Sermon

Preparation for Passover

by Jonathan W Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

In the next week is the Passover and then Unleavened Bread. And certainly it is a time of year, it is a reflective time of year, something that we should be reflecting on. And we reflect on for several weeks prior to the Passover, we need to be preparing now, de-leavening for Unleavened Bread itself, because you can't do it on the Passover day itself, although that is the day you get rid of all the final amount of leaven. You can't get rid of everything on that day alone. So it takes a certain amount of work, a certain amount of planning to get sin out ready for Unleavened Bread.

I always remember also when we are looking at Passover itself, when we were at college. I say we, in the men's dorm, and in the men's dorm, you go into the bathroom on the Passover evening and as you go into the bathroom, they had a line of sinks, all the way down one side. And all these fellows, one after another, standing on one leg, with a foot in the sink, washing their toes because they were going to have their feet washed later on. Now why exactly they would wash their feet before they go their feet washed - obviously they wanted to go ahead and not make it quite such an unpleasant experience.

But there is a preparation involved. If you turn over to I Corinthians 11:23, where we are actually warned by the apostle Paul, and here in he says:

"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:" (I Corinthians 11:23)

So it is on that particular evening, when He was betrayed. So we know it was the Passover, the time that they actually celebrated the Passover; on the fourteenth, the night of the fourteenth, going into the daylight portion of the fourteenth where He was actually crucified before unleavened bread began. I Corinthians 11:24:

"And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me [so it is a memorial, it is a remembrance]. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me." (I Corinthians 11:24-25)

Again a memorial and is the beginning of the very Church that will marry Christ, the actual covenant will be ratified at the time of that marriage between the Church and Christ; but the shed blood was the betrothal of that marriage covenant. But here it says in I Corinthians 11:25:

"...this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me [it is a memorial]. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come [this is why we keep it once a year; because it is this memorial nature of it, it says in verse 27]. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [unapproved, or in an unworthy way], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord [this is how we stop actually keeping it in an unworthy way, in an unapproved way]. But let a man examine himself [and a woman obviously], and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (I Corinthians 11:25-28)

It is not to stop us from eating or not to stop us from drinking, but it is a case that prior to the Passover we should be examining ourselves. We should be preparing for the Passover itself. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (I Corinthians 11:28). And then it goes on a little bit further.

What I want to do today is, I want to talk about being prepared for Passover. That we are all prepared for the Passover when it comes. What do we examine? Now certainly, it goes into the fact that we need to discern the Lord's body and that certainly I gave a sermon on discerning the stages of Passover, if you want to go on the website and listen to it again, then certainly do so. But there is a particular aspect of being prepared for Passover. There is something that God has actually given to indicate where that preparation has got to be. And this is what I want to concentrate on today. And there are things that, differentiate who should be keeping Passover and who shouldn't be keeping Passover, and we need to be looking at this area. We need to be preparing as far as this is concerned. I have got only three points but don't let it fool you. The three points I want to go through are:

1) I want to look at the identifying sign with regard to Israel of old and how that identifying sign applies to us today. So in our preparation for Passover we can go and look at this identifying sign in our lives. And that identifying sign is circumcision. We are not talking physically, we are talking spiritually, but nevertheless, it is circumcision. That is what allowed Israel of old to define who would keep the Passover and who wouldn't. And today spiritual circumcision defines who will keep the Passover and who won't, who shouldn't. So we need to be prepared and prepare ourself for Passover and just go over that; the things that happened at baptism, because that's really involved.

2) Secondly, the Passover is all about the forgiveness of sin; both physical sin and spiritual sin. But it is about the forgiveness of sin; because Christ died for sin. Now there are conditions to forgiveness of sin. So secondly, I want to look at the conditions regarding forgiveness of sin; regarding forgiveness, because Christ clearly lays that out to us.

3) And thirdly, I want to just ask the question; how can we tell if we are ready? Because God has actually given us something that allows us to tell if we are ready for the Passover. Not to tell if we are ready, but to remind us what we need to be like, to be ready to take the Passover itself. There is something specific and is actually within the Passover service itself that we will have a look at.

