Monday, July 27, 2020

What If... The Dead Rise Not?

Friends, I welcome you to West Central Florida, here in beautiful Spring Hill, which is part of Florida’s Nature Coast region within the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Ministries. My name is Leonard V. Johnson.

Friends, all around this world people are deathly afraid of death and absolutely do not know what is going to happen after death. Many say, “Well, you’ve never experienced death, so how do you know!?” And they wonder – am I really going to go to heaven and get wings!? What am I going to do up there!? Will it truly be like in the movie Down to Earth featuring the vulgar American comedian/actor Chris Rock who is basically reincarnated into a white rich businessman freshly drowned in his tub by his wife!? “What’s next!?” many ask. “Am I just gonna exist – is my immortal soul going to continue!?” I can’t think of anything worse than being an eternal being living forever with nothing to do. How boring will that be!?

Now, in truth, we know that there is going to be a job for each of us – and we don’t know what those jobs will entail – cf. 1 John 3:2. But it’s not to just exist for the rest of eternity as a reward for being what my brother called ‘the best person you could be.’ And if most people would just sit and contemplate this very thing for a moment it wouldn’t make any sense to them either. And maybe it would get them curious into what God’s living word truly says concerning death and what happens after death.

Now, in this sermon, I won’t get into any long discussion concerning just what happens after one dies – except for this one subject – the glorious resurrection. The apostle Paul had made a statement that so many of the churches of this world use to justify their doctrine that when one dies they go to heaven. And I’d like to begin here with this Scripture.

Turn with me if you will in your Bible to the Book of Philippians, chapter 1 – to show you that that is not what he meant here at all.

Again these worldly churches – including the Muslim religion – believe in an afterlife of things such as great pleasure, the 72 virgins, and the like. And I imagine that’s better than just floating around on a cloud playing a musical harp and doing nothing else for all eternity – wouldn’t you say!? But, this world’s churches – for the most part – teaches that this so-called immortal soul, which we are supposed to have within us, just continues on. Yet these same churches – including Islamic mosques – teaches that Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth. So, it is somewhat of a contradiction in their teachings.

One of the greatest denominations of so-called Christians in the world teaches that you don’t have to be baptized in order to be saved. However, the very words of Jesus Christ in His living word says, “’ He who believes and is baptized will be saved; …’” – cf. Mark 16:16. So, this is how truly illogical these religious denominations have become – with ever-greater worldly evangelists supposedly knowing what God’s word says! Yes indeed, Jesus Christ is returning to the earth – but no one is going to be in the upper heavenly realms – what is called the third heaven in Scripture – before He comes and returns with Him. We will be meeting Him in the atmosphere – however.

Verse 23 – “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24) Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” – so, what the apostle Paul is saying is – ‘I’ve got two separate desires: one is I want to be with Christ and the other is that I’m needed here on the earth still to help and edify the Church.’ So, he’s torn between the two. Well, these worldly churches will take this passage and say, ‘to depart and be with Christ means – “See, he said he was going to depart and be with Christ!”’ And, he is saying this – but not in the context which they believe and teach. Because he would not only be contradicting our LORD God Jesus Christ but himself.

Resurrection from the dead – A MOST IMPORTANT TRUTH

Turn over to the Book of Acts, chapter 17 – the resurrection of the dead is discussed. There was a point in Paul’s ministry that he talks about the resurrection. Now, the resurrection was a very contentious topic at that time – and it still is even today. If you were to speak to one of these worldly ministers – and I actually have spoken of this topic with many – and ask, “Well, what about the resurrection!? We are going to die and then will be resurrected.” They tend to believe this – to an extent. But not the way Jesus Christ teaches it in His living word – the Holy Bible. But if you tell them that they’re not going to go to heaven, instead they will be resurrected – they may say just what my unconverted wife says, “You don’t know that!” Or, rather, they’ll say exactly what they’ve been taught – “When you die you go to heaven, and then Christ is going to bring you back down to earth for the rapture …” Rapture!? Now, why do people go to heaven before being ‘raptured’!? Can they explain it!? No – for the most part – they can’t. Remember what our Lord and Savior said when the Pharisees sought a sign from heaven, asking Him for a sign – ‘prove to us that you are the Son of God.’ He responded, “’ Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation’” – cf. Mark 8:11-12 NKJV. He says, ‘You are an evil and adulterous generation’ – a generation which fornicates with false gods! And, He goes on to say, there won’t be any sign given “’ except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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’” – Matthew 12:39-40 NKJV. So, they would just have to wait and see – and if they chose not to believe that He was resurrected then that’s alright too – paraphrasing Jesus Christ. He knew as the Lord and Savior – as the very Creator – He would be responsible for everyone on this earth who will be resurrected – knowing that they would be resurrected in their own order – cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23.

Friends, eventually, everyone on this planet, and everyone who has ever lived is going to be resurrected. And Jesus Christ, of course, knew that!

When I had attended my wife’s grandmother’s funeral in Venice, Florida back in 2011 which had a Baptist background – not only did the attending minister announce that she is looking down at us from heaven while we’re at her funeral but also said that when Christ resurrected Lazarus, he actually didn’t want to come back down here – “he was already gone to the feet of the Lord” – but Christ forced him back down to the earth! I sat there and thought of how illogical that statement really was. Why would Jesus Christ – if He knew and believed that everyone goes to heaven – use Lazarus as an example of dragging someone back to this earth as evidence to ‘prove’ who He was!? Well, Jesus knew that His friend Lazarus was going to die – and I don’t want to go into this here – but go and read this amazing story.

Mike Garrett speaks of Lazarus in our free no-obligation online booklet “The Confusion About Death”.

When they came and told Him – ‘Lazarus is going to die, You need to come and help him.’ What did He do!? He stayed where He was for another two days – He didn’t get in a hurry. Because He knew what He was going to do – He was going to resurrect him. Jesus did what He did to glorify Almighty God, to prove He indeed was who He said He was – the Son of God – with the power of life and death!

So, this truth about the resurrection is so very IMPORTANT! It’s important to us in the Church of God because it’s where our hope lies. And the very fact that Jesus Christ is who He said He is – and that He is going to resurrect and change us, either if we’re dead or still alive, into wholly Spirit beings.

