Feast: The Faith Once Delivered
Given 13-Oct-14; 50 minutes
In light of the times we are now living in and because what I have witnessed within the greater churches of God, there are two verses in the book of Jude that concern me greatly. If you would turn to Jude 3-4 and I would like to read this out of the Revised Standard Version.
Jude 3-4 (RSV) Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
In verse 4 we are being told that these people that had become members of the church were now sowing their bad seed. This bad seed is false doctrines and impure practices. As you read on in the book of Jude, Jude gives us several examples. Number one, the disobedient Israelites. The key word is disobedient. Number two, the unfaithful and rebellious angels under Satan. The key word is unfaithful. Number three, the impure inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, the key word is impure. Remember those words.
Jude states that these people are turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. What Jude is saying here is that these people make the grace and mercy of God a covering for sin and for false doctrine which can give us the impression that we can sin safely as long as we believe the gospel because in the gospel, grace abounds, does it not? Yes, it does.
I want to read Jude 3-4 out of the Living New Testament. I want us to make sure that we understand what is being said here.
Jude 3-4 (Living New Testament) Dearly loved friends, I had been planning to write you some thoughts about the salvation God has given us, but now I find I must write of something else instead, urging you to stoutly defend the truth which God gave, once for all, to His people to keep without change through the years. I say this because some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you, saying that after we become Christians [first fruits] we can do just as we like without fear of God’s punishment. The fate of such people was written long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
In verse 3 God tells us to stoutly defend the faith or truth that was once given. He also tells us not to change the faith once delivered as the years wear on.
Let me ask you a question. Is this happening in the greater churches of God today? Is that happening? Do we defend the faith? Are we keeping the faith once delivered, unchanged, as we move along in time? That is the question.
Brethren, where did this faith that God wants us to fight for, to stand up for in verse 3, come from? For most of us, at least a large majority of us, we received this faith through Mr. Armstrong. We were called by God, yes, that is true. We were given the Holy Spirit at baptism, but we were taught by Mr. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God.
Most of us did not understand things like the Sabbath. I had Jewish friends when I was a kid. I did not know what the Sabbath was. The preparation day. Preparation? Preparation for what? The holy days, the Feast of Tabernacles, clean and unclean meats. Whatever got on my plate, I ate. Proper dress attire for church services. Is there really proper dress attire? The Beast. That was a ’53 Buick I owned. The false prophet, pagan holidays, divorce and remarriage. Divorce and remarriage? When I was a kid hardly any one got divorced. The Millennium. Being part of the very Family of God and on and on it goes.
But, look what has happened over the years, brethren. Exactly what Jude 4 warns us about. The greater churches of God have added to the faith once delivered or they have taken away and watered down the faith once delivered. That is what is going on right now.
I am going to give you some examples of what I am talking about. A number of people that were given the truth by Mr. Armstrong have said Mr. Armstrong was wrong or incomplete in what he taught because he did not teach us about the New Moons. We have all heard about this. There has been a lot of controversy over the new moons for many years now. There have been countless sermons preached and articles written on this subject. This subject was not part of the faith once delivered to us by God through Mr. Armstrong. Yet, a number of people want to make the new moons part of the faith once delivered and a number of people have left God’s church over this issue.
Then, there was the sacred names doctrine. That also caused much controversy and many sermons and articles having to be preached and written explaining this subject. Still, a number of people left God’s church and the faith once delivered.
These people wanted to add new doctrines to God’s church. People are never happy, are they? We are never happy, are we? They always want to make changes. Nothing is ever good enough, is it?
Some other changes that have been made are the 90 minute church service instead of the two-hour normal service. One group that I know of dances around and sings with tambourines. I would not fit in there. I cannot dance and I cannot sing. One group has intercessory messages that everyone gets to comment on and give their opinion. They all get involved in a discussion about how they perceive God, God’s Word (the Bible and its contents).
