Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Proving the Truth!

by Michael C. Garrett

I think many of you reading this have had the experience of being with a friend, a family member, a relative, neighbor, co-worker, and in a moment of conversation maybe the conversation of religion comes up. And before long they sort-of sense that there is something a little different about your religion or maybe you, and they ask a few more questions, and then inevitably they ask the question – “Well, what do you believe!?” And sometimes you feel brave enough to walk through that door and sometimes people sort-of shy away from it. But it’s a good question. What do the churches of the world believe and teach which are dramatically different than what we believe and teach!? And I thought it would be an interesting thing to go over some of these ideas.

First of all I think all of us would agree maybe at the top of our list – we believe whole heartedly that God the Father and that the One that we now call Jesus Christ – who at times is called the Logos or the Word in the Bible in His pre-human state – created the universe, the earth, all life forms, and we believe that includes human beings. And we also believe that in Their hands will our fate ultimately reside. They will determine what happens to the future of human kind. And, even after human life, is there life after death!? (Be sure to read the informative and eye-opening articles The Confusion About Death – Part 1 and Part II). I would suggest all of you print it out, and maybe have it lying around in case you do have a conversation with that friend, or buddy, or co-worker.

I think another thing we might say to people that we might meet and have this discussion, I think we would say, “The Bible is the inspired Word of God.” We believe that. Completely.

Matthew 4:4 – this powerful statement. When Jesus said, quoting Moses actually back in the Old Testament – “…’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” That was Jesus Christ’s instruction to all of us. Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy 2 – he said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, …” (KJV) – well, obviously he meant study the Bible. And then in chapter 3 of 2nd Timothy, Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, …” And in John 5 Jesus said, ‘search the Scriptures, for in them…’ and the King James English is poor, I think, ‘…you think you have eternal life; …’ however, that word think is poorly rendered. It means you know that you have eternal life by searching the Scriptures. And there are so many other quotation’s that I could give you – Biblical admonition’s, like Luke 11:28 when Jesus said, “…’blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!’” So many more. We also know there is the opposite approach. I could have a whole sermon about people who just misuse the Word of God, that handle it craftily. That sway people, that deceive people, that confuse people. But again, that’s for another sermon.

But think about this – Isaiah 8:20. Isaiah was inspired to write – “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” And so if your friend or relative is going to a church, where the minister gets up and says, “You’re supposed to go to church on Sunday, the Bible says so.” You ought to be able to show to them that that is a lie! And if the minister is going to lie about that one, how many other topics has he lied about!? – Or, is he lying about it!? Will he continue to lie about it!? If they’re not going to speak the truth of God – according to the Word of God – ‘there is no light in them!’ 

And, as a side – I’m amazed at the number of times – I hear people of the Church of God tuning in to the Sunday Morning Comedy Hour – as Mr. Ted Armstrong often called it. To try and get some spiritual uplift. Or now there’s those 24/7 television shows that have religious programming.

And there’s actually people who turn there and talk about, “O’ did you hear what he said!? O’ he said this!” And it just gives me the willies. Because folks, you don’t go to a false prophet to learn the truth of God! You just don’t do it! They aren’t compatible!

Well there’s another thing I think all of us believe – the existence and validity of the Ten Commandments! (Be sure to watch the 20-part series – The Eternal Relevancy of the Ten Commandments). Back in the Book of Deuteronomy Moses was inspired to write, in chapter 5, verse 29 – “’Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me [which means respect and honor] and ALWAYS keep all My commandments, …’” – and why, that it be a horrible burden!? That some kind of servitude be put upon people!? No, “…’that it might be well with them and with their children FOREVER!’” That it might do good thing’s for those people! That’s why God says it’s a good idea to keep these commandments.

We know that Jesus talked about it in Matthew 19:17 – when He said, and you can’t get much more clearer than this – “…’But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’” In John 14:15 He says, “’If you love Me,’” – IF – “’If you love Me, keep My commandments.’” Which implies what!? If you DON’T keep the commandments of God, you are showing by your actions that you DO NOT love, honor, and respect God and His will. But most so-called church going people never think about this! In John 15:10 Jesus said, “’If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, …’” Which again implies just the opposite. If you DO NOT keep those commandments you DO NOT abide in the love of God and Jesus Christ! And there’s so many more Scriptures I could quote you – make a whole sermon out of that one topic of ‘keep the commandments.’