Again, Acts 17, verse 1 – “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.” – now, the apostle Paul taught in synagogues – which was the public forum. And it wasn’t just for the Jewish people, many Gentiles would come into the synagogues and sit and listen. This is how they spread the Word of God – the gospel. They never went door-to-door. After the service was over many would come up to him and say – ‘I really like what you had to say and I would like to hear more. Will you come to my home, have dinner and stay the night.’ That’s what the apostles were doing at that time. Jesus said to them – ‘Don’t have any worries. You go out and tell them what I say and they will take care of you. Because those that are being called will hear it and will want to hear more and will want to take care of you.’ So, many would invite the apostles to their house, have dinner, and in the evenings would sit and talk about the gospel and Jesus Christ. And that’s how the people would learn and be converted. And the Word would spread. Now, of course, there were other ministers which came along that they would ordain and they would do the same. They didn’t have to go knocking on doors!

“Let me in! Have you heard about the Lord and that He loves you!?” The last time the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door was about 2-years ago – I politely shut the door in their face. They haven’t been back since.

Verse 2 – “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3) explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’” – and you’ll notice here, there’s a repeated theme about the resurrection. Because that’s the most important thing in which he needed to teach, no one had ever heard that – for the most part.

Verse 4 – “And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”

Let’s go on down to verse 15 – 

Now, there were a lot of Jews who hated the apostle Paul and wanted to get rid of him because of what he was doing – spreading this word concerning Jesus Christ whom they had already hated. Mainly because He had taken much of the people’s attention away from them and saying such things as – ‘they had made the Law of God burdensome, made the Sabbath burdensome for you.’ They didn’t like hearing that – because it took money out of their pockets.

“So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.”

Verse 18 – “Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,’ because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.” – he preached to them ‘Jesus and the resurrection’!

Verse 19 – “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know of which this new doctrine is of which you speak?’” – this new doctrine of the resurrection – ‘we’ve never heard this!’

Verse 22 – “Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.’”

See, they knew that there was something else out there – and they had an innumerable amount of gods that they worshiped – which made all the gods which they worshiped. Whether it was Zeus or his father Cronus – or even another. Because, logically, they couldn’t figure out who came before Aether, or Uranus and Gaia – their great primordial deities – if you want to go up that far. So, here in Athens, they had an altar to a deity they didn’t know anything about – in which he says to them –

“ … Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24) God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25) Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26) And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27) so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” – so you see, he’s laying them a foundation. ‘This is a God who is alive and real and He is all around us. He created everything. And, He doesn’t live in those stone temples, and He is not represented by those stone statues.’

Verse 28 – “For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” – as he was quoting Greek poets 1 who were writing praises to Zeus – applying it here to the very Creator of all things.

Verse 29 – “’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30) Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.’”

So, Almighty God and Jesus Christ have tolerated all this ignorance for quite some time, but it had gotten to the time where everybody needs to realize that God has had enough – and as the apostle, Paul says quoting Isaiah, “’ Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light’” – Ephesians 5:14 NKJV.

Verse 31 – “’ because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man [Jesus Christ] whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’”

Verse 32 – “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’” – maybe they’re the ones which were being called!? The ones who were interested. They heard this testimony and it was sweeter – to them – than honey – cf. Psalm 19:10. The others scoffed, ‘You idiot! You speak of a God who can bring a man back from the dead!?’ 2

If you’ll turn to chapter 23, of the Book of Acts. Here is another dispute between the apostle Paul and the Jews.

“Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council [the Jewish Sanhedrin], said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’ 2) And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3) Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you white-washed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?’”

Verse 4 – “And those who stood by said, ‘Do you revile God’s high priest?’ 5) Then Paul said, ‘I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” – interesting, so many of our Left-wing agendaists certainly need to follow God’s word when it comes to President Donald Trump – cf. Exodus 22:28.

Verse 6 – “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!’” – the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees did not. And Paul knew how to use this in his favor.

Verse 7 – “And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8) For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel [‘s] or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.”

So, now the apostle Paul is in an opportunity to not only save his own life but also to be heard – which is truly wanted he wanted.

Now, turn with me to Acts, chapter 24, beginning in verse 9. Again, Paul is being accused of heresies.

“And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so. 10) Then Paul, after the governor [Marcus Antonius Felix – the Roman procurator of Judea A.D. 52-60] had nodded to him to speak, answered: ‘Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself, 11) because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12) And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. 13) Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.’” – they were accusing him of being a trouble maker stirring the people up against the Roman government. Often times this is how Satan the devil operates – he gets people to lie about you so that people will hate you. And that’s what they’re doing here with the apostle Paul.

Verse 14 – “’ But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect [or heresy or cult], so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.’” – so, he’s saying, ‘What I’m telling you is in the Law and the Prophets.’ There were a lot of people who didn’t know that – because they didn’t have a physical Bible in their hands. The only way they heard the Law and the Prophets was to go into the synagogue and have it read to them. Very similar to what a former Catholic nun had to say, “We never read the Bible together outside what we had to do for morning prayers when reciting the Psalms, but even that wasn't in the Bible. The Psalms were in a book by itself. We did a lot of praying to the saints when we didn't have our time in the basement. We would often make Novenas and kneel by the statute when doing so.” 3

Now, how easy is it for someone to deceive you if the only written word is in the hands of one person or a group of people!? And if they want to add something or delete something that is not in the original manuscript – it’s fairly easy, isn’t it!? How are you going to know if they speak the truth!? Indeed, if you’ve heard the truth and then have had it read incorrectly – you can say, “Wait a moment! That’s not the way I heard it before!” – cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 1:10. Even today a lot of people are deceived this way. It’s similar to a book I’m reading entitled Shocked By The Bible 2 by Joe Kovacs dealing with ‘when does a day begin.’ He contends that a day begins at sunrise – not from sunset to sunset. Yet, the truth be told, the BIBLE DEFINITION of the expression, “THE THIRD DAY” – as in our Lord Jesus Christ had been ‘three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ is: “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were THE FIRST DAY ... and the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were THE SECOND DAY, ... and the evening (now three periods of darkness called NIGHT - three nights) and the morning (now three periods of light called DAY -- three days) were THE THIRD DAY." (Gen 1:4- 13). Any good encyclopedia shows us that it was always custom to end and begin days at sunset - until a few hundred years after Christ. In his book he wrote, “"While it may not be a crucial matter for a person's individual salvation, …" it is! Jesus said, “’ You believe in God, believe also in Me’” – which also means BELIEVE WHAT HE SAYS! 4

Now, when I had gone to school – from the years 1974 to 1985 – I was taught American History. I was taught about the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. I was also taught about the American Civil War – with a perspective from both the South and the North. Today, and I know this for a fact – our children in America are being taught Islamic History. A few days ago I was searching the television channels and came across a program I thought was of great interest – titled 20th Century Timeline. The programs take you through the 1900s. The more I watched the more I began to hear a prejudice within the programs against the government of the United States of America! So, Satan the devil will often use a one-sided view of history, and condescending attitudes to fuel hate! So, how easy is it to be deceived by what God’s living word says if you’ve never comprehensively and thoroughly studied His words – and you just take the word of someone!? Satan will remove people from the truth first and then he begins his deception.

