Sermon given 26 July 2008

Final Exams

by Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

When we were going around Nigeria, we actually spent some time with one family; and while we were there I was talking to a young lady who was talking to me about the exams that she was having. It was interesting talking to her because the exams were lasting a week. She is twelve, I believe as far as I know, and the exams were lasting around about a week and it was about two or three a day, something like that, the exams that she was having to take.

It reminded me of the exam time when I was at school because over in the UK they've changed the syllabus to quite some degree and they've got much more course work and there's not the same pressure that there used to be in the exams. But over here which I think is quite frankly a better system, is that the exams last for a week and you have two or three a day and you've got to make sure that you're able to do the syllabus or actually respond to questions on the syllabus that you've been studying all through the year.

There are also a great deal more essays and problem-solving than we have currently in the UK – this was forty years ago when my wife and myself were at school. And I also was talking to another young man there because he was also going through the exam process, but that is a polytechnic he's in; and it was exam time anyway over here in Nigeria generally.

Now what I do remember thinking back to the exam time that we had at school, I remember the feeling that I had. All of you who've been to school – you finally finish your exams, or finish an exam paper, and you finish the last question and you finally hand that paper in and there's this feeling that you get, which is; "It doesn't matter what I do, I can't change what's on that paper. I can't actually go back and alter any questions - it's in, the exam is over, the year has come to a close, that exam paper has gone ahead and it's now about to be marked".

And there is therefore a cut-off point for everybody who is taking exams. And there's a certain feeling I used to have, it's almost like a feeling in the pit of your stomach, when that paper finally goes in and you think; "I can't actually do anything about what I've said in that exam paper".

And it's something that really - when you think about it - it's something that's going to happen in this life for every single person. Every single person in this life will come to the end of their life and at that point, at the end of that life, there'll be perhaps that feeling in the pit of the stomach and you think; "Well, you know, I could have done more, I could have done this differently, I could have done that differently." But there's going to come a time when that will in fact be the final exam. It'll be the final exam of life itself and everyone of us really will face that at some time.

And if we look at what is going on in the world today, it looks very much as if that process, that time - for the adults that are here that are baptised - it looks very much like it's going to be sooner rather than later, because the events in the world are progressing in the way we have expected. There are things that are happening in this world that make you wonder. We'll go on and we'll have a look at some of those things.

So what I want to do today is to encourage us all really to live life as if this is the final exam. Because it is – it is the final exam. And regardless of ourselves physically - we may not physically be ready for facing death yet, maybe we're only in our 20s or our 30s and we think, "Well, we've got several years yet" - well that's not always the case. Regardless of age we can all think of people we thought had several years yet; and yet they died. And you look at the roads - going on these roads here and the danger they present - we do not know when that time will come. And as I say, regardless of ourselves or age physically, there is every indication that this indeed is the end time, that we are approaching the end time at this time. So the areas I want to go into in this subject about final exams and looking at life as final exams are:

A Time of Testing (PLAY FROM 06:13)

First of all let's have a look at this subject then, that it is a time of testing today. Turn over to Matthew 24 and here we do find that there is going to come a time, a cut-off time, when the days of Daniel will start, known as the Great Tribulation, it mentions that here in verse 21:

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21)

So there is one unique time, it's a time of trouble never before and never again since. So this unique period of time comes right before the return of Christ and it says in verse 22:

"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [it's not talking about being saved in a spiritual sense, it's talking about being saved physically; so notice]: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:22)

So there's going to be an 'elect' at that time, at that end time. And there is an assessment, there is an examination period, that this elect have got to go through to make sure that they are indeed part of that elect. God is not going to allow just anybody to come into the Kingdom and actually to be born as a very spirit being. That just will not happen because the power of a spirit being is phenomenal and the character, the mindset, has got to be there in order to control that power. If we have not got that mindset we will not be there, so there has got to be an assessment. There has got to be an examination. And this is what we are in today. This is the period that we're in today. I notice that when we look at Matthew 24:32 here, it says:

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." (Matthew 24:32-33)

So when we start seeing certain things happen we know that we are getting very very close to the time that is being talked about here in Matthew 24. Now when you look at the world - and this is again in this subject of final exams - the fact is that now is the time of testing. We are approaching that time when you look at the world and you look at the number of years from creation until now, it is around the 6,000 years. And we know that 6,000 years has been believed by the True Church, from the time of the True Church at the beginning all the way through, that 6,000 years is allotted to man followed by a thousand year Sabbath.

