Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What's In A Name!?

by Michael C. Garrett

As I have said before in various church gatherings, I grew up in a small town on the banks of the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, and at around the age of twelve I was sent by my parents to the local Methodist Church for their propaganda classes – I believe they call them Confirmation Classes!? And I sort of enjoyed it because I was with most of my buddies from school – and they served chocolate milk! But anyway, the teacher lady there was reading from a prepared text, that she was supposed to read, and she came to a part of the text which mentioned the so-called Lord’s Prayer. And, which we read about on the Sermon on the Mount. And I heard her read the following phrase, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Now, that really struck me! I clearly heard what that verse was saying! And I have no doubt in mind that God the Father and Jesus Christ were putting a little thought into my little twelve-year-old brain that somehow down the road would blossom into more information. And, keep in mind, the Methodist Church – to my knowledge; from what I’ve heard and what I knew – I’ve never heard them talking about Jesus Christ Returning to the Earth. It’s all more a sort-of, “O’ Jesus will come into your heart.” Or, “the kingdom of God will be established in our hearts and minds.” But the actual Return of Jesus Christ and the actual establishment of the Kingdom of God on the Earth was not a doctrine or a precept I ever remember hearing. So when I heard that, I raised my twelve-year-old little hand, I got the teacher’s attention, and I said, “Does that mean what I think it means!? Is the Kingdom of God coming to the Earth!?” Profound question for a twelve-year-old boy to ask. Well, she didn’t much care for my question, because she was not prepared to answer it. And she got very uncomfortable and quite a few seconds passed with her not knowing what to say. And her reaction was to simply glare at me like I was a little trouble maker! You know that’s a reaction I receive throughout much of my life. She was basically saying, “Don’t you confuse me with your questions.” So I learned to keep my opinions to myself.

Now, several years passed by, I was now the age of sixteen. I was traveling down Indiana Route 66 on my way to Evansville, Indiana on my way to attend and participate in a karate class. And I turned on the radio because I was a little bored, and I went through the dials and I thought I came across the voice of Paul Harvey. Now at the time, in the late 60s, Paul Harvey was very popular, and my Dad always listened to him – and many times I was with my Dad, and I listened to Paul Harvey. But on this particular night I was somewhat confused, because Paul Harvey – instead of talking about news events, world events and different newsy ideas – was talking about prophecies and reading from the Bible. And he spent much of his time reading from the prophecies of Isaiah 9 and Isaiah 11. And this person who turned out not to be Paul Harvey, but in fact Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, was talking about the Return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God sometime in the near future on this earth. And for the first time in my life the question which first popped into my little brain at age twelve was being answered. And that radio program was my introduction to the Worldwide Church of God, Ambassador College and Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong.

Well eventually I went off to college in Pasadena. But in my first year of college I attended the University of Evansville – may have been called Evansville College at the time. And that first year of college I began attending church services in the local Worldwide Church of God congregation in Evansville, Indiana. Now, the following year I was destined to attend Ambassador College at the headquarters of the Worldwide Church of God in Pasadena, California. And I must say, getting there was a tremendous struggle with my family. My Mother was absolutely dead-set against me going off to California to attend this church and this college. And, she, in effect – I don’t think it’s an exaggeration – she had a nervous breakdown, in anticipation. And it was a very tough situation for this young man to go through because all of my family – all of my family – turned against me and did everything they could to keep me from going. But with God’s help and the help of Jesus Christ I did end-up in Pasadena. And, because of that training and being out there for four years, I must say – and this is a statement of reality – as a teenager and as a young man I was very impressed and I was highly influenced by the Work which I and tens of thousands of other people believe that God Almighty and Jesus Christ were indeed doing through Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong. I was a student at the Pasadena campus for four years, and I graduated from Ambassador College in the Spring of 1973.

During my first year of school at Ambassador College at age nineteen, I was allowed by the grace of God and Jesus Christ to become a baptized member of the Body of Christ. That happened in the Fall of 1969.