The Identifying Sign (PLAY FROM 06:46)

Turn over therefore on this subject of circumcision to Exodus 12:43, we can see how in times gone by they determined who could keep the Passover and who shouldn't, it says:

"And the [Eternal] said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance [this is the statute] of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof [so here is the Passover and it wasn't to be a stranger, it was to be somebody of Israel]: But every man's servant [or slave] that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof." (Exodus 12:43-44)

So circumcision was the requirement of a slave. Exodus 12:45 says:

"A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the [Eternal], let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof." (Exodus 12:45-48)

You can understand the controversy there was over in Acts 15 regarding circumcision when they saw this. Why shouldn't there therefore be physical circumcision? And certainly when you look at various other laws within the Old Testament. But God had already selected Cornelius; uncircumcised and had given the Holy Spirit to them. And in other cases as well witnessing with the signs of speaking in tongues. Without that, then undoubtedly, we would need to be circumcised in order to keep the Passover physically. But because God did that, they said; "Now therefore why tempt ye God..." (Acts 15:10). Go back and read that in Acts 15.

So here we see that circumcision was required, is a requirement. I also want you to notice that it is talking about slaves, and we are slaves of Christ. And we have got to be circumcised spiritually by Christ, by the Master in that sense of us, before we can go ahead and keep Passover. So part of the examination process, part of the thing that we are looking at, is whether in fact this as taken place. Whether in fact we are circumcised of heart.

Now they understood this principle, turn over to Deuteronomy 10:12, even in Old Testament times, so it wasn't something new that was being brought out in Acts 15. It was just the fact that there wasn't the requirement to physically circumcise somebody who was adult. That was being brought out and it was illustrated by God Himself. But here it says:

"And now, Israel, what doth the [Eternal] thy God require of thee, but to fear the [Eternal] thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the [Eternal] thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul [so you love God with all your heart, soul and might; that is what is required], To keep the commandments of the [Eternal], and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the [Eternal's] thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the [Eternal] had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deuteronomy 10:12-16)

So they understood, even at that time, circumcision wasn't just a case of a physical symbol, there was also a spiritual side to it as well. There is a spiritual aspect there and they understood when they were looking in Acts 15, that God made no difference. Once the spiritual aspect has taken place, they did not require the physical. They didn't try and go back and put right what hadn't been done on the eighth day.

Now in Ephesians 2:11, as I say, Christ is the one who circumcises us spiritually. He is our Master, He is the one who we are slave to and He therefore makes sure, or we need to make sure, that we have been properly circumcised before taking the Passover. We need to look at this aspect. Now here we see both the circumcision physically and the uncircumcised physically; both being accepted by God to which Paul was writing. Here it says:

"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world [they were not part of Israel, of spiritual Israel, or Israel of any kind, and it says here]: But now in Christ Jesus [here is the One who is, who we are enslaved to] ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ [so this circumcision has actually taken place]. For he is our peace, who hath made both one [that is both Jew and Gentile now], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;" (Ephesians 12:11-14)

Now that middle wall of partition, there are two things you can look at; one is the wall that was actually between the Jew and the Gentile, because the Jew and the Gentile didn't worship in the temple in the same place, the Gentile was excluded, they had to be outside the wall, so that is one 'middle wall of partition'. But there is another one as well; which gives both of us, both Jew and Gentile access to the Father, so that also was broken down. Ephesians 2:15 says:

"Having abolished [or nullified] in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments [stopping the access to God the Father and stopping also the access between Jew and Gentile] contained in ordinances [or dogma]; for to make in himself of [two] one new man, so making peace [there is one now spiritual Israel, where the circumcision is not with hands, it is done in a different way]; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh [both to Jew and to Gentile]. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2:15-18)

So when we are looking at ourselves for Passover, coming up to Passover, we need to make sure that this is the case. Are we really part of the Church, the true Church? Are we there only in name? Do we come and kind of warm a seat? This is some of the things that we need to examine ourselves and say; "Have we really been circumcised and become part of spiritual Israel?" Ephesians 2:18 says:

"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:18-22)