Let me give you an example of the watering down of the faith once delivered, which we are all very aware of, and that is what is appropriate dress for church. The reason I bring up church dress is because this seems like such a small and insignificant thing does it not? Church dress? How does that matter? But, God says in I Corinthians 5:6 that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Just a little bit. This is exactly what is happening in the greater churches of God, brethren. We cracked the door and we have let the leaven in.
It starts out with something like church dress that most people consider a very small issue and then it moved on to things like third tithe, the divorce and remarriage doctrine, the Sabbath, and many other things. That is how it works. The faith once delivered is being watered down little by little.
Let me tell you a story of how this world we live in, Satan’s world, dresses for their church service. Last summer JB and I went to an automobile swap meet by our home. We arrived early Sunday morning and shortly thereafter Dale, a friend of ours, showed up and he wanted us to help him unload his car because he wanted to sell some things at our booth. Let me tell you what I was dressed in. I was dressed in worn out Levi’s with a hole in one knee. I had paint stains on my sweatshirt and I had a pair of old tennis shoes on because sometimes it is muddy out there. It rains in Oregon. JB was dressed the same except he had two great big greasy hand prints on his gut. He loves to wipe things there.
Dale was also dressed in just about the same attire except he did not have holes in his Levi’s or greasy hand prints on his shirt. Dale informed us that he was only going to be able to stay until about 10:00 a.m. because he had to go to church. I asked him if he would have enough time to get home, to change his clothes, and get ready to go to church. He looked at me like I was crazy. He told me he was wearing his Sunday, go-to-meeting clothes. JB and I laughed at him and made some comments to him about how good he looked for church services which went right over his head. He laughed with us. He thought it was a joke.
Dale is very involved in his church. He is a deacon in his church and on the Board of Trustees and he goes to church every week. Later that afternoon, you know what happened? Dale’s cousin Toby showed up at our booth and he told me he had just come from church. I asked him if he went home and changed his clothes before coming to the swap meet. He said no, this is how I go to church every week. How do you think he was dressed? You guessed it. He looked just like Dale. Just like JB and just like me. These two men do not attend the same church. They live about twenty miles from each other. They attend different churches in their own neighborhood.
On our way home that day, JB asked me if I thought everybody dressed like that to worship God. I told him that I thought most people are very casual about their dress when it comes to church. There is a church located by my house and I go out there some Sunday mornings to stand on my deck and I can see the people coming and going. Most of them are dressed like Dale and Toby.
Let us turn to Revelation 18.
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
What do we have to do with the way the world worships their God? We are supposed to be a peculiar people even in our church dress. We are supposed to be different, not like Dale and Toby. That is what peculiar means, brethren. It means different.
Titus 2:14 Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, [a different people], zealous for good works.
The example of how holy God is and how we are to come before Him are right in the Bible. I am not making this up. It is right there. It is all part of the faith once delivered. Turn to Exodus 19.
Do you know what one of the meaning of sanctify is? It is reverence or respect. God is telling Moses to make sure the people come before Him respectfully and with reverence. God also said have the people wash their clothes because you and I cannot come before God any old way we wish. Taking a bath, being clean, and wearing proper dress to church services all shows reverence and respect. Let us go on to verse 11.
God gave Moses two days to get the people ready to come before Him and hear what He had to say. Yet, God’s people today think they can come before God any way they wish. Do you know what one man in God’s church said to me? He said, God does not care how you come dressed, he just wants you there. Brethren, that is a false statement. That is not true. God wants us to worship in the way he spells out in His Word, the Bible. God wants to be worshiped in His way, not ours.
Exodus 19:12-13 “You shall set bounds for the people all round, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves, that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain.”
God is so holy that neither man or a dumb animal were allowed to even touch the mountain or it would cost them their lives, brethren. The mountain was not holy. It was dirt and rock, but God’s very presence made the mountain holy. Yes, we think we can come before God any way we want and dress as casual as we want.
