Austin Del Castillo, focusing on the "Fellowship of the Ring," the theme from Tolkien's Trilogy in which a disparate assembly band together to conquer evil, proposes that we are part of a similar, yet spiritual assembly—The Fellowship of the Way. In the 1950's, a plethora of science fiction movies emerged in which extra-terrestrials invade earth, bringing with them a coded communication system and changing the DNA of a specially selected subset of humans, making it conform to that of the invaders. These movies are unwitting emblems of God's plan. Metaphorically, God is the Extra-terrestrial, who has selected a small assembly in the initial stage of His plan. To this few, He gave a coded Book, incomprehensible to the multitudes. As well, God injected them with His Holy Spirit, giving them the potential to become like Him. With this assembled group of called-out ones (sanctified and glorified spirit beings), Jesus Christ will put down all worldly governments, replacing them with His Kingdom. God's called-out ones are more than ordinary humans. They are humans endued with the power to obey His laws. God's protection of the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles site, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from Hurricane Florence is testimony that we are here for a reason—to participate in the Fellowship of the Way.
Richard Ritenbaugh, observing that Jesus Christ has been the most misunderstood Being who ever lived, cautions us that we could possibly come to share the same sort of misconceptions His Own parents had. Jesus' question in Luke 2:49, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" indicates that, at the early age of 12, Jesus knew the parameters of His mission. He realized from His earliest memory as a human being that He was more than a man and had existed with His Father from eternity. John 1:1-3 reveals Jesus Christ's pedigree as the Logos (or Spokesman), whose function was to declare or reveal the Father. God the Father was intimately involved in choosing His physical parents; yet, He left nothing to chance in His education, which consisted of continuous communication between Him and His Son. In John 14:10-11, Jesus proclaimed, "I do not speak on My Own authority but the Father in Me," implying that He and the Father had always been in each other's presence. The Father was in Him throughout His life, a relationship They seek to replicate in all of God's Children. When Christ cried out in agony the second the Father rejected Him because of our sins, He expressed the horror of losing His life-long link with His Father. Our faith rests on the indwelling of the Father and the Son. This special "bosom buddy" relationship Jesus, by teaching us about His Father, fervently desires as the ultimate destiny of God's Called-ones.
David Grabbe, mentioning the typical reaction of subscribers to statements against the trinity doctrine, reminds us that the great false church has had 1,600 years to falsely indoctrinate its congregation with a false explanation of the nature of God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit or the Comforter is Jesus Christ's mind dwelling in us, shaping our behavior, molding us into the mirror image of Jesus Christ. The reference to "walking in the spirit" in Micah 2:11 refers metaphorically to having a dominant attitude and behavior, adopting a lifestyle-trajectory toward walking in a false spirit or, conversely, walking in the spirit. Spiritual neglect weakens a child of God so that things of the flesh become more important. If we live by the flesh, we will ultimately die. If fleshly things become more important, we are on a trajectory toward death. God's called-out ones must exercise control, drawing on the power of God's Holy Spirit.
David C. Grabbe: In II John 7, the apostle John identifies an antichrist as one who denies that Jesus Christ is presently in His followers. ...
David C. Grabbe: The apostle John gives various descriptions of the antichrist spirit that was prevalent at the end of the first century and continues today. ...
John Ritenbaugh warns that our nation is sliding into a recession or depression, falling into the grips of a failed economic system (socialism, fascism, or communism) and into a new world order -controlled by a powerful, but sinister beast power. In the wake of these fearful events, we have hope that our sins are forgiven, that the foolish things that the deceived human governments will be destroyed by Christ's second coming, and have the indwelling spirit of Jesus Christ. Without the precious calling of God, the world, which is crumbling before our eyes, does not have this hope.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that faith and love require reciprocal works on our part, even though God has made the initial step, providing His only Son as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. As God calls us, He provides the power both to will and to do. If we do not work with God in our conversion process, things will fall apart. Because our responding to God's love is so important, we need to respond reciprocally to God. If we love another person we like to think about him/her, to hear about him/her, to read about him/her, please him/her, to be friends with his friends too, and we are jealous about their reputation and honor. We will not bring dishonor on our spiritual family's name by our behavior, not forgetting that we are collectively the temple of God and the Body of Christ.