Saturday is the Sabbath

Well, obeying God means keeping the commandments and that also includes the fourth commandment! Most people would scratch their head and go, “Which one is that!?” But we understand it – “Remember the Sabbath day, …” And along with that – the corollary – not only remember the Sabbath day, the weekly day, but also remember the annual holy days. And the people of the world almost have no clue about that one! And yet we understand that, and graciously we know that. Are you aware that there are over two-hundred references to the word Sabbath, or Sabbaths, or the seventh-day (meaning the Sabbath day in the Bible)!? And yet there’s not one reference to Sunday in the whole Bible. Isn’t that bizarre!?

Well we know that Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath. And there are many Scripture’s you could quote and show Him honoring it but notice Luke 4 – and you might just tell your buddies, your friends, your co-workers – you know, how do you get around this one!? Luke 4:14 – “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. 15) And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. 16) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, …” – this was His habit, this was His way of life! “…He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” – to read from the Scriptures.

And we know that Paul kept the Sabbath – doing His work many years after the human life and death of Jesus Christ. Long after the so-called “nailing it to the cross” that so many Protestant’s love to talk about. Many decades, Paul was still keeping the Sabbath! And there are many Scriptures that prove it – but quickly here – Acts 17:2 – “Then Paul, as his custom was,” – as his habit was, as his tradition was, “…went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” – so he was there for almost a month reasoning with them out of the Scriptures on the Sabbath day.

Well I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to an educated knowledgeable Catholic. And do understand one thing, Catholics do a marvelous job of educating their people. And many Catholic priests, clergy, and even many of the people who are not even laity are extremely well educated. They have very good minds. And if you talk to an educated knowledgeable Catholic, they will boldly tell you, “Well the Sabbath, that’s Saturday. That’s not Sunday.” They don’t make any bones about it. And they will proudly go on to say, “Well we changed it!” I had a neighbor out in Arizona – a neighbor right next door, Manny Ramirez – nice guy! And, one day I was outside watering my citrus trees, and Manny came up to the concrete block fence and we started talking. And Manny had recently become a – sort-of like a Deacon in a Catholic church, because they didn’t have enough priests to cover all these different territories. Manny and people like him would actually be serving in this sort-of semi “priest” roles. And because of that Manny had to go to classes. And one day out of the blue – I didn’t prompt this – Manny goes, “Well, you know the Sabbath is not Sunday.” And I almost dropped my water hose, and I said, “Yeah, Manny, I know that!” He said, “Yeah we changed it. We didn’t want to be Jewish!” And so most Catholic’s understand that. It’s just funny to me that most Protestant’s don’t have a clue about that! Most Protestant’s go through most of their life thinking that somehow the Bible justifies Sunday worship! And yet it doesn’t. And to tell you the truth their attempts at proving that Sunday is the holy day of the week is just pathetic. And if I had more time – that’s a whole new sermon that I’d like to give sometime.

In historical truth it was the Roman Emperor Constantine I who institutionalized Sunday as the day of worship for the Roman Catholic Church, and this occurred in the early fourth century A.D. Almost three-hundred years after the life and death – the human life and death – of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic Church and Constantine I changed Saturday into Sunday. And called SUN-day the holy day. And again, the Protestant world has no clue that that happened. They’re not aware of it, they’re not cognizant, it doesn’t penetrate their minds what that means. And yet the Catholics will proudly proclaim it! Well you know, most people inherit their traditions from whom!? Their religious traditions. Mom and dad. Maybe their grandparent’s.    Maybe an aunt or an uncle or another family member. You know most people are Baptists because mom and dad were Baptists. Or, their Catholics, or Lutherans. Most people are Democrats because mom and dad were Democrat. Or, their Republicans because mom and dad were Republican. You know, people just follow that natural order, they don’t maybe stop and think and clarify their thoughts and say, “Well, this is what I believe, and this is what I want to do, and this is what I want to think.” “This is who I want to represent.” But traditions. They just go by traditions. And when it comes to the Sabbath, those traditions are absolutely deadly! Because they keep Sunday, and they think they’re doing it right! And yet, the Word of God – remember we believe in GOD, and we believe in the Bible; the Bible is very clear – the Sabbath, the seventh-day of the week is His holy day!

Is the Trinity Biblical?