The very Godhead is resting there. Because it was the nation of God in times gone by as far as Israel was concerned and here it is also, the nation of God. The Church of God, the congregation of God, is the nation of God and the indicating mark; the indication was through circumcision, and it is exactly the same today. It is through circumcision. Has that circumcision taken place? And we go on and see a little bit more of what it actually is and what has been removed as far as the foreskin. It says, the foreskin of our hearts, in various prophetic places. Turn over to Colossians 2:8, put a mark, if you like, in Ephesians 2 because we will be going back and forth between the two. Here it says:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Colossians 2:8-9)

He was God in the flesh, He is God. There is God the Father and Jesus Christ - one God bound together with a common spirit. And Colossians 2:9 says;

"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him..." (Colossians 2:9-10).

In other words; we also - what do we mean? We need to mirror the way He was in human form when He was here on earth, because He was God in the flesh. We too, should be mirroring exactly that, we should be the sons of God in the flesh. Mirroring the same attitude and frame of mind. Colossians 2:10:

"...which is the head of all principality and power [He is the head of all, but it says]: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands [we become part of this group by a circumcision made without hands, done by God Himself; that they recognised, in Acts 15, therefore they did not go ahead and tempt God by insisting there was a physical circumcision as well, because God had already made that decision], in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:" (Colossians 2:10-11)

So when Christ circumcises His slave, you and me, puts us as part of spiritual Israel, it is the sins that are chopped off. And they are put away and never to be returned to. So when we examine ourselves and when we start looking at ourself and asking ourselves; "Are we really prepared for the Passover, have we put those things away? Have we turned properly?" These are the questions, these are the kind of things we need to be looking at. Go back to Ephesians 2:1 now, where we were before, let's just start reading where it says:

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins [this is the way we were at one time, we were dead]; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:" (Ephesians 2:1-2)

And I talked about that in previous sermons, I talked about it considerably. But that is the way we were also. We walked according to that spirit and unfortunately so do we today, from time to time; and we go back to that spirit, back to that way. And we have got to be turned; this sin of this foreskin needs to be chopped off and removed and we have got to make sure that that has actually occurred. Because otherwise we are not going to be part of Israel. Because that is the defining sign that was given to a slave. It was given to a slave, so Christ as the master of the slave, makes sure that slave has its foreskin removed and the father being the father of the son makes sure that that foreskin is removed. So either way you look at it, you are looking at the same thing. Here in Ephesians 2:3 it says:

"Among whom also we all had our [conduct] in times past [it is talking about we, as the Jews also] in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh [so it is not just the Gentiles,it is the Jews as well and all of us] and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (Ephesians 2:3)

Every single one of us was in that particular category, and yet we find if we go back to Colossians 2:12 and carry on reading:

"Buried with him in baptism..." (Colossians 2:12)

This is when that foreskin was removed, it is in baptism. This is why only the baptised can celebrate the Passover. That baptism is an outward symbol of the death of the self. The death of the sin, the removal of the foreskin, of the sins already been mentioned previously. The circumcision without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, Colossians 2:12:

"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God [that operation, that removal of that foreskin], who hath raised him from the dead [He raised Christ from the dead, He also raises us from the dead, where the sins have gone ahead and would have destroyed us otherwise]. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he [made alive]..." (Colossians 2:12-13)

Remember what we read where it says; "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;" (Ephesians 2:1). It is the same basic thought pattern that is being being brought out here. Colossians 2:13:

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [or made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us [it is like a note of the sins that we had were all written down one after the other, and this note was being kept against us, and he said blotting that out], which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;" (Colossians 2:13-14)

Nailing that list of sins to his cross. Getting rid of it completely. Totally getting rid of it. Colossians 2:15:

"And having spoiled principalities and powers [he is talking about what we have just read over in Ephesians 2, about this cause of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, so having destroyed principalities and powers], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Colossians 2:15)

