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feast: Prepare for Your Future Now

Be Not Deceived

Given 05-Oct-98; Sermon #FT98-02; 75 minutes

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John Reid, reflecting upon our awesome calling, acknowledges that we have been base, ignoble, and far less than the cream of the crud. But Christ through His sacrifice and redemptive power has enabled us to be cleaned up and transformed or shaped into future offspring of God to be joint heirs with Christ as glorious spirit beings. God called us as foolish, but didn't intend for us to stay that way, intending us to be conformed to the stature (image and character) of Christ .We need to prepare for our future, systematically inculcating God's Law into the core of our inner being by studying and applying God's words in every circumstance of our lives, preparing to instruct others as kings and priests. As part of our emergent nature, we must learn to exhibit godly love, compassion, forgiveness, patience, and ironclad self-control, mortifying human nature through the power of God's Spirit, living up to our new spiritual name.

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Brethren, when we meet someone, more than casually, we want to find out all about them. It's just something that we do naturally. We automatically put them into specific categories—they are friendly, they are not friendly, they have a nice appearance, they don't, they are tall, they are short, they're stocky, they are thin. They're serious, they're cheerful, they're studious, they're lighthearted, they are mannered, they are not so mannered. They may be kind, thoughtful, inconsiderate, they're energetic, idle, and so forth. We just tend to do these things automatically.

To further our information, the question eventually gets around to, "What do you do for a living?" If it's a wife and she is in with the girls, they usually say, "What does your husband do for a living?" If your children are in school, they'll say, "What does your dad do for a living?" I sold all vegetable shortenings and oil all my life. In the field I was in, they referred to that as fat. So when they asked my children in school what their dad did for a living, they'd respond, "He sells fat." That always made them wonder!

I can remember my grandmother who was born in the 1850s. To her the identification of a person by his/her last name was extremely important. If they were German, she would say that's a German name; if they were Italian, she'd say that an Italian name. If they were Irish, she'd say, "Oh, those Irish, they are terrible." And I learned later on that I have a lot of Irish blood in me. I didn't know whether I caused that response to come from her or not.

But people do make the categories. Are they blue collar versus white collar? They want to see what they have in common or what they don't have in common. Names in the past were used to identify not only who the person was, but also where he was from, what he was like, and possibly what his occupation was. Names could also picture an event to come. We can take a quick look over at Hosea and get a little bit of this.

Hosea 1:4 (KJV throughout)

And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
The "I will avenge that blood" is generally understood to be put in here for the murders perpetrated by Ahab and Jehu in this place. Though Jehu was carrying out God's word, he left God. So thus the name Jezreel pictured an event to come.

Hosea 1:6

And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And, God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; (So here we have a walking message that simply states, "I will have no more mercy.")
In verse 9 we read
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, (Again the name indicated something, another message to Judah and Israel.)
From the 1964 Encyclopedia Britannica concerning names, "They are descriptive of a person's appearance or character. A Blond girl might be call Flavia, which is Latin for yellow, or Blanch which means white in French. As to what the character might be, someone might be know as Honest John or Richard the Lion Hearted, indicating the character of the individual. They might record an incident or an exploit. We use names to identify an event. A girl born during a famine in Celtic might be called Una, meaning famine or auna."

Genesis 35:18

And it came to pass, (A baby was being born here.) as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name, Benoni; but his father called him Benjamin.
Now the name Benoni means my sorrow because he was costing her life, and so that was the name that she gave the child. Now the name Thomas means an unusual event. So now all of you that are named Thomas, you now know that name means an unusual event.

They also identify an individual by his connection with other people, usually his fathers, Johnson, Robertson. They give individual residence or former residence, Joseph of Arimathea. The name is descriptive. It tells something about person. Names record his occupation, Smith, Weaver, Farmer, Plumber, Taylor, Tanner. All these indicate what the person is about.

Now I don't know what you are known for. Perhaps you are a housewife, a salesman, a mechanic, a carpenter, a plumber. Maybe you're in air conditioning, you're a pilot, a well driller, a gas station attendant, you manage a parking lot, you put things into space. You may be at home, incapacitated, unable to do much of anything and you feel fairly worthless.

Those who know us know us in these circumstances or in these situations. They know our build, our general age, how we dress, our proclivities given to us by God. They know if we are positive or negative, or industrious or lazy, trustworthy, healthy or sickly. They know us this way, because this is exactly what we are. The way we live is how we portray ourselves to others.

It may seem comfortable to us. We've been raised this way. This is what does it. We have been influenced by family, by friends, by town, by the era we are raised in, by the people we work with, by the jobs we have. This has all molded us into what we are today. Because of these influences, we have become what those around us see us as.

It may seem comfortable to be where we are, or we may be uncomfortable with ourselves.

We may be just toughing it out. We may be resigned, be discouraged or losing hope that we'll ever be able to change and become something better. Well, brethren, we've not been called to be complacent or to feel that we have to put up with what we are! I think that is so encouraging.

