 19,41-44), the Roman Legions destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews were dispersed.
God plans can not fail! After the Jews, as a nation, failed Him, He continued with His planes of salvation with a Remnant.
"God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah - how he (Elijah) appealed to God against Israel: 'Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.' And what was God's answer to him? 'I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace...by grace and not bay works...'" (Romans 11,2-6)
At the time of Jesus a Remnant - the Apostles, other followers of Jesus and the believers who gathered around the Apostles - were carrying the 'banner' of salvation and so fulfilling God's plan of salvation.
The Gentiles were brought into this plane of salvation and the Church-universal was born. At the beginning, Paul was God's chief instrument to bring the Good News of Salvation to the Gentiles (Romans 11,13).
There are obvious parallels between the history of the Church and the history of Israel:
After millenniums of God's dealing with Israel - it is a history of constant falling away from God! - God 'had to resort' to a Remnant to fulfill His plans.
After millenniums of God's dealing with the church(es) - it is a history of constant falling away from God! - God 'has to resort' to a Remnant to fulfill His planes of salvation -- the Church of the Remnant!
How did it all start?
The basic turning point of Israel's falling away was in 1 Samuel 8:
"Then the elders of Israel...came to Samuel...and said to him...'appoint us a king to govern us like all the other nations...'" (v.4.5).
"And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Hearken to the voice of the people...for thy have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them...you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them'" (v.7.9).
Israel's history, from this point of view, was a constant striving to be like other nations. This striving continues even today!
As God foretold, the kings led Israel away from God and ultimately caused its destruction.
Why did God's People want a human king instead of God's direct leading?
God's direct guidance of His People, using the Patriarch and then the Prophets as His ambassadors, insured an infallible but an inconvenient leadership. God and His ways are unpredictable for us! It is deeply in bedded into the fallen human nature that we wish to walk by sight and not by faith! But walking with God means to walk by faith (see 2 Corinthians 5,7)! Obedience..!
The basic turning point of the Church's falling away was already taking place during the time of the Apostles. This is explained in details in the previous question, relating to the church(es).
One of the 'follow-up' turning away was the rejection of the Jews. The church soon taught that the Jews were eternally rejected and were replaced by the church. With this the church cut herself off from its roots and the "nourishing sap" of God (see Romans 11,17.18).
Removing the God-given foundation (see Ephesians 2,20) and His nourishments could have resulted in nothing but the present chaos and a fallen church(es) headed to become the "whore" described in Revelation 17-18.
Christians generally live in a false security, believing that they are, as God's people, saved and nothing can happen to them. The Jews, at the time of Jesus, believed it too!! Christians! Listen to what Paul has to say to you:
"Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either...you stand by faith!" Romans 11,20b.21. And "he who endures to the end will be saved" ( Matthew 10,22).
God's direct guidance of His People, using the Apostles as His ambassadors, insured an infallible but inconvenient leadership. The authority of an Apostle, appointed directly by Christ is and must be unquestionable!
"But even if...an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we (Paul) preached to you, let him be eternally condemned" (Galatians 1,8).
There is no theological or any other argument about the teaching of a directly appointed Ambassador of Christ. His teaching is directly and infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is space only for obedience! Very much contrary to our fallen human nature.
At the Time of the End (in our time!) God is moving, among other things, in two basic directions:
1. Re-establishing, gathering His People Israel:
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree (Israel); as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near..." (Matthew 24,32)
Even so...you know that he (Christ) is near, right at the door" (Matthew 24,33).
In May 1948 the Fig Tree put forth its first leaves. The Fig Tree, the State of Israel was reborn. HE, The Messiah is at the door, ready to re-enter human history. See also question 7 and the WT.
The Remnant of the Jews (called Messianic Jews) are preparing for the return of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
2. Re-establishing the Church:
"Hereafter I will rebuild the fallen hut of David: from its ruins I will rebuild it and set it up again, so that the Remnant of the people from all the rest of the nations that bear my name may seek out the Lord" (Acts 15,16.17).
The rebuilding of the "hut of David" is in progress. God is already preparing His Remnant and its leadership, the Apostles of the Church of the Remnant. See the previous question and the Witness of the Times.
The Remnant of the church(es) are being prepared for the return of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.
All true Christians must pray for the conversion of our Jewish brethren and the establishment of the Church of the Remnant.
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths -beyond tracing out!
To him be glory forever! Amen" (Romans 11,33.36b).
ad b. Jew or Arab
Before we even touch on this subject, we have to make two basic statements:
1. There is no such a thing as Palestine: This concept is one of the remains of the British colonial time*. We are talking here about the Holy Land reinstated to the Jews by the Lord Almighty.
*The name, Palestine, originates from the region of the Philistines. The last rebellion of the Jews in 70 A.D. was brutally put down by the Romans. Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish Nation was dispersed. In order to wipe out even the memory of the Jews the Romans re-named the Holy Land Palestine.
2. "... the land belongs to me..!" declares the Lord (Leviticus 25,23). The Land of God cannot be used as bargaining chips for anything. Those who do so or even instigate it will experience severe consequences. I cannot give a detailed essay on this subjects on the web-site. If you are interested, ask for further details.
For centuries the Arabs lived in the so called Palestine but when the Jewish nation was re-established they were displaced. But this so called displacement was largely their own fault: The allotted portion of the land to the Jews was, to start with, unbiblical, but the Jews accepted it. Within a few days, after the establishment of the Jewish State, the Arab nations around Israel attacked it and were determined to eliminate it. Through a miracle of God the small new state defeated the overwhelmingly larger Arab armies - many Arabs were displaced in this process.
The Jews should never give up what God has given to them, the land of their forefathers. Remaining in the Holy Land is a matter of survival for the Jewish race. Persecution over the centuries in so many parts of the world has taught the Jews also to believe that this is the one country where they can be sure of acceptance.
The Arabs are unwilling to accept the reestablishment of the State of Israel. They now consider 'Palestine' as their own land. Because of this conflict the world will be brought to the very brink of thermonuclear war. The Roman dictator will solve this problem (for a short period of time) after his takeover of the 'Ten-Member-Coalition' (see question 7). Then the antichrist will make a "strong covenant" (= treaty or pact of mutual protection, see Daniel 9,27) with the Israelites, guaranteeing their safety and protection.
According to the prophecy of Daniel, the Seven Years Period of Tribulation will begin when the Roman leader and the Israeli leader sign this "strong covenant" or pact (see Daniel 9,27;11,23). See also The Witness of the Times.
ad c. Comparison between Israel and the Church
We have dealt with a basic comparison in question 9 (see also WT). Here we will restrict ourselves to the time of the Second Coming of Christ.
At that time (our time) we will find ourselves in a similar situation to that of the time of Christ's First Coming: Political and religious apostasy; atheistic political systems; religious systems which are fallen into false doctrines and basically worship satan. Israel and the church(es) are in the grip of unbelief. Because of this, the Second Coming will be overlooked.
At the Time of the End God will gather a Remnant of Jews (of which the Messianic Jews - who are not baptised*) and the church(es) (of which the baptised Messianic Jews are a part) and will rebuild His "fallen hut," the Body of Christ (see Acts 15,16-17; Amos 9,11 [Ephesians 2,11-22; Galatians 3,25-29] and the WT, see also Question 9C).
*The question of the Messianic Jews are a complex one. For further information, ask the author.
The plan of God for the Church of Jesus Christ and for the Believing Jews (Jews waiting for the Messiah), is not the same. The Church will be raptured and the Remnant of Israel (Believing Jews) will be saved through the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7,4;11,14).
The Believing Jews marked by an angel of God, will escape from Jerusalem (Judea) to Edom (?), an area which will be protected by God. Edom is a land located south-east of Jerusalem, and in the mountains of Edom lies the ancient city of Petra.
History continues, time is not standing still. The same spirit (the spirit of the world = satan), which hindered the religious leaders of Israel to recognize the First Coming of the Messiah, is hindering the religious leaders today from seeing that the time for the Second Coming is at hand. Open your eyes!
11. Is baptism necessary?/
"I (Jesus) solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God's kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit" (John 3,5).
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28,19).
The Three Angels of Abraham (see Genesis 18) symbolizes the Three in One. A Russian Icon.
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and its baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16,15b-16),
When we are writing about baptism we mean here the Baptism in water and or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
In the Original Church adults were baptized; they were baptized by immersion in (John 3,23) "a lot of water" (Mark 1,9b).
In the midst of the great persecution of the church baptism took place only after thorough instruction in the faith. This became necessary because many baptised Christians, who were not well founded in Christian teaching and well rooted in Christian living, fell away from the faith.
In Baptism God forgives all our personal sins and the so called Original Sin, that is, the sin which we were born in, being born into the 'family' of Adam and Eve, our ancestors (see Genesis 3).
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit was received in the Ancient Church usually right after the Baptism in water. This was done frequently by the laying on of hands (see Acts 8,14-17).
In the bath of rebirth (Baptism in water) of the Holy Spirit and in the bath of regeneration (Baptism in the Holy Spirit) of the Holy Spirit, man will 'die' with Jesus and then will be integrated into the Church (the Mystical Body) of Jesus the Christ and at the appointed time will be raptured or
resurrected with Jesus (see Romans 6,3f; Colossians 2,12; 1 Corinthians 12,13).
Through receiving these sacraments, the death and resurrection of Jesus is made our own; it cleanses and separates us from sin (see Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 6,11; Ephesians 5,26-27; Acts 2,38; 1 Peter 3,21); it makes the baptized person a child of the heavenly Father (Galatians 3,26-27); it makes him a member of the Body of Christ, i.e. of His Church (1 Corinthians 12,13), and he will receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12,4ff).
According to the teaching of Jesus, Baptisms are necessary for a person to be saved (Mark 16,16 and John 3,5).
Here the following is to be observed:
a. The baptism of infants:
"The man who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16,16).
According to this word of the Lord, faith must precede Baptism. A child who is not capable of deciding, does not usually have the necessary faith for baptism. For that reason we assign those children of Christian parents for blessing, baptizing them when they reach the 'age of knowledge.'
How did infant baptism come into church-practice?
To understand the under-laying reasons you must read Question 9B:
- the church falling away from the teachings of the Apostles;
- the church reverting into the Old Testament: In the Old Testament the infant was circumcised and through this received into the fold of the People of God. We must understand that we are not living in the Old Testament under the Law but in the New Testament under Grace. We have already received a related question in which we will explain in more detail this very frequent problem of many Christians and Christian churches. See Questions 9 and 14.
In the New Testament we are not joining God's People through a race but through grace which is bound to faith!
- There is a frequent seemingly biblical argument in support of infant baptism:
"... when she was baptized and her household" (Acts 16,15):
"household," as one argues included infants. Beside the point, that this is a pure speculation, there is an other similar expression excluding the above argument:
"... the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his household" (Acts 18,8):
If in this "household" there were any infants they certainly could not "believe."
b. When infants die, where are they going?
children of believers are "holy" (see 1 Corinthians 7,12-14):
The children of a Christian marriage (even if just one of them is a Christian) who are not baptized and die are sanctified through the Christian parent(s) and will be accepted into God's presence. God will certainly not reject anyone who is Holy! This state of 'holiness' lasts until the 'age of knowledge' after which the child has to make his own decision and enter the state of "holiness".
How about children of non-Christians? I will emphasize here two things:
1. "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?" (1 Corinthians 5,12)
God is merciful and we have to leave all those who are outside the Church in His hands. He is the Judge!
2. The humanistic view that all children under a certain age will be raptured has no biblical base. See here also the above quotation (statement).
12. Should a Christian have a mentor?/
Thank you for your very personal email. This is the first email I have received with an intimate approach. Thank you for your trust and openness. Talking to the Lord about you, He advised me to call you, at the present time, (?) Naomi (the pleasant one) - do you mind?
I perceive that you are a young woman having a very close walk with the Lord. I am pleasantly surprised about your deep spiritual insights: Being young - this says a lot about your committed spiritual life.
You asked a lot of questions. I believe by answering the question I chose will answer most of the others - they are often closely related to each other.
A few basic statements:
- In the Church of the Remnant (see question 9C) every one will have a mentor.
- In the present situation in the church(es) there are great spiritual dangers for everyone.
Generally speaking, the mentor is a person who is called by the Holy Spirit and approved by the Church of Jesus the Christ for leading an other person on his/hers spiritual journey.
The attributes of a mentor:
"... blameless, the husband of one wife* and his (her) children are believers... hospitable...master of himself...well founded in doctrine..." (Titus 1,6.8.9). See also 1 Timothy 3.
* This does not mean that Christian men can have more than one wife ... but -
I will mention here an important aspect of mentorship which is presently overlooked by all the churches I know of: As a general rule, divorcees should not be in a mentor's position, even if the divorce took place before they became Christians. Every divorce hides a multitude of personal problems. They need healing which often will take a life-time. These problems present spiritual and mental blind-spots which makes the person unsuited for regular and continual spiritual leadership. That does not mean that these Christians have no gifts at all. The Holy Spirit will equip every member of the Church with suitable gifts which they must use within the Body of Christ, the Church. Most of the psychologists and so called spiritual counsellors in the churches, whom I met, have grave personal problems. Such people naturally gravitate towards such a position. Subconsciously they are looking for the solutions to their own problems. They should adhere to tasks which the Holy Spirit assigned to them and which are approved by the Church and seek healing (here too, the Church of the Remnant will have the authority to make the final judgment).
It is needless to say that in the Church of the Remnant, there is no such a thing as a divorce: Basically between two Christians there can not be a divorce. This does not mean that persons already divorced are not welcomed into the Church. They are! Christians whose partners left them should place their trust in the Lord and submit to the discipline of the Church (see The Teaching of the Church of Jesus the Christ and also 1 Corinthians 7,12-16). Those Christians who, for what ever reasons, intend to separate from their partners have to take up this matter with the appropriate church-authorities and follow their instructions. See Question 24/28.
The approval of the church: There is a very common heresy mostly practiced by some protestant churches: They spiritualise the church (see question 7B) and claim only their direct relationship and calling of the Holy Spirit. Christians have a two dimensional accountability! A vertical and a horizontal one. The church is a God-appointed organization and there should not be a discrepancy between the accountability to the Holy Spirit and to the Holy Spirit guided Church. The Christians have responsibility toward God (vertical) and the Church (horizontal) +. Reading question 7, it is obvious, that at present, there is a grave problem. The God-given solution is again the Church of the Remnant.
The Church of the Remnant will, through discernment, appoint only such persons to be mentors who are called and equipped by the Holy Spirit to this position. Correct discernment is possible only in the Church of the Remnant - She has the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge...to another gifts of healing..." (1 Corinthians 12,8.9).
Because of its complexity I will answer your question about the Holy Spirit and His gifts separately. Here I will mention only that the mentor must have the equipping-gift for his/her ministry of mentorship.
It is very important that the mentor will not overstep his/her boundaries of equipment. The Christian must know the limits of his gift! I have often seen this over-stepping of boundaries, which does a great deal of harm. Tasks for which we are not called for have to be left to those members of the Body who are equipped for it. The Lord called such people meddlers, those who do not know their spiritual limits!
Under the present situation the best advice I can give you is to continue to walk with the Lord and ask Him to develop in you the Fruits of the Spirit - see Galatians 5,22-23. I will deal with this also within the subject 'Holy Spirit.' However I will mention a few points to consider:
1. Ask the Lord for humility:
Humility IS one of the basic virtues without which no one can have a Christian spiritual life. The hardest words Jesus ever spoke were to the Pharisees. Their self-conceited - pride was blinding them to the spiritual message which Jesus brought. Be aware that virtues can not be obtained by reading books but only through practice. If you ask God to grant you this virtue He will provide you with humiliating circumstances, experiences. We human beings, in our fallen nature, abhor humiliation! I assure you that you will make speedy spiritual progress by growing in humility. Spiritual pride is the greatest curse of the so called spiritual people (I would rather say, religious people!). It is almost incurable.
Flee from your self-made-plans. They are a spiritual trap. Seek God's will for your life and He will guide you and bless you. Through your own effort you may find some happiness but this will never be even close to the primary, original (God-intended) happiness.
As I was praying about you, I perceived that God has a special plan for your life! Seek him and you will find His purpose. God is calling you!
2. Follow Him unconditionally!
You mentioned that you made a commitment to the Lord. You must be very serious about it. If you wish to share it with me I will be glad to pray about it and comment on it. In this context you asked me two important questions:
a. What happens if a Christian is unfaithful to his/her vows? The plans of God can never fail. But we have to acknowledge that we have our free will and can desert the plans the Lord has ordained for us. There are many biblical examples for this (e.g. Saul, see 1 Samuel 9 [Saul's calling] and 13,1-14;28,16-19; - the entire history of Israel and the church is a desertion of God). When a nation fails God He fulfils His plans with a Remnant (see question 7). The same thing happens if individuals fail Him. He always has a substitute for them.