But, getting back – verse 15 – “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.’” – two resurrections are what he’s referring to. The ‘just’ within the first, and the ‘unjust’ in the second to be judged in the ‘Great White Throne Judgment” – cf. Revelation 20:11-13.

Let’s move on down to verse 21 – “’ unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’” – so all of this trouble concerning the apostle Paul here is because of the resurrection. He probably could have stood up there and read from the Law and the Prophets all day long and they wouldn’t have had a problem with it – but when He started throwing in this Jesus Christ person raising everyone from the dead, they wouldn’t stand for that. And, the churches of this world – today – will feel the same way! They can’t handle it, and they will not accept it! Isn’t that odd!? They agree on ‘thou shalt not murder,’ and they even acknowledge the fourth commandment – ‘remember the Sabbath day’ applying it to Sunday or even another day. So, they agree that there is a Sabbath day, but if you speak about Jesus Christ returning and raising everyone from the dead for judgment – they will refuse to accept that! “No,” they adamantly state, “It’s heaven! Don’t you know that!?” 5

The Promise of the Resurrection

Let’s move on to chapter 26 of the Book of Acts.

The apostle Paul had been given an opportunity to plead his case at Caesarea Maritima before King Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice.

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself.’ So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: … 6) ‘And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7) To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8) Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?’”

Indeed, as Jesus Christ says, “’ Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [‘to judgment’]” – John 5:28-29 NKJV. Again – two separate resurrections. ‘those who have done good’ – the first. And, ‘those who have done evil’ – the second.

So, after telling the king the story of how he was directly called by Jesus Christ, he said – verse 19 – “’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20) but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21) For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22) Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come – 23) that the Christ would suffer, …’” – Christ, meaning the Messiah, the anointed One. Now, the Jews certainly believed that there was an anointed One coming – a Messiah – and they still do to this day and they are still waiting on His first appearance. “ …’ that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light [the New Covenant] to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.’”

So, the whole of the accusations against the apostle Paul was concerning the truth – and he adamantly stated, ‘I haven’t taught anything that’s not written in the Law and the Prophets.’

Let’s turn over into the Old Testament – to the Book of Daniel, chapter 12. Let’s go over some of these passages which speak of the resurrection and about this promise.

“’ At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered [the physical people of the house of Israel], Everyone who is found written in the Book [the Book of Life]. 2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3) Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness, Like the stars forever and ever.’”  

Now, we’ve all heard the stories – that if you say that people are “sleeping” when they’re dead, they will answer, “you’re just talking about soul sleeping.” Well, one needs to properly understand what a soul is. In this sermon, I won’t go into great depth concerning the soul – except to say – that man “became a living soul,” according to the original Genesis 2:7 KJV. Notice the passage doesn’t say that man has a soul – but rather he is a soul. The original Hebrew word for "soul" being nepeš – meaning, “living breathing creature.” And this includes both animal and human beings – cf. Genesis 1:20-21, 24; 2:19; 9:10, 12, 15 KJV – noting that where it’s translated “creature.” See also Genesis 1:30; 9:4; Leviticus 11:10; 17:11 as well as other Scriptures.

King Solomon – the wisest person of his day – wrote, “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten” – Ecclesiastes 9:5 NKJV. The son of King David knew this. He knew that man returns to the ‘dust of the ground.’ To the very elements of the soil upon death – “’ What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit [ Hebrew - šaḥat, meaning grave]? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth?’” – Psalm 30:9 NKJV.

So, God’s living eternal Word shows that when a human dies – they are no longer conscious. They have no thoughts, no memory, no awareness of the passage of time; no pain, no worry.

The prophet Job wrote – through the inspiration of God’s Spirit – “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding” – Job 32:8 NKJV.

This human spirit enters the human embryo at conception. The spirit is like the “hard drive on a computer” – it stores information. The spirit essence is NOT an immortal soul or an eternal spirit. The spirit in man is NOT the man. It is something in the man. It has no life of itself, for the life of man is in the air he breathes, and in the blood that circulates through his body (Genesis 2:7; Leviticus 17:11). It does not of itself see or hear. And at death, it has no consciousness of itself, for it sleeps (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). Like a tape recorder, it forms a permanent record of the qualities of mind and character built by a man during his lifetime. And much like a used tape is stored lifelessly on a shelf till activated in a recorder, so also does the spirit of man “return to God who gave it” after death, until the resurrection when life is again given to a person (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Now, turn with me to the Book of Proverbs, chapter 24, verse 20

“For there will be no prospect for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.” – there won’t be a reward for the evil man.

Surely that means there will be a reward for a righteous man – and what is this reward!? How does one receive this reward!? Do you receive this reward – now!? No, it’s not while you’re alive in this physical body.

Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 10

“Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. 11) He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them to His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.”

So, the reward is coming with Him. And, the reward is simply what God’s going to give to each individual for the work (see: cf. Acts 26:20 – “do works befitting repentance”) they’ve done while in service to God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Isaiah, chapter 62, and verse 11

“Indeed the LORD has proclaimed To the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.’”

So, the reward is coming with Him. But, to whom is He bringing this reward!?