Well, another concept that the churches of the world believe – and it’s about the Trinity. You know that the churches of the world believe and teach with great earnestness in the truth and validity of the Trinity. And you’ve all heard that word. There’s a song – a beautiful song, talks about ‘the blessed Trinity.’ And then you hear people talk about ‘the holy Trinity.’ And you know, there’s a broadcasting company, TBN – the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Well, I grew up in the Trinity United Methodist Church. And not far down the road from where I live there’s a high school – Catholic high school – called Trinity High School. So, we hear this word quite a bit. It inundates our society. Most people just think’s it’s true – I mean they just accept it, it’s gotta be! And yet, the Holman Bible Dictionary, like an encyclopedia, and under the article entitled “The Trinity,” this sentence occurred very early in the article – “As a distinctive Christian doctrine, the Trinity is considered as a divine mystery beyond human comprehension.” It’s a mystery, it’s beyond your comprehension, but you better believe it! It’s bizarre! And they go on to say, “…that balances the concept of unity and distinctiveness.” You know, three God’s – but One God!? But there’s One God – but three God’s!? And, you could start playing around with that, and Mark did a Pat Robertson one time – had us laughing very hard -  when Pat Robertson tried to explain this one time on his television show, and he just got to where he was mumbling basically. But, just amazing! And you know, at the end of this article, “The Trinity,” this Holman Bible Dictionary said, “The doctrine of the Trinity is an absolute mystery. It is primarily known not through speculation [and I say, through Scripture] but through experiencing the act of grace through personal faith.” Now the best I can figure out what it means is – you just believe that there’s a Trinity, and the fact that you believe it - means it’s so. Sort of like me wishing that I had a million dollars in the bank, and I can sit in a corner for five straight days and go, “O’ I wish I had a million dollars – O’ I wish I had a million dollars!” But trust me, it’s not gonna happen! And just wishing it so doesn’t make it so!

Well, most so-called Christian’s have absolutely no idea where the Trinity doctrine came from. And once again, it came from the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. A gathering ordered by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. Once again, he pops up in all of this. And it became the ‘standard issue’ of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants just blindly following the traditions of before, accepted it, and now for thousands of years have taught it as doctrine. And you dare not question it!

There is NO PLACE in the Bible that substantiates the idea of a Trinity. The one verse that sort-of alludes to it in 1 John 5:7 is a fraud! Because it doesn’t exist in the original manuscripts! And somewhere back there in the space of time a Roman Catholic priest basically put a sword to a translator and said, “Put this in or you die!” Sort-of like the Islamic way of converting people. “Become a Muslim, or your dead!”

We do know that the Bible teaches the existence of God the Father – absolutely, we know that! And we do know that the Bible teaches the existence of Jesus Christ – both before He became a human, in John 1, and as He was a human being, and we know after His human life – He was resurrected and became once again an eternal Spirit Being! So, we know that God the Father exists, Jesus Christ exists. But the Holy Spirit!?

Holy Spirit Not A Person

The Holy Spirit, it’s not a Person. And it’s unfortunate that the King James English uses the word “he” when they refer to that. And it’s even unfortunate that sometimes people get confused and say that – maybe not understanding that the Greek language didn’t have a neutral pronoun. It only had male or female, and so they picked the male pronoun, he. Much like the Spanish language, they have male pronouns and female pronouns. To my knowledge, they don’t have any neutral “its.” But it would be much better if it were put it, because the Holy Spirit is not a Person. And the way I like to explain it – it is an extension of the power and the mind of God the Father and Jesus Christ. It’s how They direct thing’s to happen. It’s Their power source, Their way of making thing’s happen anywhere in the universe. But again, it’s not a Person. But there’s one Scripture – I don’t know what the Protestants do with it, I guess they just mark it out or hope nobody ever reads it. 2 Corinthians 3:17 – where Paul very plainly says, “Now the Lord is that Spirit …” (KJV). Once again signifying the mind of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of God. The mind of God the Father in addition is the Spirit of God – the extension of Their power, Their mind. 