And even though it caused a rift between me and my parents and other family members, I have always believed that that decision which I believe was helped by God to attend Ambassador College from the Fall of 1969 until the late Spring of 1973, when I graduated, was a great privilege, a great honor, and a great blessing. However, I also want you to know, I have always viewed Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God in the same vein as the title of the famed 1966 Spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In the Worldwide Church of God one could indeed find good, but you could also find bad. And, unfortunately there were times it was just ugly.

Even as a young college student, this tri-fold nature of this organization was easy for me to perceive – and I believe that was a gift from God to allow me to see it. And thankfully God gave me the wisdom to keep my mouth shut. And my opinions to myself. Because otherwise those officials would have booted me out, tossed me out of both Ambassador College and the church. And, one of the little ugly facts about the institutions that were called Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God, that they were – in my opinion – organized and operated as dictatorships. Which had zero tolerance for any dissenting thoughts, beliefs, or opinions. The standards of this autocratic regime were set from the top Herbert W. Armstrong and it flowed down through all levels of the organization.

Now I was in attendance in Pasadena in 1978 when Herbert W. Armstrong and the associates that were allied with him booted his son Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong out of the Worldwide Church of God. And on that service, which I will never forget, I could still take you back and show you the exact spot where I was sitting, because the event was so profound, so shocking. We were told, we were instructed, to not attempt to contact Mr. Ted Armstrong or any member of his family. And the minister went on to say, and it was announced, “You are not to pray for Ted Armstrong or any member of his family.” To this day it was one of the most shocking and ugly events which I’ve had to experience. And I instantly knew – without a doubt – that the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God was corrupt, and that the Worldwide Church of God was destined to collapse into nothingness!

And my membership in that organization ended that very day, that very moment! Because I thought, I want nothing to do with people who are so heartless, callus, and cruel. And, that total collapse – which I knew indeed would occur – has come to pass. And now the Worldwide Church of God simply no longer exists.

Well, eventually, I found Mr. Ted Armstrong on a television show when he was a part of the Church of God International. And I began corresponding with him and conversing with he and his wife Shirley. And, eventually, in the Fall – or the late Winter – of 1997 the leaders of the CGI convened and decided the fate and the future of Mr. Ted Armstrong – who indeed was the founder of their organization. And at the conclusion of this meeting, which took place over a two-day period, these so-called leaders of the Church of God International, removed Mr. Ted Armstrong and all of his family members from the organization – which again, he created. Once again, as it was in 1978, I immediately knew that the leadership of the Church of God International was also corrupt and that the CGI would decline into irrelevance. And indeed so it has. Both in 1978 with the Worldwide Church of God and in 1997 with the CGI. A Biblical verse rang loudly in my thoughts and mind. And it’s something that Paul wrote in the Book of Galatians – Galatians 6:7-8, where he was inspired to write, “Do not be deceived [don’t fool yourself], God is not mocked; for whatever a man [or a woman; or a family, or an organization] sows, that he [or she, or they] will also reap. 8) For he who sows to his flesh will reap corruption [or death], but he who sows to the Spirit [or of the Spirit; and from the Spirit] will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

Well, in the late Summer of 2003, Mr. Ted Armstrong made a public appearance - the last one he would ever make – of which I later viewed on a video. I was shocked to hear him say during this presentation, something to the effect, “You do not have to worry about what the Bible says, all you have to worry about is what I say.” And the moment I heard those words come out of his mouth, I bolted to the front of my chair, and I exclaimed, “O’ no!” “O’ no, Mr. Ted you have just cursed yourself!” Because once again, ‘God is not mocked!’ For what you sow that shall you also reap.

A few days later after viewing this video I announced to our local congregation here in Owensboro that they needed to prepare for a major shock – I called it a train wreck. I wanted them to know what was going to happen because I wanted them prepared so that it wouldn’t catch them off guard. And I told them that Mr. Ted Armstrong would soon die. The people in the audience that day were in shock and disbelief – some viewing me as though I was out of my mind. However, within a few days – and this is a tragic story that I wished had never happened – Mr. Ted Armstrong entered the hospital, never to leave.

