About Our Cover ...
This 1000-year-old, hand-lettered Greek manuscript (shown open and closed) contains the four gospels of the New Testament, and is part of the Ambassador College rare book collection.
Your Bible reveals that Jesus Christ came to CORRECT the "fault" with His FIRST marriage and to confirm a NEW MARRIAGE COVENANT! The "New Testament" part of your Bible spells out the terms or conditions of Christ's SECOND marriage agreement. It tells exactly WHO the bride will be and WHEN Christ will marry her!
I FEEL I must immediately have a real heart-to-heart talk with my growing family of students, sharing with you thoughts that came to my mind -- while they are still fresh and vivid.
It concerns the MOST IMPORTANT thing in life and eternity for you. But at the moment, I was thinking about myself. Every person -- yes, even you -- is his own worst enemy. All my life I have been impelled to fight my worst enemy -- that troublesome inner SELF, which by nature is desperately wicked. I was not born with a mild, submissive, weak-willed inner SELF. Had I been, I probably never could have been used as God's instrument in bearing His message to you. My mother has often mentioned I was a very strong-willed boy; and while I was still young enough to be under parental discipline, I caused her and my father no end of trouble.
Since growing into the age of self-discipline, this same evil, determined inner self has caused ME no end of trouble. And I should add that since I gave that self over to God, it surely must have tried His patience!
That brings us to the point. The thought that came to my mind concerned this very troublesome inner self. How, came the question, can I myself ever become finally SAVED, and inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God, with such a powerful, seemingly irresistible inner force of evil constantly pulling the other way? When God says "there shall in no wise enter into it [the Kingdom of God] anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie" (Rev. 21:27), it surely seemed impossible that I should be able to "overcome," and "endure unto the end."
But the same instant the answer flashed to mind -- GOD will save me! I can't save myself. When I look at this troublesome, naturally evil self, so human and full of faults and weaknesses, so beset by temptations of pride and the flesh, with all its limitations and shortcomings; knowing that to be finally saved I must GROW in grace and God's knowledge -- must develop in righteous holy character -- must overcome this SELF and temptations and weaknesses -- and must ENDURE through trial and test and opposition and discouragement unto the end -- well, when I look at it this way, it seems utterly HOPELESS to expect ever to be saved.
And I wondered, as this thought flashed through my mind, how many of my students are tempted to look at it the same way -- to feel a sense of futility and helplessness -- perhaps to become discouraged and lose faith?
Ah, that's the key word -- FAITH!
Our plight isn't hopeless at all!
Of course, of ourselves it IS impossible to be saved. But with GOD IT IS CERTAIN -- if we yield to Him and TRUST Him. We shall be saved, NOT by our own power to overcome and develop perfect characters, but through FAITH IN GOD'S POWER!
But right here is where 999 out of 1,000 become deceived by the fables of this time. And when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch!
Because we CAN'T save ourselves -- we can't master the evil inner self -- we CAN'T always resist every temptation -- we CAN'T keep God's holy Law perfectly -- and, of ourselves we would fail to overcome, to grow in spiritual character, and to endure to the end; the false teaching is going out that JESUS DID THESE THINGS FOR us -- that we don't need to do them. Millions today believe that God imputes Jesus' righteousness to us, counting us as righteous when we are NOT!
There couldn't be a more soul-damning delusion of the devil! No, Jesus didn't live a good life for you, in your stead! You are not excused from keeping God's commandments, living a righteous holy life, overcoming, growing in spiritual character, and enduring in spite of all opposition, persecution, trial and test unto the end. You and I must actually DO these things in order to be saved!
Here is the great mystery! Since we MUST do these things to be saved, yet are utterly UNABLE to do them, it is natural to conclude either that God sent Jesus to do it for us and excuse us from accomplishing it, or else to become discouraged and be tempted to quit trying.
The true answer is the KEY to salvation!
We can't save ourselves. GOD will save us! But how?
Not by saving us IN our sins -- not by deceiving Himself into counting us righteous by imputing Jesus' righteousness to us while we remain unrighteous -- BUT BY SAVING US FROM OUR SINS, by giving us His very own Spirit -- His POWER to overcome these cantankerous selves, His LOVE to actually fulfill His law, HIS PEACE to avoid strife with enemies and resentment and bitterness at their injustices, HIS PATIENCE to endure!
We can't save ourselves -- GOD must save us! But He does it by CHANGING us, through His indwelling divine supernatural power, from what we have been into the holy, righteous characters He wills to make of us! He does it by forgiving past sins not only, but CLEANSING US from sinning now and in the future!
God does not look upon our hopeless plight -- our evil natures, our weaknesses and inabilities -- and say, "Poor, helpless humans! Since they are unable to master and overcome their evil natures, to keep my Law, to endure trial and test and temptation, and to grow into holy characters; I'll be merciful and have my Son do it for them, and save them just as they are in all their sins."
Instead, God who knows our every weakness, and who Himself is RESPONSIBLE for this human nature in every one of us, sent His Son into the world to proclaim HIS MESSAGE to us that we must yield to GOD'S government over our lives -- that we must REPENT and turn from our FILTH of the flesh and pride of mind and heart. He sent His Son into the world to be tempted in all points as we are -- human as we are -- to prove that a human CAN, with the help of the Spirit of God, live without sin -- TO SET AN EXAMPLE FOR US THAT WE SHOULD FOLLOW HIS STEPS and live also without sinning! He sent His Son into the world to die for us -- not living a good life in our stead, but paying the penalty of all our past sins in our stead -- that we might be reconciled to God, so that we might receive His Spirit, begetting us as His SONS, so that God through the power of His Spirit may CHANGE us from mortal sinners into immortal holy sons of God!