Will God punish the 'deserter'? The word 'punish' is incorrect. It is important that we walk/live in God's will. If we walk according to our own will, ignoring God's will, we will take ourselves out of the protecting 'umbrella' of God. In this situation God will not (cannot) protect us and the enemy will gain access.
b. What is anointing? It is a deep spiritual matter. The Lord anoints prophets, priests, princes and princesses (to become kings and queens), people for a special service for Him. Through the anointing for service the Lord takes 'possession' of the anointed one. He/she is not his/her own any longer. The anointing leaves an indissoluble mark on the soul of the anointed one. This mark can never be removed. If the anointed person obeys his/her calling, this mark will shine on his/her forehead for ever and will be his/her glory for all eternity. If he/she does not obey, honor the commitment ... God is the judge!
3."...bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10,5b):
Naomi! This is a life long process! If you just consider how many useless and even un-Christian thoughts we have every day, you will understand the importance of this teaching. This requires a lot of- and continual self-discipline(ing) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If you have any problem - never run! Have the courage to face it! This is the only way to solve it! Again, the Holy Spirit will help you.
We human beings are by God's design social beings. We cannot live and develop in total isolation. Other human beings have a great impact on our life. For this reason we must carefully select our relationships. Truly Christian friends are God's gifts:
"A loyal friend is a powerful
whoever finds one has indeed found a
A loyal friend is something
there is no measuring his (her)
A loyal friend is the
elixir of life,
and those who fear the Lord
will find one.
Whoever fears the Lord
makes true friends,
for as a person is, so is his friend too" (Ecclesiasticus 6,14-17).
You mentioned the betrayal of a friend. This is one of the hardest things you can experience. Forgive and bring it to the Lord and He will heal the wounds. Let him go and move on!
'Listening' to your words and praying about them I assure you that one of the greatest gifts you can bring into your future marriage is your purity. Guard it jealously! Pray continually for guidance concerning your future husband. He must be a gift from the Lord and not 'just' your choosing! He must be a true Christian (see question 7C), your soul mate, your friend, your love, your lover, your pride, your protector, your spiritual head, your... The only thing he cannot do is to replace Christ. Jesus must always be the first in your life as well as in his! Search for genuine love which is very difficult to find! You gave your life to the Lord - He will lead you to it! If you've found it, hold unto it; - it is the greatest treasure! Don't let it (him) slip away! Remember, there is such a thing as too late!
Do not be afraid. The Lord will meet your needs perfectly. You entrusted your life to Him - leave it in His hands! Do not take it back!
Just a brief comment on what you have said about your relationship to your parents - cut the proverbial umbilical cord. Ask the Lord for help.
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife..." [or the woman to her husband] (Matthew 19,5).
This "leaving" is not primarily a physical one but a 'mental-spiritual'...one! but also -
"... go from your father's house ..." (Genesis 12,1) -
that is, Abram had to cut his ties to his relatives, customs and gods in order to find his God, his ministry and his new home. You must find your "God" and your "new home" - God has no grandchildren ... but children only ... that is, everyone must find his/her personal relationship to the Lord and commit him/her self to His plans.
If Abram would have refused to leave his Father's house God could not have formed a new nation with him, the nation which was destined to bring forth the Messiah. God would have had 'to find' someone else who would have obeyed His calling ! Here is a very important lesson for all of us!
Without this "leaving" you cannot develop into the person God intended you to be. Therefore you cannot "be joined" successfully to your future husband and you are also impaired to do God's will.
5. Ask for the gift of "distinguishing the spirits" (1 Corinthians 12,10):
It is a gift and a fruit because as you learn to walk closer with the Lord you will learn more and more to distinguish between the Holy Spirit, His will and other influences. Listen to Paul's (= Holy Spirit's) advice:
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is..."
Your mind will be transformed and renewed by obediently following the Lord and learn to love the Lord above everyone and everything. You have to be willing and available and the Lord will do the rest!
Obedience is one of the least liked word in our dictionary - one of the most loved word in God's!
6. Have a regular prayer-life:
is prayer? It is a dialogue with the Lord! Without a constant dialogue
with Him there is no spiritual life! If you love someone you wish to be with
him and have a regular thought-exchange with him. If you need more information
on this important subject I would be happy to send you some more material to
read. It is good and sometimes helpful if you have a special place (a prayer-corner)
designated in your room for the purpose to withdraw and be alone with the Lord
(Matthew 6,6a). Learn Christian meditation - silence in the presence of
the Lord is a great healer, purifier and teacher. You cannot converse with Him
in deafening noise..! Avoid 'spiritual drugs' which are offered in great
quantities in some of the so called spirit-filled churches... what spirit? Lots
more could be said about this!
You asked me whether I experienced rejection or persecution. I feel that you are talking from experience. Yes Naomi. In my difficult life and in my position I have experienced many rejections. It is good for me - keeps me humble! Praise God! I am placing them at the foot of the cross and let the Lord deal with them. See Romans 8,37-39.
You asked me whether I would be happy to be your mentor. I believe that you should be able to encounter your mentor face to face, at least from time to time. But I would be happy to continue to answer your questions. I am also happy to send you the Book, The Witness of the Times, if you provide me with an address. Just to mention - you do not have to have the Book. If you are patient enough, as I am developing this web-page, you will eventually receive all the basic information contained in the Book.
I will, from now on, pray for you regularly and I am asking you to pray for me too. The Lord bless you.
All the teaching for Naomi, as personal as they might be, is written also for general instruction and spiritual uplifting (up-building).
Result of a vision: One Divine Substance - Three Persons
13. Who is the Holy Spirit?/ The Triune Deity - Three in One
The Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 6,4) and the New Testament (see Mark 13,32) teach that there is only one God. Although we worship only one God, we speak of Him in a three fold way, i.e. the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are not speaking here of three different 'gods,' nor of three manifestations of a fourth one. In this different 'manner of being,' God IS and acts as an undivided whole. This will always be an ultimately unsolvable mystery - that which no eye has seen, nor ear heard and no human heart has ever perceived (see 1 Corinthians 2,9, see also Matthew 28,19).
See also some definitions in Question1.
God the Father - our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the first and the last, the beginning and the end of everything. God revealed Himself to His People Israel by making His Name known to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. His Name is: "I Am Who I AM" = YHWH.
The divine Name "I Am" expresses -
God's faithfulness, despite of the faithlessness of man;
the supreme truth that God alone IS. God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end.
"God is love" (1 John 4,8.16) - God's very being is love. By sending His only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God revealed His innermost secret: God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and He destined us to share in that exchange.
If the Apostle (= Holy Spirit) writes in 2 Corinthians 5,19 that "God was in Christ," then he meant the full Divinity of Christ, the Son in whom "the fullness of deity resides in bodily form" (Colossians 2,9). Already in the beginning Jesus was, as the Word of God; Yes, "God was the Word" (John 1,1) and through this Eternal Word "are all things created" (John 1,3). He is our Redeemer - the only Redeemer of the world!
The power of God operating in life is the Spirit of God.
Spirit is a Divine Person: As the Father and the Son 'together with the Father and the Son, He is worshipped, adored and glorified' (see M
Matthew 28,18-20; 2 Corinthians 13,14). He is an independent Person: He bears witness (John 15,26), hears, talks, teaches (Luke 12,12), calls (Acts 13,2), gives gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12,4f), pleads for us (Romans 8,26), etc.
He makes it possible for us to come into a personal relationship with the Father and Christ. We can define Christianity as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Who does not have Christ's Spirit is not a Christian.
"When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me (Jesus) in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1,8, see also Acts 1,4;1,1-14).
"...unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3,5).
To be in touch with Christ, we must first have been touched by the Holy Spirit. He comes to meet us and kindles faith in us. By virtue of our Baptism (in water and in the Spirit) the Holy Spirit in the Church communicates to us, intimately and personally, the life that originates in the Father and is offered to us in the Son.
It is impossible to see God's Son without the Spirit and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son and the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit.
Through His grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the New Life, which is to "know the Father and the one whom He sent, Jesus Christ" (John 17,3).
In the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see question 9) the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ inhabits the believers (see Acts 2). After Christ inhabits the believers through His Spirit, He will be glorified in them (see John 17,10). The believer will be given a new life through the Spirit in which he must live from now on, i.e. in Christ. A change of dominion has taken place in the inner man: We do not have the dominion of the ego and or satan, or of sin, but of Christ (see Galatians 2,20). The believer experiences a rebirth through the Spirit (see John 3,5), a condition absolutely necessary to enter the Kingdom (see John 3,3-5). The believer is now a "new creation, the old order has passed away, now all is new" (2 Corinthians 5,17). If Christ takes dominion over a believer through His Spirit then he will in time receive a calling to serve Him in the Church and he will be equipped for it. To equip the believer the Holy Spirit will give certain gifts.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit:
The gifts of the Holy Spirit always belong to the Church of Jesus the Christ and should be used in the frame-work of the Church. The gifts are an equipping for service (see 1 Corinthians 12,5), for spiritual combat and for spiritual building up the congregation ( see 1 Peter 4,10).
We will distinguish here between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12,4-11; Romans 12,6-8; Galatians 5,22; Ephesians 5,9). The gifts are in themselves no evidence of inner maturity of a Christian, the fruits are.
Receiving the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit may come in touch with our spirit under certain conditions. He who would like to receive the Holy Spirit must confess his sins, must recognize Jesus as his personal Savior, i.e. must give his life to Him and follow Him and must forgive everyone. In order to receive the Holy Spirit, we must invite Him! I invite everyone who has not yet given his life to Jesus to do so NOW! - with the following prayer:
I renounce the devil (confess your sins) and all distrust of God. Lord, I surrender my whole life from its beginning to You. I surrender my mind, my will, my emotions, my desires and my death. Help me to die for You daily, so that I can be a witness for You. Be Lord and Master in my life and change me into Your image, as it pleases You (compare Hebrews 6).
Lord, I ask You to give me Your Holy Spirit: I am willing to accept any gifts You have promised.
Or you may wish to pray:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him..." (Revelation 3,20)
Jesus, I open the door of my heart. Come in and be my Savior. Thank You that You keep Your word.
Jesus, I am sorry for every sin I committed (confess your sins).
Forgive me; take away all my bitterness, my hatred and grudges, I forgive everyone (mention the names of those people), as You forgive me.
I renounce satan and all his works. I renounce all evil in my life.
I accept you Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my Deliverer from all evil; my Healer of all wounds of my past life. I accept Your powerful salvation.
I accept the love of the Father.
I accept the Holy Spirit, promised by the Father and You Jesus, as my Comforter, Advisor, Teacher and as the Token of the eternal Kingdom of Love.
Jesus, baptize me now in the Holy Spirit. Set free in me all power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Set free in me a new power to praise You in my own language, as well as in tongues.* Amen! (It may happen that you are uneasy in the beginning because you are about to cross over into the unknown. Do not seek an experience! Seek Jesus! and let the Holy Spirit guide you.)
I cannot describe here all the gifts of the Holy Spirit (you may wish to ask me to do so), but I will mention one gift which the Apostle Paul considers as a gift every Christian should have - the gift of tongues. (It would be an error to believe that you must speak in tongues in order to be considered a Christian - there are many other gifts of the Spirit)
* The gift of tongues is one of the gifts (= charisma) of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12,10,b). It is for the speaker himself an unknown language which he receives from the Holy Spirit. This can be a language of man (see Acts 2,8-11), or a language of angels (see 1 Corinthians 13,1). The speaker participates only with his spirit and not with his mind. What he speaks may be understandable to his audience (see Acts 2,6.11), but generally it is not (see 1 Corinthians 14,2-9). That is the reason that the Apostle demands that 'tongues' should be interpreted (i.e. using the gift of 'interpreting tongues' - it is not a translation). Such an interpretation could serve as prophecy, an edification, a teaching and/or admonishment of the congregation. The speaking in tongues is also a prayer, a form of worship, and a weapon in spiritual combat (see Ephesians 6,11-18). While praying in tongues the Spirit Himself intercedes for us:
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8,26-27).
The Spirit is our Intercessor before the Father!
If words fail, continue to pray in tongues! I am praying in tongues for you too.
14. What is the difference between the Old
and the New Testaments?/
This is a question of great importance but also of such a magnitude that it is quite difficult to do justice to it on a web-page. I will try to do my best to answer it, but I rather consider this writing as an encouragement for further questions and /or further research.
A. The Bible
It is a collection of writings of the Old and New Testaments. It is a witness to God's revelation. It gives us an insight into God's working in history. It is also called the Holy Book, the Holy Scripture and the Holy Word. The Old Testament encompasses 46 (!) Books; the New Testament 27 Books. The Bible is not simply a collection of religious or general human truths, but it is a composition of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit supernaturally guided the writers, ensuring the complete accuracy of all that was written (see 2 Peter 1,21).
"All Scripture is inspired by God ..." (2 Timothy 3,16). Inspired = theopneustos (Greek), meaning literally God-breathed - "All Scripture is God-breathed..." The Scripture is the product of the creative, out-breathing of God and is therefore perfect and able to equip us for every good work,
The Bible is inspired in all its various parts:
"Man shall not live from bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4,4)
God's inspiration is verbal, plenary and autographs:
Verbal: inspiration extends to the very words of Scripture, not merely the ideas or concepts.
Autographs: the original writings: A translation is only as good as it is faithful to the original text.
Plenary: the Scripture is fully inspired, not just certain parts!
Biblical inspiration extends to the precise words of Scripture as given in the original writings.
Biblical inspiration extends to the very letters of Scripture in the original writings (see Matthew 5,18)
The Bible is fully inspired in its words in all its books in the original writings (see Exodus 24,4.7;34,27; Jeremiah 1,9; Matthew 24,35; Revelation 19,9, etc.)
The inspired word of God cannot err - "Thy Word is truth" (John 17,17b; 10,35, also 1 Corinthians 14,37)
Biblical prophecy: The prophecies of the Bible are literally fulfilled.
B. The Old Testament
It is a Story of Salvation. It shows the development of humanity from God's perspective; its fall and its preparation for its redemption. The greatest part of the Old Testament deals with the history of Israel, i.e. with the people who were chosen by God to prepare the way of the Redeemer. The Old Testament is a message for the not yet redeemed People of God.
C. The New Testament
With the appearance of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Old Testament is fulfilled and the New Testament begins. The New Testament is a message for the Redeemed, i.e. it is the Good News, a teaching of salvation. In this Testament we find everything we need to be saved. It could be summarized as follows: Believe in Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, and follow Him; let yourself be baptised (in water and in the Spirit - John 3,5) and preserve in the faith until the end (see Matthew 10,22b).
D. Comparing some aspects of the Old and the New Testaments
In the Old Testament the People of God were (are) under the Law. The Law was a "guardian" (Galatians 4,2.4) preparing the people of the Old Testament for the Coming of the Messiah - the New Testament.
"Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go from your country... I will make you a great nation and ... all the people of the earth will be blessed through you'" (Genesis 12,1.2.3).
The Abrahamic Covenant is the Covenant of Decision. God decided to save mankind. The promise of the Covenant, the Messiah, was prophesied to Moses:
"I will raise up for them (God's People) a prophet (Jesus) like you (Moses) from among their brethren (the Jews); and will put my (God) words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him..." - " him you shall heed!" (Deuteronomy 18,18.15b)
God further prepared His chosen People Israel by giving them a "taskmaster" (see Galatians 3,24), the Law: We are talking about the Mosaic Covenant, the Covenant of Preparation (see Exodus 20,1-17).
"...this is my blood of the new covenant..." (Matthew 26,28)
The New Covenant is the most essential covenant, because God performs what He had decided on, the salvation of mankind! This is the Covenant of Performance!
"But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Dear Father!'" (Galatians 4,4-6)
The prophecies of the Old Testament, relating to the First Coming of Christ, have been fulfilled.
The Jews disowned the Messiah therefore God proceeded with His Remnant (see question 9) and the Gentiles are brought into the Covenant - the world wide Church of Christ was born.
In the Old Testament:
"And you shall hang the veil from the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in thither within the veil; and the veil shall separate for you the holy place from the most holy ..." (Exodus 26,33)
"Tell Aaron (the High Priest)... not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil... but thus shall Aaron come into the holy place with a young bull for a sin offering..." (Leviticus 16,2.3ff)
The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to bring sacrifices for the atonement of the sins of the people.
In the New Testament:
"And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold the curtain of the temple was torn in two... (Matthew 27,50.51).
