Monday, January 20, 2020

End-Time Prophets - a seven-part series (Part 5)

Photo by Leonard V. Johnson

by Michael C. Garrett

Good afternoon friends. Greetings wherever you are. Welcome to Owensboro, Kentucky and the weekly church service of the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ.

We thank you for joining us and being with us. We do hope and pray that if you enjoy what you read here and also listen to on our video sermons via our website - - that you would please recommend us to your friends, to some of your family members that might be interested, or to your fellow church friends who might want to hear what we have to say. And we just ask that you give us some consideration. Our sermons are not quick – but we do cover a lot of material and a lot of very pertinent information. So again, thank you for being with us.

Now, the first thing that I want to bring up was the terrible tragedy that had taken place down in the southeastern part of Tennessee - around Gatlinburg and Dollywood and that area. They call them wildfires. Now, if it was out west, they’d call it a forest fire. I don’t know why they don’t call them forest fires if you live up in the mountains surrounded by forests!? With everything catching on fire it seems to me that you would be in a forest fire. But for some reason the news people called it a wild fire. Well, that part of Tennessee had been hit after a long time of drought. And, I read in the paper that at least fourteen people had died, and the homes and the businesses which had been destroyed approached the nearly twenty-five hundred mark. And that is terribly sad. So, our prayers went out to those people who had their lives turned upside down. I think of all the shocks to one’s system – I think one of the greatest shocks would be to drive up into your neighborhood and to see that your house is now nothing more than a pile of rubble. And everything you own is in that pile of rubble burned up – and possibly your family pets. What a heartbreaking experience that would be! My empathy truly went out (and indeed goes out even now) to all of those people.

Another terrorist attack!

And another! On November 28, 2016, a terrorist vehicle-ramming and stabbing attack occurred at Ohio State University's Watts Hall in Columbus, Ohio. A young man from Somali, who was proclaiming to be Muslim, who claimed to have all these loyalties to Islamic people on the internet. On June 1, 2017, investigators announced that he had left a torn-up note to his parents in which he pledged his allegiance to ISIS. He goes on a terrorist attack on the campus of the Ohio State University – driving his car into a group of people, and then exits the car with a butcher knife hacking and stabbing people! The only good part about this story – well, two good things – no innocent victims died, although quite a few people were hurt. And in the end, he was very quickly put down by a campus policeman who happened to be in the area and quickly took care of business.

And again, the Obama Administration – now, if you’re a Democrat you might possibly have liked the administration and can talk about positive things. And if you’re a Republican maybe you didn’t like them, and you try to point out their flaws. And, I’m not here to do that. But I will say this – from the get-go this president which had occupied the White House – had some type of soft spot in his heart for the Muslim religion, Islam, and for the people which practice that faith. I think it goes back to the fact that for a big chunk of his life when he was younger he was raised as a Muslim – that’s very well documented. He lived in Indonesia, he went to a madrasa, he lived in a home which was Islamic. Now, I don’t know if he had just a blind spot or if it was more active than that – but he went out of his way throughout his presidency and placated - remember when the Muslim Brotherhood was in charge of Egypt, and he make-believed that was a good thing!? And, the federal government wouldn’t say Islamic terrorism, or wouldn’t use the acronym ISIS – it was ISIL. Now, what was with that!? Why did he do that!? And also, whenever there was a terrorist attack, our government officials had the hardest time just coming out and saying, “This was an Islamic terrorist attack!” Well, that’s what happened on the campus of the Ohio State University – whether or not the federal officials wanted to admit it or not! But I’m sure the people who got ran over by the car, and got hacked with a butcher knife, they know what it was! And I find it just so upsetting that they were not honest with themselves and with the American people. And he appeared to have been living – talking about Barack Hussein Obama II – in a fantasy world. Where he simply could not see the dangers of extreme Islamic radicalism.

‘do not handle the Word of God deceitfully’

Well, another thing I want to talk about – I was so bored with all of these news reports, stories, and comments concerning the now POTUS Donald Trump and his administration. And I had grown weary listening to them. So I began to go through the television channels, and I came upon a Jimmy Swaggart program. And this particular program was called Frances & Friends. Frances Swaggart is the wife of Jimmy Swaggart. And she is the mother of Donny Swaggart. And, they sit around a table and discuss different topics and different people – with people calling on the phone or sending emails. And, I’ve ran across this show before – and sometimes they give some pretty good answers to some questions, and sometimes their answers are just – to me – nothing but foolishness. And the program caught my attention. Somebody was on the phone, and this person on the phone had a friend who was a Sabbath-keeper. And the person calling in was asking about the Sabbath. Well, immediately, the people there on the program go to Donny, and I don’t know if you’ve ever watched him, he is – to me – a very difficult person to like. He is very aggressive, very opinionated, very self-assured of everything he’s saying. And I want to relay to you some of the things he had to say. But before I do – I want you please to go into your Bible and look at 2nd Timothy 2:15.