So this is part of the reason why we keep the Sabbath. We don't just look back to the creation, back when the earth was re-constructed as it was, it was remade back then. But we're looking at the construction of the new world, the construction of the new world when we're looking at the final 1,000 year Sabbath. But that end of 6,000 years, we're right at it, we're right on the key event. That is right at this particular time.

The Elijah that was to restore all things – if you go and look at these scriptures now and you see what in fact we can understand of these scriptures; we will find that we understand these in a way that was never understood before. The Elijah that was to come, the one coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, has come; and through that individual God in fact has given us information.

The gospel did go out during that time. Now there were – what was it? - nine million Plain Truths went out per month. There were multiple millions copies of booklets that went out. The broadcast was known within America probably as good as any other broadcast at that particular time. He went before leaders, before kings, before presidents, before prime ministers and he talked about the gospel which is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, which is the family of God keeping the way of God with the mind of God. So the way of give and the way of get is very much part of that gospel. That is the Government of God.

We also witnessed an apostasy take place. That has already happened. We are on the other side of that. We can see that the Church is shattered, the Church has been shattered because of that apostasy. That also you find in Daniel. And it is all bound up to that time of the end. We see a time, since about the 1950s, that it is possible to destroy all human life. That again, we find it here in Matthew 24:22:

"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved... " (Matthew 24:22)

That's saved alive, no flesh. It was never possible until the 1950's. We are already past that time now. Ephraim and Manasseh are going down at the present time. They have already reached their zenith and they reached it precisely 2,240 years from the time of the promises. They've actually lost the promises and they have now had the promises restored, and they are now on the way down.

At the same time as that we're looking at the revival of Europe. Europe, it is very clear that there are seven revivals within Europe and we are looking at the last one. That is, the last one is coming. And that is what we're looking at and it's forming all around us in the UK. That is all around us with the imposition of surveillance techniques and various other impositions.

We don't see the final shape of it but we can see all the pieces being put into place. We see China and India under construction now. They are the greatest power houses in the world. Do you know that all the drugs around the world that are made - the base materials are coming from India? Virtually most of the steel in the world, all these electronic goods, these will be made in China or that area of the world. And there is an army of 200 million that has got to come from that area. We can see the power of that area rising. That is there.

We're looking at Judah, who has Jerusalem. It owns Jerusalem, it's in control of Jerusalem. Now that is a pivotal thing. Up until the 1940s that wasn't possible. There was no Judah and so there was no indication that there could be sacrifices in that area, but Judah controls that area now. The sacrificial system can begin, therefore the sacrifices can end, and when they do then the days of Daniel start.

We look at the Temple activity that is well under way. They have the garments for the priests. They have the menorah, they have the various other parts of what they need for sacrificial purposes, that is there. And the four horsemen - continually you see the rise and the fall of the four horsemen and they are moving together. So the indications - these are things really off the top of my head that I jotted down, some of the points. It's not a list of points that I've gone to, they are just things I've jotted down that indicate that we are in a crucial time at this particular point.

Turn back to Daniel 12. The whole passage is focused right on that end time. During that time - we are in this time - there's almost a sub-note and the sub-note is attached to the days of Daniel and the beginning of the start of those days of Daniel; and all three, 1,335, 1,260, 1,290, they all culminate at the return of Christ because Daniel will rise as it says here in verse 13:

"But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." (Daniel 12:13)

All three work together. But in that time in Daniel 12:10 it says:

"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried [or tested, they're going through their exams]; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." (Daniel 12:10)

It's those that allow themselves to be tested. Allow themselves to have God working with them, allow them to go through these final exams. That God will - as it says here, that they will understand. But those that just go their own way, it says that none of the wicked will understand. Now if we go across to Revelation 10:7, {1} again in this section about now is indeed a time of testing, here the positioning of this verse is crucial. Again, you're looking at the lead-up as it says:

"But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel [that's the Last Trump, and it's a comment saying], when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." (Revelation 10:7)

That mystery of God is the actual birth of His sons. The very birth of the very sons of God into the family of God. It goes on in Revelation 10:9: and talks about how he was to eat this message:

"...And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey." (Revelation 10:9)

Again Mr Armstrong brought that message out to the world through the radio broadcast. And that ties in with Ezekiel which ties it into Israel. But it also says he must prophesy before peoples and nations, tongues and kings in Revelation 10:11.