God doesn't view you as a housewife or a plumber or a salesman. He doesn't view you as you have been in the past. He sees you in a far different way. God views you in a position that will confound the world. And that should be encouraging to us!

So many times we see that we don't have much self worth, and maybe we don't. But God sees that we have tremendous worth. We are going to take a look at that. Please turn over to I Corinthians 1. I'm going to spend a little time on this, because I really want us to understand what God is doing here.

i corinthian 1:26 - 31

For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
It says this is the general character of those whom God is calling. There are some mighty and some noble, but very few. They aren't taken from the wise or the rich or the learned or the popular, but from those who are of humble circumstance. God has chosen to show us the plan he has put forth. He does not relay on the leaders of this world or cooperation with them. God wants us to stop and consider our calling. He really does. He wants us to stop and consider that not many wise, by this worlds standards, are called.

God hasn't consulted with the leaders of the world in the setting up of His Church. There are not many after the flesh, or man's way. God sets up his Church according to the Spirit, to what He's doing. He doesn't call the mighty, and He's called very few nobles or families with power. He's called the lowly. Let's see whom He has called. Turn over to I Corinthians 6. It is not a very pretty picture of whom He called.

I Corinthians 6:9 - 11

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed (you are changed), but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
He says don't you know that those who are unjust with others will not inherit the Kingdom. That is what He said. Be not deceived, don't trust yourselves, don't be deceived by circumstances, don't be fornicators, don't be effeminate, don't live the soft life indulging in soft lifestyles, don't give in to sensual desires, don't give in to homosexuality, stealing, coveting being drunk, reviling others, or extorting money from others. This applies to us , because some of us were this way. He says, "such were some of you." He asks us to stop and consider what we were and stop and consider what you've got now. Consider how special it is.

Let's take a quick tour here. We want to get a really good look at what we were.

Romans 6:20 - 23

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. (He could put a preface here and say, "Remember that when you were in the service of sin, you were free from righteousness.") What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (He says that's what you came out of. You were slated for death.) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life...
Now we can turn back to I Corinthians 1, verse 26 again.

I Corinthians 1: 26

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
Now for reasons known only to God, He called each of us. He can't say I called this man or woman because he/she was wonderful or pretty or whatever. We, who by the world are considered foolish, considered of no position, authority, or power or wealth are called. And here's the reason why. To put to shame, or to drive home to the wise of this world that their worldly wisdom is a stumbling block to them.

Verse 27 - 28

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
Barnes notes on this,
"The language here is a striking instance of Paul's manner of expressing himself with great strength. (Because he meant this in an exceedingly strong way.) He desires to convey in the strongest terms that God had illustrated His plan by choosing the objects of least esteem among men. He'd chosen those of ignoble birth and rank, the base things of the world, but this does not express the full meaning. (You thought you were bad enough already, but you are about to find out some more.) He'd chosen objects of contempt among men, but this was not strong enough to express His idea."
I remember that one minister in the early years of the Church said, "We are the cream of the crud." And I think that Paul says that we aren't the cream. Barnes continues,
"But this doesn't express his idea. He adds therefore that He had chosen those things which were absolutely nothing, which had no existence, which could not be supposed to influence Him in His choice."
God chose from things which are nothing, are worthless, have not existence, things which were beneath contempt, things which were beneath the notice of men, totally disregarded by this world, and this group has been called to change the world. But He wants us to consider from where we came.

Paul wanted the Corinthians and us to see our position, with all their flaws in contrast to the marvelous future to which we are called. We should take that view.

Verse 29

That no flesh should glory in his presence. (that no man, nor class of men could ever boast before Him and say, "See I did it. I made it. I am in God's Kingdom because I'm wonderful.")
Verse 30
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
He said by the calling of God the Father, you are now in Christ. And Paul wants to make it clear that it wasn't our power, beauty, strength, wealth, or intellect, or any other thing that caused the Father to call us. It was His desire to take us in the state we were in and to give us His Son. And it is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that the price He paid for us, that has given us the future we now have in store.

For us who didn't know how to come in out of the rain, how to live life correctly, Jesus Christ was made our wisdom and our righteousness. He is the source of our wisdom. It is by obedience to Him that we are made wise. It is by Jesus Christ that we understand our future, that we will be the sons of God. It is by Jesus Christ that we have God's word. It is by Him that we are in the Church and that we are here today. We owe all this to Jesus Christ.

And the sense of all this is that it is by Jesus Christ we are redeemed, by Him that an atonement was made, by Him that we are pardoned, by Him that we are delivered from sin, from our enemies and by Him that we are delivered from death. Quoting from i corinthian 6 verse 11, we "are washed and sanctified and justified in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God" and by obedience to Him, and all these things that Jesus Christ has done for us.

