Pastors Report - 17 Nov 2017
michelangelosHandsOverMountain

A Reality Stranger Than Fiction:

"For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched ... But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:18, 22)

An Astounding Creation:

We find ourselves as observers standing in the very centre of physical immensities. Our body size is almost exactly in the middle of the size of the cosmos itself. The smallest things we know about are approximately 30 orders of magnitude smaller than we are, and the largest structures in the universe are about 30 orders of magnitude bigger. And it's from this unique perspective that we find ourselves witnessing a growing body of evidence of intelligent design within what is becoming a truly more and more astounding creation with every day that passes.

If we take just one aspect of this – the cell – we can see this clearly. When Darwin wrote his axial book, "On the Origin of Species" in 1859, the cell was regarded as little more than a simple blob of protoplasm, with little structure or organisation to speak of apart from a nucleus in certain instances. After all, it was only the preceding year – 1858 – that the physician Rudolf Virchow discovered that cells develop only from existing cells. Prior to this it was believed that cells generated spontaneously, similar to the formation of crystals

How different is our understanding today! Today we recognise that every cell - from the simplest of bacteria to the most complex within our own bodies - operates very much as a robotically driven manufacturing plant containing exquisite molecular machines of many kinds, and all coordinated via the instructions found within the double helix of DNA. Every cell is an absolute hive of activity. Every DNA molecule a superb store or "library" of information. And yet with all this irreducible complexity and therefore clear evidence of intelligent design, mankind refuses to ditch the outmoded fabrication of Darwinian evolution, based at its very core on an incorrect and woefully simplistic view of the very building block of all life. Dogmatically refusing go to where the evidence leads: to an Almighty Intelligent Designer. And this intransigence itself can be described as a reality stranger than fiction. Intelligent men and women behaving utterly irrationally in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Human Birth:

Nowhere is this more the case, than in the area of our human birth. The genesis of every one of us into this physical world can only be described as truly miraculous. That the fusion of two minute cells - one no bigger than the period/full-stop at the end of this sentence and the other invisible to the human eye - can begin a process that in a mere 40 weeks produces a fully functional individual who possesses the potential to ultimately contemplate his own existence is way, way beyond astounding – far stranger than any work of fiction. Yet it is something that is taking place continually – all around the world – casually dismissed by so many otherwise intelligent human beings who vainly attempt to explain even the spiritual dimension of man in terms of nothing more than mindless forces and blind chance. Those of you who are connected to the Internet and can click on this link should be able to do little else but marvel at the astounding process of conception and growth in the womb – albeit simulated by computer graphics – and as you do, just stop and think..."this was me...this was how I started out".

  • ... thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
  • I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
  • My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in [Heb: that which underlies the solid].
  • Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Spiritual Birth:

Yet the true reality within this subject of human birth becomes even more startling, even more profound, even more "beyond fiction", when we realise it does not stand as an end in itself, but has been designed primarily as a type of something truly transcendental. The same Being who designed and built our start to this physical chemical existence we currently enjoy designed it as but the initial stage in a spiritual process. That far greater process is destined to take us into eternity – granting us eternal life as spirit born sons within the very kingdom and family of God. The physical birth being but a type of the divine.

Mr Armstrong describes the astounding parallels in this way:

Now, as the physical male sperm finds its way to, and unites with the nucleus in the ovum, so God’s Spirit enters and combines with the human spirit and MIND! Now we have the presence of ETERNAL LIFE – God-life – through God’s Spirit. In like manner the human embryo was an actual human life as yet undeveloped. But we are not yet immortal spirit beings – not yet BORN of God – just as the human ovum was not yet born of its human parents – not yet inheritors, and possessors, but physical HEIRS (Rom. 8:17)...

So now, once spiritually begotten, we are merely a spiritual embryo. Now we must be fed and nourished on SPIRITUAL food! Jesus said man shall not live by bread (physical food) alone, but by EVERY WORD OF GOD (spiritual food)! This we drink in from the Bible! But we drink in this spiritual knowledge and character, also, through personal, intimate, continuous contact with God through PRAYER, and through Christian fellowship with God’s children in His Church. And also by the continual teaching imparted by the Church.

... Continue further! As the physical fetus must grow physically large enough to be born, so the begotten Christian must grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18) – must overcome, must develop in spiritual CHARACTER during this life, in order to be born into the kingdom of GOD!

And as the physical fetus gradually, one by one, develops the physical organs, features and characteristics, even so the begotten Christian must gradually, continually, develop the SPIRITUAL character – love, faith, patience, gentleness, temperance. He (or she) must live by, and be a DOER of the Word of God. He must develop the divine character!

Then in God’s due time – though the person may die meanwhile – by a resurrection, or by instantaneous CHANGE to immortality at Christ’s coming, he shall be BORN of God – into the KINGDOM OF GOD – because GOD is that kingdom! He is no longer material flesh from the ground, but composed of spirit, even as God is a Spirit (John 4:24) How WONDERFUL is the TRUTH OF GOD! ( Mystery of the Ages – pages: 260-263 )

Changes Everything:

The difference between an unfertilised and a fertilised ovum is infinitesimal in purely cellular terms, yet the change in potential is truly off the scale. That impregnation by the sperm changes everything. Not only does the woman's body dramatically react in a physical, hormonal way to the developing foetus, but her and her husband's mental change is equally dramatic. As potential parents their attitude toward this tiny but growing bundle of cells becomes one of hope, happiness, excitement and anticipation. And the bundle of cells itself – controlled by the DNA – begins to develop with a purpose and direction it did not possess before. Absolutely every stage of growth that takes place does so with that 40 week deadline of birth paramount – and the independent new life it will have thereafter.