"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh..." (Hebrews 10,19,20)
Those who believe in Jesus and His redemptive sacrifice can enter the presence of God directly through Jesus:
"since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith... " (Hebrews 10,21.22)
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4,16)
In the Old testament:
"And he (God) declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the ten commandments..." (Deuteronomy 4,13)
In the New Testament:
"...if it by grace , it is no longer on the basis of woks (performances)" (Romans 11,6)
"...that man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law" (Romans 3,28)
"and there is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among man by which we must be saved" (Acts 4,12), that is, the name of Jesus.
In the New Testament, we are saved by grace through believing in the atoning death of Jesus and not by works (see question 9).
In the Old Testament:
"Why did you disturbed me in my slumber by bringing me up..." (1 Samuel 28,15) - read the entire chapter 28.
The souls of the Just were kept in a state of "slumber," in a special place ("prison") before the resurrection of Christ.
In the New Testament:
"God...made (Jesus) alive in the spirit; in which he (Jesus) went and preached to the spirits in prison..." (2 Peter 3,18.19)
No one could enter the Presence of God before the atoning death of Jesus. While Jesus' body was laying in the tomb, His soul went to preach the Good News to the souls of the Just of the Old Testament. After they accepted (and there is no doubt that they did) the Good News (- The Good News is Jesus the Savior Himself) they entered Paradise (see Luke 23,43), the presence of God. The souls of the Just (the Saints) are now in the Presence of God!
In the Old Testament - in the New Testament:
"Why then did Moses command to one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away? He (Jesus) said to them...whoever divorce his wife... and marries another, commits adultery: (Matthew 19,7.9)
"... but in the beginning it was not so..." (Matthew 19,8)
There is no such a thing as a divorce in the Church of Jesus the Christ (see Question 24/28)
In the Old Testament:
"And the Lord said to Samuel, hearken to the voice of the people...for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them..." (1 Samuel 8, 7)
The Old Testament people rejected God's direct guiding, ruling over them and demanded a king (see Question 9C).
In the New Testament:
"And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some...to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ..." (Ephesians 4,11.12)
The original order (what was in the beginning) will be re-established, that is, the direct guidance of the Lord.
In the New and the Old Testament - (or in the Old and New Covenant)
The Lord spoke to David-
"...I will raise up your offspring after you... I will establish his kingdom... I will be his Father and he will be my Son... his throne shall be established for ever..." (1 Chronicles 17,11-15)
The Davidic Covenant is the Covenant of Hope, of Reward - The fulfillment of this covenant is yet to come, that is, when the descendant of David, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the heavenly Father, will return and will rule from Jerusalem - His Kingdom will have no end!
E. Interpreting the Bible
In final analysis, the interpretation of the Bible is preserved for the Church. The Church as a whole must agree on teaching and application of it. The undivided Church of the beginning organized Councils for formulating unified teachings. The undivided Church of the Last Days, The Church of the Remnant - having the fullness of the Spirit - will again formulate teachings, applicable to the whole Church!
The grave problems we have today, the different and contradicting interpretations of the Bible, are the result of the division in the Church. There is no unified guidance and basically every one can and does interpret the Bible according to ones own understanding (and interest), calling on 'having the Spirit' (what spirit?). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself. Therefore the contradictions, we experience, cannot come from Him. Where is it coming from? See also question 9 and the WT (specially the visions). Every denomination has its 'blind-spots.' I pray that you may see those 'blinders.'
Just a few obvious blind-spots:
The teaching of the 'health and wealth gospel' - often quotes Deuteronomy 7,13, suggesting that we can claim wealth on the basis of that verse. Remember that we are not living in the Old Testament but we are the People of the New Covenant. We are "not under the law but under grace" (Romans 6,14).
Another very 'primitive' misuse of the Bible: I heard an atheist quoting to his audience that even the Bible admits that "there is no God." The quote was taken from Psalm 14,1: "The fool says in his heart, that there is no God!" That atheist was certainly a fool!
While we are waiting for the re-unification of the church and more specifically, the emerging of the Church of the Remnant, these are some guidelines for personal (individual) application of the Bible. These guidelines have to be observed to avoid further confusions (but they will not assure infallibility - this will be the prerogative of the Church of the Remnant):
Your interpretation cannot contradict the 'spirit' of the Bible or the teaching of the Church (soon the Church of the Remnant)!
a. Read the Scripture by studying the surrounding text to make certain you are interpreting it correctly. Do not take a word or verse out of context! It is common knowledge that, by doing so, one can justify everything through the Bible!
b. Literally interpretation of the Bible: Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled literally, giving us a precedence for literal interpretation. E.g. it was literally prophesied and literally fulfilled that Jesus would be born of a virgin (see Isaiah 7,14; Matthew 1,22), that He would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5,2; Matthew 2,6), that soldiers would gamble for His garment (see Psalm 22,18; John 19,24), etc. Generally speaking we need not to look for mystical, hidden meanings behind the plain words of Scripture.
c. We must recognize figure of speech:
- Simile - compares two things, using 'like' or 'as': "Is not my word like fire?" (Jeremiah 23,29);
- Metaphor - suggest a likeness simply by stating it: "The Lord is my shepherd" (Psalm 23,1);
- Personification - attributes human characteristics to inanimate things: "The wilderness and the desert will be glad..." (Isaiah 35,1-2a);
- Irony - is satire or sarcasm, stating the opposite of what is meant: "With you, wisdom will die" (Job 12,2b), indicating that his friends had 'all' the answers;
- Anthropomorphism - attributes human characteristics to God: "They heard...the Lord God walking in the garden..." (Genesis 3,8), indicating the presence of God in the Garden;
- Parables - the meaning is hidden in a story: (see Matthew 13,4-9);
- Symbolism - representing things by symbol, using objects, known facts, theories, etc.: Wind - Holy Spirit (see John 3,8); Moses lifting up the snake - the Son of man be lifted up (see John 3,14 - Numbers 21,9), etc.
15. How do we 'achieve' true peace and freedom?/
This question sends us on a path of quest. As we move forward on this path we will, more and more, encounter The Incarnate Freedom Himself - Jesus!
Inner freedom and inner peace are inseparably connected to each other ... God-given peace and freedom go hand in hand.
On this web-page we have also dealt with the question of sin (see Question 18). Sin can be fully understood only in the light of this God-given freedom. The questions of sin and freedom are interwoven.
Christ is the One who was, is and will come again and Whom the Father gradually reveals in order to make us partakers in His freedom which He mediates to us by His Holy Spirit.
The hunger for freedom in Christ and the knowledge that all true Christians have to unite to form a faithful following of the Lord, are parts of the Signs of the Time.
When we think or speak of freedom, the words ring out 'faithfulness to Christ,' because He is our Liberator, the faithful and Incarnate Freedom.
The freedom, to which Christ made us free, cannot reveal its creative and responsible power without an ever closer devotion and creative faithfulness to the Lord of history.
We all long for peace and freedom. Can we 'achieve' true freedom and peace?
The peace and with it our freedom or the freedom and with it our peace is a gift – "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give to you..." John 15,27. It must develop (must be given) to us. The only thing we can contribute to it is – walking faithfully with the Lord.
The Bible does not present us with a list of norms, rather it gives the over-all-view to a better understanding of the salvation-plan (-education) of God and to the call of the present hour of salvation.
The basic issue is an over-all-look at a truly Christian life - finding of the centre, that is, the heart of the Church of Christ - our own heart.
Old and New Testament
a. The Word of God and His calling
The worshiper of Yahweh does not know any taboos - he can make use of all things, but under two conditions:
1. That he always remains a worshiper of God;
2. That he respects the dignity and freedom of his neighbors.
The Old Testament is not a philosophy but a history of the living God with His People. This history depended on whether the people listened to the Lord and His messengers or not - God takes man seriously!
It is impossible to reduce the New Testament to a system of laws and philosophical ideas. The central reality of the New Testament is Christ, the Son of David, the Son of man, one of us, the Son of the living God.
Christ baptizes His disciples in fire and in Spirit - we are not under the law but under grace. This means that we ought to do what grace requires of us - listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit!
Gifts of the Holy Spirit without humility lead to a fall. A perfect belonging to Christ makes us a "pure bride," 2 Corinthians 11,2.
The path of the soul to peace:
- seclusion (contemplation) – see Question 20
- obedience – see (part of) Question 22
The pauline teaching of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8,2) shows the way (contemplate and obey) to true freedom: Those who "are not under the law, but under grace," Romans 6,14, see also Galatians 5,24-25, fashion their lives by receiving the gifts of God and caring for the needs of their neighbors. They are free for their fellow man, so they can call freely in the Spirit "Abba - dear Father." They live, out of the deep faith, that the Father of Jesus Christ is also their Father (see Romans 8,14-16).
b. Call to follow
A basic idea of the New Testament is the calling to follow - Christ calls everyone by name - and those who obey His voice, He equips with charismata (gifts of the Holy Spirit); His call is always a call to friendship in Him and to Him. The disciples are friends among-each-other because Christ calls them as friends.
The Synoptics (the first three Gospels) describe the relationship of the disciples to Christ as following, tracing His footsteps, ready to go with Him up to Jerusalem to be sacrificed. The strength to follow Him on the path of the cross comes from the close friendship with Him.
Discipleship means fellowship and not merely an imitation - one of the realities which we have to know is the cross. We follow Christ by bearing his cross daily - we are in faith-communion with the Crucified; from Him flows the love which enables us to follow.
The discipleship and virtues
Virtues are nothing else but love of God:
- discipline and moderation are love, it preserves – those who practice it remain whole (intact);
- justice is love, it keeps the just order in a way that may serve the loved one;
- wisdom is love, is clear-sighted for what helps and what hinders;
- courage is love, bears everything for the loved one.
Virtue is the highest love, the love of God.
Responsibility in creative freedom and faithfulness
a. Moral responsibility in the Christian view
We have to be clear about the radical difference between THE Christian view and the Christian-colored ethics of self-improvement. If self-realization becomes the highest lead-motive and basic concept of morals, then it is not in the scope of faith - the danger is great that God will be looked upon as a means to an end. It must be clear to a believer that God cannot, as much as He loves man, give Himself to those whose highest aim is self-realization. It is entirely different when one searches for self-realization in worshipful love of God and this seeking is a part of the answer to the salvation-giving-call of God.
Christ gathers us to joint responsibility - the believer knows that such shared responsibility can only be carried out when it is deeply rooted in Christ and in His Body.
Responsibility means that we incorporate all our doings, our behavior toward our neighbor and our shaping of the environment, into our faith -- everything we do becomes an outcome of our faith. Such a high demand requires a constantly growing consciousness of the presence of God and a prayer-life which strives to reach to the essence (center) of our being - the integration of faith and life.
The mutual giving-himself between the Father and Son in the Holy Spirit is the stream of infinite freedom.
We call the with-each-other and the for-each-other a relationship, in which the partners will experience their own development.
c. Faithfulness to the Covenant
The result of faith is a faithful tie to Christ and at the same time to the People of the Covenant. Our trust is in Christ, the "faithful witness" (see Revelation 1,5;3,14;19,11).
The interest in the development of our freedom already requires the courage to develop a fundamental attitude, that is, a disposition to a more free and irrevocable binding - the one who binds himself in love is free for ever greater love. See Question 28 – Christian marriage.
d. Faithfulness to the "aim-commandments"
The one-sided emphasis on the 'performance-commandments' (see Exodus 20,1f) has its dangers - it averts one's attention from the 'aim-commandment,' which Christ proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5,3f). He called it the all-encompassing commandment (see Matthew 22,37f) and lived it on Calvary. Through the emphasizing of the 'aim-commandments' Jesus frees us from entrenchment behind the 'performance-commands' in favor of the moral of the Covenant, that is, the co-execution of His love. All His commands can be summarized in these words: "Love one another as I have loved you," John 15,12 and "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful," see Luke 6,36, see also Matthew 5,48.
e. Moral of the Covenant
Christian freedom thrives only in communion with others - the Christian is in the community of the Church of Christ, the Community of the Saints, that God chose out of the world - this is the most distinguished expression of co-humanity of the with- and for-each-other.
f. Model of church-understanding
The Church understands her-self as a Community in the Holy Spirit (Koinonia) - the Church evokes faithfulness to this Church-image by her Evangelizing, liturgy, through her Offices, the manifold Charismata and through creative co-responsibility in the shaping of the environment. For the self-understanding of the Church it is essential that she sees herself as a Church in pilgrimage, nourished by the Spirit, following the Redeemer -- a following in unity, a unity of the Saints.
We have only one alternative: Either we say a 'Yes' to the liberating with-and for-each-other in Christ or to a disastrous-solidarity of a sinful world.
The shaping of a responsible and creative person
It should be clear by now that true freedom can only be found in Christ and in His Church.
a. The renewed person in Christ
The first concern is the relationship to Christ, Who calls us to emulation and to a partaking in His life and mission. Hence it follows an immediate relationship to God, to fellow man, to the environment and to one-self.
We, Christians, understand our-selves and our development from the view of the creative and redeeming call of God. We express our innermost truths by answering God's call, by co-execution of His love to man and to the world around us. Our highest ideal is conformity to God's will - that is, the transformation in (into) Christ. This means in practical terms - to do to others, to be to others what Christ is for us and does for us.
b. To be whole (intact) by reaching, winning our center
In the very centre of a Christian being co-existing with our spirit is the Holy Spirit. The fundamental decision, which every Christian has to make daily is to co-operate with the Spirit, to live 'in the centre,' that is, to follow the creative call of the Spirit. This daily walk with Him will strengthen character, integrity and inner freedom, which will enable the person to follow more and more firmly a clear aim, the aim of God. In this way, the fundamental decision gains 'flesh and blood' in our daily lives.
are neither value-concepts, like good and evil, nor normative concepts like right or wrong. Virtues constitute their own category as character-attributes. They are important in decision-making-situations -- they enable us to make decisions by overcoming confusing passions.
c. Fundamental attitude
The firm decision for Christ results in a firm fundamental attitude: One can expect with confidence certain actions and strivings by a person.
We can define this sort-of-attitude as the spirit of the person. It gives the whole person a direction and unity - the Christian basic attitude is a new life-style, which, without question, flows out of faith in Christ (see Philippians 2,5). Out of faithfulness to Christ grows a healthy self-faithfulness. It is a life which brings forth the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5,22) love, joy, peace -- this is the most secure sign of a fundamental decision for Christ - it manifests a corresponding attitude.
It is the most difficult task to continue to grow steadily and patiently in freedom. It may sound peculiar but it demands the highest courage.
d. The worth of persons and attitudes
According to the Bible the 'heart' is the innermost center, which reaches out for unity and genuineness, builds bridges to fellow men and to the community. This is the 'place' where freedom is born and can grow. From where freedom emanates out to others, very importantly, also to God as a response to His love which, at first, places (pours) the seed of freedom into our hearts and nurtures it with His grace to grow and grow and grow ...
Mental health and the manner of readiness to answer depend on whether positive or negative attitudes are predominating - a positive attitude makes clear-sighted decisions for the good and rejects evil decisively. This kind of attitude is formed by the experience of the sanctity and mercy of God - out of this flows the unique ability to sympathize with the poor, the oppressed and the exploited. It delights in the good, longs for peace, but shows its anger against evil.
If negative attitudes predominate, the heart of man cannot prosper, it becomes a desert in which the good has no opportunity (chance) and evil rules - such an attitude leads to gradual self-destruction and to a destructive attitude toward others.
The creative and responsible person is a positive one. He feels an inner urge to contemplate, to admire, to worship, to be happy over the good of others; he has the ability to discover the good in others and bring it to fruition.
e. Guiding-motive (Leitmotiv)
An important bridge between attitude and moral actions are the motives (intentions); they receive their strength from the guiding-motive - we are talking about a predominant inner motivation which cause us to act.
In a personality the conscious motives are, so to speak, the tip of the ice-berg.
We should not underestimate the sub-conscious, it is an important power-reservoir - it also forms our personality and continue to do so. When the totality of conscious and subconscious motives are consolidated into a positive attitude (behavior, character) - they inspire the actions of our hearts. The man who has this freedom can stand before God and his fellow man... he has nothing to hide - the mask can fall. There is no need to stir up his subconscious by every decision - his actions spontaneously arise from the centre, from the creative S(s)pirit. But because most of us do not have such a wholeness, such an inner unity, we have to investigate from time to time our leitmotivs, our thinking and strivings.