Well, a few months later – in the Winter of 2003/2004; and I will never forget the conversation – and this was after 2 years of troubles that I had to endure because there were certain church leaders, I guess you would call them so-called leaders, who went out of their way to destroy me and destroy the Owensboro church. So badly that through their shenanigans they convinced some people – one of which I thought was a life-long friend – to set-up shop another church group in Evansville, Indiana. And I have always been disappointed by that, I didn’t realize I was destined to live it a second time. But in this conversation with Shirley, after Mr. Ted’s death and after she had recovered her balance some, she said on the phone, “Mike you tried to tell us what was going to happen! And Ted and I would never, never, believe you! And yet you never relented,” that was her exact word, “on the opinions which you held.” And then she said, “In the end, Michael, the only person that told us the truth was you!” And, I guess that is true.

Well, in the Spring and early Summer of 2004, I was asked to travel to Tyler to speak. Until the Spring of 2013 I continued to travel to Tyler to sing and to speak on a regular and consistent bases. Dozens and scores of videos and DVDs contest to that fact. On every trip I would pray to God and Jesus Christ that my goal, my mission, my purpose was to do my best as God gave me that ability to serve God and to serve God’s people. In effect to serve and feed the sheep of Jesus Christ. Travelling from Owensboro, Kentucky to Tyler, Texas requires a lot of time and effort. It’s anywhere between a twelve- or fifteen hour trip – and that’s without traffic delays which sometimes you would run into. And that was each way. So one weekend you literally spent thirty-hours just driving to get there and get back. Each trip was a long and exhausting venture. I’ve had some people over the years who have made that trip with me, and have always commented, “How can you keep doing this, that trip  just wore me out!” And, indeed, I think it did. But I always thought I had some extra strength and extra energy because I thought I was doing what God the Father and Jesus Christ actually wanted me to do.

Now, in addition to my frequent trips to Tyler over the past decade I have made numerous trips – too many to even recall – to many local congregations throughout the Midwest, the South, East, and the North. And all of this was done in an effort to serve Jesus Christ and His people. Over the past decade I estimate that I have probably logged over 200,000 miles, in service, dedicating myself to an organization which is based south of Tyler. Well, even though I have regularly traveled to Tyler, to sing and to speak over this past decade, those who are close to me know that over the last three years or so it has become increasingly difficult, and a challenge for me, to get into my vehicle and to make that trip. And, again, I’ll explain that comment some more in just a moment. As I said earlier, I do indeed respect the efforts of Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong to guide and lead church organizations which incorporated the phrase Church of God into their titles – and I can remember hearing about the Radio Church of God. And then I remember hearing about the Worldwide Church of God, and then with Mr. Ted’s leadership, I heard, and was a part of the Church of God International. And then eventually in 1998 the Intercontinental Church of God.

However, the third in line who carries his family name – in my opinion – is not worthy to carry the shoelaces of his father and his grandfather. He is not a chip-off-the-old-block. This third in line, in his family tradition, is simply put – “Not a very nice man.” His purpose, his mission in life - as best as I can determine – is not about promoting the name and the will of Jesus Christ, but rather promoting the name and the memory of his father – Garner Ted Armstrong. And also I believe his main purpose is providing employment and a livelihood for all of the members of his immediate family. Seemingly his only true passion is being consumed by secular conservative politics. At his core, this third in line, appears to only consist – from what I have seen – of hatred, anger, spitefulness, bitterness, mean spiritedness, vengefulness, and utter contempt of anyone or any institution or any organization which holds  and espouses an idea or a thought with which he does not personally agree.

Jesus Christ plainly states to us in the Bible – multiple times – ‘you shall know them by their fruit.’ Paul relays to us that the fruit of God’s Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness, and self-control. From my personal observations this third in line is seemingly highly deficient in these qualities. If I needed to I could recount numerous situations in which this person has acted and behaved in the most boorish of ways. Simply put – “Rude, crude and socially unacceptable.” On many occasions, I and others which have traveled with me, have been thoroughly embarrassed, mortified and dismayed by his actions, his attitudes, and his choice of words. I will never again have to worry about being in those uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. It is my hope, wish, desire and prayer to never again be in this persons presence or his environment.