Getting rid of the sin. And it is interesting that when we are preparing for Unleavened Bread, what are we doing? We are de-leavening and physically we go through our cupboards and we are looking for leaven, and we are sweeping up crumbs, and we are going through this process. As we do, remember we are also preparing for Passover. Because there was a circumcision that has to take place at the point of baptism and that circumcision was to remove those sins and get rid of them and not return to them. But unfortunately we do. So we need to be looking at ourselves, we need to be preparing for Passover in this way also; looking at this area. It is very clear that certain things that happened at baptism, that we need to be aware of. Let's go back into Ephesians 2:4 again and carry on reading a little bit more, it says:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit [on high with] Christ Jesus [our thought patterns are now different, our thought patterns are on high, they are focussed on a different kingdom, not just on this world]: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:4-8)

Ephesians 2:10:

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them [it is going from this circumcision and it is going then into a different way of life]. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;" (Ephesians 2:10-11)

Then it goes into the rest of the passage which we have just read. But when we look back at our baptism, we realise that, we need to repent, we need to turn from the way that we were going, we need to go ahead and believe and accept that sacrifice. When I baptise somebody, I say, Joe Blow, have you repented of your sins and do you accept Jesus Christ has your personal Saviour. And they say; "Yes." I haven't had anybody say; "No", so far. I have heard of one case where this actually did happen and they were in the sea. And they said; "Oh well in that case we will not baptise you." And she walked out.

Because you have repented of your sins, you have accepted Christ has your personal Saviour. Because you have repented of your sins, which is a transgression of God's holy righteous and perfect law, and because you accept Jesus Christ has your personal Saviour, your Lord, your Master, your High Priest and soon coming King. I now baptise you, not into any sect or denomination, into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is a certain procedure that was laid down by Mr Armstrong and we need to go back and remember. It is a time of remembrance of that initial conversion. A time when that foreskin was removed, was removed by our faith in that sacrifice. And so in our preparation, we are renewing that symbol, it is a memorial. It is a memorial of our baptism in many ways. Because that is when the blood was applied. Now, it is interesting that if you turn over to Romans 2:17. Here again it backs up this subject. He says:

"Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God [it could be actually said to us; "Do we call ourself a Church member?], And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law [being a Church member]; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law." (Romans 2:17-20)

Looking forward into the future when we are going to be teachers in the world tomorrow. Are we confident that we can do that? Romans 2:21:

"Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery [spiritually]? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege [that was where they were going into temples, stealing the idols, melting the gold down and selling the gold - a good Jewish pastime]? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written [go back to Ezekiel where it talks about that]. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." (Romans 2:21-25).

You might as well be uncircumcised. You are not part of Israel, because you are not keeping the law. The fact that you are physically circumcised doesn't make any difference. Romans 2:26:

"Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law [doing what they should be doing], shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law [the Jews weren't keeping the law, they were actually going round it, but they were confident in the fact that they were the chosen people]? For he is not a Jew [and the word Jew means praised, not praised], which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew [or praised], which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Romans 2:26-29)

The word 'Jew' in Hebrew means praise. And Mr Armstrong quite clearly in the 'The Plain Truth about Healing' page 67. He says the following:

"The natural-born human has only the human spirit - imparting the power of intellect. Yet all such human minds are confined to knowledge of the physical and material. And by the fact that Satan is prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), he broadcasts - surcharges the air with his ATTITUDE of SELF - vanity and love only toward self. We call this attitude Satan instills human nature. We acquire it from earliest childhood gradually."

"Repentance is change from that attitude. Through God's Holy Spirit joining with our spirit, we acquire - become partakers of (2 Peter 1:4) - the divine nature."

"But this initial stage of conversion does not eradicate human nature. Real repentance is a change of WILLFUL INTENTION to turn from the attitude Satan had injected." ('The Plain Truth about Healing' page 67)

So, Mr Armstrong says:

"...But only Jesus (John 3:34) was not given the Spirit by measure."

"All other humans do receive initially only a certain measure of God's Spirit. Then we must GROW in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). That is the second phase of the spiritual creation." ('Plain Truth About Healing' page 67)

So when we go into Passover when we are looking at ourselves and being prepared for Passover, it is this second stage of the spiritual creation. That initial step that we took on baptism, when the foreskin was removed, that was the start. It puts us a part of Israel, but it doesn't end there, it goes on, it carries on. We have got that wilful intention to turn, but it has got to continue.