Now brethren, we see our contrast. The difference is tremendous from what we were to what God is going to do with us! I took considerable time on this, because all of this has been done for us. We can see the contrast of where we were and what our future was, what our destiny was—that it was death. And now we see what God has done by His calling us. This should produce a response in us—a wonderful response! It is this response that I'd like to talk about in the remainder of time I have today.

How do Jesus Christ and God the Father feel? We're told in roman 4:17, "God calls those things which are not as though they were." We may see ourselves as plumbers. We may see ourselves at home as being and invalid. We may see ourselves as not being highly educated. We may see ourselves in many negative ways, but that isn't how God sees us.

How are we seen by God? What are we called to be by God?

Romans 8:14 - 17

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Those who submit to God's influence, those who humble themselves before God, who resist being proud, who fight the pulls of the flesh, who control their anger and wrong ambitions, who yield in obedience to the laws of God give evidence, by subduing these things in them, give evidence that they are the sons of God. This is how we tell if we are baptized, by the changes in ourselves. We look back and say I've seen a change.

Verse 15

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
We haven't been given the attitude of slavery. We have been given God's Spirit that we might not live fearfully, because we've got a wonderful future in front of us. We live in freedom and confidence of what God's doing in us and of where we are going and the opportunity we have. We have a spirit of adoption, a feeling of deep love and appreciation and affection toward God for all that He has done. Because of this, with full realization and understanding of the Father, as it reads, we can call Him Father. If we take a different translation, we can call the Father our Father, The very Father, the very living God of heaven we can call our Father, because He is.

Verse 16

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
If we obey and we come under God's laws, and do all the things that we need to do, God's Spirit will produce the right effect in us. It will cause us to grow. And His Spirit bears witness with our spirit reflecting obedience and reflecting the fruits of that Spirit. This verifies that we are children of God, that we are adopted into His family.

Verse 17

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
We will be spirit body. What a wonderful body we are going to have and a wonderful future. We are going to be able to inherit all the things that Jesus Christ possesses. We have a future that is just astounding!

All this is ours if we suffer with Him, and if we stand fast as He did. We must not compromise our calling. What is that calling? His title is King of kings. Have you ever stopped to think, who are the other kings? Well, if you look at the person next to you, you will find out! Revelation 20, please

Revelation 20:4 - 6 (first part)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (This is you calling.) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: (See that's your calling, to have part in the first resurrection.)
What else will be coming to us? What will we be doing?

Revelation 2: 26 - 27

And he that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, (and this is endurance again) to him will I give power over the nations: (This is what you are going to be doing. You are going to have power over the nations.) Continue in Verse 27. And He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I have received of my Father. (You will receive the same type of power that Jesus Christ received to rule.)
Where will all this take place and what will we be?

Revelations 5:9 - 10

And they sung a new song, saying Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
There you have how God sees you. He doesn't see you as the plumber or the person that's down. He sees you as the person who has the wonderful future, as the king and the priest. We will have a duel role of leadership and instruction and teaching and guidance. God doesn't see us as we are now, in the occupations that we are now pursuing. He sees us as what we will be. He called us as the foolish of the world, but He didn't intend us to stay that way. He saw us as what we will be, kings and priests.

If He sees us this way, then I guess the question is, shouldn't we start to see ourselves in a different light? We shouldn't start to focus on all of our flaws and our problems, and feel down. We should start to see ourselves as God sees us. We should start to see ourselves becoming what God already considers us to be. Shouldn't we start to see ourselves as being in training to become kings and priests? The answer is yes, that's exactly how we should start to see ourselves.

The concept shouldn't be strange to any of us in business. We understand we have to pay our dues. My son, Brian, is in air conditioning. I remember the first few years. He was in attics of 150 or 180 degrees in the summertime. He'd be under the house. One day he came out and he was covered with fleas. He had to do all the grunt work. Everybody understands that. Nobody starts at the top. You have to start somewhere at the bottom. And so are we. The journeyman electrician started out as a grunt. The successful businessman started out at the bottom of his profession. As children, we have to grow into adulthood, being trained to make adult decisions. This shouldn't be any surprise.

It shouldn't come as any surprise to us that God is training us now for the reward He has set before us. As Paul said in Philippians 3, He expects us to press. We are to press toward the glorious mark and the high calling of Jesus Christ. We are to become like Him. That's what He expects. If we were hiring for a specific skill, those hiring us would expect us to have that particular skill. If you took your car into a mechanic you expected him to know how to fix it. If he said, "Oh, that's what they look like!" you'd say, "I'm taking my car elsewhere." You'd expect the mechanic to say, "Yes, I understand how it works and I'll fix it for you."

So, for the field that we are going into, we would be expected to know the laws that govern what we'll be doing. And we'll be expected to make decisions based on those laws. We are going to have a lot expected of us, brethren. So today I would like to have us consider at least some of the characteristics that we are going to need.

For the first one, because we are going to be kings, turn over to Deuteronomy 17 please.