Well, the truth – GOD is not a closed circle of Three Beings. And that’s what the Trinity teaches. Three Beings – One God Head – no admission allowed! Taking no more application’s. And, if that were true – if the doctrine of the Trinity were true – it means that you and I could never have the hope of becoming a son or a daughter of God in the Family of GOD. It would not be allowed! And do you know that the Catholics – do you know what the ultimate future for a Catholic is!? The beatific vision. Meaning what!? And I don’t know where you’re sitting – on a cloud or what – but you finally made it to this upper region of Heaven, and you’re sitting on this cloud, and you sort-of look up – and I’ve even heard them say, “You can’t really see the face of God, because He’s too pure, but you sort-of see the glow around Him.” – and that’s what it’s all about! That for all eternity you just hope to have the opportunity to sort-of gaze up into the glory of God. And maybe – as Mr. Ted Armstrong would often poke fun at – maybe, God will reach out like a master to his dog and scratch you behind the ears. And you can wag your tail to show your appreciation. That is their desire! That is what their aiming for and shooting for! And the reason they do is they have no concept of what our future is. Their doctrine has blinded their eyes to see the truth of God.

Well, we do know that the future of mankind is to be someday resurrected into the Family of God. And to become son’s and daughter’s of God. And that is throughout the Bible. It starts way back in Genesis 1:26 – you’ve heard it many times – “…’Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …’” – and so for awhile it was a physical likeness. And we’re told that God has two arms and two eyes, and two ears – and so do we! But that was just the beginning – someday the ultimate fulfillment of that verse occurs when we become spirit beings. Literally created in the image of God! Because we’re a part of that Family!

Jesus Christ in John 10:30-38 – a wonderful little scene there where He’s confronting some of the local religious folks. And He quotes from the Book of Psalms, and He even says, “’You are Gods [‘ᵉlōhîm].’” Even in the Old Testament! Psalm 82:6 – this truth is right there in black and white! But most people of this world, it just passes them by. They have no idea what their future is. You know, in Romans 8 – you read through there – you hear phrases like, “son’s of God,” and “the Spirit of sonship,” and “children of God.” You can go through Galatians 3 and hear, “children of God … heirs according to the promise.” There’s many more such Scriptures – also Hebrews 2:9-11 – talking about Jesus Christ and says, “bringing many son’s into glory.” And, 1 John 3:1-2 – the people of the world do not understand what you are about to read – but many of you reading this have heard it before, and you do understand it! I just hope that we always deeply appreciate it! “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [shall appear], we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” We will be like the resurrected Jesus Christ! Turn back to the Book of Revelation some time first chapter and read the description of Jesus Christ – I like to do it every so often – because in there it talks about Jesus Christ having a head of white hair. And I think – there’s still hope! You know, I’ve often threatened Mark that I would walk in with a toupée. Just to see his reaction – I would love to do it!

Immortal Soul?

Well, another thing that the churches of this world teach as doctrine – you’ve all heard it many times – the immortality of the soul. Oh do they love to talk about the immortality of the soul! And yet, not one place in the Bible can you find that concept! Not one! Now, you can find where Jesus Christ is the only One who has immortality within Him. And, obviously, God the Father has immortality within Him. But as far as us!? You know, Ezekiel 18 two times says, “The soul who sins SHALL DIE.” And, in the Book of Romans 1:32 – “…that those who practice such things are deserving of DEATH, …” Romans 6:16 – talks about a ‘sin leading to death.’ And Romans 6:21 – “…the end of those things is DEATH.” Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is DEATH, …” – nothing about immortality! He goes on, Romans 7:5 – talks about the ‘motions of sins, which did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto DEATH.’ And then, Romans 8:6 – “For to be carnally minded is DEATH.” I think you get the idea. The Bible, over and over says, if we don’t walk the correct path and have the correct relationship with God, that we are subject to death. The Book of Revelation on two occasions talks about the ‘second death.’ Not just the death of our human bodies, but the death of our totality! Just gone! Just burned up – gone! No more! Cease to exist! No such thing about the immortality of the soul.

Are the Dead Now in Heaven?