Verse 12 – “And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”

So, God the Father and Jesus Christ are coming to give a reward to a people who are going to be holy. Now, no one can achieve holiness in God's sight by his own strength or willpower. Yet, someday, we shall be wholly holy! – Hebrews 12:14 – if we will hang in there. Because “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, … but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” – 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV. God doesn’t want us to fail. And we won’t fail – as long as we don’t turn our backs on Him – cf. Matthew 12:31-32; Ephesians 4:30. Be sure to watch today “The Unpardonable Sin Explained” by Michael C. Garrett. We must continue to strive against sin, laying aside every weight, and continue running the race that is set before us – cf. Hebrews 12:1-4. Indeed, one of the hardest things for someone to do after they’ve sinned – fallen and skinned their knees, I like to say – is to forgive themselves. If indeed you’ve asked God the Father and Jesus Christ to forgive you then you are forgiven. That’s a promise. Now if Almighty God – the Great Ancient of Days who created all things through Jesus Christ – can forgive you, who are you not to forgive yourself!? You have to let those past sins go.

God – through the apostle Peter – says –

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to brought to you at the revelation [at the coming] of Jesus Christ; 14) as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance [recall we had read Acts 17:30]; 15) but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy [in other words, be ‘set apart,’ consecrated] in all your conduct, 16) because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I AM holy’” – 1 Peter 1:13-16 NKJV. – God is creating children. And He demands that we grow spiritually into His very character.

Turn with me if you will to the Book of Matthew, chapter 16, and verse 27 in which Jesus Christ said –

’ For the Son of Man will come in [or rather – with] the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’

So, here is what the reward is – it’s something given for something you have done in this life. Your reward for your works – hence cf. Acts 26:20 – “do works befitting repentance”. Now, the churches of this world don’t teach this. They teach that salvation is free, and rightly so it is – cf. Ephesians 2:8 – just like Lot and his two daughters were saved from the destruction of Sodom through the grace of God – not by anything they had done (see: Genesis 19). God’s grace is free – it’s something which God gives us though we don’t deserve it – but you still have to “work.” It’s like Toodles announcing to Peter Pan – you “ Have to fly, have to fight, have to crow!” Many people of this world believe that it’s alright to climb over others – sometimes violently – to get to the top. Others believe you can do anything you want – as long as you don’t hurt anyone else to get to the top. Such as passing laws which say that you can do something and everyone has to accept it – no questions asked. It’s not right – like homosexual marriage – it’s the law of the land. And I shouldn’t be forced to have to accept it. Well, I don’t accept it! But am I going to judge or persecute someone because of it!? No. God handles all of that. But don’t force me to accept that it’s alright – because we are going to continue preaching what God Almighty and Jesus Christ have to say concerning it. Most of the churches of this world will not preach against it.

Anyway – let’s move on. Going back to Philippians, chapter 1, verses 23-24. What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote, ‘I am hard-pressed between the two’? One is to die and ‘depart and be with Christ,’ and the other is to stay and ‘remain in the flesh’ and serve and help the churches.

Turn over now to the Book of 2nd Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 1

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3) if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4) For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life [eternal life]. 5) Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

So, this ‘tent’ or ‘tabernacle’ which we want to put on is from heaven – not in heaven. And, what is from heaven!? God’s Holy Spirit. God the Father and Jesus Christ reside in the upper heavenly realms – the third heaven – and They are the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a Trinity. Be sure to read today our free no-obligation online booklet “Is God a Trinity?” Some churches actually teach that the Father and the Son are the same being. God’s living word doesn’t teach this! – cf. John 1:1-2. THEY ARE THE HOLY SPIRIT – cf. John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17. And man was created to have a relationship with God. Again, I don’t want to go into depth here in this sermon – but there is a HUGE divide between an animal brain and a human mind. And one thing which evolution cannot explain is the total difference between the animal brain equipped with instinct, and the human mind with creative reasoning and powers of intellect – devoid of what is believed in the strictest sense far beyond the amygdala or the medulla oblongata – which has shown to perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making and emotional responses (including fear, anxiety, and aggression). There are some animals with brains larger than man’s brain – with similar cerebral cortex complexity – but with none of the powers of intellect, and reasoning, and creativity. Human beings ARE UNIQUE TO ANIMALS. What are some of these unique characteristics!?

  • Humor – there is no other creature that is able to appreciate, create, and express humor.
  • The appreciation of beauty.
  • Self-consciousness – beyond a simple recognition (as in the Mirror Test).
  • Awareness of death.
  • Understanding time.
  • The complexity of language.
  • Meaning of life.
  • The lack of harmony with nature. Mankind has been disrupting the natural balance of nature – such as deforestation, the changing of rivers, over mining for resources, etc.
  • Morality.
  • Free Moral Agency.
  • Capacity for wisdom.
  • A desire for worship.
And it’s ‘the spirit within man’ that allows these unique characteristics which also allows us to have a relationship with God and to understand just who God the Father and Jesus Christ are. Because we couldn’t understand without it. It’s His Holy Spirit which is what He is giving us from heaven.


So, here, 1st Corinthians, in conclusion. Chapter 15 – one that we are very familiar with. Verse 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? 13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 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. 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!” – so, the apostle Paul was continually fighting against people in the Church of God who were coming up with the idea that Christ was not raised from the dead. I, personally, know what it feels like to be in front of a group of people and be persecuted and accused by your own brethren. Nothing like what Paul went through – not even close to his persecutions. But I do know a little of what that feels like – to be rejected by a group of people who are supposed to be your brethren. It hurts tremendously – when you see people who claim to care about you, and that you care about, all of a sudden turn on you. All because of one man who attacked you and turned others against you. And don’t ever think that it couldn’t happen to you.

Verse 30 – “And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?” – now, he said we – including himself – but I’m sure those that were with him were also being threatened.

Verse 31 – “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32) If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ 33) Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits [or, good associates].’”

So, what he is saying – ‘if there is no such thing as a resurrection of the dead, and I am teaching that, why am I placing myself in jeopardy every single day!? Why am I fighting beasts in Ephesus for the sake of what I believe!?’ So, he was trying to convince people that he is indeed speaking the truth! When you put your life on the line – it means something! How many of these Sunday evangelists are going to place their life on the line when the time comes!? They won’t stand for what they believe or what they’ve taught others – because they don’t actually believe it themselves! They couldn’t possibly believe it – because it’s hollow! It has no foundation or substance – what they teach! They look into the Holy Bible, lying to themselves and telling themselves, ‘Well, that’s what it must mean!’ Do you realize that there are false ministers in this world deliberately teaching lies – knowing that it’s not true!? Just like there are people in the US government who are deliberately lying – knowing that they are lying! Because they lust after power! They hate President Donald Trump that much that they will do anything to ruin him – including decimating the economy with their trumped-up numbers of COVID-19 deaths to get rid of him! So that they then can have the power! And that indeed is a satanic attitude! Satan would destroy everything on the face of this earth – if it means he can have power and authority. Indeed, Satan desires worship – and he certainly has followers. Now, he doesn’t want everyone to die – just those that belong to Jesus Christ! And this world – right now as a whole – is worshiping Satan, though they may not even realize it!