Deuteronomy 17:14 - 20

When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell there in, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee, thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. (Now the horses meant that he should not gather great power to himself, a huge army. The king was to depend on God, of course, and not on his army.)
Verse 17
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself (make foreign alliances by marrying foreign wives, because they are going to turn his heart away.), that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. (At the expense of the people, high taxes causing them to starve, while he gets rich.) This you shall not do. (You can apply this to some of the characteristics that you are going to have.)
Verse 18 - 19
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in the book out of that which is before the priests and the Levites: (The king was expected to know the law.) And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; (Why?) that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: (The king is supposed to know what God wants and how to administer his kingdom under those laws. Why?)
Verse 20
That his heart not be lifted up above his brethren, (The king is the servant of all and that's what we are going to be. We are going to be serving the people just like God has served us, so faithfully, and with so much patients, and with so much love.) and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.
So this is what a king is to do. Then he can judge righteously as a king or a priest. How could he do that without understanding God's law? This is why we study our Bible. This is why we learn to apply the principles in the Bible to our lives. Learn to make decisions.

Early on, when John formed this Church, He said, "You are to be self-governed." And this rattles so many peoples' cages! Somebody said, "well, we are going to do away with chairs like this, and we are going to put in round tables. The minister will be down on the floor and not above the people. I said, "I think you have the wrong concept. The minister is going to be here so he can see the people, and see their reactions, and so that they can see him. What he meant was that the ministry will teach as God inspires them, and the people will learn to govern themselves accordingly." I had one man leave the Church, because he said, "I want to be told exactly what to do." And the reason he did was that if something went wrong he wanted to be able to blame the ministry.

God expects us to take his word and to put them to practice in our lives and to learn. We are going to make mistakes; you can count on that. But you are going to learn to do things correctly. That's going to help you to be a king and a priest.

Turn over to Psalm 119 please. Let's learn a little bit more about the law here. This is really a wonderful Psalm to pray with.

Psalm 119:97 - 106

Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. (Because he is learning the ways of God.)
What he is saying here is that he has an intense love for God's law. By it's teachings he understands his responsibilities in this life. He is wiser than his enemies—not because of natural ability, but because God is the perfect Instructor. God. the perfect Instructor and His laws teach me. He has more understanding than his teachers and the ancients, because they understood just the things of men. But we, brethren, have been called to understand the things of God.

Because of God's word he walked in the path and was blessed by it. Because of God's word he avoided the ways of the world. Because of God's law he had worked to build godly character. A lot of pain can be avoided by obeying God's word.

Interestingly, right above verse 105, my Bible has the word "NUN". That means candle.

Verses 105 - 106

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (When you are walking through this dark world, it is good to see where you are going.) I have sworn and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
This is what God wants from us, brethren. God's law produces peace. That's what you are going to want in your kingdom.

Psalm 119:165

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (or cause them to stumble).
God expects us to understand the laws.

II Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Here are Adam Clarke's comments on this. "Endeavor so to cultivate and improve your heart and mind that you will not be a reproach to Him who has commissioned you (in this case to be kings and priests) learning to rightly divide the truth, learning to cut straight, rightly and skillfully teaching the word of truth, being able to properly adapt God's words to the circumstances and the needs of the people."

I hope that puts some weight on you. It puts some weight on me. This is expected of us. So learn to adapt God's words to the needs of the people of the true government.

Matthew 13:52

Then said he (Jesus Christ) unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
There was a lady in the house across the street from where I was being raised in Oakland, California. She had a large pantry. I never got to go into the pantry, but I used to look in there. On the shelves were all kinds of good things. I mean she had canned and bottled things, and she put her cakes in there along with her big containers of cookies. She'd go into the pantry and bring out those good things to me once in a while. For some reason when I read this scripture, I think of that pantry. You may have something else that it reminds you of, but I think of that pantry.

What it is saying here then is that every man that is acquainted with the word of God should bring it forth at the correct time. Bring it out like a householder bringing out of his treasury, or place of deposit, what has been laid up there for when it was needed. As this applies to us, brethren, it means that we are to build up a storehouse of knowledge of God. In that storehouse we are to have new things and old things.

As we are in need of these things, in our responsibility as kings and priests, we are to bring them out to serve others. We are to have our life's experiences. We are to have these experiences of study, and experiences of making mistakes. We are to have the experience of looking back over our lives and saying, "I wish I'd done it differently." Some of you may have wondered, "Have I gone through what I've gone through, because I'm going to have to deal with somebody else that's gone through the same thing? Will I need to be able to encourage them?" The answer is, "Sure. Of course." You're going to say, "I've been there, and you can overcome it."

This is a nice scripture. This is Saul explaining what happened to him.

Acts 26:14 - 18

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
What he is saying here is that our job will be to instruct the people by opening their eyes, and to remove them from the captive power of Satan's vast influence. Why? So that they might repent and be encouraged to trust God, that they might be joint heirs with Jesus Christ just like you and I. That's what your job is going to be. You have a big job description.