Some hotels and restaurants, catering to tourists who may be in old clothes and dirty from traveling, post a sign, "COME AS YOU ARE!"
The favorite "invitation" or "altar-call" hymn sung by the popular denominations in revival or evangelistic services is "JUST AS I AM."
But BE NOT DECEIVED -- GOD WON'T RECEIVE YOU JUST AS YOU ARE! You can't sit down at His immaculate holy table with your wrinkled, soiled clothes and dirty hands, which symbolically represent the human sinning condition. No, you must be first WASHED in the blood of the lamb Jesus Christ -- and before Jesus as your Saviour and Mediator with God can wash you of the filth of your sins, YOU MUST FIRST REPENT OF TRANSGRESSING GOD'S HOLY LAW, WHICH MEANS TO BE SO SORRY THAT YOU FORSAKE YOUR WAY AND THE WORLD'S WAY, AND TURN TO A LIFE OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S LAWS AND WAYS!
Of course, you'll have to come AS YOU ARE to Christ for CLEANSING from the filth of your past life -- but CONFESSING your filthy, sinful condition, asking HIM to cleanse you and to wash you in His blood, because you can't cleanse yourself -- so that He may present you chaste and pure and spiritually clean to His Father, that you may then receive the indwelling POWER of God WHICH WILL ENABLE YOU TO OVERCOME, and keep God's Law, and live as His sons ought to live!
Jesus showed by His life that we CAN, if we rely upon God in faith for the power to do so, live the way of God's will as expressed in His Spiritual Law! Of Himself, even Jesus said He could not do it -- "the Father that dwelleth in me," He said, "HE doeth the works." And again: "The works that I do shall ye do also."
And so it was that, almost the same instant the temptation to doubt the final result came to my mind as I thought of my own weaknesses, faults, and limitations, the answer flashed strong and firm: "GOD WON'T LET ME FALL!" (Read Jude 24, and II Peter 1:10.)
"He may punish me more yet to chasten and teach me and to make me righteous, but He won't let me fail -- He will impute His very own righteousness by IMPLANTING IT INTO MY LIFE until, through His power energizing me, I'm really living it -- ETERNALLY! "
And that comforting and definite ASSURANCE of the final result, based on God's own unbreakable PROMISES, just warmed my heart and made me feel good clear through -- and so I had to come immediately to the typewriter to share this glorious assurance with all of YOU!
MOST professing Christians have assumed that God's law and His COVENANTS have nothing whatever to do with Jesus Christ and New Testament Christianity!
No wonder so many can't understand why God promised to make a NEW Covenant; with whom the New Covenant will be made; and what terms and conditions will regulate it!
You need to know and ACT on the answers to these vital questions so God can make the NEW COVENANT with YOU! Unless He does, you won't be able to receive the PROMISES contained in THE NEW TESTAMENT -- the WILL of Jesus Christ!
Remember that the Israelites were given every incentive to live by God's royal law of love for hundreds of years. But they failed miserably!
WE are human beings just as were the people of Old Covenant times. WE also will fail miserably if we place our confidence in OUR OWN human power to obey God's law. History THUNDERS its warning to us! There is a very good REASON why we fail to obey God.
Let's be sure we understand it!
God is fashioning and molding man by allowing him to learn by his own experiences, and the experiences of others. God made man a free moral agent in order that he may choose whether or not he will follow God's great royal law of love -- the law which can make him supremely happy.
But man does not have the POWER, of himself, to follow this law even though he may finally choose to do so.
Here is where GOD comes into the picture.
Only one who has a GODLY nature and GODLY power can live in perfect obedience to the spiritual law God has ordained! We do not have a Godly nature now. But God promises to give us, in this life, the POWER to ultimately achieve all we REALLY long for and desire -- the things which come ONLY through living in harmony with His law. But ONLY IF we will realize our OWN weakness -- OUR OWN inability to obey the Royal Law of Love -- and surrender our own wills to Him.
Then He will begin to complete His SPIRITUAL creation of us by begetting us with His Holy Spirit of power and love so we can begin obeying His laws.
When we surrender to God and receive His power to enable us to begin living in harmony with His great spiritual law, all of our unvoiced, scarcely recognized longings and desires will finally be abundantly fulfilled at the RESURRECTION, and we will then be supremely happy -- FOREVER!!
This glorious future CAN be yours!
Notice what Christ warns us about depending upon OUR OWN ability to obey Him.
Jesus Christ explained how we can have eternal life. He said: "If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP the commandments" (Mat. 19:17).
But in the previous lesson we saw that for over seven hundred years of human history, man has PROVEN HE CANNOT keep the COMMANDMENTS. Did Christ, the living Son of God, verify by His next statement the fact that this is IMPOSSIBLE for MAN, OF HIMSELF, to do? Notice what He said:
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God" (Mat. 19:24).
Even Christ's own disciples, when they heard these words, were "EXCEEDINGLY AMAZED," and asked, "Who then CAN be saved?" (Verse 25.)
Christ then revealed THE ONLY WAY by which it CAN be done: "With MEN this is IMPOSSIBLE; but with GOD all things are possible"! (Verse 26.) With God's SPIRIT -- God's love and power placed within us -- it can be done!!
What mortal men -- you and I -- need for salvation is A MIRACULOUS CHANGE of our human nature -- which must begin with our SPIRITUAL begettal by the Spirit of God!
God is the Supreme Creator (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3). He created all the animals, birds and fish. But He made no COVENANT with them by which they may become anything higher. They ARE lowly and will REMAIN lowly.