Turn to 1st Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 13

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”

Friends, these worldly churches are teaching the people no hope. They are teaching them of ‘going to heaven when they die and that they are just going to sit at the feet of the Lord.’ Is there truly any hope in that!? No.

Verse 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 until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven [the atmosphere] with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet [the SEVENTH TRUMP] of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 

So, the apostle Paul absolutely knew when he wrote Philippines chapter 1, verses 23-24 that effectively to him – that after he died – his next conscious experience would be in being alive with Jesus Christ. Because that is what the living word of the Eternal God indeed teaches us! Those that are dead in Christ will rise, and those that are alive will be changed – and will be immediately with Christ. As the apostle Paul writes – again under the very inspiration of God’s Spirit – “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [‘we will not all die’], but we shall all be changed – 52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [the SEVENTH TRUMP]. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” – 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV.

Death is but temporary – ‘the twinkling of an eye.’ It’s not temporary for the living because they are dead awhile – but when we die, our very next split- second we’re awake! And it’s frightening – isn’t it!? And it is something which we anticipate and want to have happen – but then you think, am I good enough!? Am I going to wake up and realize that I missed the first train!? And now I have to wait for the second train!? No, don’t think that way – that’s what Satan wants you to think! He says to you – ‘O’ you’re not good enough! There’s no way you’re gonna make it! Why even bother!?’ We keep trying and running the race which is set out before us and yet – we continue to make the same mistakes oftentimes – but we continue to ask Almighty God and Jesus Christ for help, for strength, ‘I need You!’ And that is what we should do!

I’d like to end here with the very words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation, chapter 22, and verse 12

’ And behold, I AM coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to EVERY ONE according to his work.’

Friends, He’s coming soon – God willing - and it certainly appears that it shouldn’t be much longer, because if this world continues going the way that it is – the absolute insanity we are witnessing in our societies and governments; things which are happening which defies any logic– it can’t be that much longer. So brethren hang tough – you’ll make it. □


1 "The first part of verse 28 comes from Cretica by Epimenides, and the second part of the verse from Hymn to Zeus, written by the Cilician poet Aratus. To be sure, both of these lines were directed at Zeus in Greek literature, but Paul applied them to the Creator of whom he spoke." Gangel, Kenneth O. Acts. Vol. 5. Holman New Testament Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.
2 Greeks held that not even the gods were able to recreate flesh that had been lost to decay, fire, or consumption. Resurrection – Ancient Greek Religion. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
4 Note: “Day” is yôm, ordinarily, the Hebrew "day" lasted from dawn (meaning - to begin to grow light as the sun rises) to the coming forth of the stars – see Nehemiah 4:21. The "day" is reckoned from evening to evening, in accordance with the order noted in the account of Creation, namely – Genesis 1:5; Leviticus 23:32; and Daniel 8:14.
5 To get an overall Protestant viewpoint on the resurrection issue see – “When will the Resurrection take place?” overseen by S. Michael Houdmann, who has a background in Calvinism. The Got Questions website agrees with traditional so-called Christian affirmations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Enoch Walked With God (Sermon)

The Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministry is very pleased to present our latest sermon via our YouTube channel:


The Book of Genesis tells us that "Enoch walked with God; ..." What does it mean to walk with God!? Does it mean that all one needs to do is just accept Jesus Christ and believe!? Is walking with God an emotion which one has experienced!? Or, is it actually obeying God's commandments and doing them!? Jesus said, "'If you love Me, keep My commandments.'"
For more information about Sabbath services in the West Central Florida region, email us at

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Monday, July 20, 2020

What do you mean... 'Born Again'?

‘unless one is born of water and the Spirit’

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ In the Book of John, the 3rd chapter here we read the response that Jesus gave to a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus who was curious in regards as to whether Jesus was really who He said He was. So, here was, in all accounts, an upstanding man in his society who came to Jesus at night – because he didn’t want his neighbors or religious associates to discover that he is conversing with Jesus Christ. Indeed it says in verse 2 – “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs [these miracles] that You do unless God is with him.’” It’s amazing – here it was that he understood that Jesus was someone of extreme importance and that His ability to perform these miracles – he knew that the Man came from God, yet here he is out at night – incognito – so that no one sees him. It reminds us of religious people today. They claim to be Christian but are very afraid to truly keep the commandments of God and have and defend the testimony of Jesus Christ. They are afraid to speak out against such issues as homosexuality, marriage, bi-sexuality, or even what they are now calling pansexuality. They are afraid to speak out against such terrorist organizations as Black Lives Matter, Antifa, or even radical Islam.

Verse 3 – “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’

And Nicodemus said in bewilderment – verse 4 – “ …’ How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’”

Now, did Nicodemus here understand Jesus to be saying that this was some sort of a religious experience!? Because from Nicodemus’ answer it’s obvious that he understood Jesus to be saying that it had to do with someone being born – you’re birthed – just like any human being. I recall being in the room when my daughter was born, and the nursing staff placing a little bracelet around her wrist after she was born at North Bay Hospital in New Port Richey, Fl. in 1990. It’s hard for us to use that term ‘born again’ in today’s society because we’ve gone through the 1900s and now into the 2020s – and in reiteration - did Nicodemus here understand Jesus to be saying that this was some sort of a religious experience when He used the term ‘born again’? You need to exclude and go back beyond the Azusa Street Revival which took place in Los Angeles in 1906. Where this Pentecostal movement came about in which they were speaking in tongues – and this idea of ‘born again Christians’ came about through the preachers of the early 20th century, which has propagated into the 21st-century.

There is a vast number of people today who believe that they are saved.