Exodus 19:14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes.
Moses could not have the people put on their best clothes because they only had the clothes they were wearing. Their clothes and shoes never wore out for forty years. God did have them wash their clothes. God also told the high priest, if you remember, what was acceptable clothing to wear in the temple when he came before Him.
Exodus 19:15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day: do not come near your wives.”
The people were not even to have sexual relations, brethren. They were to sanctify themselves. Other meanings of sanctify are to make holy, to purify, or free from sin, yet, we think God will accept us just as we are and our dress does not matter. We kid ourselves. Did you know, that to my knowledge, the Church of the Great God is the only church that requires the men who are speaking to wear white shirts? See this, white shirt, opposed to a colored shirt. Why? The practice shows respect and sets an example for the congregation and it was part of the faith once delivered by God through Mr. Armstrong.
Exodus 3:5 Then He said, [He is talking to Moses] “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
God is telling Moses here that you cannot come before Me as you want, brethren. The ground was not holy, it was dirt, sand. God’s presence in the burning bush made the ground holy. You and I come before God each and every week right into his presence and yet somehow we think we can come before Him as we please. Even Moses was told to get his shoes off because God is that holy. We must come before Him with deep respect and with much reverence and our dress and attitude show just how much reverence and respect we have for our Creator. Are you and I defending the faith once delivered, brethren? Are we doing that, or does it not matter to you?
Then there is the Sabbath and just how far have we fallen from the faith once delivered when it comes to observing this day that sets us apart from the world, brethren. The Sabbath is the sign between us and God that shows we belong to God. That is why the rest of the world keeps Sunday.
Exodus 31:15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
First of all, God tells us in this verse that the Sabbath is a holy day or a holy period of time. God also tells us no work shall be done. God also tells us it is a day of rest. When God says no work shall be done, do we think He is just talking about our everyday jobs?
What God is saying is to stop from your everyday chores, like making money, your everyday job, that is right. But, He is also saying cease from washing your clothes, cease from washing your automobile, cease from hunting and fishing, shopping, traveling, going to swap meets, going to amusement parks, and from vacuuming your house. God is telling us to cease from everyday activities, not just from our jobs.
So, I guess this means he wants us to rest and do nothing, right? He wants us to go home after church services and take a good long nap, right? That is what he wants us to do? No, that is not what he wants, brethren. God wants us to use this holy time. He wants us to have this special time that we are not involved in everyday chores, to pray more because we have extra time. When we can really pray about a certain thing or really take time to pray in depth about someone that is suffering. That is love.
It is a pure time that we can sit down and really study and get out all the commentaries and Bible tools and whatever else we have and get into a subject. It is a period of time when we can sit down and really mediate on God, His laws, His way of life, and the Kingdom of God. It is a pure time when we can get closer to each other through good conversation at services. It is a pure time when we can think about life, our calling, how God is working with us, and our part in all of this.
It is not a time for a nap every Sabbath. It is not a time to be texting our friends, and that goes on in church all the time, brethren. It is not a time to be traveling to amusement parks, or to be traveling on a vacation, or getting ready to go hunting, or whatever you want to do the next day. The Sabbath is holy time to God and should be treated as such.
The Sabbath has become so casual that some people bring soda pop, lattes, and even energy drinks right into services. They sit there and text their friends, or they play games on their telephone. Let me ask you a question: if God called you by name and He wanted you to come before His throne because He wanted to talk to you, would you walk up before Him with a caramel macchiato in your hand and say, “What’s up dude?” Would you? That is exactly the attitude you have when you bring these things into church services. We cannot get through two hours of church service without a beverage? Wow, we are pretty sick, brethren, if we need liquid that often.