** the Sabbath **

The Bible has a lot to say about how you read the Word of God. And, basically, it points out people who do it in truth, and the Bible also talks about people who deceitfully use the Word of God. Now, the Swaggart outfit would be highly offended if they were to hear what I am now saying – that at times they deceitfully use and interpret the Word of God. Now, I brought something out in the last article - What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol? How in one of their magazines they say, ‘Oh the Bible says you can never have a glass of wine or beer, or any alcohol!’ Well, that is so patently untrue! We pointed out in John 2 how the very first public miracle that Jesus Christ performed – in which He probably was at His sister’s wedding under the encouragement of His mother – was changing about 150 gallons of water into “good” wine. Now if God is so against alcohol – why was Jesus Christ changing water into wine!? That’s a true headscratcher. Sure the Bible says ‘Don’t get drunk. Don’t misuse alcohol.’ But it doesn’t say you can’t have a glass of wine or a drink of beer or a margarita – or whatever. It just doesn’t say that. Again, it says ‘control and moderation.’

It says in 2nd Timothy 2:14 – “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord …” – talking to young Timothy, his protégé. “ … not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.”

And if you’re not careful you can get into a religious argument, and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you can get yourself all turned inside out. I have known a lot of people who – they go surfing through the internet looking for answers to biblical questions. And some of these people get into very dangerous places.

Once upon a time – about thirteen years ago – we had a man who was meeting with us locally, he appeared to be a pretty good fella, and then eventually he got bizarre. And, out of nowhere I found out later that he was going to everybody in the congregation – except myself – and telling them, “Well, we shouldn’t leave our houses on the Sabbath. So therefore, everyone come to my house on Sunday morning and we’ll have a Bible study.” And I thought – how remarkable. In this reasoning, he had come up with a theory on how – we won’t go to Church on the Sabbath, but in the end we’ll become a Sunday-keeping church. It was truly bizarre! And then I found out that he had gotten into the idea that we need to keep the New Moons. Well, nowhere in the New Testament does it say that! That’s nowhere a part of the New Covenant! And I just thought – that’s shameful. Someone suggested, “Victor, what you need to do is go talk to Mike to get some of these questions answered.” And Victor said, “I don’t want to talk to Mike, he’ll confuse me.” Which means – ‘Mike will show me the error of my way, and I don’t want that done.’

Verse 15 – “Be diligent [study] to present yourself approved to God, …” – now, study what? Obviously study the Word of God! “ … a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

And then, in the very next verse Paul goes on to say – “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. … 23) But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.”

Well, a person who wants to follow Jesus Christ should become a serious student of the Word of God, and they should strive to divide it correctly – to understand it, to read it correctly. Not putting one particular slant on an idea or on another – but allowing the Word of God to speak to you the truth of God.

There’s another passage – 2nd Corinthians 4:1 – “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” – what is that mercy!? The calling of God! Being brought into the truth of God with enough understanding and knowledge where you seek baptism, and then are granted the Spirit of God. Verse 2 – “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation [open demonstration] of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” – or to them which are blind. To them which do not understand the truth of God. Verse 4 – “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, …”

Again, verse 2 – “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, …”

And friends, there are some people who do.

Now, if you don’t know that much about the Bible – but you’re interested – and you go to somebody who professes to be an understander of the Bible – let’s say the Swaggart' s, and you ask them a question. Maybe they’re dividing the word of God correctly, and maybe they’re handling the word of God deceitfully.

If you would turn to Ephesians 4 – where Paul had another comment about handling the word of God poorly. Verse 13 – “till we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God [Jesus Christ], to a perfect [a spiritually mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; …” – not knowing Christ just a little bit, but understanding everything about Jesus Christ and everything about the New Covenant and everything about the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the Plan of God – and the Kingdom of God! Verse 14 – “that we should no longer be children [spiritually immature], tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”

Now friends, I’m just telling you – there’s a whole lot of people who claim to be representatives of Jesus Christ. And yet they do not speak the truth of God.