The deeper lying attitudes and motives, which hinder creative freedom and faithfulness, have all the reason to hide themselves - a selfish basic attitude, an over-fed super-ego, which limits freedom by a one-sided emphasis on recognition and fear of punishment - are a hot-bed of fears, insecurity-complexes, destructive attitudes, and a feeling of inner misery. This is the result of bad experiences and false solutions thereupon - mentally speaking, what makes you ill is not necessarily your experiences but the way you reacted - love or hate, patience or impatience, tolerance or intolerance, etc. In such (negative) cases the subconscious becomes a reservoir not for attitudes promoting freedom but rather attitudes hindering us in developing. The transformation of this dark area is essential and only attitudes of faith, hope, love, thankfulness and the motive of self-giving can master it. Conversion is a process by which man, by his alertness and inquiry, by prayer and active imitation of Christ, (let) transforms these hidden motives – and grows into true freedom.
The entire old leaven (compare 1 Corinthians 5,6.7.8) has to be removed - by the renewal of the entire value-system (by which we live). The first step is a clear and decisive fundamental decision for Christ. This must be gradually, patiently translated into new permanent fundamental attitude.
It is vitally important in this process, that we have a clear guiding-motive, into which all single motives must be incorporated. The leitmotiv in question is to respond to God with all our hearts, with all our strength, love and adoration. Some of the individual motives which have to be incorporated into it are: Relationship to our fellow man and to the environment, entrusted tasks and much more. In any case, the leitmotiv must correspond to the present stage of spiritual development and needs to be strong enough to gradually eliminate all hidden negative motives.
The historical dimension of creative responsibility
a. The thankful memory
The achievements and failings of the past are imprinted on our memory. There is also such a thing as a collective-memory - which is imprinted into our culture and history. It is important for the individual and also for society to obtain a purified memory in order to win a creative freedom. Such a process of healing can only be done by God - our contribution is a faithful daily walk with the Lord. As the healing process progresses, we will be enabled to see (remember) past achievements and failings with the eyes of the Lord, that is, integrate them into the overall planning (individual and communal) of God. In (through) this process we will be enabled to gain more and more creative freedom - bound energies (wounds bind tremendous energies) will be released for a creative freedom, to serve God and our neighbor.
The thankful memory makes us and the community capable of celebrating the Eucharist (Last Supper – see Question 21) -- the commemoration of the death and resurrection of the Lord and with a thankful heart look for its (the) completion (the Return of Christ - see also Luke 22,18 "... until the kingdom of God comes"). In this, the Eucharist will bring us the experience of reconciliation. We will no longer stir up bitter memories (experiences). We will be allowed to see the plans of God in our lives, His constant care and accompanying love, and the love of others. As a result the wounds and scars will be looked at in a new way (God's plans are revealed through them).
b. The future has begun
The thankful memory, which connects us with the past benefits of God will link us to the great promises we have in Him. This will give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future - but not be inactive.
c. The gift of the present moment
Past and future are precious to us. They call and enable us to creative actions - provided that we can bring the precious load of the past and the promises of the future (in Christ) into the here and now. The past illuminates the present, while the future challenges us. We can gain strong motivation only by being thankful for our past and have hope for the future - we can then make full use of the present moment and have a thankful confidence in the future for ourselves and for our neighbor.
For the believer the present moment is always built on (salvation) history and lived in view of the eternal aim, that is, unity with Christ.
It belongs to the essence and to the mission of Christians to prepare the way for the coming of Christ in the Church, society and state - in this we ourselves need healing, to be enabled not to lose sight of our glorious future. Some stretches of the road we often have to cover in darkness to experience the mysterious leading of the Lord.
Man does not receive his life as something perfect, it is rather a task and a calling to become more and more Christ-like and progressively win the world, in which we live, for Christ.
I. Created and redeemed through the freedom of Christ and the freedom in Christ
1. Creation as the event of freedom and for freedom
a. In the beginning was ... in every beginning was (is) communication, that is, the Word (compare John 1,1f)
The child 'knows' through faith in his parents – he 'knows' because they love, through their entire behavior, communicate their experiences to him. In this, bidding and forbidding have to play a subordinate roll. If faith and trust is damaged or is destroyed, the knowledge of good in the child is undermined. Because we live in a world where good and bad exist mixed together, the educators of the child has to help him obtain the power of distinguishing between good and evil. It is important that the responsible ones not only point out the faults, misdeeds and good-deeds of the child but also admit their own failings and shortcomings. The growth in the knowledge of good and freedom is extremely endangered when the up-bringing is confined to dry concepts, instructions and commands without the accompanying love and self-communication. Instructions and admonitions are meaningful when they are experienced as part of the wisdom and love. This helps the child discover true values. This subject continues in Question 18 - 'the gift and burden of freedom.'
b. The conflict between the Spirit and the deep-rooted selfishness
The letter to the Galatians speaks impressively of the freedom in the Holy Spirit and of the conflict of deep-rooted selfishness in the heart and in the world. The good news of the freedom of the children of God as a gift of the Holy Spirit Who cautions - "You were called to freedom brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another," Galatians 5,13. We have to be on guard against misusing our liberty (see 1 Corinthians 9-10).
The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5,22) will not thrive by themselves. The Spirit will nurture them in us to perfection, provided we respond to Him in freedom with thankfulness and in faith. We have to be watchful and ask for the gift of discernment (see 1 Corinthians 12,10).
2. The shaping of the freedom in the world
the light of the mystery of incarnation
The world we live in is infected with spiritual indolence, flight from responsibility, all kinds of idolatry and un-atoned sin.
The sinner punishes himself by putting on the chains of sin, which suppress his spiritual, mental and physical life and his (social) environment. Good as well as evil thoughts and doings materialize in our spiritual-, mental- and social-state of free decision making.
It is important to realize that the interaction between true freedom in the service of God, man and environment is essentially different from the interaction of counterfeit freedom and serving others. True freedom is rooted in and nourished by the Holy Spirit; counterfeit freedom has its 'power' from pride, spiritual indolence, selfishness, deceit and manipulation - endangering the entire environment, inter-human relationships and the space for human freedom.
b. Individual freedom and social structures
Freedom is endangered when laws and different social structures become ends in themselves - in such situations the inter-human relationships are impaired.
A fundamental question is: Which is more important, spiritual or physical (social) reality? According to the Bible - the teaching of Christ and the Apostles - the daily (continual) conversion of the heart has a pre-eminence. According to Holy Scripture the 'heart' promotes the bridge for the wholeness of the individual and inter-human relationships. The conversion of the heart is inseparable from the renewing of the earth and of human relationships in the service of God.
Liberty is at all times an unfinished task - we need courage, patience and forbearance in the mission for our continual liberation in Christ, through the Spirit of God. We must not forget that this process is not an egoistic one - the entire environment must be included.
c. Education to freedom
Education is a continual process, in which everyone, the educators also, have to partake. It needs mutual help and encouragement not only to continue but also to discover new dimensions of freedom. Education to freedom is a gradual introduction into a life in the Spirit. This process leads the Christian to grow, the fruits of the Spirit grow, to be more and more independent from the world, and more and more bound to God to be free for his fellow man.
These thought are continued in Question 18 - 'The Church of Christ as embodiment of creative freedom and faithfulness.'
3. Fundamental options and great life-decisions
There are basically two options (choices) a man can have - he has the options (choice) to belong to God or to belong to the devil and his kingdom.
Some of the fundamental decisions (these decision are especially important - fundamental - because they give our life a fundamental direction; they direct us toward the Kingdom of Light or the kingdom of darkness): Some of them are - personal decision for the Lord Jesus; for the sending of His Church; for adult baptism in water and in the Spirit (see Question 11 on baptisms; Q 13 also); marriage-vows or the vow of chastity for the sake of the Kingdom; a decision for a profession - with consideration for the needs of the Church.
These fundamental decisions have to be preceded by basic and thorough preparation, for example for marriage, for preparing for a suitable profession, catechumenat (a Early Church concept of preparation) for baptism(s), etc.
The fundamental option is (ought to be) the basis for all our (fundamental) decisions - THE fundamental option is the freedom to choose, received from God and can truly function freely only in God. Our God-given fundamental option can grow or diminish, develop or wither depending on our use of it - all our decisions, if they wish to contribute to the development of our freedom to choose, have to be decisions for God and in Him for our neighbor - fulfilling our responsibilities toward Him, the neighbor, the environment.
Great decisions are rare - but our every-day life is full of small decisions: We have to master them, according to the will of God - our fundamental option will be strengthened, so that when a great important decision comes along we will not fail the Lord or ourselves or our neighbor - do not think that you can wait until a 'great decision' occurs and then you will do the will of God. If you do not decide daily for Him, you certainly will fail when a difficult decision is required of you.
Far-reaching decisions should be prepared for through a longer space of time involving other Christians in the decision-making-process and have to be made in prayer.
The Christian who has committed a grave sin has to build up a new fundamental option (See Question 18) - he has lost his freedom because of the mortal sin. By preparing for confession it is vitally important that the penitent observes (becomes conscious of) the reason(s) for the false fundamental decision(s) (which preceded the sin) - the motive(s), the false attitude(s), the eventual weakness of the good intention(s) leading up to sin - the penitent has to get to the bottom of the problem other wise it will certainly occur again.
4. The forming of the fundamental option in basic attitudes
Act, virtue and life-style
a. In a fully human act man expresses himself
In our confusing and contradictory world we cannot expect total consistency - in a single decision (act) or in an isolated behavior (incident) we should not necessarily see a fundamental attitude. It is much more important that the person prove himself by his life-style and character which give him and his overall actions unity and uniqueness.
The fundamental decision for God and therefore for the good is a radical answer - 'Lord, I am here, call me:' Man becomes a co-creator in the co-execution of the creating and liberating love of God. He works together with God by conforming to His image - man needs a constant readiness and attention. In this process man's basic attitudes are build up to an ever greater maturity and integrity - his acts will become more and more fully human, a true self-expression – leading into greater and greater inner freedom and peace.
b. Human virtues in the light of the fundamental option
The choir of virtues (= quality of righteousness), in which the fundamental decision grows, is a wonderful co-creation of the human person, in which God and the human partner co-operate.
Virtues are genuine to the degree that in them freedom can express itself. Virtue, in the first place, is not the product of many repetitions, but is the fruit of the decisive fundamental option (see Question 18), fundamental intention.
Virtue: We can speak of virtue (moral excellence) when a permanent readiness for the good has been developed.
Virtue needs to be learned - practiced by continually doing good, but the inner devotion to the good is decisive.
c. Integration of faith and life
The disciples of Christ can be salt of the earth and light of the world, Matthew 5,13f, to the degree that their lives correspond to their faith - life flowing out of faith. We are on the way to inner unification (integration) when our fundamental decisions arise out of faith and these decisions activate (animate) our capabilities and energies and stimulate us to continue to search for more light, more answers in the quest of God's will and for the answer to the needs of our fellow man.
The fundamental option of a Christian is faith. One is filled with trust, hope and active love. Hope and love are turned into flesh and blood as soon as faith becomes a fundamental option - faith, hope and active love are inseparable. See Question 24 – suffering ... Job ...
Love is not without form, it is neither just a feeling nor a distant option. God has revealed His love in the 'form' of Jesus - love became flesh. The Christian will become an image of Christ by the integration of faith with his life - Christ's love has to be incarnate in and through him.
Love is not a command amongst other commandments - it is The all embracing gift, The all embracing command, The virtue of all virtues, which gives light and life to all the other virtues - the final answer for everything is LOVE! - agape love! (The self-giving love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ) -- The Holy Spirit renews and recreates the Christian progressively into God's image: His purely natural loves (*) becomes God-like 'agape-love'. This love needs to permeate and control all other loves and all the Christian's relationships with others. Indeed, the other loves will only be healed, to function truly and enjoyed in proper proportion, when agape is in control. Compare Ephesians 5,21-6,9; Colossians 3,12-4,1; 1 John 4,7-5,3; Luke 10,25-37;6,27-36.
*Philia love: The affection of friends and kindred spirits. Eros: the attraction of desire - sexual love.
We should often awaken love by reminding ourselves from time to time: 'Do everything out of love to God and to the greater glory of the Lord.' Compare 1 Corinthians 10,31.
d. The praise of virtue
Virtue is, in the full sense of the word, an entire life saturating fundamental option, through which the good will become second nature. The efforts of will can never produce it, because it is ultimately the gift of grace - the positive disposition of will and its endeavors can only prepare the ground for it, see Romans 11,6.
The more this fundamental option penetrates man's actions - his being - the more he experiences his own self as a gift and is less tempted to admire himself. True virtue is therefore a praise of the Holy Spirit, Who IS the Giver of all good things and Who IS the One Who renews the face of the earth and the heart of man.
Fundamental options and eschatological virtues
a. Humble thankfulness
The centre, the heart of every Christian life is the holy Eucharist (Last Supper), in and through which we offer up thanks and praise, in union with Christ, to the Father.
Humility is not just an attitude of sinners, it much more, for Christians, a co-execution of the attitude of the Son of man. Thankful humility is the fundamental choice of Christ, Who has come to free us from pride and arrogance. A true Christian fundamental option without this dimension is impossible.
Humble thankfulness is the heart of the Sermon on the Mount, 'Blessed are the humble' (see Matthew 5,3) - blessed are those who view everything they are and have, as a gift of God the Father and know themselves to be authorized by the Holy Spirit to pass on everything to their neighbors. An important study of this subject is the Magnificat of Mary (see Luke 1,46-55, see also Matthew 11,29).
Humility before God is the praise of His mercy - God had mercy on me a sinner and in His inconceivable love He chose me.
The false fundamental choice of pride and arrogance is the beginning of decay, inner emptiness and the gradual estrangement of all spiritual powers - the eyes of the humble are cast down in the knowledge of their true worth; the eyes of the proud are lifted high in self exaltation - "whoever exalts himself will be abased, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted," Matthew 23,12. Those who elevate themselves on the throne of their hearts debase God, whose rightful place they take.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus called - Luke 10,21; Matthew 11,25f.
The memory of the proud is full of hurts - he cannot make a clean sweep ... the good cannot shine into his darkness.
The proud cannot know thankfulness, because he cannot acknowledge ... the good of others
The proud cannot experience healing, because he cannot forgive. See Question 18 /II.
b. Creative hope
While humble thankfulness opens the free flow of positive past experiences,* hope opens the horizon for the future. Hope unites the disciple ever deeper with Christ, Who was, is and will come - the Christ, Who is the way into the future. Hope grants us clear vision and determination as co-workers of God in the work of creation and redemption - which are a continual process.
*Everything I had to go through contributed to forming me into what I am now and everything I am going through is contributing to what I will (have to) become – Christ-like.
Hope is a courageous Yes to the command of constant conversion and growth (see 1 Corinthians 13,7).
Alertness and readiness
The here and now is the store-house of the future. Alert readiness is a creative Yes to the offer of the present hour of salvation - it is the fruit of thankfulness and hopeful trust in God. Alert readiness frees us from a dispersed awareness, superficiality and day-dreaming. The eschatological* virtue of readiness is seen in the prophetic prayer: 'Lord, here I am, call me; here I am send me!' Compare Ephesians 5,14-18.
*Eschatology is a branch of theology dealing with the final things, that is, death, judgment and the final destiny of the soul.
Alert readiness allows us to see the present moment in the light of the great salvation-events of the past and in the promises for the future. As we make our great (important) life-decisions we are in the tension of the past and future - between salvation-facts and promises - these will therefore have a bearing on our decisions. These (past and future in Christ) will enable a creative faithfulness which will be an answer to the faithfulness of God, acting in History. Because we 'see' His faithfulness of past times, we have confidence for the future - acting according to the Signs of the Times. (See The Witness of the Times) As Christians we must remain in this tension otherwise we will lose sight of the will of God for us.
d. Joyous tranquility -
the believer made a clear fundamental choice in the light of the mysteries of salvation, so everything will be seen in the light of the resurrection of Christ - because in the power of the Holy Spirit everything will be transformed and become the hope of our own resurrection in Christ. The joyous certainty of our salvation will grant us, in the midst of trials and tribulations, the experience that "The rejoicing in the Lord is our strength," Nehemiah 8,10. This end-time attitude will enable the followers of Christ to accept moment by moment the challenges of life without being anxious about them (see Matthew 6,25). Those who are living during the great events of our present end-time salvation-history, will not be weighed down by 'detail' difficulties - be alert for great happenings, preparing for the eminent return of Christ! This end-time calmness is a sign of the great freedom to which Christ calls His followers at this decisive hour - helping them not to avert their eyes from His Coming! See Matthew 25,1f. The great end-time gift of God for His People is inner freedom (peace) and reconciliation within the Body of His Son - one of the great signs of the times. Compare 2 Corinthians 5,18f; Matthew 12,39;24,32f.
The Christian receives these eschatological virtues as a gift of the Holy Spirit - his contribution is a faithful life in obedience to the Spirit of the Redeemer, Whose return we expect.
