Saturday, May 30, 2020

Day of Pentecost - 2019

by Michael C. Garrett

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Owensboro, Kentucky. Welcome to a non-weekly church service. This is really quite special – this is, from the Bible’s point of view, called the Feast of Pentecost, or the day of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of the Firstfruits. It can actually be called all of those actual names. But, it’s on a Sunday.

I remember when my parents were alive – they got used to me going to church on Saturday. But then every-so-often – like this weekend – I would get up and go to church on a Sunday. And, my Mom, and Dad, brother, and sister, they never could figure that out. And, I actually feel sorry for them, because – it would be confusing.

We are here on an annual holy day – a special day. It’s good to be with you.

The Feast of Pentecost. “Where did that come from?” you ask.

If you would turn into your Bible to Leviticus 23. And, this is just about what I do every time we have an annual holy day. Because Leviticus 23 is the one chapter in the Bible that lists all of the annual events in order – and gives you a little bit of information. Sort of like a thumb-nail sketch.

Now I want to cover this because there’s a whole lot of people out in the Protestant world, also in the Catholic world, that if you were to mention to them that you’re keeping these holy feasts – they sort of recoil and their initial reaction is, “Well, that’s a Jewish holiday!” Now, there are some feasts mentioned in the Book of Leviticus that the Jewish people don’t keep. And, I don’t know why people are so ignorant. Now, that’s not a pejorative term – ignorant just simply means “not knowing.” It truly astounds me that more people don’t know the truth.

Well, what does the Bible have to say!?

The Holy Bible doesn’t mention the term Christmas. There is one time where it mentions the word ‘Easter’ – but it’s a mistranslation in the Book of Acts. It should read ‘Passover.’ The Holy Bible doesn’t mention Halloween, St. Valentine’s Day, or all the otherworldly holidays. Friends, the church holidays of the world have their origins in pagan antiquity. And somehow they transmuted into the Catholic Church centuries ago. And we have a society that keeps Catholic holidays – and I don’t even know if they know why they do it. One example – Christ-mass. Mass – meaning the Catholic Church service – the Mass of Christ. Jesus Christ wasn’t born on or anywhere near December 25th. And yet, every year people just habitually think – ‘Well, that’s holy time – that’s church time. It’s when we are to sing Christmas carols and go around ringing bells and knocking on doors – caroling.’ But the Holy Bible talks about Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day (PDF). All of those are mentioned in Leviticus 23. Yet, that’s not the only place in the Holy Bible that they’re mentioned.

Leviticus 23:1 – “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2) ‘Speak to the children of Israel, … – now, when the Bible uses the term Israel, it’s normally talking about two different groups – which may be the same people, or may not – the genetic descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, Jacob had his name changed to Israel. And so his twelve sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin – were the progenitor of many nations. And Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and – biblically speaking – refers to the people of the United States of America, and the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth realms. Now, that’s the physical people of the term Israel – the other being the spiritual people of God. So, you might actually be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and also – today – be a spiritual descendant as it were – as a begotten child of God – having the Spirit of God. So, He’s speaking to the people of God when He says this.

“ … and say to them: ‘The feasts of the [Jews], …’” – no, that’s not what it says! “’ The feasts of the LORD, …’” – the Eternal God – “ …’ which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, …’” – which means “commanded assemblies” “ …’ these are My feasts.’” – ‘My festivals, My holy days!’

And then it goes on to talk about the Sabbath, and then verse 5 about the Passover. Verse 6 talks about the Days of Unleavened Bread which continues to verse 8. And then if you would turn to verse 9.

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10) ‘Speak to the children of Israel, …’ – again, the people of God, whether it be physically or spiritually. “ …’ and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.’”

So, we hear this term ‘firstfruits.’

Now, Jesus Christ is the FIRST of the firstfruits. And then those people whose – since the time of Jesus Christ until now, whenever they lived – names are written in the Book of Life because they have been called of God, chosen of God, led to increased knowledge and then eventual repentance and were baptized and granted a little bit of the very mind of God – the Spirit of God. These people – for nearly two millennia – have died in Christ. Now, there are quite a few people who lived back in the Old Testament times. Such as King David, the prophets of God – and other individuals. But, there is coming a time when they are resurrected.

Now, while I say this – this is the whole goal! And this, friends, is one of the main meanings of the Feast of Pentecost. That we are hoping to work towards the goal of being allowed to enter into the kingdom of God. And to be some of God’s ‘firstfruits.’ So, that’s sort of the analogy – here.