And then it goes into Revelation 11 and we'll miss verses 1 and 2 out; but it goes into then verse 3 about the two witnesses. Now the two witnesses prophesy for the three and a half years. So we're looking at those two witnesses prophesying for three and a half years within the Tribulation. So when we're looking at Revelation 11:1-2 that is where we are, that's where we are. That is the crucial prophetic position that we find ourself in and it says:

"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod [that's a measuring rod]: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein [this Temple is a spiritual Temple to which Christ will return, it's a Spiritual Temple]. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months" (Revelation 11:1-2)

So we're looking there at this particular period that you and I find ourselves in is a period of testing. It's a period of examination.

Let me ask you a question. Why is it that there's no resident minister in Kenya? You know, we were going across to Kenya last time, it was last summer, and somebody who was a long time minister in Worldwide contacted me. I was hoping to make contact with him, and he contacted me for several times by email and then suddenly disappeared. I told him I'd be coming later on, I would notify him, and I kept notifying him and nothing came back. Then I had another email just shortly before we left, a few weeks before, an email came through from his wife to say that he had died. He would have been ideal. I was longing to have somebody I could trust within Kenya but it wasn't possible. Why? God had other reasons; and He manipulated, He designed, He is testing.

So why is there a dearth of ministers on the ground here? Well all of you old-timers that have been in the Church you are now at this time of final exams. There are some that aren't so old in the Church but even so that time is moving on, we are moving into that time, we're moving in that time at the moment. The dearth of ministers is that we have got to stand on our own feet. We've got to take this book ourselves and read it. We've got to understand this book ourselves and apply it.

And the reason for that is that you, and I, if we pass those exams, if those final exams are passed, there is a reason for that. We've got to be ready to administer that Word, that Way into the earth. And if we're not ready, we can't be there. It's that serious. I mean this is the same as an exam. Anyone who is having an exam now, if you flunk the exams you can't go along and have the letters after your name or whatever it might be. You can't say that you've got the certificate. Same with anybody, you know you can't do that, you've got to pass the exams to be able to do that. And this is what in fact is the time that we are in. We are in a time of testing and these exams are real. They are real.

They are not the same as sitting down in a classroom and writing it out and writing all the answers out and then handing it in. We are being assessed in life itself. And within that life, I do honestly feel that there's a dearth of local minsters on the ground because it is time for everybody to be able to take this Book, to be able to understand it and to be able to apply it. It is the application of these Words that is so important. And I think that is the part within final exams it's not just knowing the doctrines - it's how that teaching then applies in life. Because you are going to have to teach it eventually.

You're going to have to teach it to people. People are going to come up to you and they are going to say; "OK, I've go this problem in my marriage, what do I do?" And you're going to have to go to this Book and you're going to then have to start to know the principles and apply those principles. And you need to do it on a basis from your own marriages or from the marriages that you've witnessed if you're single. Or rearing children, or how you keep somewhere tidy, how you keep a place the way it should be to implement the very Kingdom of God, the world that will be ruled by the Kingdom of God, which is a better way.