Do you know how many of God’s people feel it is okay to travel on the Sabbath? I am not talking about traveling to church. One person said to me, “What’s the difference if I’m sitting in an airplane or in a car or on a train. I’m doing nothing. I’m resting, I’m not working.” This person does not understand what the Sabbath was created for, brethren. The Sabbath was created so mankind, you and I, could rest from our everyday chores and take this pure time and reflect on our Creator through being taught at Sabbath services, through extra prayer, through in-depth Bible study, through meditation, and through drawing closer to the brethren with good, God-centered conversation. How can we learn to love one another if we do not talk to one another?
God says in I John 3:11 that we should love another. The Sabbath is a day when you have time to stand around and get to know one another through good, God-centered conversation. It is not a day to run right out of church so you can get home to take a nap and do your thing. The Sabbath is holy time and should be used properly.
You know how one church uses the Sabbath two or three times a year during the summer? This is one of God’s churches. First of all, they call it “Church in the Park.” The brethren come dressed for a picnic any way they want. They barbeque hamburgers and hotdogs. Do you think any of that has anything to do with the faith once delivered? Do you think that is keeping the Sabbath holy? Do you think that shows God respect or an eagerness to learn about God’s way of life? Do you know what “Church in the Park” is, brethren? It is an abomination to God. It is an abomination to the holiness of the Sabbath and it is an abomination to the brethren. That is what it is.
Just because they call it “Church in the Park,” does it make it church? I can tell you that today is Thanksgiving Day. Would that make today Thanksgiving Day? I could tell you it was the Fourth of July. Would you believe me? Would it make it the Fourth of July? No, “Church in the Park” is not church, it is a picnic, plain and simple, brethren. Let us call things exactly what they are.
Is traveling on the Sabbath for pleasure or work keeping the Sabbath holy? No. Traveling on the Sabbath is nothing more than a scheduling problem or a monetary issue because sometimes you might get a cheaper ticket traveling on a certain day or a certain time. This traveling on the Sabbath issue is very widespread, brethren, within the greater churches of God. I talk to people all the time. They are all telling me they are traveling here, or they are doing this or that on the Sabbath.
Let us turn to Isaiah 58.
Isaiah 58:13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.”
That is what he says, brethren, in the Bible. You can read on there in verse 14 and see what the blessing for keeping the Sabbath properly and holy is. Brethren, we have added to or taken away from the faith once delivered in a number of ways and in a number of doctrines.
Here is another example of not defending the faith once delivered. I am now going to talk about dating out of the faith. Oh baby, huh. Dating out of the faith.
II Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
I would like to read this again out of the Amplified New Testament, brethren.
II Corinthians 6:14 (Amplified) Do not be unequally yoked up with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light fellowship with darkness?
Do you know why God says this? He says this because the people out in the world are different, are they not? They are funny. They are just plain bad people, are they not? Some of them have three eyes, do they not? Some of them have fourteen toes and the really weird ones have an extra arm growing right out of the middle of their back, do they not? We all know what I just said is nonsense.
People are people. There are a lot of good people in the world, brethren. I have a lot of friends that are not in the church and I love them dearly. They are good people. There are also a lot of people, as people go in the world, that are just good people. There is one thing that makes us different from the people of the world and that is the miracle that God performed in all of us. In each and every one of us this miracle He performed. He opened our mind to our calling and gave us the opportunity to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.
God made us different, not better than other people, brethren. We are not better, but we are different. We are peculiar. That is why God tells us not to be unequally yoked. God knows what happens when you date out of the faith and then marry out of the faith. I am going to explain to all of you young people what God is talking about.
First of all, marrying within the faith does not guarantee that you will have a successful marriage. That is not what He is guaranteeing. That is not what God is saying in II Corinthians 6:14. Look at all the people that have married within the faith and yet they have ended up divorced. That is not what God is saying.
In order to have the greatest chance at having a successful marriage you need to do two things. You do need to marry within the faith and secondly (there are other things too, brethren, but these are the two most important) you, not your mate, have to be willing to give one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time, no matter what, to your mate. And then you have a good chance of having a successful marriage. The reason God put II Corinthians 6:14 was because of these other two verses.