So, let’s go back to what I said.

I’m going through the channels – a person is calling in on Frances & Friends – and the question was, ‘I have a friend who is a Sabbath-keeper, I want to know what I should tell my Sabbath-keeping friend!?’

And so Donnie, he answers the question. He says, ‘Well, the Sabbath-keepers – the Sabbatarians – all they do is look to a day for salvation.’ Now, I will – in part – agree with what he answered. I do know people who claim to be Sabbath-keepers, who live their life as though they believe that the only important thing is to keep the Sabbath – the seventh-day. Now, keep in mind, the Ten Commandments has ten commandments. And, you have to learn how to keep all of them. Including the Sabbath commandment. But just because you keep the Sabbath doesn’t make you holy. And, just because you go to the Feast of Tabernacles doesn’t make you holy. If everything about your life and your attitude is rotten – you’re not doing yourself any good. So, yes, there are some Sabbath-keepers who claim that as the ultimate – as it were – touchdown. ‘If I score that touchdown, then I win!’ It’s a whole lot more intricate than that.

And so Donnie went on to say, ‘In the Old Testament the Sabbath was to be a day of rest.’ Alright – that’s true. But then he jumps the track and ends up in a theological argument that was so far away from where he began – I couldn’t even follow his reasoning. Saying, ‘Well, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Sabbath.’ So, because Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath, therefore we don’t have to keep the Sabbath – is that what he’s implying!? It is what he’s implying! And, he went on to say, ‘He [Jesus Christ] is the rest.’ As in the rest of the Sabbath – the relaxation of the Sabbath. And then he quoted from the Book of Matthew.

And if you would turn to Matthew 11. He said - reading from verse 25 – ‘At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things …’ – what things!? The truth of God! ‘You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent …’ – from those who think they’re wise and prudent and smart. ‘ … and have revealed them to babes.’ Babes in Christ.

Verse 26 – “’Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27) All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’ – so what He is saying is, ‘the truth of God can only be understood by the people that Jesus Christ and God the Father choose out of the crowd.

Remember one time in the Book of John – Jesus said, “’You did not choose Me, but I chose you.’” And, He says another time, “’No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.’” You don’t just waltz into God’s grace. God chooses – “’For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Jesus Christ goes on to say verse 28 – “’Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ What is He talking about here!? Is He saying, ‘Just come to Me and you don’t have to keep the Sabbath anymore’? Nothing in this passage even begins to suggest such a thing! What He is saying is, ‘Come unto Me all of you that labor and are heavy laden.’ Heavy laden with what!? With sin, confusion, lack of knowledge, incorrect traditions. I am just amazed as I look around this world today – how many people are more interested in keeping their church tradition than learning what the truth of God actually is. He says, “’I will give you rest.’Verse 29 – “’Take My yoke upon you …’ – meaning what!? The Truth of God, the Word of God, the Plan of God, the Spirit of God, the Kingdom of God, the New Covenant, Jesus Christ as Sacrifice and Savior. “ … ‘and learn from Me, …’ – learn what!? Learn the truth of God! “ … ‘for I AM gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your [lives].’

If you find the correct spiritual formula – by which you live your life – you will find rest. And, ultimately, you will find the rest – the peace – of the Kingdom of God.

If you would turn to the Book of Hebrews. It’s one of the last Books of the Bible. You’re actually getting very near the end of the Bible when you get to the Book of Hebrews. Hebrews 4:1 – “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, …” – the same idea that Jesus is talking about. What type of rest!? Eternal rest – not in death – but eternal peace by being a member of the Kingdom of God. “ … let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2) For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, …” A lot of people have heard the words of the Bible, but most people who have heard the words of the Bible spoken to them do not have the correct formula. And it is of no profit to them. “ … not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3) For we who have believed do enter that rest, …” – that’s talking about the Kingdom of God. “… as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4) For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day …” – referring to the seventh-day of the week – the Sabbath. “ … in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; 5) and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ - into the Family of God, the Kingdom of God. Verse 6 – “Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7) again He designates a certain day, saying in David ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’ – this is talking about entering into the promised land – Joshua leading the children of Israel – and that most likely occurred on a Sabbath day. Verse 8 – “If Joshua [or Jesus] had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.” If God wanted to change the day of rest wouldn’t He have told somebody!? Remember, Joshua took over – as it were – after Moses. Well, we know what Moses thought about it. He said, “Remember the Sabbath day [the seventh day], to keep it holy.” It’s a part of the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Verse 9 – “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10) For he who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his works as God did from His. 11) Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, …” – referring to the Promised Land. Now, not the promised land of the days of Moses, but the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God! “ … lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” Verse 12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of [life] and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Again, verse 9 – “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. That word rest is sabbatismos. And, it’s easy to find, any reference book will show it to you – any concordance. Which means a keeping of the Sabbath.