God has not given them marvelous hands or creative brains by which they can plan, design and build things as God does. These lowly creations of God resemble Him in no respect.
But God made MAN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT! God said, in declaring His PLAN for molding man into His highest creation, "Let us make MAN in OUR image" (Gen. 1:26). God did NOT say He planned to do this with any other of His vast number of creations. God has planned to MOLD ONLY MAN INTO HIS SPIRITUAL CHARACTER "IMAGE"!! And of the dust of the ground God fashioned only MAN in the EXTERNAL form -- the EXTERNAL dimensions or "likeness" -- of God, as we learned in previous lessons.
But God did NOT, at that time, place WITHIN man a DIVINE NATURE whereby we would also resemble God INWARDLY -- SPIRITUALLY. We do NOT YET possess God's DIVINE nature.
Adam had a fleshly, CARNAL NATURE within him -- and like begets like. That's the kind of nature you and I have today! For ADAM is the father of fleshly mankind. So man now resembles God in EXTERNAL form and shape only -- NOT in spiritual character, nature and composition.
God has fashioned man, UNLIKE sticks and stones, birds and beasts, with INHERENT CAPABILITIES for MARVELOUS achievements. He has equipped man with marvelous HANDS that can fashion things; given to man a TONGUE AND LANGUAGE by which he can communicate the most intricate of ideas to his fellowman; and, above all, given to man a BRAIN capable of approaching, to a degree at this time, the very creative powers of God! And God now offers man a covenant by which he can be created in God's very own character "image" also!
Our POTENTIALITIES are so great that we can even become MEMBERS of the Family of God -- for we can ultimately be BORN into the ruling Kingdom of God! These are the plain teachings of YOUR Bible! How WONDERFUL IS God's PURPOSE for mankind!
God inspired Isaiah to say, "O Lord, thou art our FATHER [the One who can BEGET US spiritually]; we are the CLAY, and Thou our POTTER; and we all are the work of thy hand" (Isa. 64:8). We are made of the EARTH and God is FASHIONING US to be like Him. "The first man Adam was made a living SOUL" [PSUCHE or NEPHESH] -- a breathing flesh and blood human being subject to eternal death. But "the LAST Adam [CHRIST -- who, like the FIRST Adam, was the FIRST of His kind -- the Father's NEW kind of SPIRITUALLY begotten and born creations] was made a quickening SPIRIT," having received eternal life and the very nature of God at His resurrection.
You, too, can become one of these new creations IF YOU choose to allow God to create you in His SPIRITUAL "image" (I Cor. 15:45; Eph. 4:22-24) .
Having realized how utterly incapable we are to achieve, of ourselves, the supreme goal that God has set before us, let us now examine the true glories the New Covenant holds out to us. And let us examine the steps we must NOW take in order to receive help through the Holy Spirit of God so we will be PREPARED to enter into the New Covenant marriage with Jesus Christ when He returns.
Now we are ready for the lesson itself.
1. Did Christ, the God of the "Old Testament," promise that He would make a NEW covenant -- A NEW MARRIAGE AGREEMENT -- with Israel and Judah even before Old Covenant Israel had gone into captivity for disobeying His Law? Jer. 31:31. Does Heb. 8:8 also verify this?
COMMENT: Note that the New Covenant was STILL FUTURE when Paul wrote the book of Hebrews.
2. Does the reason that a New Covenant must be made lie in the fact that there was a FAULT involved with the Old Covenant? Heb. 8:7.
3. What was this fault -- was it in the Law? Ps. 19:7 and Rom. 7:12. Since the fault was NOT in the Law, which is "perfect," nor with God who was able to keep His part of the covenant, then must the fault have been with "them" -- the people? Heb. 8:8. Notice especially the first five and last seven words.
COMMENT: The law is PERFECT. But the PEOPLE were WEAK -- SPIRITUALLY weak! Therefore, they did not KEEP THEIR PART OF THE OLD COVENANT MARRIAGE AGREEMENT.
4. But under the terms of the NEW Covenant, what does God propose to do? Heb. 8:10; Jer. 31:33 and II Cor. 3:3.
COMMENT: Under the old marriage covenant, God wrote His laws on two tables of STONE. The people could SEE the law with their EYES, but the LAW was NOT WITHIN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS. The law was NOT A PART of them. But under the terms of the New Covenant, Christ promises that He will make a marriage agreement only with those who are NOW having the principles of His Law written in their hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit.
REMEMBER THIS, FOR IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!! Christ will marry His "bride" -- the collective members of His Church -- only when she has prepared herself by PRACTICING OBEDIENCE to His law.
According to the terms of the new marriage covenant, we must first be tested and proved to see whether we really want to obey God. The Old Covenant, remember, was made with Israel BEFORE she was fully tried and tested. The new marriage covenant will not be made until AFTER we have been tried and tested and are "born again." Then we will be members of the SPIRITUAL Kingdom of God -- Israel according to the SPIRIT, no longer possessing sinful human nature.
The New Covenant is a far BETTER covenant than the Old Covenant was. The OLD Covenant was NATIONAL -- TO ONE NATION ONLY -- to Israel. It promised ONLY TEMPORARY MATERIAL EARTHLY BLESSINGS. IT HAD NO PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ETERNAL LIFE. The Old Covenant Israelites had no promise of receiving the Holy Spirit which could have written God's law in their hearts and minds.
But the NEW Covenant marriage agreement into which we can enter will COMPLETELY CORRECT the fault of the Old Covenant by making it possible for us to obey God's law PERFECTLY in its spiritual intent! For at the resurrection, Christ's Spirit-born Church will be given a completely NEW nature -- the SPIRITUAL nature of God -- which will enable born-again Christians to obey Him PERFECTLY forever! (I John 3:9.) It is then that Christ will marry His PERFECTLY OBEDIENT Church.