When we are looking at ourselves in this prior, this time prior to Passover. Turn over to II Corinthians 7:8 because there is certain evidence that we should be able to see, certain evidence that all of us should be able to see, in regarding repentance. Now here Paul is talking about the evidence that he was noticing within the Corinthian Church of certain things that he had pointed out to them. And he noticed a certain reaction, a certain attitude of mind. He says:

"For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance [to change to turn around from the way that you were going and to go in a different way]: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation..." (II Corinthians 7:8-10)

It turns us round, and it points us in the right direction again. So we can sorrow in the right way. Remember we talked about fasting last Sabbath. Fasting is not very pleasant, it is a sorrowful occasion, but it does do something to us. It tells us to turn around and go in a certain direction. II Corinthians 7:10:

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death [it doesn't get any real lasting effect]. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort [this is how he was able to tell], what carefulness it wrought in you [people had turned, instead of being slapdash, you turned, you were suddenly more careful], yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation [indignation that we should go in that direction], yea, what fear [fear of God], yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge [revenge on the things they were doing wrong]! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." (II Corinthians 7:10-11)

In other words, the matter is then over, finished with; Christ had taken the penalty, you do not need to worry about it. But here we see evidence of, the circumcision, this turning, this repentance. The removal of the sin. The literal fulfilment of what we are doing at the moment in de-leavening. This is all part and parcel of the process. Turn over to John 13:34. There is a way that we know whether the process is taking place because here it says:

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34)

That is how you love one another. In other words there is a certain indication between brethren, between husband and wife, between parents and children, between us. John 13:35:

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples [My students, the ones that are training to be the teachers, the ones we just read about; the Jews, in fact, reckon that they were going to be able to teach the blind, but no, these are the ones that are being trained], if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)

I want you to notice the context of that verse. It is in John 13, and the context is the foot-washing; the context of that verse is the foot-washing. We will come back to that in a little while.

Conditions of Forgiveness (PLAY FROM 35:35)

Because if we go on to the conditions of forgiveness, because part of Passover when we are looking at being prepared for the Passover, we are being prepared for renewing, taking that memorial; that memorial of forgiveness. Where the foreskin is removed, the sins are removed and they are blotted out. Taking the handwriting of ordinances which were against us, that was contrary to us and took it out of the way and nailed it to His cross. All that list, the catalogue of errors, and problems that we had up to that point of baptism was taken away and destroyed.

Remember as Mr Armstrong said; this is a process. It doesn't just happen, it is something that carries on through life; that we have got to be continually repentant. But here in Matthew 6:12 it is very, very clear that as we get on our knees every day, and this is a daily occurrence. This is a sample prayer and as you and I get on our knees every single day, we ask something and we are told to ask it in a certain way; and we are asking about forgiveness, because it says here:

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12)

Now there are many other scriptures that we can go to, talking about that person who was forgiven a certain debt which was relatively huge and then he went and seized somebody else by the throat who had a relatively small debt, and he wouldn't go ahead and forgive. Here in Matthew 6:14, at the end of this sample prayer, it immediately highlights that particular aspect:

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15)

That is pretty clear. There is no shadow of doubt at all. If we go back just a page to Matthew 5:23, notice it says:

"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar [we get on our knees and present ourselves before God], and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)

Now this is somewhat of a problem and we will come on and look at some of the problems because at the moment the Church is shattered. And there are people in other fellowships that we don't go ahead and associate with. How does this apply? How does this apply in these cases. Now, we will come and look at this in a minute. Matthew 5:24:

"Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way..." (Matthew 5:24-25)

I remember, one thing sticks out in my mind. A particular feud that was in a Church area that I was in. And this particular feud was between two ladies and these two ladies basically ignored each other. I obviously wasn't in the line, but my wife mentioned it to me afterwards. These particular ladies, ignored each other in the line going into the foot-washing. They actually manoeuvred themselves so that they wouldn't get themselves too close to each other. So rather than be side by side, they manoeuvred themselves so that they wouldn't go ahead and wash each others feet.