It goes on to say, verse 11 – “’ He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day AFTER the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.’” So, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. It’s what we call in our culture – Saturday. But this was to be ‘AFTER the Sabbath.’ Which is a Sunday. And this act here of the priest waving the sheaf – actually was fulfilled when Jesus Christ, early Sunday morning, actually returned to His upper heavenly home where God the Father and His angelic beings are, and they had a quick reunion (see Daniel 7:9-14) – and that’s what this waving of the sheaf was all about – also, be sure to read “The Firstfruits of the Earth”. That’s how it was eventually fulfilled in prophecy.

Now, no one knew that He had been resurrected – as in the disciples. And then the following morning – very early the following morning – some of the ladies were bringing spices to freshen His body. A custom which they followed at that time. And when He first sees one of these ladies, she doesn’t know who He is – she thinks He’s a worker. And, she realizes that the Body of Jesus is gone – because the stone had been rolled away. The stone wasn’t rolled away that Jesus could come out of the tomb, the stone was rolled away so that people could look into the tomb and realize He’s not in there anymore. She was very concerned – as well as the other disciples – that maybe His body had been stolen. And also, the Roman authorities cooked up this concoction of an idea – that the disciples had stolen His body and were falsely claiming that He was resurrected. And she said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’” At first, she doesn’t recognize who she is talking to. And that happens quite a few times in the Bible – where Jesus had the ability to metamorphosis His appearance, to change His appearance. Finally, Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ He allowed her to perceive who He actually was. And she realizes that it is Jesus Christ once again who is alive! And, she probably had a habit to reach out and touch Him – to grab ahold of Him – and Jesus had to say to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father.’

Well, later on, that same day – probably in the afternoon – we read in the “gospel” accounts where Jesus is back on the earth again talking to different individuals. Now, I think the most classic of these stories are – two disciples are walking toward a village called Emmaus, and Jesus comes and joins them. And once again – they had no idea who He was. They just thought He was a stranger. But He was talking about the things they wanted to talk about. And they continued to walk, coming to this small village to have a meal - Emmaus could be, according to Josephus, the town of Motza, Israel today. And they still don’t know to whom they are speaking and listening. And then eventually Jesus removed His – as it were disguise – and they realized that they are talking to the risen Jesus Christ – whom they thought had died. And just like He always said, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ So, from the time that Jesus Christ was resurrected until the time of about 40 days later, He was seen by a lot of people!

Let’s go down a little farther – verse 15 – “’ And you shall count for yourselves from the day AFTER THE SABBATH, …’” – so, you have 7 x 7 = 49 + 1 on a Sunday you get 50. And, that’s what the term Pentecost actually means.

Verse 16 – “’ Count fifty days to the day AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH; …’” – Pentecost is from the Greek word pentékosté, meaning fiftieth. Pentecost literally means “count fifty.’

Verse 21 – “’ And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation …’” – a very special holy commanded assembly. Now, if you’re automobile is broke down – it’s hard to get to a church meeting. If you’re sick or unwell, maybe having other health problems – you probably shouldn’t be going to a church service. If a church service isn’t local, but too far away - it’s hard to get to a church meeting. Well, there are reasons why a person might not be able to make that commanded assembly. But if you’re healthy enough, are able, and have the funds – you’re supposed to try and make it to a church service. That’s what the Word of God says. “ …’ You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute FOREVER …’”

Friends, this ‘feast of the LORD’ is staying around FOREVER! “ …’ in all your dwellings throughout your generations.’” It doesn’t say just for ten generations, or a hundred generations, or a thousand generations, or even ten-thousand generations and then you stop. No, it says FOREVER!

So, well into the kingdom of God – with the millennial reign of Jesus Christ – people on the earth will still be celebrating and acknowledging the festival known as Pentecost.

Well, if you would turn back to Exodus 23. We’re going to go through a couple of more places where we see a reference to this event.

Verse 14 – “’ Three times [or THREE SEASONS] you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: …’” – so it’s speaking of the spring holy days – Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread – and the early summer holy day of Pentecost; and then the fall holy days – Feast of Trumpets, Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. And this is what this verse is referring to.