Malachi 2:16 "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, [he does not want you to get divorced, brethren] for it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously [with your mate, is what he is saying]."
God hates divorce, that is one reason. The other reason is in John 6.
John 6:39 “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”
God’s will is that all of us who have been called and sanctified through our parents will keep the faith and will finish the race and will never compromise ourselves right out of the church. He does not want either one of those things to happen to us, and they happen to us when we date out of the faith. God hates divorce and He wants you to be a firstfruit in His Kingdom. That is what He said, right? So, what does this have to do with being unequally yoked? That is the question, young people. It has everything to do with it.
In my experience and my watching as I have been involved in the Y.O.U. for over twenty years and have known a lot of young people, eight out of the ten marriages, and eight out of ten people that date and then marry out of the church, either end up divorced or they compromise themselves right out the door. And, that is what happens, eight out of ten times in my experience. Now, I said eight out of ten times. So, sometimes things work out. That is great, brethren. They work out, that is great.
If you have a mate that is not part of God’s church but lets you practice your faith and does not inhibit you, thank God for that. Thank Him. That is truly wonderful, brethren, to have a mate like that.
Let me tell you, young people, what God is trying to protect you from when He says do not be unequally yoked. I am going to go through what He is trying to protect you from. You marry out of the faith and things start out just peachy, usually. Then some kids come along and your mate wants to do what? Your mate wants to celebrate Christmas, Halloween, Easter, birthdays, and all kinds of stuff with them. That is normal. Normal stuff, brethren. But now you have a bone of contention, do you not, with your mate. One of two things starts to happen. Either you end up fighting or you start to compromise. You allow your mate to do some things you know are wrong, like drag a Christmas tree into the house. That is not all that bad, is it? We compromise.
An Easter egg hunt. That is just fun for the kids, right? Dressing up for Halloween and passing out candy at the front door. All harmless things. Celebrating your child’s birthday. All good stuff, right? Then we justify why we had to do this. It was to keep peace in the family, right? Then your mate wants little Rudy to play football on Friday nights. Your mate also wants little Rudy to play Little League on Saturdays. Now we have another problem, do we not, Houston? Either it is going to be an ongoing fight or Compromise City, and a whole lot of justification.
Then your mate wants little Rudy to eat whatever he is eating, like shrimp, crab, pepperoni pizza, a good pork chop. Another bone of contention, right? Your mate also likes to water ski on Saturday and Sunday. Your mate loves to go to the church Christmas party and wants you to go. There are all kinds of things your mate loves to do that you cannot take part in. Now you have all kinds of problems, brethren.
Then there is the tithing issue. You both have jobs and you want to tithe on what you make, but your mate says we cannot tithe, we are just too tight financially. And then when your mate realizes that tithing is not just ten percent, but it is twenty percent all the time and thirty percent every three years, your mate goes into orbit, right? That is what happens. You want to talk about a fight? There is a fight! Money is a big problem, brethren.
Then you have to miss work for the holy days. No work, no money. On top of that, if you are a man, you cannot come before God without an offering. More money. Another big problem. Either we fight or we compromise. Then there is the Feast of Tabernacles. Eight days plus at least one day coming and one day going for a total of ten days. The Feast is not one day, two days, seven days. It is eight days. If you cannot keep the Feast for that long, brethren, do not come. (It is an abomination to the rest of us.) Eight days, plus at least one day going and coming for a total of ten days. Again, no work, no money, right?
Of course you want to take little Rudy with you. That means little Rudy is going to miss school. Now we all know that is the end of the world, is it not, brethren? Rudy is going to end up being a complete moron because he went to the Feast of Tabernacles. Again, another huge fight or more compromising.