I remember after Passover one time, another individual running somebody down after the Passover. I thought, well how can you go through the Passover and then do this? I have to be careful in case I start running them down but you know this is something we need to be aware of. That what Christ was saying here; "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12).

There are conditions to the forgiveness that we receive and when we go to the Passover, we are renewing that commitment. We are renewing the very blood and the broken body for our physical healing. This is why is says, some of you are dying, because they are doing it unworthily.

Now when we turn over to I Corinthians 7:1. Let's take a real specific; let's go to some specific areas because in this area, here in this world, in this society, being pumped full by the attitude of Satan, of selfishness, vanity, self-centredness, one area in particular Satan detests is marriage. Absolutely detests it and the sexual union in particularly, he absolutely detests it. And yet here, we need to read what it says:

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband [so you and I and all of us that are married, it says]. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence [or sexual rights, so allow this to take place, to have the husband have his mind on his wife, on his wife's needs]: and likewise also the wife unto the husband [the wife has her mind on her husband's needs]. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." (I Corinthians 7:1-4)

Now what does that tell you? How can there be a marriage relationship, sexual marriage relationship unless you and your husband, or you and your wife, talk. There has got to be talking. Because how do you know what the other one needs. It is only by talking that you know what the other one needs. I Corinthians 7:5 says:

"Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency." (I Corinthians 7:5)

So this is one area, you can look in all kinds of different areas but here is one area because it is an area that is under attack by Satan. It is an area that we do need to look at in our own lives and as we approach the Passover our nearest neighbour, our nearest brother, our nearest sister, is our husband or our wife. And if there is going to be problems, the chances are there is where the problems are going to be. So I zero in on this one because I know by experience this is where the problems could be, because we are so close to our spouses. And when you are close to somebody, they see all your faults and you see all theirs.

But you know when we look at being prepared for Passover. We are coming up to Passover. We are asking for forgiveness. We are renewing the circumcision that took place at baptism. Have we grown any from that time to now? We are looking, we are going round, we are hunting in the house for leaven. Have we really looked at ourselves? The relationships that are closest to us. Notice here in Colossians 3:12 it says:

"Put on therefore, as the elect [notice who is it talking to] of God..." (Colossians 3:12)

Remember; "...but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:22). We have been reading in the New Analysis, all the things that are happening at the moment. Are we that elect? We need to be. Without it the world hasn't got a hope. It is going to be there, it will be there come what may, it will be there because God says it is going to be there. But will we be part of it? Colossians 3:12:

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering [remember the sermon I gave on fasting, humbleness of mind, that is what fasting is for; to humble us, to bring us down to realise, I am not the great big cheese; other people need things also]; Forbearing one another [putting up with each other], and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things [and this is how it is done] put on [this character of God] charity [agape], which is the bond of perfectness." (Colossians 3:12-14).

And it says; how can someone say they love God if they don't love their brother? If you love God then you love your brother also. "...he who loveth God love his brother also." (I John 4:21). So there are conditions, conditions to that forgiveness and we need to recognise those conditions and make sure that we are, being prepared for the Passover and we recognise that.

Are We Ready? (PLAY FROM 45:22)

So how can we tell? Well, has I pointed out in John 13:35:

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)

As I have loved you, if you love each other in that same way. And the context of that is in foot-washing. God actually builds into the Passover itself, the thing that you and I do, as we go into the Passover, the first thing we do is the foot-washing. Now we can go ahead and keep the Passover. We can keep the emblems, the bread and the wine, by ourselves. Somewhere, some people will be doing that, keeping the emblems themselves. That's not the Passover, the foot-washing, but it is done prior to it. It is something that leads into it, something that reminds us, it gets out mind in a way that just thinking about it doesn't have the same effect. It puts our mind in gear and it gets us to focus on this aspect. It says, look have we really been circumcised; spiritually? Have we really got rid of of those things? Are we going in the right direction? Do we act as a servant? Do we get on our knees and actually wash somebody else's feet?