Here it is in one of the last Books of the Bible – and he makes it just as plain as can be. Long after the life – the human life and death – of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the lives of the apostles, the life of the Apostle Paul – and here late into the Apostle Paul’s life he’s still writing under the inspiration of God’s Spirit – “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” The keeping of the Sabbath for the people of God.

Now, going back to Matthew 11. Verses 28-30 have nothing to do with somehow replacing the Sabbath. And, for those people on the SBN Network to sit there and to so smugly declare that, they are deceitfully handling the word of God! And it’s a terrible shame. And I hope someday they might read this. Well, they probably won’t because they believe they know everything. There is an arrogance about those people! And they are not allowing the Spirit of God – the true Spirit of God, the true mind of Christ – to teach them that the Sabbath is still in effect.

And they went on to say – one of their commentators spoke up and said, ‘Well, the New Testament Church kept Sunday.’ Completely untrue! Remember reading about the Apostle Paul – ‘as his custom was he kept the Sabbath’? You’re just lying about the Word of God folks! And, you’re not the only ones. Most of the so-called Christian world lies about the Sabbath. Now, somehow they have got to figure out why they’re keeping Sunday and not Saturday. And, it all started in A.D. 321 when Emperor Constantine the Great – who was attracted to the Christian religion but didn’t want to be Jewish – changed the Sabbath day to Sunday. That’s what all of that goes back to – an ancient Roman emperor. And so the Roman Catholic Church decreed that custom, and Martin Luther – when he separated from the Roman Catholic Church – continued right along with everything that Pope Leo X was teaching! And all of these daughter churches since – the mainstream Protestant world, the Catholic world – has continued a custom which was instituted by the Emperor Constantine the Great! And then they have the audacity to say, ‘Well, it got changed.’ No, it never did!

Now, I tell you what – if Jimmy Swaggart was to finally get up in public and say, ‘Guess what folks, the keeping of Sunday is not correct. We’ve been studying this, and we now see in the Bible where we should keep the Sabbath.’ Well, I would be impressed. I wouldn’t become a member of their outfit, but I would be impressed. But no, they went one-step further. By claiming that somehow Matthew 11:28-30 absolves people from keeping the Sabbath when Apostle Paul says clearly, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God!” – a keeping of the Sabbath for the people of God.

Now, notice Matthew 12. Remember He said, “’For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’” Now when the Bible was being written, they didn’t divide it up into chapters, they just kept writing on scrolls. Humans many hundreds and thousands of years later came up and decided to divide it into chapter and verse. But – Matthew 12:1 – “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.”

O’ wait a moment – what is He doing!? He is outside walking around and eating. Now, I may offend some of you – and I’m not trying to. But there are people from the tradition of the Worldwide Church of God who indeed have made the Sabbath into their main focus of worship. They have actually made the Sabbath into a type of idol. And they have used Jewish traditions and Jewish thought and Old Covenant ideas to actually tell people, “It’s wrong to go out and eat on the Sabbath!”

That also is deceitfully using the Word of God! And, if you believe that, then you’re probably not going to believe what I’m going to say. Yet, I’m telling you - very truthfully – that’s not what the Bible says.

Well, notice Jesus Christ here – “ … Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, …” – now did Jesus say, ‘fellows, it’s the Sabbath day, you can’t eat unless you go home’!? That’s not what He said. He actually saw what they were doing and didn’t do a thing to stop it. “ … and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2) And when the Pharisees saw it, …” – O’ my! The keepers of the Jewish traditions! “ … they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!’”

Friends, I hear people today who are modern-day Pharisees. Because they think by keeping Old Testament, Old Covenant, or old Jewish traditions that they are somehow pleasing God! And I’m telling you – they are not!

Verse 3 – “But He [Jesus Christ] said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4) how he entered the house of God [the temple] and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5) Or have you not read in the law [the first five Books of Moses] that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?’