Sometime in their Christian lives, many people hit a plateau in their growth and go little further. Have we have overlooked the simple principle of "ask and it will be given" spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount?
John Ritenbaugh tackles the eternal security doctrine, a teaching that militates against good works, something that God had ordained for all of us. Works demonstrate our faith, our response to God's calling and His freely given grace. Reciprocity is always a part of our relationship with God. Trust is a response to God's tests. Abraham's response to God reciprocated his love back to God. The indictment against the Ephesian church stemmed from their lack of reciprocity (or first love). When our expectations have not been met, it becomes hard for us to maintain our zeal. We need to maintain the intensity to actively hear God's message. If we do not actively exercise our minds, work to maintain our relationship to Christ, and become dead to the world, we will drift away. We cannot allow what Christ is to slip from our minds. Where there is no love for Christ, there is no salvation and no membership in God's family. As in human love or infatuation, if we love another person, we like to think about him/her; likewise, we need to have Christ dwelling in our hearts at all times.
Richard Ritenbaugh reiterates that we dare not limit God's glory to something physical like fire or cloud, but must recognize God's glory as radiating from His character, in which we can also participate through His Holy Spirit. The Shekinah glory today is the Holy Spirit in us, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we must separate ourselves from the world, from the things that would defile us, and from the influences of the evil one.This separation enables God's Spirit to generate growth within us, allowing us to move on to perfection. We must attain permanent experiential righteousness by exercise of His Spirit, obeying and imitating Jesus Christ, by which we are sanctified and transformed into His image. If we claim God as our Father, we need to reflect His character, making a witness that we are indeed His children.
Understanding our obligation to Christ leads to a deeply held, personal loyalty to Him. John Ritenbaugh explains that our redemption by means of Christ's sacrifice should make us strive to please Him in every facet of life.
John Ritenbaugh warns against the tendency to emphasize grace (with a no responsibility "Once saved only saved" mentality) and de-emphasize sanctification, works, and overcoming. Holiness has two distinct stages or aspects: (1.) to be set apart, justified by Christ's blood and given His Spirit and (2.) becoming holy as God is Holy (Hebrews 10:14) involving thinking, developing a godly attitude and doing as God does, growing into His image. Sanctification is an incremental process in which we, by God's Spirit, systematically destroy and extirpate the contaminating and defiling sin within us as our forebears were asked to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan (II Corinthians 6:11 and Deuteronomy 7:1-5), in order to attain physical, ritual, and moral cleanliness and purity.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that we are manufactured goods designed specifically to glorify God. We have been summoned or separated from the rest of the world for the specific purpose of having God reproduced in ourselves — becoming clean and pure, transformed into God's image. As God's royal priesthood, we have a responsibility to draw near to God, keeping His commandments, witnessing to the world that God is God. Chipping away at the living stones, fitting them into their proper places, God works continually shaping and fashioning His new creation (II Corinthians 5:17).
The Bible frequently uses analogies from physical life to explain spiritual principles. Food and eating are no exceptions. In fact, there are over 700 references to eating in Scripture. The lessons we can learn from them must be important!
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that Christ's sacrifice was not merely substitutionary, but representative, with Christ giving us a pattern to live our lives- mortifying our flesh and putting out sin. From this pattern, we realize that living righteously does not guarantee a life free from pain. Like Christ our Forerunner, we must learn from the things we suffer, living a life of sacrifice, collectively and individually becoming a temple or body- a habitation of God's Holy Spirit. Like Christ, we are called to be priests, providing an intercessory bridge between mankind and God. Our entire lives, like our Elder brother, must be given as a whole living sacrifice to God, (1) yielding our bodies and minds, controlling our appetites and desires, (2) making sacrifices of praise, (3) making sacrifices of service to others, and if required, (4) the sacrifice of a martyr's death.
How does God define the church? What comprises it according to the Bible? The ekklesia, the Greek word translated "church" in the Bible, is not a humanly defined corporation, but the mystical body of Christ, having the Spirit of God. The true church of God is an invisible, spiritual organism, of those people that have and are led by the Spirit of God. And such a person will not turn away from the teaching delivered by the apostles.
Can a Christian commit a sin, and still be a Christian? Or would this be "the unpardonable sin"? Or would it prove he never was a Christian? Thousands worry, because they do not understand what IS the sin that shall never be forgiven.
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