6. Still born fundamental intentions
Narrow-minded care for ones own salvation - a dead end
a. The conversion from sin into searching for ultimate fullness of life cannot mean neglect of legitimate self-interest. The inborn longing for joy (peace) and salvation can help our progress in the love of God and neighbor.
Conversion will follow a gradual process whereby man, at first, will love God for his own sake; but if the conversion was a genuine one, he will have the urge - guided by the Spirit - to grow more and more in love and obedience toward God and toward his neighbor.
As he slowly starts to taste how good the Lord is, he will continue to move to the second stage, that is, to love God also for His sake.
The third step is to love God solely for His sake - this is a stage where man can grow into infinity, that is, this growth can never end on earth - nobody will become perfect in this earthly existence.
The Christian educator has to know of the dynamic of this development. It is important to know that growth in the love of God must have a parallel growth in the love of man - one is not genuine without the other. This subject is continuing in Question 18 - ' A satanic misunderstanding of the fundamental option.'
b. A gradual or sudden loss or gain of God's friendship Painting by Sarai - Sin began in Paradise
The fundamental choice in different men and in different phases does not have the same firmness. A fundamental option for the good, which is already firmly established in the fundamental attitude, cannot be easily destroyed.
It will be true that a transition in the fundamental option against God to a friendship with God normally needs a certain time of preparation.
The turning away from God also usually needs a long period of time and will be prepared by ever deepening venial sins (see Question 18)- these sins will at first weaken important fundamental attitudes, virtues, in such a way that they indirectly question the importance of the fundamental option.
We will consider two different possibilities of estrangement from God. In one case someone, rather seldom, commits a sin knowingly and with full awareness and so contradicts and loses God's friendship. He throws away his freedom and his entire existence will be shaken. The more frequent case is when someone loses his freedom, friendship to God, in a gradual way, by a chain of venial sins undermining his fundamental choice - the last step, a grave sin, is then the final step in breaking relationship with God. Every free decision, be it for good or evil, sets a process in motion - it is not in itself a complete act.
If the sinner has made his break-away from God, then all further sins will partake in this fundamental decision - the previously built-up fundamental (mental) attitude will be demolished.
The other way around, after a fundamental decision for the good, the construction (building up) of a positive fundamental attitude will take place.
a relatively small thing be the cause for a mortal sin?
It is a fact of life that there is no objective borderline between a mortal sin and a venial sin (compare Question 18). This is valid for everyone regardless of age, psychical development, mental and spiritual state (developed, under-developed or even falsely developed or sick conscience) and culture. Generally speaking, it is very unlikely that a relatively insignificant matter could be a cause for mortal sin. The word relative is important, because the moral)-standard of the persons involved can greatly differ. We have to remember that to commit a sin one has to fulfill the following criteria: The act has to be done voluntarily and in full knowledge of the wrong it presents.
No one can give a generally valid definition for mortal sin, valid for everyone. The extent of individual freedom, the necessary extent of knowledge required to commit a mortal sin, must be considered.
The objective norm, based on the commandments, is a necessary yardstick for every Christian and we have to pray all the time for God's grace and guidance to enable us to live within His norms. This subject continues in Question 18 - 'Conversion in the light of the fundamental option.'
16. What is conscience?/
The sanctuary of creative faithfulness, freedom and peace
This question will also be inter-connected with the Question of sin (13) and with the question about 'freedom'.
Within his conscience man discovers the law, which is not his creation, but which he has to obey. It urges him to do good and omit evil. The law of God is written in the heart of man and it is his privilege to obey it. It is according to this that he will be judged (see Romans 2,15f). The conscience is 'located' in the centre of man, in his Holy of Hollies, where he is alone with God and where His voice speaks to him directly. Here man discovers that law which has its fulfilling in the love of God and neighbor. Through his conscience the Christian is linked to the other members of the Body - united in the search for the common aim, that is, eternal salvation for the individual Christian, building up the Body of the community of the Saints, and prepare for the Coming of Christ. The aim for all Christians must be to perfect their hearing - to clearly discern the inner voice of the Lord and to follow it.
It is never to late to become what God wants you to be(come)!
1. Conscience and imitation of Christ
a. To know each other and to be free for each other
Conscience is a very special form of knowledge and knowing - it is a knowing in the innermost sanctuary, where man can encounter God as He really is. This knowledge is given only to those who are 'actively' listening - that is, accepting and doing what is heard.
Our deepest being is an echo of the Word, in which we are created, a call of the Master, who invites us to be free in Him and so find ourselves. Our conscience is alive through the Word, which called us into existence and qualified us by the Holy Spirit to partake in His truth, light and love. The healthy conscience of a Christian has the Word-answer structure - a creative two way street consisting of receipt and answer. We Christians see this in the light of the Incarnated Word.
In the depths of our being we experience that we can be ourselves only when we are disposed to answer the One who called us by name. The sensibility of our conscience grows in the light of our divine Master, who teaches us not only from the outside (Bible, Church) but also within, through the Holy Spirit. The efficacy of our conscience will depend on the ever deepening listening to the whispering voice of the Lord.
Our conscience has also another dimension - the dimension of a listening-together - the members of the Body cannot listen just by themselves - it is much more a corporal-listening. This active listening takes place in a mutual giving-one-self in love - in a mutuality of knowledge and conscience. In a certain sense of the word, this is the Church - a mutual searching, listening, walking together, loving one another and following the Master. In the Church, God calls us individually to Himself but also together.
Those who are listening alone are in great danger, a great spiritual danger. Not one of us alone is immune to error - Christ wants every member to be built into the discipline of the Church in which the opportunity to be heard and also a to hear go hand-in-hand.
b. Conscience in Holy Scripture
Old Testament - 'the heart of man' is animated by the Spirit of God - here is where man experiences an inner urge to seek God's will and fulfill it (see Isaiah 6,9f;29,13;51,7; Ezekiel 36,26).
For the Semites the heart is the seat of thought, emotion, feeling but also of moral judgment. The 'leb' (heart) encompasses all dimensions of human existence. The term 'leb' indicates the entire human being. In it the actual person is to be found (see Judges 16,15.17f; 1 Samuel 9,19).
As man makes his decisions in 'leb,' we can use this word also for conscience (see Job 27,6; 2 Samuel 24,10; Jeremiah 17,1).
An important connection of the Old and New Testament concept of conscience is to be found in Romans 2,14-15 -- the word 'heart' and the Greek concept of conscience explain each other (see also Romans 2,16; Tit 1,15f; Hebrews 9,14;13,18; 2 Timothy 1,3).
2. A Biblical reflection
a. The comprehensive view of conscience
The dynamic of our conscience* has to be seen as 'an answer by our entire person to a benefit or hurt (right or wrong; kindness or rejection)' - we are, in our depths, extremely sensitive toward anything or anyone who endangers or furthers our wholeness and integrity.
*Conscience is a mental faculty that prompts us to do right and by which right and wrong are distinguished, esp. with regard to our own behavior or motives – but also of others.
In our entirety we are created in God's image and nothing endangers this image more than the disintegration of the our inner life.
The power of Recognition, the Will and of the Emotions are not 'beside-each-other,' rather they constitute a unity in the depth of our being - they form an image of the divine mutual penetration of each-other – the Trinity (Triune God). See below and Question 13.
To the image of God...
God the Father Who is the well of love and all life (He is life Himself), the Word Who expresses received love and the Holy Spirit, Who is the mutual love of the Father and the Son - are dynamically in-each-other and for-each-other, three Persons in one nature. This mutual penetration of each-other (perichorese), this characteristically Trinitarian unity is the archetype for our uninjured inner unity (never perfect in our fallen condition). This is the deep-well of our conscience, from which it draws -- the dwelling place (inner sanctuary) of the Holy Trinity.
The Christian who has the urge in his conscience for inner wholeness has the real sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit - Who by working in him will gradually renew him and his environment - family, church-community and more.
The above described unity, better to say striving for unity, makes the tragedy of sin even clearer. Sin splits not only our will but the entire person. The entire person is threatened - self-will (willfulness) is in a deadly struggle against the entire human being craving for truth, goodness, purity and inner unity. The inner self protests against the splitting up and disintegration and struggles against an egoism running after an idol.*
*Placing anyone (even oneself) or anything above God.
The laws of God are written upon our hearts - we can discover their beauty and integrating power mostly within the community of believers. See Jeremiah 31,31-33. Jesus brought the law to perfection (see Matthew 7,12).
The concern for the correct judgment of conscience must have high priority
The creative expression of conscience and its dynamic towards good and truth depends on a range of conditions:
1. The health and integrity of conscience -- striving for inner unity and openness (see treatise below);
2. The firmness and clarity of the fundamental option (see Question 15/18);
3. The fundamental attitude e.g. thankfulness, hope, alertness, readiness, inner peace as an expression of becoming united with the Supreme Love;
4. Mutual respect, that is, respecting the conscience of fellow members of the Body;
5. An environment which invites creative freedom and faithfulness;
6. Actual faithfulness and creative freedom in searching for the truth, the good and the readiness to act accordingly.
b. Wholeness and the erring conscience
It often happens that the conscience errs because of entrenched ignorance. This cannot be maintained if man exerts himself enough to search for the good and the truth.
It can also gradually become blind to the truth and accustomed to sin if one lives knowingly in sin.
With regard to objective truth and value-scales the human conscience is not infallible. An error of the conscience-judgment is possible without a sense of personal guilt. In such a situation, because man did strive, according to his best knowledge and conscience, for the truth and good, he is not guilty of sin - "for whatever does not proceed from faith (conscience) is sin," Romans 14,23; this implies that the 'honestly' erring conscience (subjectively) cannot cause man to sin. This conscience is subject to correction - here is one of the important roles of the community of the saints, the Church.
We do not wish to give the impression that the erring conscience is usually guiltless - man is obliged to strive to educate his conscience, be diligent in searching for the truth, not postpone his conversion, correct his past erring/sinful views, etc.
The man who is constantly in the process of conversion, has opened his heart for the inner voice of the Spirit and the Church. He is willing to correct and be corrected, in God's eyes he lives a pleasing life. A sign of the integrity of the conscious-decision is inner peace and a growing sensitivity to new possibilities to do what love and justice demand.
c. The confused conscience
Man facing a decision whereby it seems that there is no other way to act and do good without sinning:
a. The decision has to be postponed (if it is possible) in order to consult others;
b. When it is impossible to postpone the decision, there are two options - do not act at all or if action is unavoidable do what seems to be the 'lesser offence.'
Moral-education must help to develop the power of distinction by not just showing what is good and what is bad, but also showing the value-scale within the good.
3. A view of the stages of development of conscience
We will differentiate between three phases of the enfolding of moral consciousness and conscience:
1. Moral learning as an essential aspect of childhood;
2. Experimentation as part of puberty;
3. Moral consolidation as a task of adults.
Phase 1: Every educator needs to be aware of the importance of this stage -- on the one side the child should not grow up without adequate moral values. On the other side the child has to be led gradually (according to developing understanding) into the knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge cannot basically (and successfully) be imparted in any other way but by loving, teaching in words and deeds (personal example). Life education will enable the child to comprehend and accept the given values.
Phase 2: This period is characterized by awakening critical thinking. Young people will learn to understand ideas and learn to consent to ideals which they were not able to do at an earlier developmental stage. In a healthy search they are looking for values which makes a commitment desirable.
Phase 3: On the one hand, the acquired values have to be consolidated; on the other hand learning will never end - our learning is never complete. In this phase, it is necessary that the conscience follows the Holy Spirit and the instructions of the Church - a building up and a being built up in the Body of Christ is the task not only of the individual Christian but also the Church.
4. A specific Christian formation of conscience
a. In Christ - under the law of faith
A true Christian conscience develops to a creative faithfulness, freedom and faith in Jesus Christ (see John 17,3).
A faith filled with hope and trust, proving itself in love, will give a Christian conscience deep foundation and true freedom (compare 1 Timothy 1,5.18f;3,9; Romans 3,31).
A true Christian conscience is not based on a dead catalogue of faith-teachings and obligations -- what gives strength to the fundamental option, develops Christian attitude and makes the conscience alive, is a life in the Lord.
A mere cramming of definitions of faith without being linked to Christ - a knowledge of faith without a fundamental commitment to the Lord will not build Christian conscience.
"You are not under law but under grace," Romans 6,14
Who assigns first place to the law and moral obligation and second place to the grace of Christ, reverses the right order and undermines the genuineness of Christian conscience-experience. Life in Christ means at first to be drawn to Him and to the Father by the Holy Spirit - to a life of praise and thanksgiving.
Moral-teaching and education of conscience will become the Good News when we are integrated into the experience of faith - an experience of the infinite love of God.
A Yes to a life under the 'law of grace' means for all that we live under the magnetism of love: This means a constant shifting of accent from the prohibited (the written Law of the Old Testament) to the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5,1f, see also Hebrews 10,16) to the 'aim-commandments' (see Matthew 5,43f), to the concrete opportunities to serve God (see Luke 10,25f).
b. The catechumenat (an Early Church discipline, preparing candidates for baptisms)
The seriousness of Christian life and commitment requires from all who wish to enter into it, that they are properly prepared - knowing what it is all about, that they have the time and opportunity (preparation) to make the commitment Christ expects from them. The preparation for all this takes place within the Church. The instruction is called catechumenat, the candidates are the catechumenen and the teacher is the catechist.
The Christian learns to know his Lord and to follow Him - he learns to become a member of the Body of Christ, the family of God and then asks and receives the sacrament of baptisms. After baptism on Easter night (the way of the Early Church) he will partake for the first time in the celebration of the great Mystery of the Church, the celebration of the Eucharist (Last Supper). He receives the Body and Blood of Christ, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant (see 1 Corinthians 10,16.11,27). The new Christian now experiences the self-giving love of Christ - which he will learn to show towards his brothers and sisters in Christ and to his enemies (see Matthew 5,44).
c. The gift of discernment
The Christian conscience is anchored in Christ, in faith in His grace, in the knowledge of His presence, in thankfulness for His gifts, in the co-execution of His love toward all.
One of the most important gifts the Christian should ask for is the gift of discernment - but this gift will be given only to those who are 'anchored' in Christ. It will grow in them as they grow in Christ - it will enable them more and more to know (discern) the mind of Christ.
5. Sin and being whole
The Bible knows of the connection between sin and illness, especially mental and spiritual illness.
a. Flight into moral hair-splitting and necessity for justification
The man who resists the call of the conscience for active love will turn aside to moral theorizing (man cannot live in sin) to justify himself. As he continues to live against the voice of his conscience he will less and less be capable of recognizing the path of love. In his self-deception he will exhibit 'conscientiousness' in a thousand unimportant things - this is nothing but a deception. He will scrupulously avoid making small mistakes (looking righteous) while ignoring The Commandment itself: The love of God, while 'exerting' himself to 'help' others; the love of justice, while he is claiming to 'help' the victims of prejudice, etc.
b. The dark energies of strong characters
A strong, highhanded self-willed person tends to (try to) over-power the conscience and tries to dictate or compel it through manifold reasoning. He even manipulates his memory: "It spoke the proud to his conscience `you could not have done this'; and the memory gives in and says `thus I have not done it.'"
c. Loss of joy and peace
Persisting in sin diminishes the ability to perceive (or discover) the good and to accept it. Living in sin must result in loss of inner harmony and peace.
d. Loss of dignity
It is important to preserve one's dignity and acknowledge the dignity of others. This will all become impossible for those who lose sight of the good and the true - you cannot live in untruth and preserve your self respect.
e. Sinful loss of freedom
Our freedom can be endangered or even lost through the sins and errors of others. Abuse of authority can hinder or even block the functions of conscience - but nothing can do as much harm to our spiritual life and our inner freedom as our own perverted decision(s) and persistence in them. The loss of freedom is all the more as man deranges his conscience by unrepented sins and by persisting in this condition.
f. A catalogue of sins against freedom and spiritual health
- Not to care for the freedom and dignity of others;
- Methods of education which strive for passive subordination and uniformity instead of growth of ability in moral responsibility - there is no room for initiatives and creative freedom;
- To avoid taking responsibility for one's own life;
- Forms of authoritarian rule - demanding an uncritical obedience;
- To manipulate (directly or indirectly) ones own and the conscience of others;
- Not to listen to the voice of the Church and not to strive for the gift of discernment;
- To split up the Church - which ever way it may be done;
- Join the strong and oppress the weak;
- Forms of education suppressing creative freedom and faithfulness.
6. Repentance and the 'born again' conscience
The conscience can be deranged and weakened but can not be totally erased unless it be through sin 'against the Holy Spirit' (see Matthew 12,31f; Hebrews 6,4f) - the hardening of the heart is such that repentance is no longer possible.