Now, keep in mind – on the Sabbath day there in Jerusalem a lot of the Jewish practitioners would bring their sacrifices. And, some were just little doves, some sheep, or lambs, or goats – and some were large cattle. And the priests took these sacrificed animals and they butchered them. It was a whole lot of work. But, as Jesus said, they were ‘blameless.’

Verse 6 – “’Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.’ – referring to Himself! He is saying, ‘I, Jesus Christ, am more important than the Old Testament/Old Covenant religion!’

Now, they didn’t understand that. But He sure did!

Verse 7 – “’But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.’

Now, keep in mind – Donnie Swaggart - on his mother’s program – when asked about the Sabbath on a call-in said, “O’ no! Matthew 11 does away with that!” And yet, what do we read just a few verse later!?

Verse 8 – “’For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’ – referring to Himself!

Donnie, Jimmy, Gabriel, Francis – and all of you – why aren’t you honestly reading the Word of God!? Why are you deceiving people!? And, why are you deceitfully using the Word of God!?

Because right here it’s just plain as day! Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath! Does it sound like He’s changed anything!? No!

Matthew 12:9 – “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue.” – that’s their church building. Verse 10 – “And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ – that they might accuse Him. 11) Then He said to them, …” – remember, this was the Sabbath. He was in a synagogue. Remember – we, in this series, are talking about the end-time prophets and are told in the Book of John that Jesus says, ‘The miracles that I have done, you will do greater!’ And I believe that He is talking about the end-time prophets. And here is one example of those miracles.

“ … ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12) Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ And, it’s perfectly lawful to go to a taco restaurant on the Sabbath and have a taco!

Verse 13 – “Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14) Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”

Because Jesus Christ had the audacity to look them in the eye and say, ‘You want to see a miracle on the Sabbath day!!?’ and He healed that poor unfortunate man who had now become extremely blessed!

Verse 15 – “But when Jesus knew it, …” – He realized that the Pharisees were trying to kill Him “ … He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.” There might have been thousands of people in that great multitude. All with different problems – broken bones, diseases, withered arms, blindness, deafness, demon possession – and everyone in that great multitude was healed by Jesus Christ!

And the end-time prophets are going to do that – and even more!

Now, remember again back in verse 30, Matthew 11!? “’My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’” If you would turn to Matthew 23. Again, what is He talking about!? ‘My yoke is easy and My burden is light’?

He’s comparing the New Covenant with the constrictions of the Old Covenant.

And again, I do not understand why – but there are people in different congregations in different places who want to be living in this Old Covenant mentality. I’ve been talking about it for years. Why do you do that to yourselves!? We don’t live in the Old Covenant anymore – we live in the New Covenant.

Matthew 23:1 – “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2) saying …” – and I think there’s some sarcasm here. “ … ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3) Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.’ He is referring to the burden of the Old Covenant religion. Who – to this day there are people who willingly want to become Jews and somehow think they’re serving Jesus Christ. That is such an oddity in my mind. And yet, the people who get into that, they’re so deep in the hole they can’t see the Light anymore.

Verse 4 – “’For they bind heavy burdens, …’ – the keeping of the Old Covenant are ‘heavy burdens.’ Such as saying, “You can’t eat out on the Sabbath.” Why!? O’ I know, you go back to the Books of Nehemiah and Ezra – and you just completely misinterpret what’s going on. But Jesus Christ was walking through the fields and His people were eating. And I’m sure if there had been a taco restaurant they would have stopped and got tacos.

“ … ‘hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5) But all their works they do to be seen by men.’

And I do not know how many times I’ve been around these people who say, “Well, I can’t eat out on the Sabbath!” And they can’t wait to tell you. And then they go a step further – they sort of give you that look – “Why are you eating out on the Sabbath!?” And my answer is, “Because I’m hungry! And I like to spend a little time with some friends.” And then some of them say, “Well, if you go to that restaurant you’re making people work on the Sabbath.” No you’re not! Because those people are going to be there whether or not you’re going to show up in their restaurant. It’s a burden which does not need to be born.

“ … ‘They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.’ – a phylactery is sort of like a Boy Scout merit badge. “Look at me! Look at all the things I’ve accomplished!”

Verse 6 – “’They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7) greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ – meaning, ‘teacher, teacher.’

Well friends, the Old Testament religion again – verse 4 – ‘they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.’

