Pastors Report - 15 Sep 2017

2. Where THE Evidence Leads ...

"Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28 RSV)

continued ...

With the horrendous battering that has been the result of hurricane Irma recently, and hurricane Harvey's devastation in Texas, to say nothing of the fires and earthquakes that that have destroyed so many homes and lives, it comes as no surprise to God's people, that we are witnessing some of the curses Moses was inspired to record in the book of Deuteronomy. But even without that biblical understanding, recorded history provides us with ample evidence that this present Western civilisation is drawing to its close. In ancient Rome during its decline, the home and family – the very crucible in which the next generation is formed – became progressively more decadent and unstable. Yet even they did not stoop to the incessant promotion of perversion and transgender confusion seen within the present Western world. Their education – which was once character based and purpose oriented – degenerated under the promotion of Greek culture, rhetoric and philosophy. How similar is so much of the left-leaning, politically correct, intellectual twaddle we find ourselves battling today!

And there are several other modern equivalents to those that progressively destroyed this ancient civilisation:

Yes, just as it was for ancient Rome, the writing is certainly on the wall today for anyone with the wit to recognise THE evidence. But the impending disaster is certain to be different this time. Through the advent of modern communications the timescales of everything have been compressed – with areas like financial transactions, and therefore any banking collapse, now measured in milliseconds rather than centuries. Today we have technology and weapons of mass destruction undreamed of years ago – a capability that even threatens the continuing existence of mankind himself, a fact that has horrified world leaders since the end of WW2.

Where this evidence is destined to lead, is to a time of trouble greater than anything seen on earth before or since. Yet the same Bible that predicts this – and the utter collapse of human civilisation – declares that within these days of impending catastrophe we can actually have great hope because of what the Eternal God also promises. Where THE evidence leads is to an entirely new civilisation – a true utopia which is as sure as the rising of tomorrow's sun, as the same Word proclaims it. And it is THIS evidence that we should all be gathering together to celebrate during the coming Feast of Tabernacles in three weeks' time.

A Quick Recap ...

In the last pastors report we saw how THE evidence – physically seen in the very statistical structure of the universe – inexorably leads the truly unbiased mind to the conclusion that it is utterly impossible for what we see today to have come about by mere blind chance. As the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle points out:

A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question. ( Fred Hoyle, Article in Engineering and Science – November 1981 - page 12: The Universe: Past and Present Reflections )

Not only are the statistical improbabilities of what we see every day in the cosmos right off the scale of human conceptualisation of any kind, but so too are the figures required for the emergence of the DNA molecule and the huge range of information it contains. As the radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell points out, using the example of but a single enzyme – just one of several well matched, interacting parts that must be present within all life for coordinated protein synthesis:

In the example already given of a relatively small protein molecule with 100 amino acid residues, selection of this sequence of residues had to be made by chance from 10 130 alternative choices. The operation of pure chance would mean that within the half billion to a billion year period the organic molecules in the primeval seas might have to undergo 10 130 trial assemblies in order to hit upon the correct sequence. The probability of such a chance occurrence leading to the formation of one of the smallest protein molecules is unimaginably small. Within the boundary conditions of time and space which we are considering it is effectively zero. (In the Centre of Immensities by Bernard Lovell page 66)

The Supreme Designer:

So where THE evidence plainly leads, is to the existence of a Supremely Intelligent Designer – with infinite power – operating on both a cosmic scale as well as a microscopic one. A Being even further off the bounds of human conceptualisation than the incontrovertible statistical evidence pointing to His existence! This is why when Moses asked His name, the only answer there could be was, "I AM":

  • Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?"
  • God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
  • God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'The LORD [ Hebrew: YHWH – "I was, I am, I will be"], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15 RSV)

Yet sceptics may retort with a snide, "if God is so great, then who created God?". One of the most compelling answers I've seen to this question was from a Jewish rabbi in Australia. Here is the essence of his reply:

When we say that God is the Creator, we don’t just mean He created solid objects, like planets, trees and aardvarks. We mean He created everything. Any thing you can think of, every single existence on every plane and in every dimension, was once not, and God made it be.

That means that even concepts were created by God. God not only created the concrete universe, made up of gases, solids and liquids; He also created all of the abstract realities, such as love, goodness, purpose and logic. These concepts did not exist before He created them.

One concept God introduced is the very concept of creation. God came up with the idea that you can have nothing, and make something out of it. The very notion that something has a beginning, a point at which it comes into existence—that notion itself was created by God. The concept didn’t exist before. Just like there were no trees before God created the first tree, so too there were no beginnings before God created the first beginning.