Verse 15 – “’ You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, …’)” – now, it doesn’t say, ‘rip your house apart looking for year-old bread crumbs.’ And that is sort of like a Jewish custom – if you want to know the truth. With many groups of churches of God, they teach this – that it’s more important to them in finding an old piece of cookie or bread crumb than understanding just what the Days of Unleavened Bread represent. We have a seven-part series entitled “Christ In You (Unleavened Bread) – 2017” which covers this God-revealed understanding in great depth. The unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth. And how for seven days we’re to eat unleavened bread which is commensurate with having the unleavened Bread of Jesus Christ when He said, ‘I AM that bread.’ And for seven days we make a habit out of doing a physical activity that’s meant to teach us a spiritual – or mental – lesson. And that is that for seven days we actively pursue the idea of adding Jesus Christ to us. Now, that is a physical practice – when in total reality every day we should be asking God Almighty and Jesus Christ to share with us an ever-growing amount of the Holy Spirit. And if you’re feeling a little down or a little melancholy or even frustrated – and a lot of people do – it might be impart because the level of God’s Spirit is maybe closer to E than it is to F on your spiritual “tank” – closer to empty than it is to full. And, if that is the case, then I suggest you spend more time with God and Jesus Christ in prayer. I suggest you spend more time studying and trying to understand the Word of God, the Truth of God, and the ultimate Plan of God. Because if you understood – truly; deep in your spirit, in your mind, in your tissues and sinews – the T R U T H of God - you have been called by Jesus Christ and God Almighty to become future and eternal members of the Family of God! Friends, there’s no greater gift – no greater lottery – anywhere in the whole universe. You have a chance to be the winner of the ideal gift – eternal life in the kingdom of God!

So, if you think about that a little more – remember Jesus said Matthew 6:33 – “’ But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’” And there are times in our lives we seek other things with more vigor, with more enthusiasm. And if we were to learn to put Jesus Christ and God Almighty and the kingdom of God, the Holy Bible, and the New Covenant at the very top level of our aspirations – of our goals – I think that you would find out that you would be a happier person. You might be a healthier person, more alert, and more enthused, and more in love with the concept of life itself. Because you know that your life – even though it might temporarily end – is destined to be eternal life. Think about that! You were born so that you could be an eternal member of the Family of God! Not up in the upper heavenly realms – floating around on a cloud playing the harp hoping that God might look at you or maybe perchance reach out and touch you on the head like you do your puppy dog. No, I mean a full-fledged member of the Family of God doing things constructively, teaching other human beings that came along after you the truth of God, and seeing them graduate into the kingdom of God! There truly isn’t anything better than that concept! Now, this concept is not taught in the churches of this world. It just isn’t. Well, I just told you the truth of the Gospel. This is the good news!

The Feast of the Firstfruits

Verse 16 – “’ and the Feast of Harvest, …’” – so, you could call this the Feast of the early summer harvest. Now, back in that part of the world, I am led to believe – and I hope I am correctly understanding my history – that the farmers at that time could plant their early crop maybe in February – because it was warm enough for the seeds to germinate – and by the time early summer rolled around they had their first early summer crop to harvest. And then they could plant their fields with another type of crop and have another crop in the fall of the year - continuous with the idea of the Feast of Tabernacles. So, there’s the early harvest – which is a smaller harvest – and a latter harvest – which is a bigger and more robust harvest. And then, on the eighth-day – the last great day of the Feast – that represents when everyone who has ever lived, having not rejected the Spirit of God and driven the Spirit of God out of them; having committed the so-called ‘unpardonable sin’ – will have a chance to learn the truth of God and to become an eternal member of the Family of God within the kingdom of God. And that’s news which the churches of this world never dreamed of.

You know, they teach things like ‘well, if you’re uncle who is a bit of a rascal – he drank too much, maybe smoked a joint or two of marijuana on the side, and maybe he liked to go to bars and play pool – and he went to nightclubs (even though King David danced before the LORD and it was greatly appreciated) – then he’s going to hell!’ Isn’t this a strange idea!? Think about it! Some of you who have come from the Protestant background – why do they spend time trying to get your mind all tied up in knots!? Now, listen carefully – so many of the religions of this world have ONE MAIN PURPOSE! And that is to lay a guilt trip on you.