God's Method of Assessment (PLAY FROM 21:44)

Now God's method of assessment. So we are being assessed now. We are in this time of trial. But how does it work, what actually happens? Well turn over to II Chronicles 16, back in the Old Testament, and here we find Asa. And Asa, if you like, flunked the exam, he failed, but within this verse we find the criteria that God uses. And remember this Being here was seen by Moses, He wrestled with Jacob so it cannot be the Father we're looking at. This had to be the One that became Jesus Christ and here we find this Eternal, in verse 7:

"And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the [Eternal] thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand [he did something and he did not do it properly because of lack of faith]. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the [Eternal], he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the [Eternal] run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein [in this regard] thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars." (II Chronicles 16:7-9)

So this is the way in which God is working. It says; "For the eyes of the [Eternal] run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong..." (II Chronicles 16:9). What's He looking at? I mean is He going down to Hawaii and having a look at the volcanoes over there and does He then go down to somewhere else? Obviously He can do whatever He likes but He's looking at the very heart. He's looking at the innermost thinking - the innermost being - when He's looking.

If we go to Zechariah 4 what we find here again, there is a type and there is an anti-type. There is the type of what was happening when the second Temple was built but there's also the anti-type when you're looking at the final fulfilment, which is when the Spiritual Temple is built. Here it is very interesting that if you were to go back to Revelation 11:1 and see the context of that verse, which is to do with the assessment, which is to do with the testing of God's people, and you look at the context how the things came before, the various items came before, and then the two witnesses came afterwards, you'd find the same structure in this particular passage here in Zechariah 4, because he talks about Zerubbabel, saying:

"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the [Eternal] unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the [Eternal] of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain [a mountain - refers to as a nation, a governmental power, or whatever the power may be]? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone [that's Jesus Christ] thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." (Zechariah 4;6-7)

That's grace as far as Christ is concerned. And we are looking forward then into the future and I do believe that Mr Herbert Armstrong will in fact do this in the future. But Zechariah 4:8 says:

"Moreover the word of the [Eternal] came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it [again looking down into the future when that will actually take place]; and thou shalt know that the [Eternal] of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things?..." (Zechariah 4:8-10)

Here right in the centre of this, just before it goes into the two anointed ones, which again very clearly tie into Revelation 11:3-4 and that area about the two witnesses. Right in that section where it's talking about the Temple being measured we find in verse 10::

"For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven [those seven what? Those seven spirits of God, it says]; they are the eyes of the [Eternal], which run to and fro through the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:10)

Now again, notice the positioning of that. That positioning seems to indicate that the way in which God is assessing, the way in which the final exams are taking place is that the Spirit of God is watching the heart of man to see which heart is pure before Him. The same way, because He doesn't change, He is the same God, the same way as He did with Asa. Now does He say;, "Oh in your case - or in my case - you don't have the faith, you don't in fact trust Me and therefore have done foolishly." Do we therefore do foolishly? We can see this concept over in Matthew 25. Now this again is another area of scripture, strangely enough coming after Matthew 24, but in Matthew 25 we find these parables given which again have a link to the end time; and it says:

"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his [individual] ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord [a talent is a real heavy weight, it's a great deal of silver, these talents of silver; I haven't worked it out recently but it would be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, the millions, multiple millions of Naira], thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him [now I want you to notice what was said, He said], Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things [you've been faithful over a few things], I will make thee ruler over many things..." (Matthew 25:14-21)

Now we're looking into the future. We're looking into the Church and remember the context of these verses. These verses are to do with the other verses that we find in Matthew 24, all pointing in the direction of the return of Christ. All pointing to the things that we need as we are being assessed. So what are we being assessed in? In small things.

How do we handle the small things of life? The small things of life - it doesn't mean to say we've got to be a king somewhere. We can be somebody who has a business, a small business, a small family, no family. But the small things in life, those things are being assessed and He wants to know how are these being applied? These small things, this 'day of small things' remember, that it said in Zechariah 4:10. And that was again a key section right in the middle before the two witnesses and after Zerubbabel.

And right in the middle there it's the day of small of things and this is something that we do need to be aware of. That we need to be aware of the fact that the assessment – God's method of assessment – is He runs to and fro over the whole earth to see whose heart is right before Him. And the indication is - whose heart is right in the area of small things, in day-to-day life. This is what I brought up in the short Bible study we had upstairs. It's day-to-day life. It's the things that we are being assessed on all the time in our day-to-day life. And these are the things that God is assessing us on now and as far as the final exams are concerned it's the things that we will be assessed on as far as those final exams are concerned.