Let us look at Jesus’ response here – He says, verse 5 – “ …’ Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’

There is a vast number of people today who believe that they have eternal life as a result of some sort of religious experience. I recall once while my wife and I were driving around one Sunday looking for garage sales, we pulled into a place called the Holy Ground in Hudson, Fl. – a homeless shelter for men only. They were having a rather large garage sale. And as we pulled up, off to our right a man was flopping around on the ground like a fish out of water. We must have had shock written on our faces, because suddenly another man comes running over to the car and shouts, “It’s alright! He’s got the Holy Ghost in him! He’s just been born again” We quickly pulled back out of the driveway and left. Also – a dear friend of mine, who we lost to cancer April 19th, 2020, swore up and down that Asa A. Allen, the 1950s tent revivalist, literally cast the devil out of a man possessed. “I gave my heart to the Lord,” they claim.

What they actually mean is they had a moving experience. It was brought about by the excitement of the occasion – perhaps the music which lifted their spirit. Whether it was the religious fervor of being in a crowd at the time, or the preacher having an ‘altar call’ perhaps while the choir was singing – Just As I Am, Lord! Or an emotional stir by a charismatic preacher – as you can see erupting out of those Allen revival meetings. They say that after Asa A. Allen attended a tent revival hosted by Oral Roberts in 1949, he wanted to open his own revival meeting. And, like Simon Magus, he established a large following. In ’55 he purchased a large tent, and soon many people were saying, “this man is the great power of God!” So many of this world’s preachers say – the only way that you have God’s Holy Spirit – or proof of God’s Holy Spirit – is by this idea of speaking in tongues. Now, people are sincere when they have these experiences of being “saved” – of ‘giving their heart to the Lord.’ They believe that they are saved.

Question: Does God accept us just as we are!? Like the gospel song says, ‘come as you are’!? Is all you have to do is ‘give your heart to the Lord’ – as the preachers say!? And is this what Jesus said to Nicodemus, or did He give him some instructions regarding salvation and eternal life!? Must a change take place!? You know, I was reading in Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions of a man whom I have known of for some 39-years who was attacked! And the bulk of the criticism against him was his departure from traditional so-called Christian affirmations – such as the Trinity. 1 He, himself, had to change. You know, Jesus Christ wouldn’t fit in with the modern religions of today – would He!? He would seem quite odd if He was to appear and made some of the statements He made back almost two-thousand years ago when He walked the earth.

On one occasion a certain ruler came to Him and asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” And Jesus went on to say, ’Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’

Now this doesn’t settle very well in modern Christianity that believes that the commandments are done away – does it!?

On another occasion, Jesus says, ’Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.’ – to actually do them, to set you an example. “’ till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.’ He said, ’It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom [from] heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ – that’s an odd statement – isn’t it!? For those who believe that it was Jesus’ job to come here and to save the whole world, I ask – Did Jesus save the whole world!?

If He was sent here to save the whole world while He was here – then you have to say, He failed miserably – didn’t He!?

He also taught to ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’ – the very opposite of how most people conduct their life.

And on another occasion, Jesus said, ’If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.’ ’This do,’ He said on that night ‘in remembrance of Me.’ – people absolutely overlook that, they reject it, “Oh, that part of the Bible, we can just run a black marker through! We don’t need that! We don’t need to do what Jesus said!”

Friends, forgiveness, compassion, caring for the poor, the fatherless, and the widows – all of these were things Jesus taught.

Here He’s telling Nicodemus that he must be ‘born of water and the Spirit,’ in order to enter the kingdom of God. Shouldn’t this be, then, the pivotal question of all professing Christians today!? Jesus is telling us here – this is what it’s going to take to enter the kingdom of God. Shouldn’t Christians be asking that question – ‘Do I need to have these elements in my life.?” And “Are these qualities which I have!?” It seems imperative that we possess them – wouldn’t you say? Or are we to dismiss His words and instructions and just go about worshiping Him as we see fit!?

Most people have their own brand of religion. They want to worship Jesus the way they want to worship Him. They decide how they’re going to worship Him, whether they’re going to use certain gestures – like the mark of the beast – neither should He be worshiped ‘with men’s hands, as though He needed anything,’ as the apostle Paul said – cf. Acts 17:25. Or the way one dresses – and I’m talking about society as a whole. Every single time – no matter what movie it may be – when there is a religious scene it will always be Catholicism - a Catholic priest dressed to the nines in his penguin colored cassock with his backward collar. And you think in your mind – now that’s a religious person there. Think about what they have on. Also on that note – I mean, think about what the singer-songwriter Richie Havens wore to Woodstock in ’69 as an example – the dashiki. Didn’t he look “religious”!?

Actually, the Civil Rights and Black Panther Movements of the ‘60s and early 70s gave the dashiki its political potency. African Americans adopted the article as a means of rejecting Western cultural norms – of black pride. 2 So, the way they dress or repeat certain words or prayers, whether they light candles or sprinkle water, wear large crucifixes from a chain around their neck, or wear a funny-looking hat. Or even get a religious tattoo on into this 21st-century. Large crosses tattooed on someone’s back! Again I believe that these people are sincere in the idea that they are worshiping God, serving God, and that they are saved. But was this what Jesus was implying when He made this statement to Nicodemus?

What is it that drives you!? What motivates you – controls you!? And are you happy and content in your life within this world of absolute competitiveness and the never-ending demand for success and achievement!? The pressure of requiring more possessions. As I’ve said - I remember coming home many times from a job and telling my wife of all the wonderful ‘toys for boys’ that all the guys had – from Hayabusa motorcycles to sports cars, to tricked-out pickups. Things that these people own that means the world to them! And they were so vain and proud in their possessions. Is the natural then the proclivity of men and women directed towards the principles of God? When you look out into the world today – is it a natural step for men and women to seek the will of God and of His way!? Is it actually not the way of selfishness and self-centeredness and taking care of oneself!?

Friends, what do you see when your out in the world – the shopping mall or the grocery store where you’re standing in line and someone’s impatient, or cuts in front of you!? It’s amazing what you see when you look around in society. No matter where you look there is no great movement towards the principles of God Almighty and Jesus Christ. Instead, we find only the opposite – we find an all-out full-speed race in the opposite direction – away from God!


‘knowing the righteous judgment of God’

In Romans chapter 1, verse 28 – I want to begin here. Now, the apostle Paul gives this whole description of the vileness which is taken place in his own time, and of course, he’s writing to the people in Rome – can you imagine what that church was having to endure around them!?