So your question is based on a false premise. You can’t ask “Who created God?” because the whole concept of creating was God’s idea in the first place. There was no such thing as creation before God came up with it. Just as it is obvious that the person who made the first cartoon was not himself a cartoon, so too God, who invented the concept of creation, is not Himself a creation. ( Aron Moss ​– rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia )

Why Creation?

Thus far - along to where physical evidence leads, i.e to the fact that there is indeed a God – the carnal human mind can grasp. In fact, it is something God Himself demands of mankind as a whole – up to the point of recognising His eternal power and Godhead as the apostle Paul points out in the opening chapter of the book of Romans:

  • The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
  • since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
  • For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
  • For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 – NIV)

But it is at this point that something astounding happens. Regardless of how much more evidence is provided, the carnal mind simply cannot grasp the sheer enormity of it. This is because THE evidence become spiritually based, and it therefore requires a spiritual mind to accept it and be led by it. The unbiased human mind can indeed accept the physical evidence of a Creator – it can see the astounding degree of detail that has gone into the natural world – it can therefore conclude that whatever the reason behind such a creation, that reason must be big. But from that point, it can go no further – due to the spiritual nature of THE astounding Plan God has . Christ explained to His disciples: " And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables." (Matthew 4:11)

The Truth Fits:

How many times did Mr Armstrong pound the desk and point us to this vital, and most basic understanding: – "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him"(John 6:44)? God simply is not trying to save the world now – if He was, He is doing a terrible job of it, and that's something totally out of character compared with the exquisite wonders and order He has placed throughout the natural world. Where THE spiritual evidence clearly leads therefore, is to the fact this is NOT the only day of salvation. But how many in this world are aware of this fact? Pitifully few! No, God is moulding and shaping us – His firstfruits – prior to saving the world!

Such astounding understanding of this Plan has to be revealed, and most of us in the church today have had our own personal "light bulb" moments when the Bible opened up to us in a way that we had never seen before. It was so incredibly relevant all of a sudden, that it was amazing the ink on the page was dry! No doubt the vast majority – thrilled with this new understanding – tried to share it with family and friends, only to be sadly disappointed, not realising at that time, that as Christ repeated in the same chapter; "... Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:65)

Just as the Truth "fits" the very character we see of the Creator within the natural world, so does the hiding of such Truth - in the best interests of the uncalled. Within the book that has consistently been the world's best seller, we see the hiding process itself graphically described:

  • For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth;
  • but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong,
  • God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
  • so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.(I Corinthians 1:26-29 RSV)

And over a dozen times in his epistles, the apostle Paul describes the truth of God as a mystery ... being revealed only to those God has handpicked out of this world:

  • But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification.
  • None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
  • But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,"
  • God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
  • For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.(I Corinthians 2:7-11 RSV)
God's plan:

So what is the difference? Why should one person be able to so clearly see the very meaning of life itself within the pages of Scripture, whereas another reads the same words, studies the same book – even putting decades of work into compiling a concordance in some instances – and yet remains completely blind to the Truth? As Jesus declares – revelation is key:

  • In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
  • All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
  • And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: (Luke 10:21-23)
  • Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
  • ... He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.(John 8:43,47)

That revelation is done through God's Holy spirit – as Christ told His disciples when He was here on earth:

  • I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
  • Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
  • He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
  • All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:12-15)

The Holy spirit is given to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32) but is not a static thing: it is likened rather to air, oil or water in that it can be poured or flows in and out of us like our breath, generating words that we speak and giving spiritual understanding of the words we hear (Proverbs 1:23). In this dynamic capacity, it is impossible for us to just HAVE God's spirit, we must be actively LED by the spirit of God if we are to be the sons of God (Romans 8:14)

And a major difference between those that understand the Truth and those that remain in ignorance, or else get off track, is where we put the revealed Word of God. Is the Bible over us, as our ultimate authority, or do we rather have it below us, even under a "microscope" – critically examining each and every nuance, Greek word or phrase?

The coming feast:

What we learn we must live – and the resulting life is indeed THE evidence of the indwelling of God's spirit. This changed Way of life, this "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17)– witnessed in both Paul and those he taught – was the evidence that the apostle Paul pointed to:

  • Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?
  • You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men:
  • and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3 RSV)

Of all THE evidence of what God is doing, this is the greatest there is. And at the Feast this year – in less than three weeks time – this evidence needs to be visible. It is absolutely imperative that we who are training to be the teachers of This Way in the World Tomorrow, are actively living that way ourselves – particularly at this year's Feast. As Christ was God in the flesh, here on earth, – Emmanuel – we are in effect ourselves "trainee" God beings! But to live this way requires great vigilance on our part. As Mr Armstrong warned us, just a few months before he died, in the September 1985 Good News Personal, entitled: The Anticipation Cannot Equal the Realization ...