So it must be with the spiritual lives of God's people. From the point of baptism forward our life should be developing with a purpose and direction it did not possess before. Everything that takes place thereafter must do so within the focus of Christ's return and our resurrection to spirit life at that time. As the apostle Paul declares: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Corinthians 5:17)

  • Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
  • Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
  • For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
  • Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6)
This Physical World:

Part of the newness of life in which we must walk is a new frame of mind towards materialism. All that we have – and all that we are physically ("dust you are...") – has come from this earth on which we find ourselves and has largely been given to us by God as a blessing to enjoy to the full. The problem is, the pursuit of wealth and material happiness tends to take on a life of its own. Egged on by the greed-based advertising of this world, the average man on the street is encouraged to think of little else – so busy trying to satisfy insatiable appetites of every kind, that anything of real meaning and purpose in life tends to be sidelined.

But when God opens the mind and the true reality dawns, this physical materialistic world is seen for what it is. Designed as a blessing to be enjoyed, yes – but only for a very short time. And the perception of what is truly important therefore changes dramatically:

  • Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
  • But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
  • For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also...
  • ... Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  • (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  • But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:19-21,31-33)
Spiritual Reality:

The very clear instruction of Jesus Christ above, is that we are to put first things first by seeking, "first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness". In so doing, our overall view of life must become elevated – away from this fragile earthly existence and onto the God-plane existence instead – as the apostle Paul encourages us:

  • If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
  • Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
  • 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. (Colossians 3:1-4)

But do we notice what these verses say? Talk about a reality stranger than fiction – our very existence, physical life itself, is as good as dead here on earth. Each day that we live is one day closer to our death! Our real life therefore, is currently hidden with Christ in the God-family – to eventually be revealed at His return. THAT is the reality! A God-plane reality! For that reason, "our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20 NIV)

The Angelic Realm:

In books, films and general marketing today, angels are big business. It is one of Satan's ploys to get our minds off reality, and think instead of the impression he'd like us to have, one of them being cherubs as cute little fat babies on Valentines day! So we spurn anything that even smells "religious", dismissing the undisputed fact of the angelic realm, its magnitude and its power.

  • And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. (Revelation 5:11)

In the final sermon he gave, Mr Armstrong describes the return of Jesus Christ as, "the most tremendous event that has ever happened in the history, not of mankind, not of this earth, but the most important event that has ever happened in the entire universe." ( Meaning of Trumpets 1985 ) Preparations for that literally earthshattering intervention are undoubtedly going on right now. And the reality is, that untold millions of angels will also be involved to ensure its success:

  • For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, ...
  • But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:18,22)

This awesome undertaking - an event that will shock the world and will surpass any science fiction production - is something in which we too are all involved – as the potential teachers of God's Way of Life during the subsequent millennial rule. Knowing this, is it any wonder that we are told, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." (Luke 15:10) for they are all, "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14) And of these heirs of salvation – God's potential spirit born sons – Christ warns us, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10) . It seems indeed we do have our "guardian angel"...fact and not fiction.

This Evil Age:

We live at a monumental period in Earth's history, shortly prior to the time that "the mystery of God should be finished" (Revelation 10:7) – the birth of God's spirit born sons. But the god of this world – Satan the devil (II Corinthians 4:4) – appears to be pulling out all stops to prevent the reality really sinking in. Not only has he heaped stress upon stress, manipulating society to prevent people having the time to stop, sit and just think about the important things in life but he's also mounting an unremitting campaign against the very picture God gives us as to what He is doing in this world, and what a human being actually is! The undeniable reason why Satan has attacked marriage, family life, the husband as head of the home, and even gender itself is to trash the understanding of why we were created male and female and what the picture of conception, gestation and birth is all about. Plus the love of the parents and siblings within the strong family unit.

Satan, like the other angelic beings has no sex, and cannot reproduce himself. This is obviously an incredibly sore point with him when faced with mankind's God-given ability, hence the attack on all things to do with sexuality and a strong family unit. In no other age of man have we had to battle against the idea there might be 50 varieties of gender! Where is this reality coming from, if not from a perverted, spiritual source?

The Meaning of Life:

But the meaning of life remains sure and unshakeable even though that reality is indeed stranger than fiction. We need to start thinking deeply about what the scriptures are telling us from Genesis all the way through to Revelation...it's about human beings fashioned physically after the God kind, with the potential of being changed into a creature that can live and thrive in a different dimension - the spirit dimension. And not just angelic types, but part of The Royal Family, the governing family – of the God kind – with the character to match.

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)
  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were [begotten], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
  • For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
  • For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of [sonship], whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
  • The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  • 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...
  • ... For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. ( Romans 8:14-17, 29)
  • He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

In our busy, busy lives, it can be so easy to be caught up with just surviving from one week to the next. Being overcome with the cares of this life is a real threat. Our trials often wear us down and can seem unconnected with our calling, yet they are part of what God is doing...working and molding and shaping us, even as we once had to grow, change and develop physically inside the womb.

We must take time out to think deeply about the reality we are actually involved in....something stranger that fiction, yes, but when thought deeply about, we can see that this IS fact, this is real, and we have been given this information by a God who cannot lie. The God that oversaw our development from a minute zygote, no bigger than one of these dots ... to a being that can read and understand His spiritual word, this same God - our Father - also promises never to give up on us, as long as we are willing, but to work with and develop us into another being – one that reflects His character and His way ... another God being, His son.

  • For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
  • For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
  • While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18)