Isn't this what will be expected of the kings and priests that rule, just exactly what will be expected? The people will expect us to have answers, and we are going to have to have them. Thus we see, brethren, the first quality we are going to have to work on is getting the mind of God through study and through applying His principles in our lives. We must be prepared to teach and rule rightly those people that will be our responsibility to teach.

Now the second thing that God is going to have to find in us is the Nature of God. Let's discuss that next. The king sets the standard for the realm just as the pastor sets the standard for the Church. The people look at how he lives, what he does, and they respond to that. Many times, in fact most time, they will imitate the ministers. Well, so it is with the king or a priest. As the king conducts himself, the people will conduct themselves.

What is the first and most important characteristic of God that we must develop? What characteristic can we develop that will make those we are responsible for respond to God the Father and to Jesus Christ, and to us?

I John 4:19

We love him, because he first loved us.
Robert Barnes has two explanations. He said, "The fact that He first loved us is the ground or reason why we love Him." That was one explanation. The second one was that, "as a matter of fact we have been brought to love Him by consequence or because of the love which He has manifested or made evident toward us. Though the real ground for our love may be the excellency of His own character." He said that when we see God's character, His patience, His love for us, we want to respond to it.

Now the word used for love means the setting of the will to love others. This is no small thing. We think, well, I like this person or I don't like this person. God liked you when you were not worth liking. And He liked me when I was a sinner. When John told us the other day God knew you long before He called you, I sort of shuttered. I wished God hadn't known me long before He called me. I think that may be the same with a lot of you.

So the word for love here means a setting of the will to love others, to do good to them, to lead them, to bring them along. It also has a sense of loving the leadership over you, (i.e. God the Father and Jesus Christ and those over us in the kingdom of God.) It is a setting of the will to love. It further expresses good will and kindness toward others. It can also be shown in correction and discipline, because that is going to bring good to others. This attitude is reflected in Ephesians 2, verses 4 through 7.

Ephesians 2:4 - 7

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, (you see, you are going to have to love the people you are ruling the same way, because they're going to be dead in sins too. He made us alive.) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus
You're going to have to love the people the very same way. In their sins and their mistakes you are going to have to will yourself to love them and do good for them that they might be saved.

Here we see God's great love in action and the purpose behind that love. This is the same love and the purpose that we should have as well as kings and priest. We must even learn to love our enemies. Go to Matthew 5. I think you all know this one. In this bit of scripture we learn that in loving our enemies we come to be perfect like God our Father.

Matthew 5:43 - 48

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
(Why?)
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? (Now here it comes in Verse 48!) Be ye therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
You see He loves everybody. He doesn't love their deeds, doesn't approve of them. Don't misunderstand. But He loves them. This does not mean that we are going to have to love with approval what the people do, what the individual is in their present state or condition. More fitting, this means that we love them as God loved us when we were sinning.

Just as God views us as we will be some day—as He views us now as becoming kings and priests—we'll have to view them as they will be someday. That's going to be your job. You've got to have the big picture. You've got to see things as they will become, not as they are at the moment. As we work to return this kind of love, it simply means that we won't return evil for evil, that we won't work to ruin another's reputation. We will, in fact, work to set a proper example of dealing with everyone, that we might glorify God.

This works in the home too with fathers and their children, with mothers and their children, with husbands and wives. You will yourself to love one another, to exhibit patience, kindness, forgiveness, and faithfulness—all of these things. Because that's your training ground. You husbands that are married to the wives, and with children, that's your mini kingdom. And when you have something wrong in the kingdom it should come back to the king to settle the problem. It may men that the king has to humble himself to serve his family. You wives you have your responsibility as well. And you children also are all to learn in this situation. That's why God gave it to you.

Romans 12 please. Here are more examples of love.

Romans 12:17 - 21

Recompense to no man evil for evil. (Right off the bat you've got a challenge, because that isn't how this world operates.) Provide things honest in the sight of all men. (You've got to deal with that person honestly, even if he treats you wrongly. You treat him respectfully and those around you will note the godly character and the love for that person that you exhibited.) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Yield when you can yield. Do all the things that are required. Certainly not doing anything against God's laws, but do all you can to live peacefully.) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (You know that isn't how this world operates. It's get even, shoot 'em, just simply finish him off.) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. (Then comes the commandment for us all to obey) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (That's your responsibility now in this life, and certainly in the kingdom of God.)
This outgoing love is what we will need to be kings and priests. It must be developed now! You can't say, well, I'll catch it when I'm in the kingdom of God. It doesn't work that way. As we love our husbands, our wives and our children, this is what we have to do. It's going to be hard sometimes, because you are going to be short tempered or be in a problem. But be patient and love your families. Set that example.