It is an essential message of the Gospel that God can and will 'rejuvenate' the conscience of a penitent sinner. As soon as the sinner, under the influence of grace, turns to God the restoration of his inner integrity and unity will begin. The penitent sinner can hope, in the purifying power of the Blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit that his conscience will be purified from dead works (see Hebrews 9,14).
One of the greatest dangers to the integrity of our conscience is in postponing repentance and conversion.
7. Conscience in view of the conscience of others
a. The for-each-other of conscience in general
Conscience is a form of existential* knowledge which confronts us in others also. It is a knowledge of our own wholeness in view of the conscience and wholeness of others. A healthy conscience enables a healthy relationship with others and with the community - a mutual healthy relationship will greatly promote the development (or healing) of the conscience -- the importance of an intact Church-life!
*Relating to our existence
A genuine neighborliness -- a meeting of two ways of experience in a congenial awareness; a mutual finding of each-other in the uniqueness of identity; in mutual respect of conscience -- a process of mutual liberation is brought about -- in this process, being true to one-self, the mask can fall.
b. The for-each-other of conscience by Paul
See Romans 12,14; 1 Corinthians 10.
8. Conscience and freedom of religion
a. The state
The state must guarantee the freedom of its citizens - the limits of this freedom* are the laws of God and such laws of the state as are in accord with the divine will - one's freedom is limited by the freedom of others.
* True freedom has no limits imposed from outside, it 'limits' itself -- love has no boundaries.
b. Recognition of the dignity of every man
Church and state must be interested in the recognition and promotion of the dignity of all men. The protection, freedom and education of conscience makes a peaceful living-together possible.
The more the state protects and promotes the responsible searching for the truth the more it will enable its citizens to grow in mutual respect.
Freedom of religion - respecting the religion of others: We need to distinguish, for the sake of truth, between a civil tolerance and a dogmatic tolerance.
The former is absolutely necessary for a peaceful co-existence, the latter we consider unchristian - we are under divine obligation to lead all men to Christ. Therefore we must teach the truth!
c. In favor of a genuine faith-decision and free proclamation of faith
God calls all men to His service in the Spirit and truth - therefore they are all obliged but not forced to follow this call. God respects the free will of His intelligent creatures - even to their doom. They have the genuine choice to turn to Him or against Him. But because The Way to Him is given via His
Son, man is obliged to search for and follow This Path. The Church, in the interest of all humanity, has to be free to proclaim This Truth.
d. Priority of freedom
Christ does not want submissive slaves but friends (see John 15,15).
We shall never manipulate anyone under any circumstances - not even under the pretense of religion* - this would be a betrayal of the truth with which Christ entrusted us, and the love of Him.
*Religion is man reaching out to God. Christianity is God reaching out to man – Christianity is not a religion.
e. Prophetic service in the Church
The Church needs the service of her prophetically gifted members. The prophetic utterance of the members of the congregation has to be discerned by the Church. An oppression of the voice of the Holy Spirit would lead the Church (as it done in the past) away from the truth and creative freedom; this would lead her into the slavery of the world. Prophecy in the Church has an important role in building up (and correcting) not just the conscience of individual members but also that of the congregation.
g. Freedom of Christian education and education to freedom
Genuine freedom is not an adversary of the truth, but rather its ally. It is imperative that freedom of Christian education is guaranteed - it is the divine right of the Church to teach, to inform, to form Christian character, to be the salt of the society.
The training to freedom, encouragement to live freedom is the heart of our effort - God granted us free will and it is our great privilege to answer His call in freedom.
9. Church-authority and the for-each-other of conscience
A well-educated conscience is a high authority for everyone. Without respecting this authority there is no real worship of God in Spirit and in Truth. The conscience reaches out by its high commitment to the for-each-other of conscience: The conscience needs light and encouragement from the authorities of the Church, the Apostles, their delegates, the Prophets, etc. (see Ephesians 4,11f).
The creative power of the People of God is needed by all the Apostles, who constantly watch for the Coming of the Lord and convey their experience in the every-day life of the Church: 'It is the Lord, who is calling us now' - this calling of the Lord is always a concrete one, corresponding to the need of the moment.
Church and every member of the Body needs The authority who can infallibly
give answers to current and often pressing questions. Common welfare also
demands loyalty and faithfulness to the leading-officers of the Church. (If we
wish to explore the roots of this authority then we have to look to Christ,
from whom this authority directly originates.)
10. The deranged and fearful conscience
The main root of disorder is to be looked for in the loss (or never found) of the living contact with the love of God and the neighbor. Healing will need the help of others - it is a two way street: A loving approach from a fellow Christian and a new turning-towards which brings a liberation from ego-centricity.
It is imperative to convince the self-centred brother that God wants his healing; to let him see the necessity of his contribution (turning-towards) and help him, in the mean time (healing will be a process), to bear his cross patiently for Christ's sake - teaching the sense of Christian suffering.
17. Does the Law versus faith?/
Norms, Commands, Laws
There exists a tremendous difference between a moral which presents norms with the emphasis on 'you shall' or 'you shall not' and a moral which is characterized by the principle (axiom) 'we want to assimilate the Gospel into our lives.'
a. The normative value of creative freedom and faithfulness
The greatest gift which flows out of the divine freedom given to us, is God's own love and the human ability to lovingly answer and convey this love to others. Love is first and for all a gift in which God shares Himself. But this gift is bound by the 'norm,' that is, we can partake in this love in proportion to our free creative co-operation and thankful faithfulness. This all-embracing 'norm' has many itemized aspects - this we understand when we learn what Christ has made us free – for free to follow Him in all aspects of life.
'The impossible ethical ideal'
The love which Jesus lived and transmitted to us also through the life of the Apostles, establishes for the follower of Christ two different kinds of norms, which of course are related to each other:
1. The 'border-commandments' (prohibitions and fulfilling-commands), the minimum without which it is impossible to remain in love;
2. The 'aim-commandments,' the normative-ideal, 'the impossible ideal,' compare the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5,1f and the teachings of Christ starting with the "but I say to you" (Matthew 5,17-48) and end with the summary statement "love one another as I have loved you" (John 15,12, see also Romans 8,2;12,1f; Galatians 5,22f).
The law is given that grace will be sought after and grace is given that the law may be fulfilled.
c. Co-responsibility and civil obedience
See Romans 13,3-6, but also Acts 4,19.
d. Covenant-morals and Church-law
stated before, the divine Master does not want slaves but convinced friends.
For this reason He tells what He has heard (received) from the Father (see John
15,15). His law is rooted in the gift of the Covenant* which emphasizes the
responsibility not only toward God but also co-responsibility of all
for-each-other and among-each-other.
*Covenant is an agreement between two parties – here between God and man.
The Church, which was founded by Christ, has the transferred mission to bring all nations to Him by proclaiming the Gospel which will convince man of the truth, the truth that 'we can, will and have to live according to the Good News.' The laws of the Church, which are derived directly or indirectly from her Master, are formulated to help believers to find the law written in their hearts, Romans 2,15. To help them on the path to perfection - in transformation into an 'alter-Christ' (Christ-likeness). The Church has the right and the duty to prepare her children to meet the Lord!
18. What is sin?/
See Question 15
The wage of sin is ultimately eternal death - painted by Sarai
Sin can only be fully understood in the light of God-given freedom. For this reason this question will be organically connected (interwoven) with the Question concerning 'inner freedom'.
I. The God-given freedom...
a. The gift and burden of freedom
We understand freedom as a gift and as a task - a God-given task and gift. As such it enriches but also obligates - it is not indifferent and not an equi-distance between good and evil: It is a freedom for the good!
b. Christ, the free gift of the Father
The ultimate freedom of Jesus on the cross
The commission of Jesus from His Father was to reveal the length and breadth, the height and depth of His love. Jesus did this through communicating - teaching, caring, loving - at a time and amongst a people in the grip of the spirit of rebellion. In this spirit He was delivered to be crucified. As man played the 'last trump-card' of his rebel-freedom, he has given (unintentionally) the drama of crucifixion the highest meaning, that is, the ultimate revelation of the love of God. This became the uttermost possibility of man to entrust himself into the loving hands of the Father and to give-him-self for his fellow man. In His last prayer on the cross, offering His prayer for His persecutors, Jesus revealed the culminating-point of creative and faithful freedom (see Luke 23,34).
On the cross, Jesus reveals Himself as freedom incarnate - He sacrificed His life as a gift to the Father, as a token of freedom. Through the death of Jesus human life receives its highest meaning - the highest worship of God, that is to sacrifice one-self to God and for one's fellow man.
The resurrection of Christ is the attestation and revelation of the freedom of Christ and a sign of our liberation. Those who take part in the life of Jesus and give themselves as an offering will also participate in His triumph, the triumph of the ultimate freedom.
c. From slavery to freedom in Christ
1. From theft of freedom to the gift of true freedom - see Question ' What is inner freedom and how can I obtain it?'
With his freedom, which man received for the good, he sins against his Creator, he misuses his freedom. The sinning man takes his freedom upon himself to oppose God. The deepest root of sin is the theft of freedom, the refusal of thankfulness.
Freedom is in chains because of this theft. The transition from that chained freedom to true liberty is conversion from self-glorification to conformity with the loving will of God.
The Christian knows the limits of his freedom. The more thankfully we receive this freedom from the Father, the more we participate in the freedom of the resurrected Christ - the reality of the forming of Christian freedom is in the here and now, anything standing in the way of this process is irreconcilable with our resurrection-belief.
2. Freed from the slavery of the law, free for the law of the Spirit
Our passionate concern is liberation from the slavery of the law - it is a liberation which does not make the Christian lawless, rather sees our home in the Spirit-law, which grants us life and freedom in Jesus the Christ, see Romans 8,2; 1 Corinthians 9,21.
We are not enemies of the law, but we know that we cannot have an idolatrous relationship with it - the cult of the law and tradition makes one blind to the, in Jesus Christ, approaching Kingdom of God.
For almost 2000 years "false brethren secretly infiltrated" the Church. They are a continual threat to our freedom, which we have in Christ Jesus - they brought the Church into "bondage", Galatians 2,4. They managed to frustrate the effort of the Spirit by giving pre-eminence to the law and traditions. All churches are guilty of this - one perhaps more then the other! It is eminently important to free us (to be freed by the Spirit) from this bondage and see everything as an undeserved gift of the Father - and this in the light of Jesus Christ.
Christ is not the Servant of the law. He is Lord over the Sabbath and over the entire Mosaic law and tradition.
The history of the Church is a 'living' example of the enslaving of God's people, to the frustrating of the work of the Spirit by returning to Old Testament legalism and structure. The reason for the worshiping of law and tradition is to be found in the unwillingness of man to be entirely dependent on the Lord of the Church and to be led by His Spirit. See also question 8a. The Church of the Remnant is the way for the Spirit to free His people!
The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount with its aim-commands (Matthew 5,17-48) is not simply an intensification of the old law, but rather the completion of the Covenant of Love. We must regain the freedom of the Children of God - otherwise we will suffer the same fate as the contemporaries of Jesus, who, blinded by the worship of the law and tradition, could not see the suffering of their brother, Luke 10,25f, and ultimately they could not see the New, the Savior - they were left behind and still live in darkness... Churches be aware! History will repeat itself! See the book: 'The Witness of the Times.'
The Old Testament is a Covenant of Bondage made in the blood of animals (see Hebrew 9). The New Testament is a Covenant entered into by the Blood of Jesus - it is the Covenant of Freedom in the Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God is poured into our hearts (see Romans 5).
3. Free from enmity, free for the Kingdom of Love
The illness of sinning man has deep roots. He sees in God a threat to his self-glory. He is constantly looking after his own 'freedom' and so he is in conflict with his fellow man. The slavery of the law and of lawlessness have their common roots in selfishness. Liberation through Christ allows us to experience the entire creation and ourselves as a gift of God - in this we experience that we are gifts for-each-other and that we can give our-selves in love to-each-other. So we find the right order in our lives and the right relationship, the relationship God intended us to have: "All are yours; and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3,22f). In this p r o c e s s we will gradually obtain our liberty - we will be partakers in the freedom of Christ, the liberty to pour out ourselves for others in love.
The believer, who is led (let himself be led) by the Spirit, understands that the laws of God are binding man to make him free.
As the believer learns to see the commandments and ordinances of God with a view to his life in Christ, so will he discover the emanations of The Liberating Law - "love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13,34). According to this, Christian freedom in its essence is not loyalty to laws (important as they may be), but rather faithfulness to Christ and in Christ to oneself and to one's neighbor. We see in the ordinances of God a releasing wisdom - free to serve Him and each-other.
In the slavery of sin we see a hindrance to genuine love; it is an enemy of true love, because it denies love - 1. the love of God and 2. the love of the neighbor as one-self (observe the all-important sequence).
4. Free from fear, free for trust
Jesus did not promise to preserve us from all sufferings and failure. But if we are faithful, so will He also be faithful and will free us from all forms of fear, which lead us into selfishness and into alienation.
The fearless openness of Christ is rooted in trust in the Father. This trusting relationship with God was the basis of His relationship with man. As we enter into this trust-relationship with Christ, we will be liberated not only to trust God but also to a trusting relationship with our fellow man - the re- l a t i o n s h i p of trust (as the concept indicates) is a two way street: It flows from God to us and from us back to God, better to say, from us to our fellow man and through them back to God. In the giving and receiving of trust we have to encounter each other so that it may flow to and from each other (through God) in order to liberate us from slavish fears.
5. Free from power and free for the service of salvation
The power of riches - the rich man (Mark 10,17f) is called to fellowship and at the same time to liberation from his enslavement to his riches. Because he still lives under the Old Law, he cannot perceive that the all embracing Law of Charity demands the use of temporal goods in the service of the neighbor, and so he remains enslaved. While he has all the material advantages, his fellow man, the People of God, are hungry. He boasts that he observed all! the commandments of God, while he is on a war footing with The Commandment "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22,39).
In the lust for power - which is a common and a very dangerous source of evil, that is, to rule over others, we need to see that we have not yet opened ourselves to the liberating, saving love of Christ. We do not yet accept the equality of ALL men as a likeness of God.
6. Free from strings of death, free for genuine life
Life, which reveals itself in the death and resurrection of Jesus, is freedom from death in many ways - He transformed death into life, for Himself and for us, who believe. Death has now for us a new meaning. As we decide for Christ and in Him for a liberating meaningful death, we decide for our resurrection - the unbeliever has to decide for a meaningless death.
The Christian who, out of God's hands accepts death as a gate to total union with Him, reaches the peak of his freedom - he imitates Christ, who accepted death out of the Father's hands to save us. This freedom transformed death into resurrection and eternal glory, see Philippians 2,8f.
Who is therefore liberated from the fear of death is free for genuine life, a life with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit - a life which will flow into resurrection, into eternal glory and not eternal death.
d. We believe in the Holy Spirit
A truly creative freedom has to be based as well on Christ as well as on the Holy Spirit. Only through the Holy Spirit can we be "born again," John 3,3f, to a new life in Christ, to a life of sons and daughters of the Father. Sanctification through the Spirit is a call to a freedom and faithfulness, which is reserved only for the Children of God. The freedom of Jesus, His life, His suffering, His sacrifice on the cross was the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the personification of liberty and the Liberator - He is filled with the Holy Spirit: "The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3,17).
1. The freedom of the children of God
The freedom of the Son is an expression of His being with the Father (see John 10,30) - the infinite being-free for love in the partaking of the freedom of the Father's "breath" the Holy Spirit (Spiritus). From unity with the Father flows the freedom of the Son, who gives Himself and so returns to the Father - the full circle.
"He (the Father) destined us in love to be his children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he has freely given us in the One (Jesus) he loves" (Ephesians 1,5f). We are accepted into the eternal circle, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - we become adoptive Children through Jesus in the Holy Spirit - we are partakers of the freedom of the eternal God!
Christian life is an overflow of freedom and love to the glory of God. Our response is the Eucharist = thanksgiving (Last Supper), in which, united with the glorified and self-sacrificing Christ, we offer our selves up to God - we have fellowship = communion with Him and with each-other -- the other members of the Body.
"All things are permissible for me" (1 Corinthians 6,12) - this is the freedom of those who are in Christ.
"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Romans 8,28) - the freedom in love!
2. Freedom in the Holy Spirit and readiness for mission (sending).
The spiritual man does not belong to himself in a selfish way, but rather he gains his true self in the service of the Kingdom of God. He learns from Christ, glorifies God in love in all the creative ways love can find (see 1 Corinthians 6,20).
The law of the Spirit liberates us from slavery of sin-solidarity into a life in Christ, that we may serve each-other free in a new order which the Apostle calls a "law of faith" and to an existence denoted as "not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6,14b, see 2 Corinthians 3,6b.17).