If you would turn to Matthew 15. The Words of Jesus Christ! Again, don’t believe me – I’m not important – but do believe Jesus Christ! Because He is important! Jesus Christ is the Author of your faith and will also be the Finisher of your faith – who will also be your Judge. And if you don’t believe Jesus Christ – well, then you’re in trouble.

Matthew 15:1 – “Then the scribes and Pharisees [the temple elite] who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 2) ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’

Verse 3 – “He [Jesus Christ] answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your [worthless] tradition? 4) For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5) But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’ – 6) then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your [worthless] tradition. 7) Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8) ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9) And in vain [in total worthlessness] they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’’ – the traditions of men.

If you would turn to Colossians 2. We’ll see that Jesus Christ was not the only one to talk about this.

“For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2) that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, …”that mystery is: a human being being changed at the return of Jesus Christ and the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP – whether dead or alive – into an immortal spirit being, a member of the Family of God! “ … both of the Father and of Christ, …” – ‘acknowledging.’ 

And, by the way, I got on my computer last night, looked up Mark Armstrong’s Weekly Update – and to my shock! Once again, Mark, could not, would not, will not, cannot, acknowledge Jesus Christ! It’s just amazing! And what is even more amazing is that a bunch of you follow him. What are you thinking!? He, in effect, denies Jesus Christ! Well, if you’re in the same boat that he is, Jesus Christ will deny you when He returns!

Verse 3 – “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4) Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.” – like on Francis & Friends, or SBN Network. ‘Beguile you, confuse you, deceive you.’

Verse 5 – “For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6) As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, …” – which means that you have to be willing to say or write His name! Which Mark, apparently, cannot do.

Verse 7 – “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8) Beware [be careful] lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9) For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10) and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11) In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision [of the heart] of Christ, 12) buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13) And you, being dead in your [sins] and the uncircumcision of your [heart], …” – and if He hadn’t intervened that’s where you would be – ‘dead.’ “ …He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all your [sins], 14) having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us …” – He took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross!

So, what are the ‘wiped out the handwriting of ordinances’!? It’s the Old Covenant. Right here Paul just plainly says, ‘Jesus Christ blotted all of the Old Covenant out.’ Not the Ten Commandments. But the Old Covenant – the old Jewish ideas!

Verse 15 – “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbath’s, 17) which are a shadow of things to come, [but let the Body of Christ judge you].”

So, what he said in verse 16 – ‘Don’t let anyone hassle you about the fact that you don’t eat pork. Don’t let anyone hassle you about the fact that you keep the Sabbath. Don’t let anyone hassle you because you keep the holy days. But, you need to listen to what the Body of Christ is saying, or the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ – the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the Plan of God!

Verse 18 – “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, …”

You know – every so often you hear of little groups that worship angels.

“ … intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.”

Verse 20 – “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, …” – from the basic operating principles of this world – including the mainstream religions. “ … why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to [these physical] regulations – 21) ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ …” – some of the old Jewish customs. Verse 22 – “which all concern things which perish with the using – according to the commandments and doctrines of men?” – the Jewish traditions, the Old Covenant is nothing more than commandments and traditions of mankind. And they have no holiness in the eyes of God.

I just wish some of you would think about it.

Titus if you would. Chapter 1, verse 1 – “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness. 2) in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.

And then, notice verse 14 – he tells Titus, and in doing so, he tells us all because it’s now in the Word of God – “not giving heed to Jewish fables [and Jewish traditions] and commandments of men who turn from the truth.”

Verse 16 – the people who get caught up in all of this Jewish foolishness – “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.”

What is the most important aspect of your life?

I have another thought to share with you: If someone was to come up to you and ask you, “What is the most important aspect of your religious life!?”

And I hope your answer – and I hope that my answer – will be, “Well, the most important part of my religious life is Jesus Christ and the principles of the New Covenant, the kingdom of God, the Word of God, the Truth of God, and understanding the ultimate Plan of God.” I hope this would be at the forefront of your mind – and mine.

However, I fear that many people – and many of whom I have met and that I know – would give if they were truthful the answer of, “Well, the most important thing about my religious life is my church group.” Or, “My church friends and associates.” Or, “My religious leader.” Or, they may even say, “Well, the last name of my church leader.” Maybe that’s their most important thing. And some would say, “Well, the traditions of my church.”

Now surely you know where I’m going with this. Because all of those would be severely incorrect answers. Ones focus should be on knowing and understanding and practicing the TRUTH of God. Now, the Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ is all about the Word of God, the Truth of God, and understanding the Plan of God – and that means understanding Jesus Christ and the New Covenant.