Do we remember to pray for prayer requests that come out or do we forget? I must be honest, I forget from time to time. I forget to pray. But you know is that really getting on our knees before God and in an attitude of a servant washing somebody else's feet that needs those prayers. We do, we forget. We need to, as we go through the house, and we physically de-leaven, these are the kind of things we need to be thinking about.

Turn over to Malachi 3:18. Because there is a problem. We have looked at some of this situation of forgiving one another. If you are coming before God on our knees, and you remember somebody has something against you, then go and reconcile yourself with your brother. Now there is a problem in today's climate within the Churches, I say 'Churches' plural. But here it says:

"Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Malachi 3:18)

Now we know that this shattering seems to be, it certainly seems to be, that this will be done. That we will be able to discern between the righteous and the wicked. Him that serves God and him that serves him not. But it does cause a shattering of God's people. There are organisations of men all over the place in which God's people are. I want you to notice though the context of that verse. It says in Malachi 3:16:

"Then they that feared the [Eternal] spake often one to another [notice spoke often one with another, those that feared the Eternal]: and the [Eternal] hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the [Eternal], and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the [Eternal] of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Malachi 3:16-17)

So there is this aspect that we do get together where we can, we do cooperate where we can. But we also have got to be aware that we return and we discern between the righteous and the unrighteous. We have got to be discerning properly and be looking at it correctly. Again remember what it says over in Hebrews 10:25:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)

We have just been through this New Analysis, we see a new Pope on the horizon, even the Malachy prophecies are saying certain things indicating that we are getting close. Now again these are lying spirits, we don't put anything on those particular prophecies. But the indications within society; the acceptance of Catholicism, the way and direction in which Europe is heading, this vote within France. These things should be making us think; "Well, here we are, we are getting really close." So as we see that day approaching, do we forsake the assembling of ourselves together where we can. Do we do that? Do we make excuses for ourselves? Because it says, don't! It says, don't do that! Now we know, as I have said before, over in James 3:17 where it talks about:

"But the wisdom from above is first pure [we have got to make sure it is first pure and], then [it can be] peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated..." (James 3:17)

It does have to be first pure. We do have to be able to discern between the righteous and the wicked. Him that serves God and him that serves him not. There is a fragmenting of God's people at the moment. And I am not in any way saying that should not be the case, but I am saying that we have got to be very, very careful that we don't get into that mentality. Let's turn back to John 13:35, where the foot-washing is actually mentioned:

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples..." (John 13:35)

This was actually said to the eleven, not to twelve, because if you notice what it says in John 13:26, it says:

"Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night." (John 13:26-28,30)

So it indicated when the Passover was to be kept, it was night, and the Passover begins between the two evenings, starts then and is actually kept and as far as we can tell, the emblems weren't given by that time but it had already turned night and we actually then keep the emblems itself. But the foot-washing was before. It says; "Supper [having occurred]..." (John 13:2). The foot-washing took place. Now I want you to notice that here in verse John 13:18, it says:

"I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." (John 13:18).

And in John 13:27, he went out and did his evil deeds. Now Christ was not aligned with Judas, He wasn't. Judas wasn't part of the equation at all, but did He wash his feet? Yes, He did. So when we look at this fragmented, these fragmented Church groups even today, are we aligned with various people. No, we are not. Are we hostile towards them? No! We should not be. We should still have an attitude of mind which is a foot-washing attitude. An attitude of service, an attitude of help if necessary. But we do not align ourself with them. We don't align ourself with them, because we don't believe we are going in the right direction. We have got to be under the authority that flows down from God; and it's coming down through an apostle that was sent to us.