Well, another concept which goes right along with that, the churches of this world love to go on – teach the concept about people going to Heaven. And it is quite possibly their most cherished tradition! And when I think about that, I see a picture of Billy Graham in my head. Growing up as a child, Mom and Dad would turn on Billy Graham, and there Billy had this Bible, he would hold it and turn it every which-a-way, but it would never leave his hand, and he would often say in that wonderful North Carolinian accent, “I know I’m going to Heaven!” “You’re going to Heaven!” Well, you’ve all heard that! I saw him on Larry King, he was telling everyone – he’d written a book about going to Heaven! Trust me, it should be on the “fiction” part of the bookstore. Well they love this idea! Yet, the Bible doesn’t teach that you immediately – and they teach this – what do they teach!? The moment you die – blast off, there you go! And every funeral I’ve ever gone to, even the most scandalous rascal you could ever think of, they always – the minister would get up there and say, “Well just at the last minute, at the last moment in time, he looked up and he gave his heart to the Lord! And now, old Sam, he’s up there in Heaven looking down on us.” They just preoccupy. I’ve said this before, I just want to go to a funeral sometime and they preach the guy into Hell! “He was such a rotten no good person that’s he’s got to be down there! If anybody deserves it, he deserves it!” But I’ve never heard it, they always preach ‘em to Heaven. I went once to a funeral to a fellow volley-ball official that tragically died of cancer and he had a lot of medical complications. Nice guy and had a young son in the crowd, about thirteen at the time. And the Methodist minister took time to look down at the crowd and tell this young boy, “Your father is in Heaven right now looking down upon you and he’s very proud of you!” You all have heard that! Remember Pope RAT-zinger!? He stated, there in the Vatican, saying that Pope John Paul II was somewhere on a corner window seat looking down on the procession watching his own funeral. It’s just amazing – they believe it, they don’t question it, it’s just automatic! And yet the Bible DOES NOT teach immediately going somewhere. Now, they got the Heaven thing wrong – but the Bible talks about a resurrection from the dead. It’s so very plain – so very clear!

Notice John 5 – the Word’s of Jesus Christ! And I love these Word’s – I was even given the honor to read some of these Word’s at my Mother’s funeral. John 5:25 – “’Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.’” Meaning, their dead before they hear it. They’re not in Heaven, they’re not awake, they’re not immortal, they’re DEAD. And then, with the voice of God, they’re called out of the grave. He goes on to say in verse 28 – “’Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice.’” Now, then, you think about spiritual heavyweights. King David, a man after God’s own heart. Wouldn’t he be up in Heaven!? Wouldn’t Moses be up in Heaven, if there was such a place!? But no, Jesus said, ‘the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.’ And then, verse 29 – “’and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of [damnation or judgment].’” So, the Bible plainly speaks about people being in their graves. 1 Thessalonians – you have all read this. You’ve heard it many times, but to just refresh your memory. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 – “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” And then, in chapter 4, Paul writes in verse 13 – “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, …” So, over and over the Bible describes the dead as being asleep – unconscious. Not in Heaven, not immortal – DEAD. He continues, “…lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15) For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain …” – it’s interesting Paul thought he was going to be alive when Jesus Christ Returned. Jesus Christ didn’t let him know – till maybe just near the end – “No Paul, you’re not going to be alive when this happens.” But at this point, this was one of the first Book’s that Paul wrote. He goes on to say, “…will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,  with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Well, if they are already in Heaven, how do they rise up!? That’s just a simple concept! Verse 17 – “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds [in the atmosphere] to meet the Lord in the air [in the atmosphere]. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

I know I may have told this story before, I went in one time – now they’re called LifeWay – but back then they were called Baptist Bible Bookstore. And I was looking for some booklet or some information, and they didn’t have it, and a clerk came up to me – a fully mature woman, probably in her fifties – I wasn’t speaking with some child. And I just couldn’t resist myself, I got a little mischievous, and I said, “I have a question about the rapture.” And I said, “Do you believe in the rapture!?” And, O she threw her shoulders back and almost clicked her heels and exclaimed, “O’ yes I do!” And you could see on her face – “O’ I’m gonna get to testify!” Which is big news in some of those denominations. TESTIFY! And I said, “Well, I have another question. What if say, John Brown, just a hypothetical. Now, he’s a good man, been a good man all of his life. He was a good boy, a good son, a good brother. Got married, was a great husband, never did anything wrong. Had children, was a wonderful father, wonderful grand-father. Never strayed, never did anything wrong. Well, he died last week.” I said in this conversation. I said, “Where is John Brown right now!?” And the lady looked at me and she got this sort-of beatific smile, she even put her hands together as if in prayer. There’s the church, there’s the steeple. Open the door and see the people. But she’s got this little hand thing going, and she sort-of tilted her head, like a puppy dog listening to the music on the radio. She goes, “O’ he’s up in Heaven!” I said, “He is? Then why does Jesus have to come back and take them back to Heaven!?” Because that’s what they teach – in the rapture, Jesus is gonna come down and swoop by and pick up all those dead people and take them to Heaven. I said, “So, you say, ‘Jesus is gonna take them up to Heaven at the rapture, but you just told me he’s already there!? So, why does He have to do that!?” It’s a question that a 5th grader could have easily asked. And she got stumped, she got quiet for about a minute, didn’t know what to say. She stormed to the back room, got her sweater and purse, and ran out the front door. I must have made a bad day for her – all I could figure was that she was gonna go over to pastor Smith’s house and find out – “Hey, what’s the answer to this question, because I didn’t have a clue of how to answer it!” 