The end-time prophets will understand this!

If you would turn back to Isaiah, chapter 8. In fact, anyone who stands up before you – or on your computer or television – has a standard which they must uphold. And the standard is pretty well spoken of in Isaiah 8:20.

Now, surely, the end-time prophets will pass this standard. They will be the perfect personification of this standard.

“To the law and to the testimony! …” – the testimony of the Bible, the Word of God. “ … If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light [and by extension no truth] in them”

If someone who claims to be your religious leader does not speak from the Word of God – and does not accurately portray the Word of God to you – they are not to be followed.

And, while we’re in the Book of Isaiah. If you would turn to Isaiah 59.

In this Old Testament prophecy – indeed talking about TODAY’S SOCIETY I do believe.

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy [or deaf], That it cannot hear. 2) But your iniquities [your sins] have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear you. 3) For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, …” – and so many religious leaders have that one directly placed upon their head. “ … Your tongue has muttered perversity.”

Verse 4 – “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. …” – O they’ll follow church tradition, and they’ll follow their leader – and that can be applied to so many different groups. Groups which have come forth from the Worldwide Church of God – they each have their little leader in front of them. And you are sort-of made to believe that only he knows what he’s talking about – and you must follow him explicitly, without doubt. And yet, the Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, why are you looking to a man!? Why are you looking to a so-called leader!? And, the Catholics do it, the Mormons (the Latter Day Saints) do it, the Baptists do it, the Methodists do it. Everywhere you look in the world of religion. They get hung up on, “Well, our leader says.” Well, your leader ought to be Jesus Christ! And your rulebook should be the Word of God! – properly understood, properly taught. Not deceitfully used.

“ … They trust in empty words (vanity) and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.”

If you would turn to verse 13 – “In transgressing and lying against the LORD, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14) Justice [judgment] is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity [or justice] cannot enter. 15) So truth fails, …”

And, I am unable at this time to go through all the Scriptures, but there is one parable. Matthew 13. And, I hope that nothing more – from this part five alone – you remember the parable in Matthew 13. Verse 44 – “’Again, the kingdom [from] heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid [he hides this treasure]; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’ What is He talking about there!? The treasure - you should be willing to sell all that you have - that you can buy that field where the treasure is hid – is the TRUTH OF GOD!

And then the next parable – verse 45 – “’Again, the kingdom [from] heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46) who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.’ And, what is that ‘one pearl of great price’ in this analogy!? It is the TRUTH OF GOD!

I wish all of you had great respect for the Truth of God!

If you would turn to the Book of John, chapter 4, verse 23. Again, these are the words of your Savior and of your Judge. ’But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers [of God and Jesus Christ] will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [or through the Spirit of God aided by the mind of Jesus Christ] and in truth.’

You mean to say Mike, ‘You could have a religion (it might be in a beautiful building, with beautiful stained glass, and beautiful woodwork) and you might have a thousand people who get together every week. And, maybe you have this massive organization where around the world other groups like you meet. And, they sing beautiful songs and they have a choir and a choir director. And the preachers are so – O great performers. And yet, if you DO NOT worship God according to His rulebook – your worship is worthless!’ Worthless worship! Because God seeks one thing He seeks people that will worship Him in TRUTH!

That’s a difficult concept for people to understand.

If you would, turn to the Book of James, chapter 1, verse 17.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shadow of turning. 18) Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” – the WORD OF TRUTH!

Is your religion based on Truth!?

The end-time prophets – everything they do and everything they say – will be based upon Truth! And the miracles which will be produced with them and by Jesus Christ will astound the world! People being raised from the dead, withered arms, withered legs – healed! The deaf hearing, the blind seeing! The mentally ill being made whole again! Cancers being cured! Heart disease! But these men will stand for the TRUTH OF GOD!

You must worship God according to TRUTH! It must be that ‘pearl of great price.’ That you must forego everything else that you must latch onto this ‘one precious thing’ – the TRUTH OF GOD!

Friends, thank you for joining us. And, I hope that you read this more than once. And, I hope you tell your friends about it and encourage them to read it. And, I hope that you send up your prayers to God on our behalf, and our prayers will indeed go up to God on your behalf. If you desire to financially help us, we will accept it.

We’re here to bring to you the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the knowledge and the understanding of the Plan of God. And we are here for the purpose of feeding the sheep of Jesus Christ – and the potential sheep of Jesus Christ.

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