.... In just a few weeks we shall attend the 1985 FEAST OF TABERNACLES, enjoying a foretaste of the glorious Millennium, with many hundreds of brethren of like faith and anticipation...

... We must remember, however, that just like when the servants of God came together to worship Him in the days of JOB, Satan came also among them. I have to WARN YOU– Satan also is looking forward to this year’s Feast, so he can come to different Feast sites and cause us any trouble he can , but if we PRAY with our whole hearts for Christ’s protection, He is more powerful than Satan and can restrain Satan from attacking us. So BE SURE YOU BEGIN PRAYING FOR THIS FESTIVAL RIGHT NOW–and keep it up until the Feast is over.

God's Way of Life:

May I therefore ask us all to indeed provide THE evidence of God's Way of Life during the entire festival period. It is easy to get sidetracked and worn down with the physical, organisational side of our Feast preparations – packing, booking flights, hire cars, motels, and when at the Feast, we can get TOO busy with activities, catering, the physical admin, etc – and the far more important aspects get very little attention.

Without the spirit of God and the accompanying fruit – the qualities of the spirit flowing freely through His people – the Feast of Tabernacles 2017 could very well end up as just one more "holiday" and not at all what God intended it to be. Daily prayer is vital, as Satan is not yet bound and would love to disrupt and cause what chaos and misery he could. It is doubtful he can attack us on basic doctrine, but one unfailing trick up his sleeve has always been to divide and conquer. If we remain plugged into the vine – all of us fellowshipping in spirit with our Father and Elder Brother as mentioned in I John 1:3 – there can be no division, as we will all be of one Spirit, one Family.

In that light, we will be blessed with many opportunities for fellowship with one another, so do try to make the most of the time, as during the rest of the year, we are so thinly scattered across the globe. This does not mean you have to whip up a 4-course meal in your condo or cottage, but as and when the opportunity arises, try to spend time getting to know one another on a more personal basis....this is a great way to refine our prayers when we come to pray for each other. If you are normally a shy and retiring person, pray for God to help you be more outgoing – and He will.

The men who have speaking assignments will, I am confident, be appreciative of your prayers for God to guide and inspire their messages. We all want to hear what God has to say to us this Feast and not just what "John Smith" thinks we need. This might well be the last Feast we can keep together in peace and safety and we all need great encouragement and a clear vision of the wonderful World Tomorrow to keep us going.

Please do also remember to pray for safe travels for the brethren around the globe. In this chaotic world of terrorist activities and wild, wild weather, we most certainly need angelic protection.

And we will also want to remember the scattered brethren, who, for one reason or another, cannot fellowship with us physically, but will of course, be with us in spirit. I am sure they too would appreciate our prayers for being uplifted and encouraged and most certainly not to feel neglected and isolated in any way.

And regarding health at the Feast, brethren, it can be too easy to overindulge in both food and drink and also neglect adequate sleep, bringing on ill-health, so please do use wisdom in this area. And if you should find yourself coming down with a cough or cold, please do stay away from services – put yourself in quarantine, effectively – as that is what scripture requires and shows love to your brethren.

And Rejoice!

Just as THE evidence of the physical world leads undeniably to a Creator, and our understanding of His Word leads us to realise there is more to life than this physical chemical existence, that understanding also leads to a comprehension of what this amazing God is doing with humanity ... and the unshakable reality of what the coming Autumn/Fall Holy Days mean. Not only can we confidently look forward to the return of Christ to save us from annihilation, and also to bind our enemy, Satan the devil, but we have the cast iron promise – proof, indisputable evidence – that in a few short years, we will rejoice in seeing the reality of the Feast of Tabernacles come to pass, here on this earth. And of course, the astounding, joyous time when all those that have died – uncalled – will come back to physical life.

In the meantime, our job is to imbibe of God's spirit, letting it flow in and out of us so He – as a refiner of silver – can each day see more clearly His reflection (Malachi 3:3 Psalm 17:15). And then we can have full confidence that we'll be part of the coming Utopia, promised so many times in His word – a living part of just where THE evidence is destined to ultimately lead for all mankind:

  • For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
  • For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
  • So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
  • For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
  • Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (Isaiah 55:8-13)