Do you know what I am talking about!? They want you to be guilty about this and guilty about that! And the idea being – the only place you can receive some type of help is if you come and be a member of “our church.” Well, think of that uncle who was a bit of a rascal. And when he died his Right-wing church members and his family they pretty well conclude ‘ol’ Uncle Ralph is going to end up burning in hell!’ Is this what a loving God does to ‘ol’ Uncle Ralph’!? No, your uncle, your aunt, your brother, your sister, your parents, your grandparents – none of them are ‘burning in hell’! Maybe they’re not alive anymore, but – someday they will be! On this earth! And someday they’re going to learn the truth of God. That is a part of this great Gospel Message!

Going back to verse 16 – “ …’ the firstfruits of your labors …’” – the early harvest. Hopefully, people like you, and people like me, can be a part of that harvest of the firstfruits – which will occur very close to the return of Jesus Christ with the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP – the last trump! Now, this information is MORE IMPORTANT than anything else on this planet! And it’s information that you need to be made aware of and have refreshed – and have an even greater understanding of what these truths are!

“ …’ which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, …’” – the autumn of the year. This is the one which is in analogous with the Feast of Tabernacles. A much larger harvest. But, we have a chance to be a part of the harvest of the firstfruits.

Exodus 34:21 – “’ Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; … 22) And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.’” So, once again, it’s distinctly talking about an early summer harvest of the crop which was planted late January/February and it’s talking about a much larger harvest, a more robust harvest of the crop in the fall. Again, we have a chance to be a part of the Feast of Firstfruits.

Now, if you would turn to 1st Corinthians chapter 15. The apostle Paul gives us another little piece of the story – a point of understanding – about the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost. Keep in mind – we can call it Pentecost, or the day of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of the Firstfruits – it has a variety of names in the Bible.

Now, I want to say something here today. I sort of alluded to it earlier – but I’ll say it again – and it may be a concept you have not been exposed to before. And, we often talk about the Feast of Pentecost being that time when God pours out His Spirit on a much larger group of people than He did in the Old Testament – and that’s a truism. We often say, ‘Well, it’s sort of the birthday of the New Testament Church.’ And that’s an accurate statement. But what you don’t normally hear is the Feast of Pentecost is directly linked with the concept of the resurrection of the saints – in the early harvest. In the harvest of the firstfruits. And that’s something I want to drive home today.

1st Corinthians 15:12 – “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

Now, I will bet that there are people right now somewhere in the Western world – individuals or even organized groups – that teach ‘there is no resurrection from the dead.’

According to Henry M. Morris, PH.D.:
“So we have all the different religions, each with its own version of the future life. As noted, many of the religions of Asia such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, with all their internal cults and external offshoots, believe in transmigration and reincarnation, a process terminating eventually perhaps in nirvana, a state of universal oneness (or perhaps nothingness). Individual resurrection is never considered even a possibility.
The Chinese religion (before Communism, that is) has been a sort of synthesis of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, with many hold-over elements of a still earlier animism. Confucianism is primarily an ethical system, though with occasional overtones of belief in a high God back in the beginning. Buddhism in its original form was also mainly ethical and meditational. Taoism was more mystical. Again, however, in none of these religions has there ever been any notion of resurrection.”
(Read More: Retrieved 7 May 2020).
They just simply believe – as they live their 60, 70, 80, 90-year lifespan – that is the whole focus of their existence.

Now, there’s a family member of mine, when my mother died a few years ago and we spoke at the funeral. Now, keep in mind – this person grew up in a home that considered themselves to be Catholic. And sure enough, he only lived about a half-a-block away from the Catholic school in that small town. And he went there until he was about a 6th grader until they kicked him out. I guess he was a bit of an ornery cuss! And, he had a chip on his shoulder about religion. Throughout all the time that I’ve known him – he had a very crusty view of religion. And he seemed to harbor a tremendous amount of ill-will towards his Catholic roots.

Well, my mother died and I was asked to speak at the funeral and I made references to the idea – that there will be someday a time when my mother will be resurrected from the grave and have a chance to live again. And to learn the truth of God. Well, when we were through with that ceremony – or service – and we all got together as a family group, he walked through a room, and he directed a comment at me. Again, he can be quite surly at times. He said something of the effect, ‘Well all I know is that when I die they’re going to put me in the ground and I’m gonna rot!’ And I thought – what a great thing to look forward to!

Now, at the time of my mother's funeral, he still had pretty good health. And I think there have been a few incidents in his life, and now I think he’s a little more amenable to the idea that maybe there’s something after death. Now, he’s never asked me about it – and probably never will. But, someday he’ll learn. And someday – I hope – through God’s grace and blessing that I’m the one that gets to tell him. And talk to him – and in a future age – and share with him this truth of God.