Now I have a question: Is there any spiritual magic, special grace and disposition, in the name Armstrong!? The answer, quite frankly, is “No!” The only source of spiritual benefit, and blessing, and sanctification lies in the name JESUS CHRIST and by following Him!

Acts 4, verse 12 – and I say this because it’s my observation that over the years – and remember I first became affiliated or associated or influenced by the Worldwide Church of God in 1966 – I’ve seen a lot of things, been a lot of places, I’ve heard a lot of people talk, I’ve had an opportunity to view and to witness and to observe. And it has come to me and to many others that there has been a group of people – a cadre of people – who seemingly worship the name Armstrong more than they did the name of God! And I will tell you, remind you, the very first commandment is clear, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” And in Acts chapter 4, verse 12 – and this is such a simple concept, but people – in my opinion – have missed it quite often – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And that name, as it’s mentioned in verse 10 “Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” Who was crucified for our sins to be our Savior, to be our soon-coming Judge and soon-coming King! The Bible has so much to say about the name of Jesus Christ and the personage of Jesus Christ! And in truth multiple sermons could be given on this subject and hopefully they will be in the future!

Just a quick perusal, turn to Acts 2 – the account of where we read about the Day of Pentecost – when God for the first time pours out His Spirit in mass on human beings. Now keep in mind there had been multiple times throughout Biblical history where God indeed had given His Spirit to servants and prophets of God. But here on this day on 31 A.D. something very special happened. And, we won’t read every Scripture here, but let’s go to Verse 21 of Acts chapter 2 – “’And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD [the Lord Jesus Christ] Shall be saved.’” Verse 22 – “Men of Israel [and you men of the different organizations which want to be a part of the Kingdom of God and wish to pursue the teachings of this Bible], hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know – 23) Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken …” this is Peter speaking to the men, some of which have called for His death. Some of which, just a few days before – a month-and-a-half before – were chanting ‘Crucify him! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ And yet, here, Peter says, “by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24) whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He [Jesus Christ] should be held by it …” - isn’t that a beautiful concept!? Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb! And by that He established a pattern, and an example that someday all of us who is called His sisters and brothers, His friends, will someday have the same opportunity!! If we die before the Return of Jesus Christ we too will walk out of our graves! I love that thought!

Verse 38 – listen carefully to what Peter says – this is an extremely well known and recited verse; this is a foundational Scripture that all of us need to know about, think about and appreciate. And give thanks to Jesus Christ because it’s in the Book! The reality of it – it is true! “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, …’” – what does the word repent mean!? It means simply change your ways. Change your direction. Change your focus. Change your goals. Change your motivation. “…’Repent, and let every one of you be baptized…’” – and listen to this next part – “…’in the name of Jesus Christ …’” – no other name. No other name under heaven, on earth, anywhere in the universe by which you could be saved. “’Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ …’” – that wonderous, glorious name and title! Jesus, the Anointed One! Jesus, the Messiah! Jesus, the Savior!

And if you do you will have your sins forgiven “…’and you shall receive the gift of [God’s] Holy Spirit.’” 39) For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off [even future ages and eras of time; including us here right now in the year 2018], as many as the Lord our God will call.’”

Acts 3 – this is a powerful story! “Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour [about 3 O’clock] 2) And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple [his only livelihood was to beg or ask for donations]; 3) who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms [a donation, a coin]. 4) And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ 5) So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them [a coin]. 6) Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you …’” – and notice what he said. “…’In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ 7) And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8) So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God. 9) And all the people [every one of them who were frequent visitors of that temple area] saw him walking and praising God. 10) Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11) Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, …” – can you imagine how excited he had to be!? To be in that condition for all of his life and then through a miracle from God – through these two prophets and apostles – he received the gift of healing! And as he was holding onto Peter and John, “all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.” Well I’m sure they were greatly wondered! What a thing to have seen! What a thing to have witnessed! You could go home today and say, “You won’t believe what I saw today, honey!” “That man which has been crippled all of his life was restored to complete wholeness and soundness!” Verse 12 – “So when Peter saw it, [looking upon him and John with this worshipful respect], he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13) The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.’” Verse 14 – But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15) and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16) And His name [the name of Jesus Christ], through faith in His name [the name of Jesus Christ], has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him [Jesus Christ] has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