This all belongs to the inner constitution of freedom, which comes via the Spirit from Christ. The favored place for the working of the Holy Spirit is in the community of the Saints, who are free for-each-other and are free together for the sending - to be the light of the world and salt of the earth, see Matthew 5,13f. Led by the Spirit, they are constantly finding creative new ways to help others - and in this way they are a blessing for all whom they encounter.
II. The Church of Christ as embodiment of creative freedom and faithfulness
When we say Church, we need to look first at our selves, whether we fulfill our commitments in forming the Spirit-freedom in the Church - do not ask what the Church can give you, but rather what you can contribute to the life of the Church of Jesus the Christ.
It belongs to the central calling of the Church to be the Community of the Saved, that is, the freed man who has made the commitment to assist in the liberation of others and partakes in the converting of the earth to Christianity. We expect the Church to gather such men/women, so that she is the salt of the earth - constantly pointing the way to true freedom in Christ and preparing fallen creation for the return of the Christ, the Bringer of ultimate freedom!
The Church is the embodied sacrament of freedom, an example not just of the saints but also of those yet to be liberated from their chains - the slavery of sin, obsession, idolatry, spiritual self-mutilation.
III. The fundamental decision
The question newly phrased
Everything, the individual decisions, the quality of freedom, etc. depends on The fundamental decision - we emphasize the lasting value of the decision for the final aim. Here we see man in his total dependence on God as he is challenged to be faithful to his final aim.
God the Creator and Redeemer calls us into being - we can answer only as one who is being called by Him - our entire life, decisions and attitude will depend on our answer.
This decision process is vitally shared by the environment - it is of immeasurable value for the development of everyone (especially of children and young people) if they can grow up, develop in a community where man's fundamental decision for God becomes a growing reality. A perverted environment can do irreparable damage to spirit, soul and body.
The fundamental decision takes place at the 'first conversion,' it is a fundamental change of direction and a fundamental adjustment to God and His will - this is followed by the 'second conversion' which is nothing more than a continual adjusting and direction-correction, a progressive consolidation of our fundamental decision and an unfolding of fundamental-attitudes.
1. Encounter with the ultimate freedom and the knowledge of good in the depths of the soul
Human freedom is partaking in the freedom of God. God's freedom is light and truth - an infinite freedom of love for Love. The self-knowledge of the Father in His essential-likeness is the Word 'breathes' Love - the Holy Spirit. The second Person of the Trinity, the Word (see John 1), is not just any kind of word, but really existing word; the Word partaking in the 'breathing' of Love - the mutual relationship (love) of the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. Man will be partaker (tapping into) in this eternal divine process of giving and receiving as soon as he makes his fundamental decision to become an alter-Christ, that is, live the true freedom God intended him to have - this freedom is a loving knowledge of the received good, stretching out for greater love - not just to receive but also to give...love becomes true love by giving it away. See Question 13.
The received good is Love, received from God - "who loved us first" (1 John 4,19). The 'received' love is a love continually given - we can receive it in a degree of being healed - inner healing, healing in the depth of one's soul is essential. A consequent walk with God will allow Him to give more healing love and in return we are gradually healed. This 'circular' process can be interrupted only by our leaving the 'circle' - leaving the freedom God has given us.
This freedom is partial, because we are not whole - we have to continue to encounter God's freedom and continue to discover the good/deep with-in-us, "The kingdom of God is in you" (Luke 17,21) - it is a process.
2. The heart of man
The 'heart' of man is the centre of man, the meeting-place for love which builds bridges in human relationships and where man co-operates with the love of God. A heart which is closed to receiving love is sick - full of hate, anxieties, rejections - cannot experience the freedom God intended it to have.
God is not satisfied with external performances. Our actions have to originate from the depths, from our 'heart,' where God dwells (if He is received), where the fundamental decision is made - made for God and the good - from this 'place' comes decisive direction for our individual decisions: "My son, give me your heart" (Proverbs 23,26). The 'heart' has to develop a spiritual-feeling for the right and pure intention - this can be developed only in a heart which made a fundamental decision for God and lives in this decision.
God's greatest sorrow is the "hardened heart" of His people (Mark 6,52; John 12,39f; Isaiah 6,9f;29,13).
"Put on Christ" (Galatians 3,27, see also Romans 13,14), is nothing else but to receive Christ in faith - to receive Him as a saving truth, a giving one self to Him and so live in Him.
The false fundamental option of pride and arrogance is the beginning of decay, inner emptiness and the gradual estrangement of all spiritual powers - the eyes of the humble are cast down in the knowledge of their true worth; the eyes of the proud are lifted high in self exaltation - "whoever exalts himself will be abased, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23,12). Those who elevate themselves on the throne of their hearts debase God, whose rightful place they take.
"Be filled with the Holy Spirit," Jesus called (Luke 10,21; Matthew 11,25f).
The memory of the proud is full of hurts - he cannot make a clean sweep...the good cannot shine into his darkness
The proud cannot know thankfulness, because he cannot acknowledge...the good of others
The proud cannot experience healing, because he cannot forgive
... the cure - "be filled with the Holy Spirit"
Humility is not just an attitude of sinners, it is much more for Christians, a co-execution of the attitude of the Son of man. Thankful humility is the fundamental option of Christ, who has come to free us from pride and arrogance. A true Christian fundamental option without this dimension is impossible.
3. A satanic misunderstanding of the fundamental option
A great danger to the healthy development of the fundamental option is to confuse the Christian option with a social or a humanistic one. That is, the Christian option is an unswerving, striving for a constant deepening relationship with God - the social option is, often enough under the guise of Christianity a striving for inner and outer security. The humanistic option reverses the two great commandments (Matthew 22,37-39) - the second becomes the first and often enough, the first commandment does not exist at all.
4. The choice of a falsely understood loyalty and freedom
The supposedly good fundamental options, mentioned above, are nothing but a search for self-satisfaction* and inevitably will lead to idolatry** - one blocks the flow of grace.
* Searching for security apart from God leads to a self-searching without end - no one can find lasting peace, no one can find one's-true-self apart from God.
The humanist who puts his neighbor before God does not see that his deepest motive is a selfish one. He is looking for self-satisfaction: How self satisfying it is to help...
True Christian help is a help for God's sake!
Every Christian is a humanist but not all humanists are Christians.
** Anything or anyone elevated above God is an idol! whatever holy name (person or thing) the intention may have.
5. Mortal sin and grievous sin (after the fundamental option - before that, man lives in permanent condition of mortal sin)
The perverted option, an option against God and the good always occurs under the appearance of good, but it leads to slavery, lies and self-deception - such an option leads into a grievous sin.
The fundamental option against God which is always a direct rebellion against Him leads the sinner into idolatry. We will call this mortal sin. It is mortal because the spirit of man dies and it leads to eternal death if there is no change in the fundamental option!
Not every sin is a mortal sin, that is, a direct fundamental option against God. Venial sins can have different degrees, like a sickness it can increase in gravity to the point of death. See Question 18.
In the final analysis, every sin is a turning away from God - only in different degrees. A turning away damages (depending on the degree - destroys) the existing fundamental option for the good. Every sin is a serious matter! - venial sins can gradually undermine the fundamental option. They will all be the more dangerous, the more they lead into general descent and decay. The most consequential venial sin is the putting off of conversion and the lack of readiness to repent. After a performed fundamental option against God a total conversion is necessary, which is much more difficult than to change one's ways before this happens.
We can compare the condition of one in a venial sin to a sick person who constantly postpones his surgery!
IV. Some basic definitions
In the Hebrew language, we find different expressions for sin, or sinning, which we may translate in the following way: Rebellion, human error, deviation. These concepts show a conduct, an attitude in human life; a deviation from the aim of man set by God; a rebellion against God; a culpable disobedience or a human error.
In the account of the original sin, see Genesis 3, we may come to see the essence of sin. Without any doubt, the first sin of man was more than disobedience. The child-like relationship with God was replaced by an arbitrary knowledge of good and evil. In the fall of man the self revolts and reaches out to a freedom which is alleged to be withheld from him. Man turns away from God and turns to the forbidden fruit and by this act elevates his ego to the throne.
This Fall of man (original sin, first sin) is a crucial event after the Creation. Through this mankind was lost to Paradise (i.e. the perfect harmony with God, himself and his environment) and communion with God. Here a fundamental-decision was made which affected the whole human race, see Romans 5,12f. Every individual sin has its origin and model here. In this blameworthy condition man lives as his own prisoner; he cannot overcome sin, rather he is subjected to it (see John 8,34).
The consequences of the Fall of man are hereditary in our soul, spirit and body. Instead of harmony with God and with ourselves, a gap comes into being between God and we are divided within ourselves as well. The consequences of sin are shown by James in his letter, 4,1-3.
Sin is never a private matter, not even when nobody knows about it. It always has consequences for the entire environment; it has a social character. Through my own sin I create a sinful environment.
We are separated from God not only because of our own guilt but also as a result of the guilt of other men who lived before us.
Through the preaching of Jesus, the sinfulness of man is made more evident (see Luke 5,8), because Jesus proclaims the supremacy of God, see Mark 1,15. God stretches out His hands through Jesus and wants to bring the lost man home (see Luke 5,10;7,37f;19,1f). Jesus overcomes sin in the name of God (see Matthew 9,2). He is authorized to do this because He bears the sins of the world (see John 1,29; 1 John 1,7; 2,2). Because of this He gives us freedom (see John 8,34.36). Through His works Jesus divides the human race because He calls them to a decision (see John 15,22-24;9,41). Whoever remains in his sins and rejects Jesus will perish; whoever confess his sins and accepts Jesus will receive forgiveness (see John 8,24; 1 John 1,9).
The transgression of God's Commands is objectively always a sin. Subjectively it is only a sin when one transgresses it (them) knowingly and willingly. We cannot deal here with the problem of a falsely educated conscience (misled conscience) and false knowledge: We recommend competent and regular Spirit-filled spiritual guidance. The Church of the Remnant will provide it.
Confession of sin: Jesus gave His disciples the authority to forgive sins (see John 20,23). The confession of sin to God and to man, i.e. to an authorized spiritual advisor of the Church of Jesus the Christ is one of the conditions for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible recommends the confession of sins to our spiritual mentor (see James 5,16) - by doing so, we are also learning the essential virtue of humility! Confession is an acknowledgment of our sins to God and to a brother (e.g. to our mentor). The forgiving of sins is in the name of Jesus (Acts 10,43) - Jesus is the one who will forgive our sins.
Repentance "I am sorry" (see 2 Corinthians 7,9-10). Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins. And without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation!
V.. Conversion in the light of the fundamental option
1. What is conversion?
a. Total change and justification
The change from a fundamental option for evil to the good is a very important and creative act, which is, in a very special way, a gift of God and requires a high degree of thankful response. Theologically we call this turning to God justification (see Question 23 - 'Epilogue,' 'Some thoughts on the theology on grace'). It comes about through the magnetism of divine love and through the power of grace of the Holy Spirit; He touches man in his very centre (heart) through which man experiences a unique freedom - he encounters God! The 'total' change is a gradual process, prepared by the same God who will grant grace for the last decisive step - the cooperation of our free will is anticipated.
The starting point for changing can be (for instance) a fear of punishment (imperfect motive) - however, only when man allows God, in His great love, to draw him, can the great change begin. It takes place in the great moment of justification, which coincides with the fundamental option for the good. The man who is still in the phase of imperfect motivation, receives, even before he made his fundamental option, grace to believe in good and to begin to trust God. The slavish fear of punishment will gradually turn into a 'holy fear,' the fear that he might insult God, the beloved Father.
b. The continual conversion
We will differentiate between the First justification and the justifications which follow. The first is part of the fundamental option. The continual conversion of man is a continuous process - during which the fundamental option is strengthened and it penetrates all our capabilities, yes, our entire life.
It is impossible to expect that a man who made his First step in turning to God, becomes immediately an integrated personality - this step follows a long and hard battle against one's own ego. The fundamental option proves to be genuine in the growing awareness that further growing, cleansing and greater integration is necessary.
The Spirit of God will accept us where we are - taking into consideration our entire life (history), our wounds, scars, perverted tendencies, restraints and also our inner rich experiences. The initial fundamental option will slowly be translated into corresponding attitudes and deeds - progress happens in a way of compromise, however so that there is an openness for further growth. This compromise is entirely different from the conscious false compromise of those who are not striving for the transfiguration of their lives.
c. Becoming conscious of the state of grace
It is absolutely necessary to say Yes to continual conversion - within this process the soul will become more and more aware of his deepening relationship with his Creator and Savior. The knowledge that the Bride is constantly seeking the Bridegroom and the striving of the Bridegroom to please the Bride will result in a growing confidence in one's state of grace - that is, in the growing knowledge of being saved. This maturing process should last till our last breath.
We should never judge the state of grace of others - it is God who judges- we do not! "Judge not, that you be not judged" ( Matthew 7,1). The one who is permitted to make such judgments and is capable of doing so is the Church - the College of the Apostles. See 'the Key-authority' Matthew 16,19 and also Matthew 18,18.
Creative freedom and faithfulness in Christ happens through a continual process of conversion.
2. Let us speak of sin
a. The good news of conversion and the evil of sin
The Holy Scriptures show us that the negative reality of sin is not and cannot be the last word of Christian Theology - the history of Original Sin receives its meaning from the promise of redemption. Sin has its place only in the entirety of the Good News of reconciliation and conversion. Sin is a great evil and injustice, an outcry of ingratitude because it is a rejection of the grace of reconciliation and conversion. But sin is no final destiny, because conversion is possible.
God the Father has revealed in Jesus Christ His saving justice through a love which does not owe us.
The essence of sin as lawlessness can only be understood in view of the New Law, which is grace and love (see Romans 8,2; 1 Corinthians 9,21; Ephesians 2,1-5).
In sin man loses his true self to his selfish ego and to the powers which enslave him. God, through His gift of the grace of conversion liberates man to find his true self - to faith, hope and love into the Community of Believers.
Man was and is called to salvation and into the Covenant of Salvation Compare Genesis 3,15;9.8f;17,1f.
As Christians we know that we are, through the Blood of the Covenant, redeemed and we acknowledge Christ as the Covenant and the Law. For this reason sin is an assault on Christ, the Saving Covenant.
The freedom which God gave us is not for doing evil but good. In our fallen state the possibility to misuse our freedom is given.
Temptation is something entirely different from the possibility to sin. The temptation of our free will comes from
I. our own evil inclinations, which are derived from past individual sins and collective sinfulness;
II. the evil one (see 1 Thessalonians 3,5); Matthew 4,3 and his followers).
The decisive answer of the Christian to different temptations is not a flight into the desert but a single-minded commitment, in union with the Saints, to build up the Body of Christ and work* on his own and on the salvation of others; to work for the decontamination of this "evil generation" (Mark 8,38) and to prepare for the Return of the Christ.
* 'Work' is a cooperation with grace.
c. The penalty of sin ------>
prophetic painting by Sarai
In His saving justice and mercy He calls the sinner to return home (see Romans 2,4f). The sinner is cruel to himself if he refuses the grace of conversion. He gradually destroys his own freedom for the good. He sins against himself (he punishes himself), against his salvation and his wholeness and loses his identity (see John 8,34).
3. Sin and sins
In the Holy Scripture sin is power, is estrangement, is the twisting of the human heart, is a negative fundamental decision.
a. A sin-catalogue
See Deuteronomy 27,15-26; 1 Corinthians 6,9-10; Galatians 5,18-21.
b. The different types of sins
Revealed truths - denial of the truths;
- Obedience - transgression of (just) laws;
- The virtue of worshiping God - the denial of thanking and worshiping – idolatry.
c. Sins of neglect
The neglect of the good which one could of have done does as much harm to the Kingdom of God and the spiritual growth of man as doing evil -- Christian morality is much more than just fulfilling specifically prescribed duties!
e. Sins of the heart
The pleasure in imagining evil (for instance, revenge on someone);
The desire for sinful action(s);
The intention to sin.
4.Sin-concept in the Bible
We are all sinners - 1 John 1,8-10 -- we all fail, James 3,2;
The Decalogue - Exodus 20,1f; The Two Great Commandments - Matthew 22,37f;
The heart - Mark 7,21f;
The hardening of hearts, rejecting God and turning against the Holy Spirit - Matthew 12,31f; Mark 3,28f; Luke 12,10; 1 John 5,16f; Hebrew 6,4f;
Incestuous sin, etc. - 1 Corinthians 5,1.
Necessity of brotherly correction (see Galatians 6,1f; 1 John 5,16).
The borders are fluid between mortal and venial sins (see description above).