This is a crucial aspect at this present time that we need to understand, and yet what happens? Do we bad-mouth people in former associations? Obviously people write to me and say why aren't you with so-and-so, or why aren't you with so-and-so. I have to be very, very careful about this. I have still got to wash the feet of those people. I have got to recognise their good as well as what I can't walk along with. Every single one of us as got to do this. We have got to make a differentiation at this present time. We have got to make sure we can discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that does not serve God. And yet we have also got to have the foot-washing attitude as well. The same way that Christ was able to discern between Judas Iscariot and the other eleven. Yet He washed the feet of all twelve. This is something that we have got to be aware of. It is a vital area. Notice in John 13:1:

"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper [having occurred is a better translation], the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him [he had already made the decision that he was going to betray Him, he knew what he was about to do]; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God [He was God in the flesh, He knew his position]; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." (John 13:1-5)

And He went round all twelve, including Judas Iscariot and washed their feet. And He wasn't just kind of; "Oh well I suppose I must do it," through gritted teeth. I wouldn't like doing this. Has Judas committed the unpardonable sin? I don't think so myself; that's a personal view, I haven't heard Mr Armstrong's specific ideas on that. I can't see that. So eventually he will have to have that applied. Maybe I am wrong.

But you know, here is Christ, who turned from the attitude, the attitude from Satan that was being pumped out into the air, that Judas had imbibed of. Nothing in Him, had nothing in Him whatsoever. Aligned with the right people, fellowshipping with the right people, giving a new commandment by which all men will know they are My disciples, to the right people eventually. But still willing to wash the feet of somebody who is about to go ahead and have Him murdered, in a despicable way. John 13:10:

"Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet [all twelve], and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." (John 13:10-15)

And as we go and approach the Passover, we ask, are we being prepared, are we prepared for it. This is an area that we really need to know, and we need to see. And we need to see whether in fact that circumcision has really taken place. The old man has died and this new man is now there. Now we are not going to do it perfectly. It says; "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (I Corinthians 11:28). It does not mean that we don't take the Passover saying; "We are unworthy to do it." But there are areas that we go ahead and examine. Turn over to Luke 22:24 here was the Passover and notice even at that time there was a strife:

"And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors [I'll do something for you, but you give me; its Gentile rule]. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth [he had just got down and washed the feet of all of them, notice the context of this]. Ye are they which have continued with me in my [trials]. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:24-30)

The twelve tribes of Israel and the apostles, including the replacement apostle, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was part and parcel of the reason why He was telling them that and telling us that as well.

But this foot-washing is in the context of this. This new form of rulership. It is in the context of what our destination is. We are destined to be different rulers. What is our family like? What is our household like? Does it reflect the kind of rulership that is going to be in the world tomorrow. Because that is the only place we have got jurisdiction over at the moment. What is this Church like? Does the Church reflect that kind of rulership that it should be in the world tomorrow. That is something that I have got to ask myself and say; does it or doesn't it. Turn over to Philippians 2:1 it says:

"If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded [the same mind as Christ], having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind [all of us together]. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory..." (Philippians 2:1-3)

I think I mentioned before, it is referring back to; "The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:" (Philippians 1:16). And we find that at the moment. We do find that within the wider Churches unfortunately. As I said, even there, you still have a foot-washing attitude, even though the attitude might be coming from a carnal attitude, where it should have been circumcised away.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [God the Father and Christ together form the Godhead]: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a [slave], and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:3-8)

And he gave us this example, that when we go into the Passover, we get on our knees before somebody else and we will wash their feet. And we will humble ourself physically, but do we mentally. Do we do that? When we examine ourselves and we prepare for the Passover and realise that that has been put there for a purpose. Because before we can go into the forgiveness aspect and take the bread and the wine, we have to be in the right frame of mind. It is that Passover frame of mind. It is that foot-washing frame of mind. And if we do that, notice what Philippians 2:8 says:

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore [because of this] God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore [because of this], my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling [we also reflect that same mind, because we are going in the same direction]. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:8-13)

That is why, we also need to examine, to look at ourself, we need to be prepared for the Passover. It is just a few days to go and, as I say, even though Jesus Christ didn't agree with Judas, He wasn't of the same mind as Judas. Judas was going in a totally different direction. A totally, totally different direction, He still washed His feet and we need to make sure that we don't go ahead and bad-mouth and slag off other people. God will take care of all this and bring God's people together in due time; God's time and God's purpose.

But we right now, we do need to be asking ourselves whether in fact we are preparing ourselves to take the Passover in the same way as Jesus took it originally.