Verse 17 – “’Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18) But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the [One who was going to be called the Anointed One; the Christos, the Messiah] would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19) Repent therefore and be converted [be changed through God’s love and graciousness and through His Spirit], that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing [talking about the resurrection and being a part of the Kingdom of God!] may come from the presence of the Lord, 20) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21) whom Heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. 22) For Moses [way back in the Book of Deuteronomy] truly said to the fathers, …’” – a Prophet, and not some human being. And I’ve actually heard there are individuals who now somehow want to claim that this Scripture refers to them! How blasphemous and a dangerous thing to do! A Prophet – referring to Jesus Christ – “…’shall the LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him [Jesus Christ] you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23) And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet [Jesus Christ] shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’” Verses 24-25, 26 – But notice this on this Day of Pentecost – “To you [to the very ones that wanted to see Him killed, to the very ones that chanted for His death and His torture] first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you [to provide you with this information this knowledge], in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

These are such great and marvelous Scriptures, such a great story!

It continues in Chapter 4 – “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees [the temple elite] came upon them, 2) being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached [through] Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3) And they [the temple guards] laid hands on them [Peter and John], and put them in custody until the next day, …” Verse 4 – “However, many of those who heard the Word believed [they believed the Message, they were converted]; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” – that’s just the menfolk. So if there was five thousand men who were converted you have to presume that thousands of women were also in the crowd and they also were converted! Well, eventually, Peter and John were brought before the high priest and notice Verse 7 – “And when they had set them in the midst…” – and O’ I’m sure those Pharisees had all their special robes, gear on, to make them look so very important. And I’m sure they rose up to the full extent of their stature, and I’m sure with great thunderous tones they came down upon Peter and John, ‘By what power, by what name have you done this. This healing by which we cannot deny and everyone knows took place!?’ Verse 8 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9) If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10) let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11) This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the Chief Cornerstone.’” And then, Verse 12 – “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we MUST be saved.”

That is such a great story, such a great account!

Hebrews 2 – Hebrews, a Book most likely written by the apostle Paul unto Jewish people. That’s why it’s called the Book of Hebrews. Attempting to help them understand who this Jesus Christ really was. Verse 9 – “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death [remember, angels do not die] crowned with glory and honor that He [Jesus Christ], by the grace of God, might taste death for [every man and every woman]. 10) For it was fitting for Him [Jesus Christ], for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [and daughters] to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through [His] sufferings. 11) For both He [Jesus Christ] who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one, for which He [this great Creator of the universe, this great Being, this great Savior, this great Judge] is not ashamed to call [all of us His brother or sister], …” Notice Verse 14 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood [and that’s what we are flesh and blood, skin and bone], He Himself [Jesus Christ] likewise shared in the same, …” - we’re told in the Book of Philippians that – if you get the correct translation – that Jesus Christ emptied Himself. He was once the great Creator Eternal God, who ruled the universe, and then He allowed Himself – and the only way that I can understand this, the only way that makes sense to me, that the One we now call Jesus Christ, when He was in His preexistent state – by the power of God, to be changed into a human sperm cell. Which was impregnated into the egg of a young teenage girl named Mary. And nine months later He was given human birth. It says here, “…He Himself likewise shared the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15) and release those [Jesus Christ delivered – who!? All of us! All people of all time] who fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” – and truly human beings are gripped by the bondage of the fear of death, their loved ones, their relatives, their friends, and ultimately their own death. Verse 16; King James Version – “For verily He [Jesus Christ] took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham [flesh and blood]. 17; back to the New King James Version) Therefore, in ALL THINGS He [Jesus Christ] had to be made like His [brothers and sisters], that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make [reconciliation] for the sins of the people. 18) For in that He Himself has suffered [even being tortured to death], being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” – referring to people like you and me.