4. The incarnate Good News of conversion
Christ, the Son of God, the Son of man is the Living Gospel, the all embracing Sacrament of conversion, the Liberator from sins, the Well of new freedom. He is the Prophet, who not only exposes our sins of alienation but also offers us a home in His truth and His peace. He is the Covenant and the Mediator of the Covenant, the Incarnate Saving Wholeness, who alone can make us free from the harmful fragmented state of sin. To His message of conversion belongs the promise of the Holy Spirit, Who will renew our hearts and prepare, through the Converted, a New Earth.
Christian conversion means to turn to Jesus, have faith in Him, give one's life to Him in trust and love.
Conversion is an unconditional Yes to the Truth, which He is and teaches and to the Kingdom to which He calls us.
19. What is occult?/
Fundamentally we can distinguish four different spirits:
1. The Spirit of God ( the Holy Spirit) - see Question 13
2. The angelic spirits
3. The spirit of man
4.The evil spirits
Pursuing this subject we will have to deal exclusively with the spirit of evil.
The leader of the evil spirits is satan, known as Lucifer (= Morning Star) or dragon, or old serpent. In order to designate his being he will also be called the "evil one." Satan is, in an absolute sense, the enemy of God, His Kingdom and man. As the "prince of the world" (John 12,31) satan is the great opponent of the Messiah.
The fallen Lucifer, who wanted to be greater than God, induced other angels to fall also. These fallen angels are called "evil spirits" or demons in the Bible (Luke 7,21; Mark 9,38; see Isaiah 14,12-15). Through his activities as a tempter, the devil and his followers try to separate man from God (Genesis 3; Matthew 4; Luke 4).
The Holy Bible testifies to the real and personal existence of the devil and his angels. It is a dreadful fact that there are beings, created by God, who are fallen and who are evil in their innermost beings.
The devil, as we have already said, is a "fallen angel who sinned" (2 Peter 2,4; Jude 6; John 8,44). He is a created spirit and as such he is free from the restraint of gravity and matter. The devil is a person - he talks to Jesus as such (Matthew 4; Luke 4); he is mighty (Matthew 4, Luke 4); he has all the attributes of a person - he has a will, feelings, intelligence, etc.
The activities of the devil will be bound during "the Thousand Years Kingdom of Christ" (Revelation 20,1-3). The final banishing of these spirits will take place afterwards (Revelations 20,7-10), i.e. after this Kingdom of Christ (= Millennium).
The devil rules with the evil spirits (demons) in the atmosphere (Ephesians 2,2;6,12; 1 Corinthians 8,5). The activities and involvement of the lost souls are not quite clear.
The working of the devil will be increased towards the end of world history. His control will be mostly visible during the reign of the antichrist. Satan who imitates God (his sin being that he wanted to be like God), will do so increasingly at the End of the Time:
- "The great whore" (Revelation 17) is nothing other than the imitation of the Church of Jesus the Christ;
- "The false prophet" (Revelation 19,20) is nothing other than the imitation of John the Baptist (Luke 3) and the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11);
- "The antichrist" is nothing other than the imitation of our Lord Jesus the Christ: Jesus was tempted but He withstood the temptation (Matthew 4; Luke 4); the antichrist will accept the offer of satan (Revelation 13). Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28); satan will fake the resurrection of the antichrist (Revelation 13,3). Jesus redeemed the world (1 Timothy 2,6); the antichrist will promise freedom and security on earth. Jesus is "the Lamb of God " (John 1,29); we read about the beast: "it had two horns l i k e a lamb" (Revelation 13,11b). He would even mislead the saints, i.e. the Children of God, if he could.
The wages of occult is slavery - painted by Sarai
hidden, secret, concealed (things of transcendental nature). This concept became
the collective name for all supernatural things and powers which are available
to man through satanic forces.
Satan is the 'great miracle performer.' He performs his undertakings in secret, in darkness, in the occult. That is the reason why we Christians have to do our works in the light and everything that is hidden we have to bring to light.
Satan is the 'great monkey.' He can not create anything new: He tries to imitate everything that God does. The Divine Gifts (1 Corinthians 12) such as prophecy, the gifts of healing, etc. have e.g. also their satanic counterparts. In saying this, we are already in the realm of occult practices, from which we can mention only a few: Fortune-telling (predicting the future) in its different forms; 'nature-healers'; astrology; oscillation; black- and white magic; sorcery; spiritism (to get in touch with the dead through a medium) in its different forms.
In addition to what we said above, it is vital to avoid any organizations which are 'secret' or whose roots are in pagan occult practices. e.g. Freemasonry.
It is important to examine the teachings, manipulative practices, ethical behavior, hidden and religious teachings of religious groups. Christianity is not a religion (see Question 9).
See additionally: Leviticus 19,31;20,6.27; Hosea 4,12; 1 Chronicles 10,13; Exodus 34,5-7.12-17; 1 Samuel 15,23; Hosea 4,12; Galatians 5,20f; Revelation 21,8, etc.
Man can live within the reach of God or within the reach of satan. In this way he may get his direction from God or from satan. If somebody makes use of satan's services, i.e. commits idolatry, he draws God's punishment* on himself (Leviticus 19,4;26,1;19,31;20,6.27; 2 Chronicles 18,21; 1 Chronicles 10,13; Hosea 4,12; Nahum 3,1-5; 1 Samuel 15,23) and will be demonically subjugated. It is important to know that he who relies on God, will be led by God; but he who makes use of satan's services (knowingly or unknowingly) will be afflicted by his poison whether he knows it or not, he will have his destiny determined by satan. Many people refuse to serve God because they are afraid to lose their 'freedom'. However they become slaves of demons.
us examine this from the New Testament points of view: Those who follow God and
live in His presence will receive His protection. Those who follow their own
way (there are only two ways we can follow: God's or satan's)
will place themselves outside His protecting 'umbrella' and will be satanically
attacked. Satan will have a free hand to do what he pleases with them – he will
torment his subjects. To stop this we have to repent and by doing so, return to
follow God's will.
Man is created in God's image, in a three-fold manner, he is Trinitarian (triune). He is composed of body, soul and spirit. God creates the soul of man immediately at the time of conception; it is an immortal 'substance.' It is a 'higher life principle,' which makes our body live, unfold and sustains all life processes. Within the entirety of the person, the soul is understood as life itself.
In biblical vernacular the human soul and spirit are separate from each other. The human spirit is the coordinating and guiding power in man. It binds together man's body and soul into a living unity.
If God wishes to get in touch with man, He will do this through His Spirit, which then gets in touch with our spirit. The Spirit of God "gives witness to our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8,16).
If we give our life to God, we are inviting His Spirit to unite with our spirit. The more we follow God the deeper will be the unity between His Spirit and our spirit. We would like to mention here that one of the essential attributes of the divine working is that God respects our free will, i.e. He does not force, He recommends. His quiet and tender voice can be perceived only if man turns to the loving God a n d to His Son Jesus and renounces the evil spirit.
When an evil spirit finds access to a man and unites itself with the spirit of man, we speak of subjugation (satanically, demonically burdened). If we turn away from God, as already mentioned, the evil spirit finds its way into our souls. The deeper we get involved with the evil one, the deeper will be the unity between this spirit (spirits) and our spirit. This subjugation can be intensified till it becomes possession. The characteristic of any demonic spirit is its compulsion. For this reason, with an increase of the subjugation, freedom will progressively vanish. By possession (the highest degree of subjugation) all the thoughts, feelings and desires of man will be occupied by the evil spirit(s). The goal of possession by the evil spirit is to eliminate the communion of man with God and to cause him to do evil. The evil spirit receives his name according to his working in man: E.g. if he induces him to speak (do, live) lies, we call him a false or lying spirit (1 Kings 22,22); if he lures him to unclean deeds, he will be called an unclean spirit (Matthew 10,1; Mark 1,23; Acts 8,7), etc. Those spirits are constantly tormenting their victims in that they force them to deeds which are very often distasteful even for the oppressed (often) making them ill in body and soul. For a few examples of bodily/mental illnesses caused by evil spirits see Luke 13,11; Matthew 9,32; Mark 9,25; Matthew 12,22.
Reasons for demonic subjugation:
One's own sins, sins of our fellow men and ancestors. Liberation from these evil spirits is possible only through the victory of Christ on the cross. The subjugated person must repent, must renounce satan and give his life to Jesus.* Jesus liberated the possessed (Matthew 4,24; Acts 10,38) and gave His Apostles authority to do the same (Matthew 10,1; Acts 5,16). This authority is for everyone who received such service in the Church of Jesus the Christ from the Holy Spirit and through the authorization of the Church. Those who are demonically oppressed need deliverance ministry to be released from the grip of satan.
Question 13 - the condition for "Receiving the Holy Spirit."
It is very difficult to understand but nevertheless true that a man can have God's Spirit and at the same time evil spirit(s). Not only the history of single individuals but the whole of church history testifies to this fact. In order to avoid this, one should be liberated from subjugation before one receives the Holy Spirit.
The liberated Christian should live continually in the presence of God and put on the "armor of God" (Ephesians 6,11-18). The believer should repent again and again and purify himself through confession of his sins (James 5,16; Acts 3,19; John 20,23). The liberation of man (from evil spirits) will not happen directly through Jesus or the Holy Spirit but through the authorized servant of the Church of the Christ. Christ gave His Church (Apostles) the authority for this service and this will be practiced in His Name through the authorized servant of His Church (Matthew 10,1).
The confession of sin is very important. We have to confess our sins to God but also to our spiritual leader. For such position (function) the mentor needs the authorization of the Church of Jesus the Christ. Jesus gave His disciples the authority to forgive sins (John 20,23). We will mention two important facts which also make confession before the brother/sister so essential (James 5,16):
1.Every Christian should have a spiritual advisor (as does the advisor himself): God does lead man directly, but most of the time through our brothers and sisters;
2.Humility is a very important virtue. It is important to exercise it. The confession of sin is a very important and effective act of humility.
Walk in the light of Christ
The New Testament is full of statements showing us that we have to live in the Light and have to bring to Light everything in our lives. See Matthew 6,22; Luke 11,34f; John 3,21;11,9f, etc.
As a contrast to this, the Bible shows that satan operates in darkness, in secret.
It is important to realize that we cannot live in both realms. No one should mislead you, anyone whose life (or any part of it) is not in the Light is not serving God. You cannot serve two masters (see Matthew 6,24).
How does satan work?
One of the most frequent and effective ways satan operates is in confusion. He very seldom comes out openly with a lie, he hides it. He mixes lies with truth - the truth will be used as a facade, which hides the lie. People will see the apparent good and will swallow the lie. Even if we participate unknowingly, the hidden lie will limit us in our spiritual growth, hinder us in our walk with Christ - He will never lead you in a path of half-truth. Walk in the Light!
20. Can you teach me how to pray?/
Dear friend in Christ! The entire Christian life is a prayer! Here I can offer you only some suggestions. I would advise you to turn to a spiritually mature Christian, who would lead you into a meaningful prayer-life. The Church of the Remnant will provide her members with spiritually grown-up mentors.
What is prayer?
Prayer is a surge of heart, turning towards heaven. It is a cry of recognition of love, embracing both trial and joy.
Prayer as God's gift
Humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledged that "we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom 8,26), we are ready to freely receive the Gift of Prayer.
Christ is the first who seeks us and asks us to let Him in (see Revelation 3,20) - His asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a response to the plea of the living God.
See John 7,37-39;19,28; Isaiah 12,3;51,1; Zechariah 12,10;13,1
Prayer as covenant
Whether prayer is expressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays.
According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. The heart is the dwelling-place where I am; it is the place to which I withdraw - only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully.
The heart is the place of truth, it is the place of encounter, it is the place of covenant.
Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father.
Prayer as communion
In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father, with His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with the holy Trinity.
The universal call to prayer
Man is in search of God. All religions bear witness to man's essential search for God (see Acts 17,27).
is not a religion but...
God calls man first - our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals Himself and man responds, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation. Following are a few examples:
God's promise and the prayer of Faith - a few examples -
When God called Abraham, he went forth as the Lord had told him (see Genesis 12,4); Abraham's heart was submissive to the Word and so he obeyed. Such attentiveness of the heart, whose decisions are made according to God's will, is essential to prayer, while the words used count only in relation to it. Abraham's prayer was expressed first by deeds: As a man of silence, he 'constructed an altar' in his heart to the Lord at each stage of his journey. Only later did prayer in words appear: A veiled complaint reminding God of His promises which seemed unfulfilled (see Genesis 15,2f).
Thus one aspect of the drama of prayer appears: The test of faith in the fidelity of God.
As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, "who had received the promises" (Hebrews 11,17), was asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham's faith did not weaken (see Genesis 22,8; Hebrews 11,19) - so the father of believers was conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare His own Son but will deliver Him up for us all (see Romans 8,32).
Prayer restores man to God's likeness and enables him to share in the power of God's love that saves multitudes (see Romans 8,16-21).
Moses and the prayer of the Mediator
the promise of God to His people begins to be fulfilled, the prayer of Moses
(for example, compare Exodus 32,11ff) became the most striking example of
intercessory prayer, which will be fulfilled in "the one mediator between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2,5).
The initiative is God's (see Exodus 3,1-10) - as Moses attuned his will to that of the Savior God and struggled for answers the Lord confided His ineffable name.
Thus the Lord spoke to Moses face to face - see Exodus 33,11; Numbers 12,3.7-8.
From this intimacy with the faithful God, Moses drew strength and determination.
Moses interceded for God's People - intercession is a mysterious battle:
God is love, righteous and faithful; therefore, He cannot forsake His Covenant. But He is also just and the fulfillment of His covenant can take an unexpected turn: "...out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Matthew 3,9).
The Son of God who became the Son of man learned to pray in His human heart. He learned to pray:
- From His Mother;
- In the words and rhythms of the prayers of His people - in the Synagogue and in the Temple; but most importantly
- From His Father (see Luke 2,49), that is, His filial prayer.
Jesus teaches us how to pray
When Jesus prays He is already teaching us how to pray. But the Gospel also gives us Jesus' explicit teaching on prayer (Matthew 6,9ff).
Jesus (through His Holy Spirit) takes hold of us where we are and leads us progressively towards the Father:
From the Sermon on the Mount onwards, Jesus insists on conversion of heart: Reconciliation with one's brother, love of enemies, prayer for persecutors, prayer to the Father in secret, purity of heart and seeking the Kingdom before all else (see Matthew 5,23-24.44-45;6,7.14-18.104.22.168).
Once committed to conversion, the heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. Faith is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to "seek" and "knock," since He Himself is the Door and the Way (see Matthew 7,7-11.13-14).
forms of prayer:
Blessing and adoration
Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: It is an encounter between God and man. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: Because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.
Two fundamental forms express this movement: Our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless Him for having blessed us (see Ephesians 1,3-14; 2 Cor 1,3-7; 1 Peter 1,3-9); it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father - He blesses us (see 2 Corinthians 13,14; Romans 15,5-6.13; Ephesians 6,23-24).
Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us (see Psalms 95,1-6) and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil.
Prayer of petition
Ask, beseech, plead, invoke, entreat, cry out and 'struggle in prayer' (Romans 15,30; Colossians 4,12).
By prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. Christians know that we have turned away from our Father - our petition is already a turning back to Him.
See Romans 8,26
The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking for forgiveness (see Luke 18,13). It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer.
Christian petition is centred on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come! There is a hierarchy in petitions: We pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. By prayer every Christian 'works' for the coming of the Kingdom.
Prayer of intercession
Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the One Intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men.
See Hebrews 7,25
See Romans 8,26-27
Intercession - a heart attuned to God's mercy. Christian intercession is a participation in Christ's pleading (Hebrews 7,25;4,14ff) - it is an expression of the communion of saints.
Prayer of thanksgiving
Thanksgiving characterizes the prayer of the Church, especially in the Eucharist.
The thanksgiving of the members of the Body participates in that of their Head.
As in the prayer of petition, every event and need can become an offering of thanksgiving.
See 1 Thessalonians 5,17; Colossians 4,2
Prayer of praise
Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for His own sake and gives Him glory quite beyond what He does, but simply because HE IS.
Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them towards Him who is its source and goal.
See Romans 8,16
See 1 Corinthians 8,6
See Acts 2,47;3,9;4,21;13,48, etc.
The Word of God
The frequent reading of the Bible is indispensable for all Christians - prayer should accompany the reading of the Scripture, so that a dialogue can take place between God and man.
Prayer to the Father
There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the Name" of Jesus - Jesus is the way by which the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray to God our Father.
Prayer to Jesus
The one Name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in His incarnation: JESUS. It contains all - God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke Him and to call Him within us.
See Philippians 2,6-11
See Mark 10,46-52
"Come, Holy Spirit"
"No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12,3). Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by His grace.
The Church invites us to pray to and to call upon the Holy Spirit:
"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love" (a prayer of the Church).
The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all.
cloud of witnesses
West African art