Well we know that the Bible talks about the resurrection from the dead. We know in 2 Timothy we hear the phrase, ‘at His appearing.’ Not this immediately ‘off to Heaven.’ We notice in Titus 2 – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

In the Book of James 5 – “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:7 – “…praise, honor, and glory at the [appearing] of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 5:4 – “and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 John 2:28 – “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” Over and over and over, nothing happens until Jesus Christ Returns! That’s what the Bible says! And if that be true, then what is all of this immortality of the soul and going off to Heaven!? It just doesn’t agree with the Bible.

Well then, there’s another concept – one step farther. The resurrected saint’s of God are not going off to Heaven, but rather Heaven – the throne of God, the Kingdom of God – is coming to the Earth! And that is the Gospel – the announcement of the Kingdom of God! You know, back in John 3:13 – Jesus Christ said it just about as plain as you can say it, I don’t know how people miss this!? And this occurs before their most cherished Scripture. You know, don’t Protestant’s love John 3:16! And it’s a beautiful Scripture! I don’t want to take anything away from it! “’For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’” Again, perish – DEATH! But have eternal life… they love that! They even write it on cardboard signs and hold it up at sporting events so the camera will see it! But just three verses before, Jesus plainly said, “’No one has ascended to Heaven but He who came down from Heaven, …’” – referring to Himself! The Son of man! And you know, we can talk about King David, how the Book of Acts says he’s dead and buried and in his grave to this day. And David, a man after God’s own heart, if he didn’t get admission up there, then… are you a man after God’s own heart, or a woman after God’s own heart!? Is God going to put that on your spiritual tombstone!? Chances are He may not – I hope He does! But maybe you might fall just a little below that! You know, Jesus in John 8 said, “…’Where I go you cannot come.’” How does it get more plainer than that!? ‘Where I’m going – to be next to God the Father – you cannot come! You’re never going to be there!’ ‘You’re never going to find this place!’ And so the Scriptures just go on and on and on. And, I gave a sermon last feast, just multiple references asking the question – will God the Father indeed rule on the Earth!? And just dozens of Scriptures say, “Yes, He will!” Well, if He’s on the Earth, why are you going to be up in Heaven!?