That’s such a marvelous thought! Let’s go back to Verse 17 – “…a merciful and faithful High Priest …” Throughout this Summer I have given a number of sermons in which I have attempted to show from the Words of God, that even though ancient Israel at one time lived under the Levitical Priesthood, that they lived under what is often called the Old Covenant, the law of Moses, that we NO LONGER live under that agreement. But we’ve been given a new agreement, a new contract – which Paul calls the New Covenant. And that we have a High Priest, who daily sits on the right-hand side of God the Father and His main job is to worry about people like you and me. And to do everything He can to make sure that we make it across the goal line. That Merciful and High Priest is whom we should have our focus on! Which is why the very first sermon I gave was entitled, “Look to Jesus, Not Moses.” And it is my fear that many people from the tradition of the Worldwide Church of God and other organizations have been historically fixated on a covenant which is no longer being put upon us. And they have never fully realized and appreciated what we have now been given, we live under the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, and I am so thankful that we are! And I think about the fact that if my fate was left up to human beings, I would be drug out of the city, stoned, and my body would probably be burned. And yet human beings don’t have that right. The One who is ultimately in charge of me and all of you is fully capable of making sure that all of our sins and all of transgressions are forgiven, buried and gone. And that He, through His Spirit, be a part of our mind would allow us to enter into the Kingdom of God for all eternity!! As resurrected member’s of the Family of God! Now folks, you can worry about ancient traditions and customs all you want, but as for me give me JESUS CHRIST! And His Message of forgiveness and GRACE and love, and help! And I think all of us should just be overwhelmed by that!

Hebrews 3 – “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our [advocation; of our existence, of our profession], Christ Jesus, …” – then notice in Verse 6 – “[B]ut Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” – that we indeed have the promise of eternal life! “[B]ut Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are …” – in the Book of 1st Corinthians Paul tells us we are the temple of God, we are the building of God – of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ is the Head! Jesus Christ is the Ruler! The Supreme Sovereign Being over our existence!

Hebrews 4, verse 14 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest [and be thankful for that every single day of your life!!] who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our [profession, our covenant, our agreement with God]. 15) For we do not have a High Priest …” - the English here is very distorted; what it’s saying is WE HAVE A HIGH PRIEST who can sympathize with our weaknesses, who can be touched by all of our problems. Because He too, as a human being, was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” – and in doing so, He qualified to relinquish the power of Satan the devil over our lives. We are no longer under the power of Satan the devil, we are no longer under the prospect of eternal death. But now we’re under the rulership of the great High Priest Jesus Christ, and He is offering to us  - all of us – eternal life! Not just help in the age to come, but blessing and help in this age! Notice what Paul said in Verse 16 – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 5 – notice what it says, talking about Jesus Christ. Verse 7 – “[W]ho, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, …” – that word fear sort-of has a double meaning. It can mean a great horrible anticipation of the pain that He was going to go through. Jesus Christ knew what was gonna happen to Him! He had inspired prophets to write about it that we could read back in the Old Testament! He knew what awaited Him, the horrible death! But the word fear also has the connotation of respect and admiration for His Heavenly Father. So yes, Jesus Christ feared what was going to happen to Him. And yet, He overcame His fear, He did not let it stop Him, because remember, He could have at any moment – as He was facing His arrest, and later on His trial, the mock trial that He went through, and His persecution and His torture, and eventually His death upon a cross – snapped His fingers, cried out to the angelic host, and they would have swooped down upon those people and eviscerated every one who was trying to harm Him! He could have done it! But out of love for us, out of dedication to the purpose, to the mission that God the Father had given to Him, He did not do it.

And yet He still anguished as a human being. We read how His prayer and His request was so intense that blood mingled with the perspiration of His brow, and as it was blood ran down His face. Now, that’s an intensity which I have never experienced. Although I have read about it. That sometimes blood vessels can rupture near sweat glands and literally the sweat is mingled with blood. And that’s what Jesus went through at that moment. But it says, Verse 8 – “[T]hough He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9) And having been perfected, He became [FOR ALL OF US, and for all human kind] the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” – O’ there are just so many wonderful Scriptures! Especially here in the Book of Hebrews!