“ … some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

Now, remember the temple elite – the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the so-called ‘lawyer’ types “experts” on the law. The Sadducees say there is no resurrection. So, as Paul is speaking about this there were indeed people who were alive in the time of Paul that had as an organized belief – in an organized religious movement – the concept that there was no future resurrection from the dead.

Well, what do atheists believe!? A lot of atheists are very far over to the Left. And, it’s my observation that the people on the far-Left anymore are just angry about everything.

I remember growing up watching Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and he was funny. And then there was David Letterman on Late Night with David Letterman – and I thought he had a bit of an edge to him, and I didn’t appreciate his humor. But now the people on the late-night television programs – such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon – they’re just always angry. Or, as my buddy Chipper goes around saying all the time, “I’m just pissed off!” And you think – Chipper, how’s your blood pressure doing!? “It’s doing just fine!” he scowls. But he has to take pills. So, the people on the Left are just angry about everything. And I do not know why you would want to live that way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – in my lifetime there have been some presidents that I did not particularly care for. But friends, I didn’t waste my time thinking about them. I just went out and lived my life the best I could and tried to be happy – tried to be content.

So, what do atheists do when they contemplate their death!? They profess that they have no hope. Well, even in spite of themselves they do have hope. Because someday they too will be brought back to life and taught for the first time the truth of God.

He goes on to say in verse 14 – “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” I guess some of them are going so far as to say, ‘Well, Christ never rose.’ And, among the Jewish population and culture, they never did accept the idea that Jesus Christ walked out of His tomb. And even to this day – they’re waiting for a mystical messiah! And, friends, He came nearly two-thousand years ago. And, He’s coming back again – not too far down the road. And when He does they will not recognize Him – they will not know Him.

Verse 15 – “Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise.” – so, Paul is saying, ‘I have spoken to the resurrected Jesus Christ! Trust me. I know that He walked out of the tomb.’ And, all of His disciples which became apostles, they knew that He was alive at one time, that He’d been arrested, a sham trial, tortured to death, placed into a tomb – and they also experienced Him when He was alive again!

You know, most of these disciples which became apostles had their lives cut short prematurely. Because they would not give in to the pressure of their culture and their society – and they were martyred. And, I don’t think they would have gone through that if they had a doubt about whether or not Jesus Christ truly was alive. They knew He was alive because they had seen Him! They had touched him! They had spoken with Him!

Verse 16 – “For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18) Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” – so, the term “fallen asleep in Christ.” Again, I’ve tried to point out many times – the term “sleep” in the Bible refers to death. And for those people who died in Christ, they died having the Spirit of God, having the truth of God, and having their names written in the Book of Life.

Verse 19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” And, in one place Paul says, ‘If Christ is not risen from the dead then eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’

Verse 20 – “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21) For since by man came death, …” – meaning Adam. And, the sin which Adam and Eve committed. “ … by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.” – referring to Jesus Christ.

Verse 22 – “For as in Adam all die, …” – if you follow the way of Adam and Eve you will die. And you’ll be in your grave – and that’s it. And, as my family member says, “You will rot!” “ … even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” And notice that phrase “all.” And that “all” I think means about 99.999 percent. The overall, overwhelming, vast majority, of human beings – past, present, and future!

And I get the feeling – in my experiences of life; or even talking to a great many members of the churches of God – that every group sort of believes deep down inside that they are the only group. Now, don’t get mad at me – but I have heard my Catholic friends imply that only people who are members of the Catholic Church have a chance of making it into the “great beyond” – whatever. I’ve heard Baptists say the same thing, and I’ve heard other Protestant groups – actually state that “if you’re not a part of our group, you’re gonna go to hell!” And yet the Bible says from the apostle Paul – who got all of this information directly from Jesus Christ – “even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Verse 23 – “But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” – WOE! Listen up Catholics and Protestants – how do you handle that verse!? Do you just take a black marker and cross it out!? What did it say!? “Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Now, wait a minute! I’ve heard Catholics and Protestants talk about when you die – if you’re a good person; however that is defined – you go fleeting up to Heaven. And then, from the same people you hear that the bad people, however that is defined, they go down to the depths of hell! To be tortured for all eternity. And yet the Bible doesn’t say anything like that! Here is another proof that says – basically – nothing happens to anyone until Jesus Christ returns. Now, you Sunday keepers – how do you explain this one!? You’ve grown up believing that your minister, your priest – your whatever – was telling you the truth. And yet they have not been telling you the truth! And there is no truth in the churches which are led by false prophets. Yes, there may be a sprinkling here or there – but overall the message is incorrect. It comes from human mythology. Human thoughts.