Under that envelope of outgoing love and consideration for others are additional characteristics that we must develop as well. And this is a biggy! Forgiveness. One of our chief qualities that we will all need in the kingdom of God as kings and priests is that of forgiveness. We live in a world where the get even way is the way of accomplishing everything. That can't be with us. We must take on God's nature now if we are to have it then!

Go to Ephesians 4 please, verse 31 and 32. Now theses are commands to us. This isn't for somebody else. This isn't for our neighbor or the person sitting next to us. This isn't for the wife and not the husband. It isn't for the husband and not the wife. It isn't for the children and not the parents.

Ephesians 4:31 - 32

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (He says to get it out of your nature. That doesn't mean that you are not going to have righteous anger sometimes where things have to be taken care of. But don't let this become part of you.) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The next time we start to think that we are hot stuff, that we can get angry and throw our temper on to somebody, stop and think. If you have to walk outside and count to 375 (or whatever the number is), consider what God has done for you. Consider the forgiveness that he has given you.

President Clinton has his stuff blasted all over the internet, and so forth. How would you like your stuff there? I wouldn't; I'd go crawl into a cave and pull the roof down. You see God has kept that a secret, and He's forgotten it. Which is a real law in the family. I know that when we used to correct the children, they would get 3 swats—no more. If they stomped their feet and showed anger, that was 3 more. But then I would always hold them afterward and say, "Look, I love you, and you have to learn that breaking the law brings penalties. But I want you to know that when the penalty has been administered that it's forgotten. God forgets. It will never be thrown up again." And it wasn't. Our kids were always raised this way.

It was very touching when years later one of my sons came to me and said, "Dad, I really appreciate how you raised us. It was good." That was rewarding, because at the time you are going through it, when you are administering the penalty, no one says "Dad, I really appreciate the... Anyway!

So there is a hollow forgiveness. That is just represented by words. Then there is a forgiveness from the heart. Now I'm going to give you an assignment here. It's just one chapter in the Bible. I'm asking you to read carefully Matthew 18—all of it—carefully. God says there, at the end, that if you don't forgive from the heart, He won't forgive you. Don't forget that God is the one who looks on your heart now. There is the hollow kind, and there is the from the heart kind. It's the later kind that God insists we have. We all have faults. God expects you to develop a tender heart of compassion and kindness toward the faults of others. Why? Because of God the Father's forgiving you. On virtue of what Jesus Christ did for you. He took your debt away from you. He took your sins and died for you.

Many of us don't remember, at least many of the younger people among us don't remember that there were many concentration camps during World War II. They don't remember the horrible atrocities that were performed in those camps. Experiments were made on human beings. They would put twelve ova in a woman to see what happened to her when she got pregnant, or as she grew and she exploded. They would skin people alive and then make lampshades out of their skin. Families would watch their loved ones taken and slaughtered. Surgeries were done without anesthesia and things like this.

Now when the time comes for forgiveness, the guards from Auschwitz, and Dachau, and Buchenwald will repent. They'll see what it was like. They'll see what they have done. They will come before God and repent, but how about the families that endured these atrocities? How could you forgive from the heart if you saw your wife skinned alive or something like that?

How can we teach others to forgive from the heart if we don't right now? If we are going to be able to teach forgiveness to those who suffered, we have to learn it here and now. This means for us to learn to forgive completely—from the heart. We can not hold a grudge and carry it with us. You see, brethren, this is our time to go to school. This is our time to earn the reward. We are in school; the reward will come later. God expects a great deal of you and He expects a great deal of me.

The next thing we are going to have to have is patience. It is another characteristic that a king is going to have to have. You can't have a short fuse.

II Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This is what God wants. As a king you are going to have to want the same thing. It is going to require patience. It may come as a surprise to you, but some of us are a real trial. I've been a real trial to some! Here we see the attitude of God. To delay His punishment does not mean that He won't punish, but it shows that He has patience. He does not want any to miss out on the future that's in store for them. That should be our goal as well.

Now what is the fruit of patience? Look at Romans 2, verses 1 through 4.

Romans 2:1 - 4

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
I've done this. I've judged others, and then I've caught myself doing the same thing. It really hurt me when I've found that I do the same things that other people do. I say, "Look at that person doing that." Then about a month later, a year later, two years later, what am I doing? I just did the same thing!

Verses 2 - 3

But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God? (Not a chance!)
Verse 4
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God (and His patience) leadeth thee to repentance?
If God got each one of us when we first sinned in our calling, we wouldn't be here today. We'd be ashes, or smithereens. We'd be little piles of dust. No, God was patient with each one of you. He's been very patient with me. So you see, you are going to be kings and priests. You better have patience.

Those who fear God must not fight with others over doctrine. That is the next verse I want to come to. II Timothy 2, please, verses 24 through 26.