Hebrews 7 – and we read about this Old Testament personality called Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, and we read about the story of Abraham and we realize that Abraham met this being on multiple occasions. He gave tithes to Melchizedek. And this man Melchizedek, king of Salem, as it says Verse 2 – “…being translated ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace.’” Now, where did all this take place!? Most likely in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem. The king of Salem. We’re told in Verse 3 – this doesn’t describe a human being. “[W]ithout father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but make like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” We read in John the 1st chapter that He (Jesus Christ) the great Spokesman – the Logos of God – that it was His job to come down to this Earth to make this Earth, and that He indeed is our Creator and our God! The One we now call Jesus Christ! And here Paul in the 4th Verse, and I love this verse, “Now consider how great this man was [Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Judge, our soon-coming King], …” Verse 21 near the end – “…’You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek’”), 22) by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.” – the NEW COVENANT! Verse 23) Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24) But He [Jesus Christ], because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.” -  a never ending priesthood! 25) Therefore He [Jesus Christ] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” – and in one place He is called our great Advocate.

Like a defense attorney, always there waiting to defend us. And yet, we read in the Book of Revelation chapter 12, that Satan the devil is described as the accuser of the brethren. Do you understand that when you stand up on a soap box and start attempting to point out the sins of other people that you are NOT doing the job of Jesus Christ, the great Intercessor, but you are indeed following and doing the work and bidding of Satan the devil!? The accuser of the brethren.

Verse 26 – “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27) who does not need daily, as those high priests [of the Levitical Priesthood], to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He [Jesus Christ] did once for all when He offered up Himself.” – to be the sacrifice of all time! 28) For the law [the ancient law of Moses] appoints as high priests men who have weaknesses, but the word of the oath, which came AFTER the law [surpassing the law, overtaking the law of Moses], appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”

Hebrews 8, verse 1 – “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying [this is the summary]: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, …” – and be so thankful that He is! Verse 2 – “a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” – and that tabernacle, that great city of New Jerusalem, someday will Return to this Earth and be set-up on the Mount of Olives, and we who are a part of this great Plan who have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who have our name written in the Book of Life, we too will be a part of that city! Resurrected from this human flesh to live all eternity as a member of the Family of God! Verse 6 – “But now He [Jesus Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry [much more excellent than the old Levitical Priesthood, the Old Covenant], inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” – the Old Covenant had no promise of eternal life. And yet, the New Covenant does, because the Priesthood of that Covenant is Jesus Christ the Author of Life! Verse 7 – “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8) Because finding fault with them, He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – 9) not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel …’” – and with the member’s of the Body of Christ! “…’I will put My laws [the Ten Commandments] in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11) None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, [‘Do you know the Lord!? Do you know the Lord!?’] …’” – because at that time, in the Millennium in the Kingdom of God EVERYONE will know who God is and who Jesus Christ is! “…from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12) For I [Jesus Christ] will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’” – the very crux and core of the New Covenant is that sins, faults, mistakes, are forgiven and forgotten. And yet there are people – even within the so-called churches of God – who are incapable, seemingly, of forgiving, but want – just like the ancient priesthood of old – to hang onto all of the problems and the alleged or supposed mistakes and just grind people into nothingness. It’s simply the wrong way to live. Verse 13 – “In that He says, ‘A new covenant, …’” – a new priesthood has He made. “…He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” – and sure enough, in 70-71 A.D. the armies of military commander Titus, who later became a Roman Emperor, moved into Jerusalem and utterly laid that city to waste including the temple. And if you didn’t get out of there in time, you were killed, slaughtered. Now, many of the Jewish people did manage to escape and many of them did not. And so Paul is saying, ‘this old priesthood is gone.’ But now we have something new – the Priesthood of Jesus Christ!