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a [reprobate] mind, to do those things which are not fitting [not proper]; …” – indeed, we can compare our modern society with ancient Rome! Here Paul was dealing with ancient Rome! Look what he said to these people – verse 29 – “being filled with all unrighteousness, [fornication], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30) backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.” – he’s even talking about children – how they completely disregard what their parents say to them, saying such things as – “Oh, that was back in the day!” Verse 31 – “undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving [without natural affection], unforgiving, unmerciful; …” – and I am witnessing this in my life. My wife’s second-cousin who is only 14-years old has been baker acted, and her own mother has said on Facebook, “I hope she has a miserable life!" Truly, ‘without natural affection’!

And, as Paul writes – under the divine inspiration of God’s Spirit – this behavior costs something great! Verse 32 – “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, …” – isn’t this interesting!?

Friends, this is what I would like to talk about today.

People that conduct themselves this way – in the back of their mind somewhere they know that this conduct will not go unpunished. They know about the judgment of Almighty God and Jesus Christ! Now, they may not understand the truth about the judgment of God – but they do know about it.

“ … that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Turn with me to 2nd Timothy chapter 3. He was trying to encourage Timothy and give him some instructions about dealing with some of the problems which were in the Church of God.

Verse 1 –“THIS know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come, 2) For men shall be lovers of themselves, …” – so, Paul begins another list here speaking of – “ … lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3) unloving, …” - Here Paul is dealing with this – talking about these kinds of attitudes that were extant in his day – and they’re still extant in the world today. And I submit to you that these problems – that Paul lists here – are problems which cause blindness to people who are seeking the kingdom of God.

“ … unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good.” – anyone that stands up for the Word of God, the Truth of God and the Plan of God – and wants to keep God’s law and do His will and what is right – they tend to be despised.

Verse 4 – “traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Is this what you see out in the world today!?

People will spend an exuberant amount of money on a Tesla Model 3 – as an example – upwards of $60 thousand dollars or more! And they will treasure this thing and treat it as if it was a god. And I’m speaking from knowledge of someone with a Tesla.

“Why did you buy a Tesla?”

“Just because I could!”

Will they devote that much time and money when it comes to God!? This is what Paul is saying here.

“Come on!” you might say. Well, this list that the apostle Paul gives – the divorce rate that is a major cause of this type of activity. The yelling and screaming and the rebellious children in the background, poor health, the suffering from diseases or drug addiction issues, mounting debt, stress – especially among the young generation today. Also, the skyrocketing housing market, overpriced automobiles, and groceries – as a result of all of these human characteristics that Paul lists here. Indeed, the uber-wealthy are having their fun, but most of us are trying to survive in a world today with the skyrocketing prices, the high health care costs, the traffic which we have to fight – risking our very lives every time we go through a large city, like Nashville, Dallas, Portland, Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles – pick one. Isn’t it such fun driving through heavy traffic with a generation of drivers (at least for the most part) who has not been taught respect for others at 70, 80 mph!? - along with the tears, the anxiety, the literal fighting for survival in this dog-eat-dog world!

Jesus came preaching a new way of life. A new government – a kingdom of God – over which He is going to be King.      And it is going to take place right here on the E A R T H!

In Revelation chapter 5, verse 10 it says that His saints will be “’ kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’”

So, Jesus Christ is inviting you – and Nicodemus here – to take part in this soon-coming government. But a change must take place.

Jesus used the example of birth. He said “unless one is born of water” – the physical birth after the woman’s water breaks. But He’s speaking of a different birth – a spiritual birth when He says “and the Spirit.”

How then can we be born of the water and of the Spirit!?

It begins not in an outward gesture – as I mentioned earlier – as an emotional reaction to a charismatic preacher. But it begins inside one's own mind and heart.

Let’s turn to Romans, the 12th chapter. The apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear here.

Verse 1 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

This indeed is the greatest difficulty any minister has ever faced – to reach the heart and the minds of a human being. Now, many will read this, many will like it – and there will be some which say, “good job.” But to actually reach a human heart – that is the most difficult of any minister. And I pray daily to Almighty God and Jesus Christ that I have reached to the heart and mind of at least one person within these past nine-years of this God-given commission. To actually break through the façade, the wall, and the stumbling blocks which are out in front of you to try to reach a human mind and heart. It’s very difficult to get through all those layers.

It must begin within the human heart and mind. But you cannot do this on your own. Friends, look at this world around us – mankind alone has failed miserably for nearly 60 centuries to try and govern himself apart from the eternal God! Most people are just simply unaware of their overall condition of the society in which they are living. What is that condition!? They are blinded by ‘human nature.’ Human nature is the practice of selfishness. People do what is in their own self-interest or selfish interest.

Now, God’s living word – the Holy Bible – refers to this as “flesh.”

Galatians chapter 5, verse 19 – “Now the works of the flesh are evident, …” – and here’s a list by Paul a third-time. “ … which are: adultery [including, of course, spiritual adultery – going after false gods], fornication, [the Greek word porneia, meaning sexual immorality, prostitution, a generic term for sexual sin of any kind – Strong’s Concordance #4202] 3 uncleanness, lewdness, 20) idolatry, sorcery [witchcraft], hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath …” – indeed, I would say what is happening in America today with civil unrest, the violent protesting would be considered ‘outbursts of wrath’ – wouldn’t you!? “ … selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

So, through Paul inspired by God’s Spirit – if you do these things you’re not going to inherit the kingdom of God. However, in Nicodemus’ case, He is saying – this is what you must do to inherit the kingdom of God.

Now, in Galatians chapter 5, verse 16 – “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” He makes a distinction between the flesh and the Spirit.

Verse 17 – “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; …” – they’re against one another. They’re adversaries, enemies. “ … and these are contrary to one another so that you do not do the things that you wish.” – the things that are right, are necessary, the things that lead to the kingdom of God. There is a struggle that goes on – and Paul mentions this in Romans, the 7th chapter. And I’ve covered this before – it’s very important Scripture.