II Timothy 2:24 - 26

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (Why?) And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
This is why we are to be patient. We are not to fight over doctrine. We can contend. We can teach. We can employ kindness. We can design to promote understanding. God's servants should be meek and not quarrelsome. The phrase means patient under evil or injuries, or trials or problems. We should approach those who are in error with meekness, and with love and understanding and patience. We should instruct them, not ridiculing them publicly or privately. Be patient and loving toward them. If they are slow to understand, we are not to become short or impatient. We are to extend as much time as possible helping them to understand. And again, why? That they might recover.

How do we put this into practice today?

Colossians 3:11 - 15

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all in all. (Because of this he says...) Put on therefore, as the elect of God, (which you are) holy and beloved, bowels of meekness, (mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind) longsuffering;
Those are the instructions of God. This is what we are to put on with each other, with husband, with wife, with children, with friend, with neighbor, with members of the opposite sex. This is what we are to put on with strangers out in the world.

Verse 13— 14

Forbearing (being patient with one another) one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Another words, forbearing one another, not rankling to argue, when something might promote a quarrel. We are not to hold our actions against one another. Always be ready to do good when the opportunity might arise. Be willing to forgive when forgiveness is asked. After the issue is resolved, act as if it never had happened. That's forgiving from the heart. Why? Because that's how Jesus Christ treated us. He forgot our mistakes, and we are to do the same thing.

Then he goes on to say here

Verse 15

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, (and I've said this before that this is taken from the Olympic games. There was a man in charge of all the games. This is the same sense here. Let peace be in charge of your games, in a sense, to rule your heart.) to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful (for each other, be you thankful).
Well, brethren, if we can put this into actual practice, we are going to learn to love and to forgive and to have patience, because it is all right there.

Now the last thing I put down here is self-control. There are more certainly, but I'm going to read you something that you haven't heard in a while. Can you imagine what God would be like, or kings would be like, if they didn't have self control? This pertains to godly character, by Mr. Armstrong. "Godly character is the attainment of the ability in a separate independent entity with free moral agency to be able to determine right from wrong, a true value from the false, truth from error, the right way from the wrong, and then to make the right choice or decision, even against self-desire, impulse, or temptation, plus the will and self-discipline to resist the wrong and to do the right." This is the hard part for us.

Turn to Colossians 3, verses 1 through 10.

Colossians 3:1 - 2

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right had of God. Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
He said it is time for us to do things God's way, to focus our mind on God. We need to listen to what God has to say, and to put our things off to one side—the earthly way. We need to do it God's way.

Verses 3 - 6

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify (kill) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil, concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: (He said this is why the wrath comes. You don't want these.)

In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

In other words put on the new man which is created after God in righteousness and holiness. Be the new man or woman who is building godly character and has been given the knowledge of God. He said make those changes.

I Peter 4:1 - 2

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (That's for us.)
I Peter 2:9 - 12
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
They're going to be called, and they are going to see you. And they are going to glorify you.

We need to have self-control in what we allow ourselves to watch and read, in how much we eat and drink, self-control in what we allow our minds to dwell on, self-control in how we take care of the body God has given us. We must have self-control so that we don't lie and gossip and stretch the truth. We need self-control over selfishness and the desires of our minds. And in a sense we need self-control to come out of the ways of the world. The building of godly character is most difficult and it requires discipline and effort. Corinthians 9 is where Paul says I run the race and I have to discipline myself that I might win the crown. If I don't then I'll be lost.

Now the Apostle Paul disciplined himself very carefully. But even so, there was a struggle going on in him. I'm going to read roman 7, verses 14 through 25, out of the New English Bible. This was given by Paul after some twenty-five years in the ministry. I'll tell John Ritenbaugh sometimes that I'm fighting something. He'll say, "I'm glad that you don't have my sins." And I think, "What sins could he have?" But you see after twenty-five years, Paul had the same problem.

Romans 7:14 - 25

We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not. I am unspiritual, the purchased slave of sin. I do not even acknowledge my own actions, as my own, for what I do is not what I want, but what I detest. But if what I do is against my will, it means that I agree with the law and hold it to be admirable. But the things are. It is no longer me that performs this action, but the sin that lodges in me. For I know that nothing good lodges in me, in my unspiritual nature. I mean for though the will to do good is there, the deed is not. The good which I want to do, I fail to do. But what I do is the wrong, which is against my will. And if what I do is against my will, then clearly it is no longer I who am the agent, but sin that is lodging in me. I discovered this principle then, that when I want to do right only wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self, I delight in the law of God. But I perceive that in my bodily members a different law is fighting against the law that my reason approves making me prisoner unto the law that is in my members, the law of sin. Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death? (And then he says) God alone will do this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God. Then it were that I myself might be subject to God's law as a rational being. Yet in my unspiritual nature I am still a slave to sin.
Now Bolenger in the Companion Bible wrote this. "This is the experience of everyone who is subject to the grace of God and has received the gift of the new nature as a sign of God's justification. It is not the experience of one man in two successive stages, but the co-existence of the two experiences in the one person (or the one man at the same time)."