The Judgement (PLAY FROM 30:59)

If we turn over to II Corinthians 5 we find a passage there which shows very clearly that:

"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (II Corinthians 5:1)

So there is a body which God will give us. The spirit in man witnessing with His Spirit will then be placed into that body, this new body that will be given to these individuals. And the same individual will then exist, will wake up. You or I, if we die and we are then resurrected, we will wake up and we will be in a different body. And it says that earthly house being dissolved, you will have this building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. It's an eternal and glorified body that will then be given to us at that first resurrection. And he goes down then how, in verse 7 saying:

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." (II Corinthians 5:7-9)

So here this is a case of being accepted, having passed the exams. Having gone through the examination - you've come to the end of life, the pit in the stomach at the final point at the end of life because then you are assessed. You are actually assessed as it says here, in II Corinthians 5:10:

"For we must ALL [he's talking to the Church here] appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Corinthians 5:10)

All of us, every single human being will stand before the judgement seat of Christ. So it is something that we need to understand and we need to keep in mind, that this life that we are leading is a short thing, it's a temporary thing. There is a life that will go on. We put so much emphasis, so much weight on the physical things that we are trying to - you know, just make ends meet. Just trying to make ends meet all the time. God knows that, He understands that. He understands that you've got difficulties and problems, particularly down here in Nigeria. But if you're faithful and you're in contact with Him, if you're plugged into Him then you're able to pass those exams. The exams will be passed. And as it says here, we must all eventually appear before that judgement seat.

Can you imagine - there's Jesus Christ, He's returned and you then have got to appear before Him. What will you have? Will you have five cities? Ten cities? No cities? What will it be? Again, the assessment will be there. Turn over to Luke 19 and we find the corollary to the one we read over in Matthew 25. In Matthew 25 it gives the indication of the parable of the talents and here we pick it up in verse 11:

"And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear [it wasn't going to immediately appear, He was going to have to go and then come back again]. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy [or use this] till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading." (Luke 19:11-15)

So it's very similar to the parable of the talents. The parable of the talents you find that each one was given different amounts according to abilities and when they made the same proportional amount each proportional amount got the same reward, which gives us an indication as to how God is actually going to assess us. What examination criteria He's going to use. The examination criteria is not what you produce but what you do with what you have.

Now my wife and I went to Ambassador College, we both come from stable family backgrounds, we've lived and we've had the blessing of having the teachings that we've had regarding marriage and family life and so on; coming out of this book through Ambassador College. We will be assessed more severely than somebody like yourselves that hasn't had that advantage. So we've got to make sure that we still do with whatever has been given to us. It is a proportional thing. That's the parable of the talents. That's what the talents tells us. But here what we find is that Luke 19:16 says:

"Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds [so he actually multiplied the amount of money by ten times]. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities." (Luke 19:16-17)

I want you to notice that again, the same thing applies, just as it said before. It's very little; "...over a few things..." (Matthew 25:21) it says in the parable of the talents. In the parable of the pounds it says; "...in a very little..." (Luke 19:17). This is the assessment being used. What we have is very little - we are human beings. We haven't got the power of a spirit being. We haven't got the kind of power that Lucifer had, or Michael or Gabriel had. We have very little, and so do you. But we're going to be assessed on that very little; and assessed as to how we use that very little. Luke 19:17 says:

"And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities [the ten cities corresponds to the ten pounds because He multiplied it by tenfold]. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities." (Luke 19:17-19)

So it's a proportional thing. Not only is it that people are given different amounts but it's what they do then with those amounts. And again, the Eternal is assessing the very heart. How do we react, how do we behave? Do we really go into this Book? Do we try to really understand it? Now you can't necessarily perhaps get this book and understand it to the degree that I can because I've had training, I'm a minister. I mean that's the reason, it's my job. I should – if I don't know more about this book than most other people then there is a problem there.