1. Is the "Lord" the MESSENGER who came to herald the terms of the New Covenant? Mal. 3:1, last part. Was this messenger JESUS CHRIST? Mark 1:14.
2. Is the message of this New Covenant obviously a part of the GOSPEL MESSAGE -- the good news -- Christ preached? Mark 1:1, 14, 15. Is repentance and belief in the Gospel a part of what modern Israelites must do in order to enter into this New Covenant with Christ? Verse 15. Does Mat. 15:24 verify the fact that Christ was sent only to the "lost" -- the SCATTERED -- "SHEEP" or people of ISRAEL to herald the Gospel of the Kingdom? But did Christ LATER instruct His DISCIPLES to preach the Gospel -- which contains the message of the NEW Covenant -- to ALL THE WORLD? Mat. 24:14 and 28:19-20.
3. Do Gentiles now have any hope of ever being partakers of the promises of the covenants -- the promises contained in the covenants made with Abraham and the promises of the New Covenant? Eph. 2:11, 12. In what way may a Gentile -- one having no blood relationship to Abraham -- come into the New Covenant relationship? Verse 13; Gal. 3:29 and Rom. 11:13, 17.
COMMENT: In past lessons we learned how a Gentile may come into the New Covenant relationship: "IF ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and HEIRS according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). The New Covenant is, in this way, open to ALL peoples of the world.
Notice that this New Covenant is CONDITIONAL -- "if." Both Israelites and Gentiles must SURRENDER THEMSELVES to Christ and begin learning to OBEY HIM (II Cor. 3:3).
But the New Covenant marriage, UNLIKE the Old Covenant, is actually PRECEDED by a WILL -- that is, a TESTAMENT.
4. Did Jesus leave a "testament," or WILL, at His death? Heb. 9:15-17. What is the purpose of Christ's will?
COMMENT: As we learned in Lesson 18, a TESTAMENT IS a WILL -- it declares a person's WILL as to the disposal of his POSSESSIONS after his DEATH.
Christ left, at His death, a will -- a TESTAMENT -- in which all people may become beneficiaries or heirs of His possessions. For it was to the ONE seed -- CHRIST -- to whom this earth was given as an eternal inheritance (Gen. 22:18; Gal 3:16-19).
Christ was the only One who ever obeyed God's Law perfectly and could claim the earth as an inheritance. So it was He who could, and did, leave a TESTAMENT or WILL at His death so that His "heirs" (Gal. 3:29) may also receive, through Him, eternal inheritance of the earth.
Bear in mind that the new TESTAMENT or WILL of Jesus Christ has been in force since His death. But His testament or will has CONDITIONS which we must meet BEFORE we can inherit the promises.
The Greek word for "testament" also means "covenant." Since the new TESTAMENT involves our agreement to fulfill these conditions, it also becomes a COVENANT -- and that new covenant will not be confirmed or established with us -- we won't INHERIT the promises of eternal inheritance of the earth and sonship in the ruling, spiritual Kingdom of God -- UNTIL we are first made IMMORTAL and have God's nature so we CAN'T SIN! (II Peter 1:4; I John 3:9.)
As we learned in Lesson 18, the first part of the Bible should NOT be titled "The Old TESTAMENT." For the question of the death of either party to that covenant did NOT enter into the agreement as it would had it been a WILL -- a TESTAMENT. The Old Covenant was simply an AGREEMENT -- "YOU do this and I'll do that."
The second part of the Bible would then naturally bear the title, "THE NEW COVENANT" -- the NEW AGREEMENT -- for it reveals fully the NEW COVENANT which God offers to the present-day blood descendants of old Israel, and to ALL people of the earth through Christ.
Also, this latter part of the Bible could bear within its title the word "TESTAMENT," FOR "if we are Christ's, we are [considered as] Abraham's seed and [by Christ's DEATH] HEIRS of the promises" to be ESTABLISHED by the New Covenant.
SO -- PROPERLY the title of the second part of the Bible should be, "THE NEW COVENANT AND TESTAMENT." The Greek, in which this latter part of the Bible was originally written, uses the Greek title "Diatheke" which is translated INTERCHANGEABLY as "COVENANT" AND "TESTAMENT."
1. Is Jesus Christ the minister of the New Covenant? Heb. 8:6. Was He to CONFIRM the covenant for one "week"? Dan. 9:26-27. But was His ministry to be cut in HALF? Verse 27. Will Christ COMPLETE His work of confirming the New Covenant in the future? Same verse. Also Heb. 8:10 and Jer. 31:31-34
COMMENT: A "day" in the prophecy of Daniel 9:27 represents a year in fulfillment (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:3-6). Christ ministered three-and-a-half years -- ONE HALF of this prophetical "week."
For three-and-one-half years He CONFIRMED -- spelled out the TERMS of -- THE NEW COVENANT with His disciples who recorded them for us today. By dying for our sins in the MIDST OF the "week," He put the final STAMP on the covenant and made it binding with His blood. Through Him, ALL PEOPLE can now enter into the New Covenant and become HEIRS "according to the promise" which God made to Abraham (Gal. 3:29).
But Daniel 9:26-27 reveals that there yet REMAINS three-and-one-half years of Christ's ministry to be FULFILLED! Let's understand.
When Jesus returns to this earth He will FULFILL the covenant He made with Abraham. Abraham and his SPIRITUAL seed through Christ will then inherit the world and eternal life. Jesus will also ESTABLISH the covenant He made with His spiritual Church BEFORE His return by MARRYING THE CHURCH!