Verse 24 – “Then comes the end, when He [Jesus Christ] delivers [or, given over] the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25) For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26) The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” – that’s a powerful statement! Let it sink in! Death is not the final decider of your fate. Your heart may momentarily stop, your lungs may momentarily stop breathing – but if you are a child of God, a follower of Jesus, if your name is written in the Book of Life – even death will be conquered. That is the great hope! Again, that is the Gospel! And you just don’t hear that being spoken.

What determines if you’re a Christian!?

Let’s turn to Romans, chapter 8, verse 6 – “For to be carnally minded is death, …” – now, that is a shocking statement! What does it mean!? The word carnally in Greek is sarx, meaning “flesh, body, the soft tissue of a creature.” Or, meaty. Without God’s Spirit, you have a “meaty” brain – and you’re facing death. However, notice the continuation of this verse – “ … but to be spiritually minded is life [meaning – eternal life] and peace.” – to be spiritually minded means you are led and directed and guided and inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. Which is the mind of Jesus Christ, the mind of God the Father. It’s the way They extend Their presence far away from where They are. And if you have your name written in the Book of Life you have some of God’s mind within you! That’s what qualifies you to become a member of the kingdom of God. Not you – not the flesh and blood which is you – but the Spirit of God which lives within you. That’s what makes you resurrection quality.

As I have gone through my sixty-nine years of life, one thing has become obvious to me. You can separate people into two groups. People who have peace of mind, peace of spirit, a certain calmness about them, a certain euphoria about them – or, there are people who are tied up in knots, in pain – mental pain, emotional pain, psychological pains, spiritual pain. I don’t think the people who are tormented by pain – speaking of psychological pain – are having a fun time being alive. But to have spiritual peace – every day is a euphoric vacation. Friends, when I go into my backyard, I am one with nature and I am one with God. I love that little scene back there – and I am so thankful that I have that little corner of the world that I can control and do what I want to do. And, nobody else can bother me. “but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Verse 7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; …” – the natural human fleshly brain is not compatible with God. The natural human brain is selfish, and does not want to be told by anyone or anything what they can do and what they cannot do – they will resist it, they will fight it, they will murmur against it. How many times in the Old Testament with the story of the children of Israel did they go into this murmuring process!? It got so bad that Moses didn’t even want to do anything with them at one time. And, it got so bad that on one or two occasions God Himself didn’t want to deal with them anymore! And that’s what rotten attitudes they had. Well, there are a lot of people who have rotten attitudes. “ … for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”

Verse 8 – “So then, those who are in the flesh [meaning – without God’s Spirit] cannot please God.” – now, there are a lot of people who today – either earlier today or even now – have gone to church meetings, because this is a Sunday. And a whole lot of them – and I’m talking about hundreds of thousands, even millions of those people – don’t know the truth of God, have never repented, never asked to have God’s Spirit granted to them. They are without the Spirit of God – and yet they convince themselves and their own sense of self-righteousness that they have pleased God. Because they went to church today. And what they don’t understand – “So then, those who are in the flesh [void of God’s Spirit] cannot please God.”

Verse 9 – “But you are not in the flesh but in [or – of] the Spirit, …” – now, when I say these terms from the Bible, it’s not talking about some charismatic “speaking in tongues” moment. It’s not talking about some Pentecostal type movement. It’s not talking about that stuff friends! Just getting all emotionally charged and running around waving your hands and babbling in some incoherent and strange noises is not “in the Spirit.” Being in the Spirit, or of the Spirit, or with the Spirit, is when the mind of Jesus Christ and God Almighty is being shared with your mind. “ … if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

A lot of people think – well, if I go to church on Sunday I’m a Christian. Nope. A lot of people think – well if I talk about Jesus Christ all the time that makes me a Christian. Nope. A lot of people think – well if I wear a cross around my neck that will make me a Christian. Nope. The only thing that separates Christians from non-Christians is that true Christians – the true followers of Jesus Christ – have been given a part of the mind of Jesus Christ. That’s the difference. And all of you, friends, need to ask yourself – do I have God’s Spirit!? And if I don’t is there something I can do to receive it!? Indeed there is. I think you can go to God in prayer and ask that He grant you true repentance and much greater understanding, and find a minister of God to baptize you (we have trained ordained ministers available in the east-south-central, and southeastern regions of the United States, ready to counsel with you PERSONALLY - to answer questions - to help you with any spiritual problems - even to baptize any who are ready for it). And, through the process of the laying on of hands, have that gift of God conferred upon you. That would be my suggestion.