And, we know that, Matthew 5:5 – I love to tell the story about the man who knocked on my door one Sabbeth afternoon, when I was out in Arizona with the temperature about 110 degrees. I was inside my house, trying to stay cool, I had had my Bible out a little earlier – on my little work table. And all of a sudden, O’ about 3 o’clock in the afternoon – the very hottest part of the day, there’s a knock at my door. So I got up, opened the door, and I saw a man all dressed up – shirt, tie, coat. And behind him he had two – obviously his two daughters. And they were all dressed up in their Sunday go to meetin’ best! And my first thought was empathy, this poor man, his car has stopped, he needs water for his radiator. He needs jumper cables, he needs to use the telephone. That was my initial reaction. And then I sort-of look at them a little closer and… and I love this, this was his opening comment to me, “IF YOU DIE TONIGHT, WOULD YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL GO TO HEAVEN, OR WOULD IT GO TO HELL!?” And I thought, “My, what a pleasant man. I sure enjoy this!” And I should have just closed the door and said, “Get lost!” But I was intrigued by it. So, I walked outside, and, he started going on, and, I said, “Well, fella, you just said three things that I totally do not agree with!” And, he was sort-of startled. He said, “What!?” I said, “Well, you talked about my immortal soul. You talked about goin’ off to Heaven or going down to Hell. And I don’t believe in any of them!” O’ this really staggered him. It rocked his world! And we began a discussion, and I started quoting verses. I could have easily gone and  - six feet inside – and grabbed my Bible, but he had a little pocket edition. So I said, “Sir, do you mind if I take this Bible here in your pocket?” I took it out of his pocket, and I started reading verses. One was Revelation chapter 5, verse 10. I show that to him – I thought the guy was gonna faint. I don’t think he’d ever seen it before. He’s just shocked! And at one point, the girls back there were looking bored, “There’s dad going on and on.” And I wanted to include them. And I said, “Young ladies, I’m going to include you in this discussion.” I said, “I’m going to begin a verse, and you’re going to end it.” And they got nervous, I said, “No. Don’t be nervous, I got no doubt you’ll know this!” Because I’m sure these children were in church from the time they were in diapers and little babies. And so I said, “Blessed are the meek, for they…” And I pointed to them. And right on cue, perfect unison, “they shall inherit the Earth.” And the father actually turned and gave them this look like, “You’re betraying me!” No, I thought, “From the mouth of babes you have heard the truth.” And, this poor man. It turned out, he was the pastor of this little church. He had some people who were sort-of flooding the neighborhood. He had a couple congregation members walk down the street. And he was waving at them, trying to get them to come over – he needs help, he’s sinking fast. And they just wave and go, “O’ hi John, how are you doing!?” They thought he was waving! Well, finally, he went on his way. I’m sure he’s never forgotten that. Well, think about Matthew 6:10 – “’Your Kingdom come. Your will be done On earth …’” – nothing in there about going off to Heaven. Revelation 5:10 says ‘we will be kings and priests, and we will reign on the earth.’ Revelation 20:4 says, ‘we will live and reign with Christ a thousand years.’ Well, we know from Zechariah 14:4 that Jesus is going to be on the earth. And in Revelation 21, a chapter I love to read, every chance I get I try and read this – I just love it. This is our future! This is what we’re looking for! Verse 2 – “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ 5) Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ 6) And He said to me, ‘It is done! I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7) He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’” – and then a little later, he says in verse 9 at the end, “…’Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ 10) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, …” – descending to the earth. Heaven on Earth. And that’s what we know to be the truth!

‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ 

Well you know as a human being we read in Mark 1 that Jesus Christ, verses 14-15 says, “… Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel,” – this announcement of the Kingdom of God, verse 10 – “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe [this announcement].’” In Luke 4:43 – “but He [Jesus Christ] said to them, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’” – and after His human death and His resurrection, Acts 1:3 – “to whom He [Jesus Christ] also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days …” and what was He talking about!? “…and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

Paul, when he was under house arrest, fearing that he might die, Acts 28:23 – “… he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of God, …” Then Acts 28:31 we read, “preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” Well, see, that’s what we believe – ultimately that’s what we believe! That’s why we don’t believe the Trinity. We don’t believe in a closed Godhead, we believe GOD is a Family and that’s He’s adding to It!

We believe that Jesus Christ is soon going to Return! And we believe in the glorious resurrection from the dead, or if we’re alive, being resurrected as we stand! – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye! We believe in eternal life, and we believe admission into and participation in the Kingdom of God! – the Family of God for all eternity!

The Kingdom of God – this beautiful powerful concept. And that’s what all of us should be focused upon! The Kingdom of God! Matthew 6:33 – I love reading this, “’But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’” 

And yet, when we observe and listen and look about the highways and byways it is not always clear and obvious that the people of God – those individuals whom Jesus Christ and God the Father has called and chosen to understand the truth of God – are indeed seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

You know, logically speaking, it would seem, the closer that we come to the Return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age, you would think that people would become more dedicated, more motivated to serve God, and to be UNITED in doing the Work of God – and yet, strangely, against reason, the opposite has seemingly occurred. You know, over the past two or three decades we have witnessed and experienced – some of us close up – split after split, division after division, break-up after break-up. And you know, on a regular basis, Mark and I were talking the other day about a couple of these people (I won’t name the name’s and won’t even name the ideas), but on a regular basis we hear of different individual’s who become so obsessed with silly little ideas, small little concepts, or proposed doctrine, that they seemingly lose focus on this main goal of ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ It’s like the old adage, you can’t see the forest for the trees. They can’t see anything else, because they’re focused on this one little bitty ideas. What Mr. Herbert Armstrong aid over and over, “Stick to the Trunk of the tree!” And yet they end out at some little twig, and just obsessed with it! And they always want to a minister and say, “O’ I have something you need to teach!” I think about in the Book of Acts we read that one time there was seven brother’s that wanted to go around casting out demon’s, and it’s really sort-of a comical story. And they came up to a demon possessed person – these seven brother’s – and said, “Come out of there demon!” And the demon looked at them and said, “Paul I know. Jesus Christ, I know, but who are you!?” And this demon just thrashes them! I mean they’re left bloody, naked, bruised, battered, in shatter’s! And you know, I often say, Herbert Armstrong, I knew. Ted Armstrong, we knew. But some of these people who come up with these little piddly ideas – you say, who are you!? Where did you come from!? Who anointed you the great prophet, or the great teacher – gonna lead us into the Promised Land!? It’s just utterly amazing!