And it is at Christ's return that He will make the NEW COVENANT with His people Israel. For THREE-AND-ONE-HALF YEARS, Christ will complete His ministry to Israel by teaching them His ways and writing His Laws in their hearts and upon their minds by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 8:6-10).
2. Does Rev. 19:7-9 describe the glorious MARRIAGE of Christ, the "Lamb," to His purified, SINLESS Church when He returns? Read also II Cor. 11:2.
COMMENT: All who are born again as spirit beings will, at Christ's second coming, be OFFICIALLY invited to enter into the New Covenant marriage relationship with Him as their husband. This is the way Christ will ESTABLISH or COMPLETE the New Covenant with THEM.
Some may ask, "How can Jesus Christ marry the New Testament Church since He was already married to ancient Israel under the Old Covenant?"
The fact is Jesus Christ is no longer bound by marriage to ancient Israel! That marriage contract has been dissolved! He is now free, according to the laws governing marriage, to marry AGAIN. Notice how.
1. After ancient Israel had disobeyed God's law, followed the customs of the heathen and served their false gods, did the Lord Christ plead with them to turn from their ADULTEROUS ways? Jer. 3:14. Did God "put away" -- DIVORCE -- Israel because of her sins? Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:6, 8 and Isa. 59:1-2.
COMMENT: When ancient Israel broke God's marriage covenant, they were actually committing SPIRITUAL "adultery." They followed the customs of heathen peoples and worshipped their pagan idols instead of the LORD Christ Who was their "Husband."
Because God is HOLY, He does not "co-exist" with sin! Therefore He was forced to separate His "wife" -- ancient Israel -- from Himself. (Isa. 50:1.)
Even though God had given Israel a bill of divorcement for her sins, God was, however, not free to "marry" again according to the Law! Adultery is not a cause for the dissolution of a marriage. That's why the Eternal said, "I AM [STILL] MARRIED UNTO YOU" (Jer. 3:14).
The LORD -- the human Jesus Christ of the New Testament -- was still bound by His part of the conditions of the marriage contract.
These conditions were, however, limited by DEATH! Only the death of one of the partners of a marriage covenant can sever the marriage relationship -- for marriage is binding until death, as we learned in the previous lesson.
Jesus Christ's death on the stake at Golgotha freed Him from His first marriage contract with ancient Israel. The Lord Christ of the Old Testament -- God in the FLESH -- had died! Now He is free to marry a repentant, forgiven, sin-free "spiritual Israel" -- the New Testament Church BORN AGAIN -- when He returns!
2. Who will Jesus marry when He returns? Rev. 19:7. Notice the words "his wife."
COMMENT: Jesus promises to make a NEW COVENANT -- A NEW MARRIAGE AGREEMENT -- when He returns. That new marriage contract will be made with "spiritual" Israel -- converted Israelites and Gentiles -- now born of the Spirit.
This time His wife will remain faithful. Why? Because at the resurrection she will have been born as a perfect spiritual nation into the Kingdom of God. Once born of God, their new SPIRITUAL nature and power will enable them to keep His laws PERFECTLY -- the same laws which are still the terms and conditions of the marriage agreement -- the New Covenant -- Christ will make with His spiritual Church!
Some believe Christ came to "do away with the law." Just what WAS the PURPOSE of Christ's coming, anyway?
Most people are totally ignorant of the MOST VITAL KNOWLEDGE they should know. Those who have set themselves up as ministers have not taught the people the truth, nor do they themselves know it.
HERE'S the truth from your Bible!
1. Did Christ come to "do away with the law" -- to "nail the law to the cross"? What did Christ, HIMSELF, say? HE should know WHY He came. What are HIS words? Mat. 5:17. Do verses 18 and 19 also show He did NOT come to destroy the law? On what two great things does Christ say "hang ALL the law"? Mat. 22:40, 37-39.
COMMENT: God's great Royal Law of Love has always existed. It, with its ten points -- the Ten Commandments -- was in effect from the Garden of Eden. The law stands fast FOREVER. Love of God as revealed by His law will never become obsolete (Ps. 111:7, 8). It is the people who have been unable to bring themselves into harmony with this highest of all laws!!
Christ here REPEATS twice for EMPHASIS that He did NOT come to destroy -- to do away with -- the law.
2. On the other hand, what DID Christ say He came to DO? Mat. 5:17, last nine words. What did Christ MEAN by the words, "I AM COME ... TO FULFILL"? See comment.
COMMENT: CHRIST "FULFILLED THE LAW" PERFECTLY BY OBEYING IT! Obviously by Christ's "fulfilling" of the Law He did NOT ANNUL THE LAW! He DEMONSTRATED the POWER of the Holy Spirit of God which, if placed within man, enables him to fulfill -- to keep -- the spiritual law. For with God ALL things are possible (Mat. 19:26).
Christ was the first-begotten of many brethren. He was a mortal human being, just as you and I, but He was BEGOTTEN of the Holy Spirit of God at his PHYSICAL conception, whereas with you and me, begettal by the Holy Spirit comes LATER in life -- after we have repented of sin, accepted Christ's sacrifice for our sins, and been baptized (Acts 2:38).
Christ came to pay with His own life the penalty of our sins, which is ETERNAL death. He makes it POSSIBLE for us to receive the Holy Spirit of POWER whereby we can FULFILL THE LAW also, and thereby ultimately enter into the NEW Covenant relationship with Him!
With the advent of the NEW Covenant promise of the Holy Spirit WITH WHICH to keep the Law, God can NOW MAGNIFY -- ENLARGE -- His commandments from the keeping of the LAW IN the letter, as commanded under the OLD Covenant, to the original intent that God desired from the beginning in the Garden of Eden.