Verse 10 – “And if Christ is in you, …” – one of the basic fundamental meanings of the Days of Unleavened Bread! When Jesus said, ‘I AM the Bread of life!’ You know – ‘for seven days you will eat unleavened bread’ we’re signifying that we need Jesus to be in us through His mind, through His Spirit. “ … the body is dead because of sin, …” – now, the body will die, however “ … but the Spirit [will grant you] life because of righteousness.”

Now, there are some people who think they can whip themselves into shape and become righteous. Now, friends, it is true – you can change your diet, you can change your exercise plans, and you can whip yourself into better shape, physically. I’ve known people who think – well if you’re righteous you’ll comb your hair a certain way. And by all means you men won’t have long hair! You know, I really don’t think God gives a hoot! Now, when I was growing up the hippie movement started and I sort of got offended when I saw men with long hair. But you know friends – if somebody can grow long hair, more power to them, because I can’t anymore. I’m not even gonna complain. But it’s not how you comb your hair or how long your hair is or isn’t, it’s not whether you put on makeup or don’t, it’s not the color of shirt you wear, it’s not how big your briefcase or Bible is, it’s not how you speak. None of that is what matters! YOU CANT PUT ON RIGHTEOUSNESS! The only place where you can get righteousness is to beg and to plead with God Almighty and Jesus Christ that THEY pour out THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS on you. How do you get rid of unrighteousness!? You have so much of God’s Spirit within you that it pushes everything else out. Think of an empty jar. And, the air which is in the jar is unrighteousness. But if you pour olive oil (which represents God’s Spirit) into that jar, when the olive oil gets to the top, all of the unrighteousness is gone. That’s how you become righteous – you don’t work your way into it. You can’t put on righteousness. God is the only One who is righteous, and only by having the mind of God in you can you have some of that righteousness. That’s the part of you that will be resurrected into the kingdom of God! The human part of you won’t! Because we won’t be flesh and blood – whatever was once your flesh and blood body will be gone. But the Spirit of God is eternal. That’s what God uses and will manipulate to make you an eternal spiritual being.

There was a fellow once upon a time, and I thought he was a good guy, and I thought his wife was a good person. And I made an hourglass and gave to him. It was just a decoration to place upon his shelf. And I found out later – he was puffed up with self-righteousness and vanity – from his wife that he would take it into his “prayer closet” and when he began to pray he would place the hourglass next to him. And he wouldn’t stop praying until an hour had gone by. My, he was righteous! Mahatma Gandhi once said, “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.” And, of course, that goes for prayers. I think even five-minutes of truly earnest prayer is more important than a whole hour of just sort of mumbling things – just aimlessly bouncing off things in your mind.

Verse 11 – “But if the Spirit of Him [God the Father] who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [because of His Spirit that] dwells in you.” – Christ in you.

Verse 12 – “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; …” – if you live a life devoid of God’s Spirit sooner or later you will die. But however, if “ … by the Spirit [empowered by God’s Spirit] you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Verse 14 – again, another definition of what a true Christian is. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are [children] of God. 15) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, …”

O’ I have to tell this story quickly. Several years ago a church gathering out in Missouri – this guy who looked like Ichabod Crane from Pennsylvania (the image portrayed by Walt Disney World) was the speaker of the day. And, as they say down south – “Bless his heart!” He was just a hard man to look upon – with a stare about him. And he got up behind the lectern that day and he kept saying over and over, “You must FEARRRRR GOD!” Friends, I was sitting on an aisle seat, and I literally became nauseated. And I wasn’t nauseated before he began to talk. And I hadn’t eaten any bad food for breakfast. I almost threw up in the middle of the aisle. It was horrible!