We are in a war. Our nature doesn't go away. God has put it this way so we will have to make choices and to overcome. As becoming kings and priests, we are going to have to do this. This calling by God is to raise us from nothing, to become kings and priests. It is truly difficult, because our human nature keeps warring against us. Though we are saved by grace, we have a responsibility to do our level best to overcome, to obey God, to resist our human nature, and to overcome Satan. In all this we must have faith and trust in God that He will give us the victory, brethren. God's plan is sure for us

Ephesians 1:13 - 14

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest (the down payment or deposit) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Paul thanks God for His purpose. He set forth for us to be saved. And he sanctions that we are part of the plan that He set up—His eternal plan. That Spirit that He has given to us is the down payment that is going to blossom and will help to convert us into a spirit being.

I Corinthians 1:4 - 9

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
We're confirmed. Philippians please.

Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
So even though you have troubles and trials, that will be performed in you.

Philippians 2:12 - 13

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, (I'm going to paraphrase this) exhibit and carry out what you already possess, your salvation. (You already possess your salvation. You've been called by God. Exhibit it!) with fear and trembling. For it is God which (paraphrasing again) energizes you, that encourages you to have a desire to do of his good pleasure.
You already have your salvation, God said. So live that way. You should live God's way now. Many of God's attributes we already possess. So grow and grow and grow attaining more of His attributes. Now there are many qualities that we all need to perfect in ourselves at this time. Certainly honesty, truthfulness, faithfulness, loyalty, energy and zeal for God's way of life are among these. Brethren, the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the world tomorrow, a time in the near future when we will be changed to spirit—from physical into the sons of God. In time we will have become co-saviors with Jesus Christ. Our positions as kings and priests will be commensurate with our abilities that we develop now.

Something else will take place then too. We will no longer be known by our past trade, plumber or electrician, or as an invalid, or somebody that doesn't have a degree, or whatever. We will be given a new name. Turn over to Revelations 3 please. This is encouraging. I don't know that I fully understand the new name exactly, but these letters are addressed to all the Churches.

Revelation 3:12

...and I will write upon him the name of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of the heaven from my god: and I will write upon him my new name.
We are going to get a new name. I'm firmly convinced of that. But though we will all share in God's name, we will have a special name as well.

Revelation 2:17

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (plural); To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
This is sort of interesting. There are three symbols listed here. The first one is manna showing the faithfulness of God in His care for His people. That's what that pictures, manna coming everyday to take care of His people. The second one is a white stone, a tessera. Now this has several meanings. It was an invitation stone. A tessera conviviales was a ticket to a banquet or a feast. There was a tessera that was inscribed with various items of gold that the Caesars would throw out during the games. He would throw these out to the crowd and the people would pick them up. An engraving on each gave so many pounds of gold or a servant, etc. The bearer could take the stone and redeem it. Then there was the stone, the tessera frumenteriae which had to do strictly with fruit, with garden things.

But the one that caught my mind was the tessera hospitales, which was given as a badge of friendship and alliance, upon which was engraved a contract of friendship between two parties. This stone was very valuable. This stone was cut in half and each of the parties got half of the stone. This stone was kept for generations. It showed that there was peace and harmony and love between the two families. It was considered to be extremely valuable. I couldn't help but think that that is what God is going to give us when He gives us the white stone. It will be a bond. It will be a contract of peace and of love, expressing generosity and caring and concern for one another.

Now the new name. We give nicknames to our kids and those we love. A little boy that is a bundle of energy we'll call Tiger. We might call somebody Cheerful or Smiles. I always call my granddaughter Prairie Flower or Princess. I have no idea why. But a new name is going to be given to us. It will be a name that will reflect what you are, and you can be sure that it will be a name that will assure you that you have really pleased God in your performance and in your overcoming. It will be a name that will be of tremendous encouragement to you forever. This is what is in store for you.

God has placed all of us in the Church to be taught how to rule. God hasn't placed us here just to be saved. He has placed us here for a larger purpose. We will be the ones who will implement the knowledge of God and the love of God and the patience of God to the people. We will demonstrate the forgiveness of God and the self-control to the ones coming out of the tribulation. We will be the ones to instruct all those growing up during the millennium. It is God's people who have been called to be firstfruits who will set the character and the standards of God throughout the entire world. This character will permeate every mind to produce peace and happiness and wonderful productivity.

Now each one of us prays to God, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." It is you and it is I, it is we that are going to insure that God's will is done. I think we pray it, but we don't consider that. Brethren, after all the years that we've spent in the Church and as we see the conclusion of time rushing upon us, God doesn't expect us to let down. We are to be looking forward to our being made kings and priests that we might be rejoicing as co-saviors with Jesus Christ in saving the world. Because of this, let's not allow ourselves to become sidetracked. Really work to develop into the true characteristics of God that we might serve. What should we be doing? Prepare for the future now?

JOR//



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