God can NOW require the keeping of the law in the SPIRIT -- in its SPIRITUAL intent. This is utterly IMPOSSIBLE for carnal man WITHOUT God's Spirit!! But man can have the SPIRITUAL POWER of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this feat, IF he will surrender to God!
And so Christ also came to MAGNIFY the law. This is WHY He said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them in old time [by God's law-givers under the OLD Covenant], thou shalt not COMMIT adultery [PHYSICALLY]: but I say unto you, that whosoever LOOKETH on a woman to lust after her [MENTALLY] HATH [ALREADY] COMMITTED adultery with her in his heart" (Mat. 5:27, 28). NOW it is counted a sin if one lets the THOUGHT of adultery enter the mind, or lets it dwell on sinful acts of any other kind.
In these two ways, then, Christ came to "fulfill the Law": HE, Himself, fulfilled it by OBEYING it, and has made it possible for "whomsoever will" to fulfill or obey it in the SPIRIT, as well as the letter!
1. What PURPOSE has the Old Covenant period served?
COMMENT: It has been necessary for God to MAKE MAN REALIZE, through centuries of experience, the ageless fact that true happiness comes only by living in accordance with God's great eternal law of love; and to make man realize that he is utterly incapable of doing so by his own power.
The OLD Covenant has done just that! Down through the centuries the Israelites have been known as the nation of God. Yet we know that Israel never did keep His law. Thus Israel has become an example to the people of the world that all of CARNAL mankind, of themselves, cannot keep God's law either.
But now God has sent His Son to this unhappy and sin-ridden world with the joyful news -- the "Good News" -- of the arrival of His spiritual power, and the announcement of a NEW Covenant. A covenant whereby we can be BEGOTTEN again, GROW again and, at Christ's coming, be BORN AGAIN -- this time having a NEW and TOTALLY DIFFERENT nature -- a SPIRITUAL NATURE!
2. Each of us must now receive the HOLY SPIRIT which will set in motion the CHANGES that must occur within us before we can be "born again" with the spirit body and HOLY spiritual NATURE we must have so Christ can ESTABLISH His new marriage covenant with us.
But what, in detail, are the conditions we must fulfill in order to RECEIVE the Holy Spirit necessary to help bring about these changes? What does Christ say you must do now in order to receive the Holy Spirit? Acts 2:38 and 5:32.
COMMENT: Here you have the very essence of what you must do now to become a member of the Church which Christ will marry at His coming. Three things are necessary for you to do NOW IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE PROMISED HOLY SPIRIT which places you in His Church (I Cor. 12:13). You MUST REPENT, BELIEVE, AND BE BAPTIZED!
But exactly what does all this mean? Let's understand:
FIRST: You must "REPENT" -- be totally broken up about and SORRY for your old SINFUL WAY of life, and COMPLETELY SURRENDER YOURSELF to the LOVING RULE of God -- for God will save NO ONE He cannot rule.
Christ PURCHASES true Christians with His blood which He shed on the stake for the penalty of their sins so that they need not die eternal death. That is, CHRIST PURCHASES THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO PREPARE NOW TO ENTER INTO THE NEW COVENANT WITH HIM at His coming, and He has promised now to place the Holy Spirit within them.
Those who agree to enter into the New Covenant with Christ thereby agree to become Christ's PURCHASED SERVANTS -- they agree to do His will. And, as "SERVANTS OF CHRIST, doing the will of God," you will be doing His will this time -- unlike those under the Old Covenant -- "from the HEART" (Eph. 6:6). For God will, under the terms of the New Covenant, be inscribing His law "in the fleshly tables of your heart" (Jer. 31:33 and Ezek. 11:19-20), by His Holy Spirit within you! (II Cor. 3:3.)
SECOND: You must BELIEVE that Christ is your Savior, and your present High Priest, and coming Ruler. And you must BELIEVE He will send the Holy Spirit of POWER to help you CRUSH OUT your old carnal nature and CHANGE YOU.
Christ, by paying with His life for the sins of all mankind, has made it possible for ALL to enter into ETERNAL life. No wonder when we look at the FAILURE of the Israelites to keep the law under the Old Covenant, we realize that we need a Savior -- Christ -- to pay for our sins and send us His power. We realize the LESSONS of the Old Covenant have been OUR "schoolmaster" to bring us unto Christ (Gal. 3:24). And that it is only right and proper that we acknowledge Him as our Redeemer, our coming Ruler and King, and our HUSBAND!
THIRD: YOU must BE BAPTIZED.
SO TO SUMMARIZE, YOU must: (1) repent, (2) believe, (3) be baptized.
AFTER YOU have done this, what does GOD promise to do, according to the terms of Christ's Will or Testament? " ... and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"!! (Acts 2:38.) This is what God PROMISES to do as His part.
There it is!
This is the spirit of POWER that came upon the apostles just after Christ's death (Acts 2:4). And THESE are the prior requirements for entering into the new covenant relationship with Christ at the resurrection -- at His soon coming. It is then that we will inherit all the other marvelous things that the New Covenant promises -- eternal life, sonship in the Kingdom of God, and the earth as an EVERLASTING possession.
The Holy Spirit imparts the POWER WE need to PREPARE OURSELVES NOW SO we can receive all of these blessings!
If you intend to enter into the New Covenant marriage with Christ, you should begin PREPARATION NOW! Later may be TOO LATE. But the decision is YOURS to make. God will not force you. He leaves you free to CHOOSE. Notice:
1. When God offered the Old Covenant to ancient Israel, did He coerce them into entering this covenant with Him, or did He allow them to VOLUNTARILY DECIDE whether they would enter into it? Ex. 19:3, 5-8. Notice the word "IF" in verse 5.