Verse 14 – “For we know that the Law is spiritual, …” – isn’t that interesting!? Now, most people feel that the Law is a physical law. Here Paul is saying that the Law [summed up with the Ten Commandments] is spiritual. And when Jesus came and began talking about the Law – as in ‘You shall not murder’ – He said basically, ‘As long as you didn’t physically take a sword and murder, someone, you were alright – you’re not breaking God’s Law against murder.’ But remember Jesus elevated the Law to a spiritual level by saying, ‘But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.’ Even if you have murderous thoughts in your heart, then you’ve committed this act of murder – even including adultery. If you look upon a woman or a man (which is not your spouse) with lust in your heart, you’ve committed adultery. So Jesus elevated the Law to a spiritual level. And Paul confirms this.

“ … but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15) For what I am doing, I do not understand. …” – ‘I really don’t want to do it, but here I find myself doing.’ “ … For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” – ‘I find myself doing the things which I hate.’

Verse 16 – “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the Law that it is good. 17) But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19) For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”

Is Paul just speaking to himself – here!? Does anybody else experience this!? It’s almost as if he looked into my biography here and read my thoughts within my mind!

Verse 20 – “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21) I find then a law [a principle], that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22) For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.”

In other words – ‘I think about God’s holy Law – I want to do what is right, to be obedient to God – verse 23 – “But I see another law [a principle] in my members, warring against the Law [the spiritual principle] of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law of sin which is in my members.”

So Paul understood, he had this same struggle of – being in a fleshly body and having a spiritual mind – and they were warring against themselves.

Turn over if you would to Galatians chapter 8. Paul certainly understood what Jesus was trying to explain to Nicodemus – that we are to be spiritually minded and must have God’s Holy Spirit within us in order to overcome not only our carnal fleshly minds but also our unspiritual and immoral behaviors. Look what he says –

Verse 4 – “that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, …” – that’s what is happening out in the world. People that are fleshly – are carnal – having no thoughts concerning God, doing the list which Paul mentioned. “ … but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” – those people who are concentrating on spiritual things, they do the spiritual things.

Verse 6 – “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – as Jesus tells Nicodemus – here.

Verse 7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be.”

So, someone who is living a carnal life – they cannot even please God – even if they’ve had a religious experience. And this is the point I wish to make.

Verse 8 – “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

One of the greatest examples is in Philippians, the 2nd chapter.

Verse 2 – “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4) Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

So, you begin to look out and care for your neighbors and your fellowman.

Verse 5 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” – and what was His mind!? Well, look what Paul continues with –

Verse 6 – “who, being in the form of God, …” – this exactly tells us that Jesus was a member of the divine Elohim – the God family. “ … did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” – in other words, He was on a level with the God family. He was a divine being that had been there with God. And He did not think that position of authority and power was something to be grasped at – to cling to. He believed that it was more important to risk eternal life – giving it all up.

Verse 7 – “but made Himself of no reputation, …” – and I have written in my margin, “He emptied Himself.” He let go of all of that power, glory, position, the eternal life that He had. “ … taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8) And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” – that’s the kind of mind that we are to have! We are to be willing to go all-in when it comes to Almighty God and Jesus Christ!

So, Nicodemus was blinded with carnality. His human nature wouldn’t let him see what was necessary for him to gain eternal life. But, did Nicodemus finally understand!? I believe he did – because there are other mentions of his life in the ‘gospel’ accounts. I think when Jesus told Nicodemus about what he needed to enter the kingdom of God, He opened the door of understanding and allowed him to see and to have spiritual vision and clearness of mind to see just what he needed to be within the kingdom of God.

And on the Day of Pentecost when the people thought that they had done the most religious act of all time by ridding themselves of the rebel called Jesus of Nazareth – the very ones which screamed, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ –they supposed that they had killed Jesus in the name of God – doing God’s will.

What did the apostle Peter say in that powerful sermon –

“’ Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” – Acts 2:38 NKJV.

So, repentance begins with this inner thought of having repentance. It was an inward change of the heart which Peter was teaching – and it was the same in his own life. Recall He had once fallen at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ He was very repentant to Jesus. And, it was the same in Paul’s life when Ananias of Damascus came and laid hands on him and prayed, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” – Acts 9:17. And immediately, Paul was healed of his blindness and was baptized.


Being ‘born of water’ is to be baptized. And being baptized is an outward symbol of an inward change in the human heart as a result of repentance. Once a person has realized that they’re going to die as a result of sin. And of course, God’s living word says this very thing – “sin is lawlessness” - 1st John 3:4 – and that ‘all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God’ – Romans 3rd chapter. And, that ‘the wages of sin is death’!

Baptism represents one's death – Paul tells us that we’re ‘buried with Jesus Christ.’

Now, “Jesus came and spoke to them [His disciples], saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19) Go therefore and make disciples [to teach] of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, …’ ‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved; …’” – Matthew 28:18, 18; Mark 16:16. And we know that Jesus Himself was baptized. God’s Spirit gives us great understanding.

1st Corinthians 2, verse 9 – “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ 10) But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.”

So, once a person has been baptized and had hands laid upon them we receive the earnest – the down payment – of God’s Holy Spirit within our very mind and heart bestowing upon us a revelation of understanding – that we could not have on our own.

“ … For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11) For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

We cannot understand nor please God unless we have His Spirit.

Verse 12 – “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [which is] from God, that we know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13) These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches …” – you could go to college and receive a Ph.D. degree and you still wouldn’t have this knowledge and understanding. “ … but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; …” – and we certainly see this evident today, when you go out into the world and tell somebody about salvation, and living the Way God wants one to live, you’re considered a ‘bible thumper.’ “ … nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15) But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

And Paul asks this question here – verse 16 – “For ‘who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ – and my margin says, “We do!” Those that are God’s and have His Spirit understand what God is trying to tell them.

Jesus came to reveal the Father! His whole purpose was to come and give the Message of what God had told Him. And only if you have God’s Spirit can you understand this Message.

“ … But we have the mind of Christ.”

Friends, I don’t know how you were brought up. I don’t know what you were taught as a child in a church or whether you even attended a church – but you may have some distant understanding of what it means to be a true Christian and how to be saved. These Scriptures here which I covered are out of the very living Word of the eternal God – it is our basis for learning and understanding concerning the great call which goes out to all mankind. And because you are reading this – God the Father is calling you. May God’s word reach that place in your heart that erupts into the change from fleshly human desires – and through repentance to one of a spiritual mind that follows Jesus Christ! □