 Hebrews 12, verse 1 – Paul writes, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” – and for here in Owensboro that race and that job and that work is to feed the sheep of Jesus Christ! And with the help and the strength and the blessing of Jesus Christ we will do that with all that we are capable of doing! And, Verse 2 – where should our eyes be!? Where should our focus be!? “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Verse 22 – Paul writes, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, …” – the Book of Revelation talks about the very city of New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven to the Earth! “…to an innumerable company of angels, 23) to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in Heaven [their names are in the Book of Life], to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24) to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Verse 25. We’re told in Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Verse 13 – “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14) For here we have no continuing city, but we see one to come.” -  we seek the city of New Jerusalem! The temple of God! The same as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And we’re told about that over in chapter 11. Verse 15 – “Therefore by Him [Jesus Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16) But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Verse 20 – “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21) make you complete [perfect and mature] in every good work  to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen [so be it]” Paul says.

Colossians 1st chapter, verse 1 – “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, …” Verse 2 – “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 9; halfway through the verse – “…and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10) that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11) strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12) giving thanks [with a spirit of THANKSGIVING] to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

13) He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” – and I must say, here over the last few weeks I feel as though I had been delivered from the power of negativity – a vortex of negativity – and from the power of darkness, and I look forward to serving Jesus Christ without restrictions, without modifications, without being censored and changed and challenged and…. “O’ no, no, no, Mike, we can’t say that! That might upset someone!” Bottom line: if it comes from the Word of God, you better listen to it! And if it doesn’t comport with what you’re believing, you better get down on your knees and beg God to help you figure it out! Because it is only through the Holy Bible, the Words of God, that we have a chance to be a part of this great kingdom! Verse 14 – “in whom [talking about Jesus Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15) He is the image of the invisible God, …” – no one on Earth has ever seen God the Father! Jesus Himself told us. But there have been people – back in the Garden of Eden, different prophets, different servants of God, Paul himself - saw Jesus Christ after His resurrection. The disciples worked and lived with Jesus Christ for 3½ years, His human family,
brothers and sisters, knew Him for 33½ years. Jesus Christ has appeared to mankind. He has worked with mankind. He continues to work with mankind. It says here, “the image” an exact copy of the nature and the character of God the Father. “…of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16) For by Him all things were created [by Jesus Christ] that are in Heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17) And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” – and I have a feeling that someday we’re gonna find out that the very basic building blocks of nature – which is energy – comes from the throne of God as a very part of the mind of God! Verse 18 – “And He [Jesus Christ] is the Head of the Body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19) For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Jesus Christ] all the fullness should dwell, 20) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of the cross. 21) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”

Who is our leader!? Jesus Christ! Who is the leader of the Church!? Jesus Christ! And for that reason – and I have dozens of other Scriptures that I can read, and sometime in the future I hope to – we here in Owensboro have rededicated ourselves to a work that will go out through a website, through DVDs and CDs, hopefully sometime in the future we hope to have a radio broadcast. We’re going to do the work of Jesus Christ with all of the energy He gives us as long as we have breath. And we are here now in Owensboro, Kentucky, calling this organization the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ.

So, what’s in a name!? Everything is in a name! It’s not in the name of Moses. It’s certainly not acquired in the name of Armstrong! But everything we’ve ever wanted and that we ever desire, everything that is good and lasting and proper and perfect comes through the name and the office and the personality and the efforts of JESUS CHRIST!

We here in Owensboro are attempting to initiate this work to serve Jesus Christ and to feed His sheep. Our goal and our mission and our purpose – and this will be marked on everything we ever put out – is to follow the admonition of Jesus Christ when He states in the Book of John, “’Feed My sheep!’” We welcome all who wish to join us in our efforts, and we will appreciate your participation, your prayers, and if possible your monetary and financial assistance, because we are a small group, but we have big plans.

Even though many organizations have attempted to use the phrase “church of God” into their title, we’re going to establish a new tradition – the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is indeed the Head of the Church, the Body of Christ! We feel that the title of His Church and His work should carry His name!  The Church of Jesus Christ!

To Jesus Christ, to His name, to His honor, to His glory, and for His service.


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