COMMENT: The word "IF" shows that God did NOT force the people of ancient Israel to enter into the Old Covenant with Him.
2. Did God coerce the NEXT generation of Israelites, forty years later, to enter this same Covenant with Him, or did He allow them to CHOOSE whether or not they would do so? Deut. 30:19. Note the words, "CHOOSE life."
COMMENT: Christ will not force anyone into entering a covenant with Him. Nor will He force you into a decision to START PREPARING to enter the New Covenant with Him at His coming. Why?
God created mankind with abilities like His own -- beings with MINDS like His own, though limited -- beings who can CHOOSE -- beings who are FREE MORAL AGENTS, and who are not mere automatons like the rest of His creation.
Christ never did FORCE anyone to covenant with Him, and He never will! For He is in the process of forming beings who are LEARNING TO CHOOSE CORRECTLY! They are the ones who will become God's SUPREME SPIRITUAL CREATION!
God will ADVISE though -- He says, "choose LIFE." YOU also are a free moral agent just as were the former generations to which the other covenant -- the Old Covenant -- was offered. What will be YOUR choice?
The NEW Covenant promises life -- ETERNAL life -- and a close relationship with Christ as His collective bride. And all the other blessings that will attend this high calling.
What are you going to do NOW about the New Covenant which is to be offered when Christ comes? If you CHOOSE NOT to prepare yourself now for entry into this Covenant by refusing to allow God to place His SPIRIT of eternal life within you, you will NOT be changed into a spirit being at Christ's soon coming.
God will not make the NEW marriage covenant with you if you remain a HUMAN being. In order to attend the wedding supper of the Lamb, you must be "born again" as a SPIRIT being -- just as God is!
Persistent refusal to submit to God and begin preparation can only lead to ETERNAL DEATH!
The time is NOW AT HAND for you to make a decision. THINK DEEPLY on this matter as you meditate on this lesson and the lessons just ahead. These will continue to give God's revealed instruction on HOW YOU can finally enter into the New Covenant, HUSBAND-WIFE relationship with the living Jesus Christ, your Redeemer.
The evidence is now crystal clear that in order to INHERIT eternal life you must also stand ready to enter into this New Covenant relationship with Christ. That's the only way to be born again of the life-giving Holy Spirit of God, and inherit all the promises of God.
But to whom should you turn for guidance in preparing yourself now so you will be ready to enter into the New Covenant marriage with Christ at His now imminent return? Does God have a CHURCH on earth today from which you can receive this special guidance? Or do you suppose you can qualify to enter into the New Covenant relationship with Christ through attending just ANY church?
Does God leave you in the dark about this vital knowledge? Or does He clearly point out to you the fact that He does have a Church, and show you how you can IDENTIFY it from over 450 DIFFERING sects and denominations in the world today?
WHICH church? -- that is the question of all-encompassing importance! The Bible plainly gives the answer to this question, too. Let's understand what it says.
1. Long before Moses and Mount Sinai, did God have a PRIEST upon the earth who REPRESENTED HIM, and carried out His work? Gen. 14:18, 19. Also review in Lesson 7, on page 8, questions 5 through 133.
2. Later, did God call Moses to be His SERVANT? Ex. 3:11, 12. Did God have MOSES deliver the terms of the Old Covenant to the Israelites at Mount Sinai? Ex. 19:3-8; 21:1 and 24:3.
3. Wasn't it ANOTHER MORTAL FLESH-AND-BLOOD HUMAN BEING -- Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:9, 14) -- who came to announce, for God, the terms of the New Covenant to the people of His time, and to the world? Mal. 3:1 and Mark 1:14.
COMMENT: God uses HUMAN BEINGS to represent Him in His religious dealings with other human beings upon the earth. After God personally gave the Ten Commandments to the people at Mount Sinai, it was a HUMAN BEING, Moses who gave the terms of the Old Covenant to the people for God. Then God used Christ, in His HUMAN form, to announce the conditions of the New Covenant. And TODAY God uses certain human beings to represent Him in his dealings with man.
The Gospel is the message about the soon-to-be established KINGDOM of God on earth. The gospel message THEREFORE includes the NEW COVENANT MESSAGE whereby "born again" people may covenant with Christ to rule the world with Him in a husband-wife relationship in the future, spirit-governed Kingdom of God.
4. Christ, Himself, was here on this earth but a short time. Is it true that CHRIST FOUNDED A CHURCH TO CARRY THE MESSAGE OF THIS NEW COVENANT ON DOWN TO PEOPLE THROUGH ALL THE AGES SO they could receive the Holy Spirit and thus prepare to enter the Kingdom at His soon coming? Mat. 16:18.
5. Was this Church to be composed of many DIFFERENT denominations? Or was it to be but ONE CHURCH? Same verse. Was this TRUE church to have the "keys" to the Kingdom -- the knowledge of HOW to ENTER the Kingdom of God? Verse 19.
COMMENT: One of THE MOST IMPORTANT KEYS is to know that there IS TO BE a New Covenant and know HOW to enter into it -- to know how to KEEP YOUR PART of it so that God may forever fulfill His part. The church you need to be in is the one that has this vital "key"!
6. After the New Covenant was made known, when did the PROMISED Holy Spirit first enter into those who knew how to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:4, 5; 2:1-4. By the entrance of the Holy Spirit into these people -- by being spiritually begotten of God -- were they thus PUT WITHIN THE "BODY" OF CHRIST -- the Church of God? I Cor. 12:12-13.