Then, there is the weekly Sabbath and your mate wants everything done around the house, but when you get home from services you want to study and read the Bible and do the things that God has ordained the Sabbath for. Again, a major conflict. Now remember brethren, the holy days come every year, once a year, but the Sabbath comes every seven days so you could find yourself fighting all the time every week. Or, you could find yourself compromising yourself right out of God’s church.
God is protecting us from all of these problems and all the heartaches that comes with dating and marrying out of the faith. Brethren, divorce is ugly, and any of you that have been through it know that. It is difficult and hard on us emotionally, it is hard on us financially, and it is hard on us spiritually. God is protecting you young people from that.
Falling away from the truth through compromising is as bad as it gets though, brethren. That could mean the Lake of Fire, we all realize that. Let me tell you a story about a man. I have seen this over and over again. A man that married out of the faith. I have witnessed this same scenario over and over again with people who marry out of the faith and my statistic, as I said, eight out of ten times this is what happens.
A young man that I have known since he was a little kid came to church one day and told me that he was getting married. He said this young lady was not in God’s church, but (big but) they had a lot in common. We always do when we are in love. She keeps the Sabbath. She was a Seventh Day Adventist. This young man is a runner, he loves to run. He is running the New York marathon, the Boston marathon, and many others and this young lady was also a runner. A lot in common. A good thing. This young man told me she was the perfect mate, perfect. He was extremely excited. They had so much in common. What could be better?
First off, the local minister would not marry them. This was their first hurdle. He would not marry them because she was not baptized. That was not a problem though, brethren. That is not a problem in the greater churches of God today. They minister-shopped until they found a minister that would marry them. Then they got married. After they were married, this young lady came to church regularly. Things looked good.
Then they had their first child. They were very excited. Then they had their second child. They were also very excited. Then Debbie and I started attending here with all of you because of the doctrinal issues and so we lost track of this couple for five or six years. Then about three years ago Nick and Michelle had a pool party at their house with about sixty or seventy people. Four or five of God’s churches were represented there and Debbie and I were invited. We went to this party and I got Debbie her food and she wanted to sit with four or five other ladies at a table so I set her over there.
I went and sat at a table all by myself. Guess who came and sat next to me? This young man. I have known him for years. Do you know what he told me for over an hour? He told me how miserable he was. How his marriage had gone from bad to worse. He told me about all the things that his wife was doing to him that made him miserable. None of what he told me sounded good. None of it, brethren.
After the party I did not see him again for about a year. But, then I ran into him at another church member’s home and he was still just as miserable and having lots of trouble with his marriage. Nothing had changed a year later and I was asking where he was attending church. He gave me a really funny look and he said the Seventh Day Adventist church. He said he was trying to do what? He was trying to keep peace in the family. This was his justification for what he was doing. The marriage ended in an ugly divorce anyway. It did not help. There was no peace in the family.
The only positive thing that happened was this young man is back attending one of God’s churches. You see, young people, the faith once delivered and God’s laws were not given to make you unhappy. They were given to protect you from misery and help you attain the Kingdom of God. That is what they are for, brethren.
There are other things we do or do not do that are all part of the faith once delivered such as birthdays, brethren. Birthdays are just as pagan as Christmas and Easter and Halloween, and you can look it up on the Internet. There is also a lot of controversy over third tithe now. Then there is the divorce and remarriage doctrine that is a complete joke within the greater churches of God. Plain and simple. You can get every kind of an answer depending on what minister you want to go to. And, most of the answers are not out of the Bible.
There is also a lot of God’s people that do not use the rod of punishment with their children. They do not believe in spanking their kids. Some of God’s people believe that homosexuals were born that way. Some people were telling me that just awhile back. Again, do you read your Bible? And, on and on it goes.
Brethren, we cannot be like our forefathers, like the Israelites were. They did not keep the faith once delivered. They added to it and they took away from the faith once delivered from God through Moses. Just like through Mr. Armstrong. The faith of them was delivered by a man. It came from God, but it was delivered by Moses.