Apostle Paul was inspired to write in 1 Corinthians 13 – “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” – well it is time for the people of God to STOP speaking and understanding and thinking and acting like children. It is time that we become mature and seasoned – to become the people that God called us to be! To indeed help the Church of God, and to do the Work of God, not get involved in some of these piddly little ideas.

I can not tell you when the end of this era will occur! But everything that I see and read and hear – and I’m sure it’s the same with you – indicates to all of us that we’re really just not that far away. I can’t give you an exact date, but boy it’s really intriguing!

You know, a powerful Message came from Paul in Romans 13:11-14 – “And do this, knowing the time, that NOW it is high time to awake out of sleep; for NOW our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” – much nearer than when I first heard the truth of God. It was 1966 when I first heard the truth of God! Believe me, we’re a whole lot closer NOW than we were back then! That’s what Paul is trying to say! He says, verse 12 – “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness [and ignorance and silliness], and let us put on the armor of light. 13) Let us walk [honestly – true to our calling], as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not is strife and envy.” – and trust me, that’s where most of this division comes from! People who want to become something and they become very envious of  - “Well I’m gonna make a name for myself!” And then Paul says, verse 14 – “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, …”

Again, I can not tell you when this era of time will be over. When Jesus Christ will return to this Earth and set up the Kingdom of God! And when that day arrives – and it most assuredly will arrive – we will either be judged by Jesus Christ to be worthy of becoming a part of that eternal Family or we will be rejected.


Let us end by turning to Matthew 24 – and just read the Word’s of Jesus Christ along with me. Matthew 24 – the “Olivet Prophecy.” Talking about the end of the age. This end time. And keep in mind, Luke 18, we catch Jesus Christ sort-of having a spiritual daydream – I like to phrase it. He asked the question – ‘When the Son of man comes, when He returns to the earth, will He find faith!?’ My friends, He’s speaking of our generation! For some reason He looked out over the horizon of time and knew this era of time and asked the question – ‘will there be people who have faith!?’ He’s asking a rhetorical question. Well, notice what He says here in Matthew 24:32 – “’Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33) So you also, when you see all these things, you know that it is near – at the doors!’” – just think about all the thing’s occurring in the Middle East, in Europe! Verse 34 – “’Assuredly, I say to you, this generation …’” – there would be a generation where this finally applies! “ …’this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35) Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away. 36) But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only. 37) But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of man be. 38) For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39) and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of man be. 40) Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken  and the other left. 41) Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42) Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43) But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45) Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46) Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.’” – which is why I hope all of us can continue to dedicate ourselves to the Work of the Church, and the Work of the Work! Verse 47 – “’Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48) But [and] if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’” – and that’s all I can figure that’s gone on in people’s minds. ‘My Lord delays His coming!’ Verse 49) “’and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50) the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51) and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” And in another place Jesus talked about people saying, “Lord, Lord, don’t You know me!? Don’t you remember all the thing’s I did for You!?” And He says, “I don’t know you. Away with them!”

Well, that’s our future folks! One or the other. My friend’s it is time for all of us to wake up, and it’s time for all of us to grow up – and I can just say in conclusion – may God help all of us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because my friend’s, that day is at hand – or it’s pretty close!

Here is the sermon given by Minister Michael C. Garrett September 9, 2006 in Tyler, Texas, U.S.A. -


"IF YOU WERE TO DIE TONIGHT, WOULD YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL GO TO HEAVEN, OR WOULD IT GO TO HELL!?" Find out the TRUTH of the often misunderstood concept of the immortality of the soul - from the living Word's of our great God in this two-part series - The Confusion About Death!

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