Now later on that afternoon – as I minded my own business in my little condominium – when someone knocks on the door and says, “Mike, we’re going to go into Branson and eat at the Golden Corral.” And I didn’t have any dinner plans – I hadn’t thought about it much – so I got into the car with them and lo and behold unbeknownst to me sitting in the backseat of the car was “You must FEARRRRR GOD!” Well, a little way down the road Ichabod says to me, “Mike, I noticed you out in the crowd today. And, you didn’t look like you were very happy.” And I said, “O’ I was just on the verge of throwing up – that’s all.” “What did you think of my sermon?” “Well, I’ll tell you what, as long as I live I will never forget that sermon!” And I haven’t. And I won’t. Because it was probably the worst sermon I’ve ever heard in my life.

Well, what did Paul just say here!? “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of [sonship] by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” – we’re not supposed to fear God! We’re not supposed to fear Jesus Christ! We’re supposed to love Them! And appreciate Them! And feel strengthened by Their presence in our life! But you know – I’ve been around homes where the dog is always shying away from people – and you come to realize that that dog has probably been kicked and mistreated - so many times that when he sees a human being he cowers in fear.

I had an incident about a week ago. My dear beloved kitty cat – who I named Kitty Boy – who you couldn’t ask for a nicer cat. But this one evening Kitty Boy was sort of wound up. Was jumping from place to place. And then jumped from my reclining chair up onto the top of a bookcase – where I don’t want him. Because he and his brother just knock things over – knock everything off the top of that bookcase. And so I was saying to him, “No Kitty Boy – no!” And he just looked at me as if to say, ‘I am not interested in the least!’ So, I got him up and I moved him and placed him on the floor. And a few moments later he got right back up there on that bookcase. So, I said to him, “No! No!” And picked him up and placed him on the floor again. And he did it again! And there happen to be a little water bottle there that has a top which you can pull out – and upon pulling the top out you can make a squirt gun out of it. And so I was frustrated, and I began squirting Kitty Boy with the water in that water bottle yelling, “No! No!” And he looked at me – and I can still see that look – with this face that said, ‘What is wrong with you poppa!?’ I saw fear. And it looked as though he had been betrayed by his good friend. Kitty Boy follows me everywhere. Anywhere I am – there’s Kitty Boy. I love this cat! And I felt like I had damaged him. And ever since then I’ve been apologizing to him.

Remember what God had told Noah!? He would never again destroy the earth through water. Well, I have that same feeling with Kitty Boy. I’ll never do that again. Because he was totally shocked by me – because I’m his friend. And I was raving like a mad man.

Well, we shouldn’t think of God that way either! We shouldn’t walk through life waiting for God to strike us down! Or, to pull the rug out from under us.

You know – most of the troubles we have in our life we created ourselves. And then ever so often we have human beings that go out of their way to create troubles for us. And then sometimes we have demonic spirits or Satan himself to go out of his way to inspire people to cause us troubles. But God never does that! And we should never fear Him! There should never be that barrier – you should be able to go to God and Jesus Christ and just be completely open. Don’t keep secrets from Them! Let Them know everything – because They already know your flaws. And They know that you are flawed. They know that you’re flesh and blood, and They know that we as humans are prone to make mistakes. Aren’t we!? We do stupid things that we shouldn’t do, and we say stupid things that we shouldn’t say, we think stupid things which we shouldn’t think. And the best remedy is to go to God and Jesus Christ in prayer and just be totally and completely open and honest with Them.

Now, I am not saying, ‘go to human beings.’ I wish you could – I wish there were people you could go to. I wish there were people in your life that you could completely and totally trust – with your most intimate and darkest secret. But I’m telling you – there’s a good chance sooner or later you’ll get burned. But God Almighty and Jesus Christ will NEVER betray you! They will never leave you, never forsake you. And They will always hold your life as dear and precious. Take it to God in prayer.

Thank you for being with us today. We appreciate you – wherever you are. Fifty miles away, or, five miles away, or, five-thousand miles away – we hope you read along in your Bible, we hope you learned, and we hope you come back and learn more. Whether you know it or not – we consider you to be a part of all of us. And I want you to feel that way – I want you to feel as though you are a part of what’s happening in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA. The Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ.

So, we ask God’s blessing on all of you, we ask God’s guidance on all of you, we ask God’s protection on all of you. And we say this in the name of Jesus Christ – our Lord, our Master, and our soon-coming King.  

Until next time, goodbye my friends. □

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