COMMENT: These people, by surrendering their wills to God, and by having God's Spirit placed within them, became the MEMBERS OF His spiritual body -- the Church of God. They became the members of His body just like the members of your body -- your eyes, arms, legs -- are members of your physical body and subject to your will. Here is the origin of the first true SPIRITUAL CHURCH OF GOD ON THE EARTH!
7. Don't the following references clearly show that God's TRUE Church should bear the name "CHURCH OF GOD"? Read and write out each of these vital PROOFS: Acts 20:28; I Cor. 1:2, 10:32, 11:22 and 15:9; II Cor. 1:1; I Thes. 2:14; II Thes. 1:4; I Tim. 3:5 and Gal. 1:13.
8. Down through the ages, since Christ's time, has there been a very small group which has continued as the executors and administrators of things concerning God's New Covenant and will? Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18 and 3:1, 7, 8.
COMMENT: These seven actual Churches mentioned here existed in the time of the apostles. But they also represent the seven eras of the true Church of God in its successive stages on down from the time of the apostles into our day. These Churches are traceable through history! (Be sure to write for your free copy of the REVEALING booklet, A "True History of the True Church".)
Today, God is working through the "PHILADELPHIA" ERA of His true church. Note that the Philadelphia Church has not denied God's name (Rev. 3:8).
The RADIO Church of God is the Philadelphia Era of GOD'S true Church today! It is called by HIS name, "Church of GOD," and has not DENIED His name!
1. Is the Headquarters of God's TRUE Church today to be found in India, Italy, Germany or Africa? OR is it to be found in an ISRAELITISH nation? Mat. 15:24.
COMMENT: Christ was sent to Israel. As the Jews have temporarily refused to receive Christ, God is now working through the wealthiest and strongest of the other nations of Israel -- the United States of America and the British Commonwealth. Only our PROSPERITY can put God's final message out with great POWER via the media of RADIO, television and the printing press.
For further proof that this Work is the ONE AND ONLY WORK that is obedient to God and that it is carrying out His mission, review quickly the following: In Lesson 7, review sections titled, "God's Commission to His Church", "Christ Has Work to Do", "Melchisedec Ministry Reappears!", and "Tithe to Which Church?"
Be SURE to REVIEW these. For SALVATION can come ONLY through God's Church -- the church HIS Spirit is in!!
As the terms of the New Covenant are a part of our Savior's Testament or WILL, the TRUE Church of God today is the EXECUTOR OR ADMINISTRATOR of this will by which we may obtain the Holy Spirit for entrance into God's Kingdom.
Christ founded His Church for this purpose!
The very fact that God's Church knows WHY this Will was made -- its TRUE intent and purpose -- together with the proof that it is the TRUE Church God established for executing this Will, makes His ministers its executors! Only the RADIO "Church of God" possesses the "keys" of God's Kingdom today!
God's true Church is not a shouting, senseless "pentecostal"-type of church. God's Spirit is "the Spirit of a sound mind" (I Cor. 14:33), in a sound church which has the "keys" of the Kingdom. (Write for the free booklet, "The Tongues Question".)
2. There is a SPECIAL Spirit in God's Church -- the HOLY Spirit of God. For by His Spirit we are baptized into HIS Church. But does Paul WARN YOU about receiving a DIFFERENT "spirit"? II Cor. 11:4.
COMMENT: This DIFFERENT spirit is the spirit of "anti-Christ" (I John 2:18; 4:3). It is AGAINST Christ. It SPLITS groups into DENOMINATIONS. It IS NOT the UNITING Holy Spirit of God.
Do NOT make the fatal mistake of attempting to COVENANT with God through the WRONG church. If you do, the apostle John here warns you will receive the WRONG SPIRIT. YOU will be led into NOT keeping the commands of God as revealed in His Word, the Bible.
3. Are other warnings given against attempting to covenant with God through false churches? Mark 13:6.
COMMENT: MANY -- not the few, but MANY -- will come in Christ's name, thus FALSELY classifying themselves as CHRISTIANS, and will thus DECEIVE the MANY!
Remember that after you are begotten by God's Spirit, you must GROW SPIRITUALLY. IF you choose the WRONG church through which to covenant with God, you will be fed the WRONG spiritual food. You can then DIE SPIRITUALLY if you are fed this wrong spiritual food -- for it is poisonous!
And you can ultimately LOSE OUT on being born again at Christ's soon coming.
Finally, always keep in mind that God's final WARNING MESSAGE TO ALL THE EARTH must be carried by RADIO. That is the only way it can be preached WORLDWIDE! That's why this Work is called the RADIO CHURCH OF GOD.
OTHER churches have WRONGLY APPROPRIATED God's TRUE Church name "Church of God," just as they have WRONGLY APPROPRIATED Christ's name -- Christian.
So -- God's Work on earth today is the RADIO "CHURCH OF GOD," WITH WORLD HEADQUARTERS ADDRESS: POST OFFICE BOX 111, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109.
There is NO other RADIO Church of God. Consider these facts as you learn more, in the lessons just ahead, about entering into the New Covenant with Jesus Christ at His second coming!
Remember that the decision to enter into God's Covenant IS UP TO YOU!
Editor's Note: The Radio Church of God changed its name to the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) some years after this lesson was written. In December of 1994, the leadership of the WCG repudiated almost every single teaching of Herbert Armstrong and aligned the official doctrines of the church with Evangelical Christianity, a belief system Armstrong preached against. The editors suggest that any student of this Course wishing to support those who have remained faithful to Armstrong's teachings, look to any one of several Churches of God, such as United COG, Living COG, COG, A Christian Fellowship.