I want to turn to II Kings 12 and I want you to think as I am reading this about all of the things the Israelites failed at in I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, and other books.
II Kings 12:2-3 Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the LORD all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him. But the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.
You see, the Israelites were adding to the faith once delivered, brethren. They were adding to things that God never told them to do.
II Kings 16:2-4 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
You might want to look Jeremiah 7:31 when you have time. This verse lets us know just how far the Israelites strayed from the faith once delivered. Do you think one day that the people of Judah, in this case, woke up (I am talking about Jeremiah 7:31) one morning and said, “I think I’ll sacrifice my child today.” Do you think that is how it worked? They did not. That is not how they came to that state of mind. They failed to keep the faith once delivered and they had been compromising and adding to God’s laws and taking away from God’s laws for years and generations. That is how they came to that state of mind. It took years of watering down God’s laws before God took them into captivity. It did not happen overnight.
II Kings 23:13 Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon.
The king that destroyed these high places was Josiah. He also destroyed the altars that were at Bethel that Jeroboam had made in Israel. Now he was a Jewish king, but he still went and destroyed the high places in Israel there in Bethel. Israel started to lose their faith once delivered after only two kings, brethren. After Saul and David. Josiah was Judah’s sixteenth king and the abominations were still there in Israel. There were only four kings after him before God had enough and he sent Judah into captivity where Israel had already gone.
The breaking of the faith once delivered and all the justifications start slowly and takes years before it comes to fruition. Even the kings that God said were good kings did not destroy all the high places, let alone the altars at Bethel. Josiah was the only one who did that. The reason he could do that at Bethel was because Israel was not there. Their army was not there to defend that so he had free rein.
The Israelites failed miserably. But what about us? There is no reason for us to fail. Israel was promised a physical blessing, to live in a land flowing with milk and honey. You already live in a land flowing with milk and honey, brethren. Think of all the good things you have eaten at the Feast this year. You and I are promised what we are celebrating here today. To be the first of the first, to become Spirit beings and work with our King and our Savior Christ for a thousand years. That is our promise.
We cannot even comprehend fully what God has for us all. But, no make no mistake about it, what God has for us is unimaginable. God gave us all the tools needed to be successful, brethren. The Israelites did not have the tools we have. God gave His Son and His sacrifice for us. The Israelites did not have that. He also gave us the great helper, the Holy Spirit. The Israelites did not have that.
He also worked a great miracle in each of our lives and this miracle did not happen in ancient Israel either, brethren. This miracle is your calling which opens your mind to God and His laws and His way of life. Mike [Ford] just said you would not even be here without that and Mike was absolutely right. He also gave us the Bible and the example of the ancient Israelites and how they added to the faith or took away from the faith once delivered by God through Moses. We have everything we need to be successful, brethren.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose [and I am adding this, and who keep the faith once delivered].
Luke 12:32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
God is telling us He wants to give us the Kingdom, brethren, that is what He wants. He tells us not to worry. He says I am working with this little flock. This small church, and boy are we small compared to most churches of the world. He wants us all in His Kingdom. Every one of us. Every one of you sitting out there. All of you young people. God also gives us warnings and He expects us to keep the faith once delivered, brethren. He tells us things are not going to be easy for us. Things are going to be hard. They are going to be difficult.
Acts 14:22 Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
Paul is exhorting these people to keep the faith once delivered. He is telling them it is not going to be easy. Paul says the Kingdom will come through many trials. God is telling us to keep the faith once delivered and the Kingdom will be ours, brethren. But, today in the greater churches of God, I think a number of God’s people want what the Israelites wanted. You know what that was? It is in Isaiah 30.
Isaiah 30:10 Who say to the seers, "Do not see" [please, do not see, do not tell me what you see], and to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things [we do not want to hear right things]; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits [or lie to us because that is what we want to hear].”
In another words, make us feel good. Do not tell us the truth, please.
II Peter 1:10-11 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Brethren, keep the faith once delivered.