But you're still assessed, and I will be assessed in how I apply that. And I make mistakes, I fall down on the job. Don't think that, you know, just because we've gone to college and we have a certain lifestyle or whatever that that therefore makes us some kind of untouchable. It's not, God is assessing us in exactly the same as He's assessing everybody else in the Church including you, you personally. And so, as I said in the Bible study earlier on, if you get your relationship right, as it says in Jeremiah 17:8:

"For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8)

The tree that is planted by the riverside, its roots go deep, its roots go into the very river itself relies and suck that river up and produces fruit. Whereas something that is planted and relies on the hand of man and makes flesh his arm, that simply will crumble. It's the same here; he that it is faithful in very little. And they then stand before Christ. The nobleman goes out, receives a Kingdom, returns; and then these people come and receive what they've done. They've had their final exams – their final exams.

So what are we doing? We've got very little. We know the criteria, we know that He is assessing us on an individual basis – is our heart right? But, you know, how is He assessing us? What do we apply? How do we apply these Words? What is it that we're doing, when we're actually applying these words?

Well, turn over to Ephesians. And I always complain about the apostle Paul because you can't pick up anywhere. You've got to start at the very beginning, you've got to read right the way through to be able to see his flow, so it's very difficult. Let's start in the beginning of Ephesians, just skip over a few sections because he's saying how in Ephesians 1:3, it says:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in [the heavenlies] in Christ:" (Ephesians 1:3)

Now as we'll go on and see, this word - 'in heavenly places' - it's not, it literally means 'in heavenlies', Strong's G2032. It means the way in which we are looking at things. What is the perspective that we use, how do we look at things? Are we looking forward to the Kingdom of God and the position, the authority, the offices that are there that we will have? And it's the perspective of those offices. And it talks in Ephesians 1:5:

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption [or sonship] of children by Jesus Christ to himself..." (Ephesians 1:5)

So we're looking forward to that sonship, looking forward to being part of the very family of God. It goes on then in Ephesians 1:10:

"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" (Ephesians 1:10-11)

As it says in; "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..."(John 6:44). We, if we understand these words, if we understand the scriptures, we have been predestinated. It doesn't mean to say we individually, but we fit the bill of an individual who has got to be called at this time and be part of the very elect of God. So this context here, as it flows down it talks about how they, the Gentiles that he's writing to, received the gospel and how in Ephesians 1:16:

"Cease not to give thanks for you... " (Ephesians 1:16)

The fact that they understand things, the same as Paul did. That having understood all these things, being part of the same very family of God; and it talks in Ephesians 1:19 about:

"And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power [he's starting to introduce the fact that we ourselves have this power that has been given to us], Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the [heavenlies]," (Ephesians 1:19-20)

So here we see now this same power that will raise us from the dead, raised Christ from the dead, and set Him at the right hand of God, Psalms 110:1, administering the Government of God at that particular time until He finally returns. We read about Him returning earlier on and Ephesians 1:22 says:

"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him ... the head over all ... to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23)

So Ephesians 2:1 continues:

"And you hath he [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 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: Among whom also we [that's the Jews] all had our [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath [made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in [these heavenlies] in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:1-7)

So what he's saying here is that Christ has been raised and He's been raised to this position. His position now is that He looks on this earth - and remember when we talked about Asa, regarding the hearts of men - and He's looking on this earth from a heavenly position. It says that the Church also has got to come beside Him, because it's His bride, His wife, and they are going to have to start looking at things in the same way. They are going to have to start looking at all the issues in exactly the same way from a heavenly position, from a Godly position, because they are becoming the very sons and daughters of God; and that Godly position is what is crucial.

And so when we're looking at each of us individually coming before the judgement seat of Christ, and you're saying; "Okay, we've got to be faithful in very little", how do you do that? What is that you were doing? Well, we're taking the 'very little', whatever it is that you and I have control over and it is then putting it in the same context that Christ did of living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, which is a heavenly perspective. It is looking at it in the same way that the mind of a God-being would look at it; that's the perspective.

Now if we do that with every single aspect of our lives, if we maintain that contact with God then we can get through the exams. If we don't, if we try and do it on our own strength, if we try and do it in such a way that we have a different perspective, a perspective of this world, and we're looking in the world's way, we will flunk those exams because this world will not be inheriting the Kingdom of God. What will inherit the Kingdom of God are God's sons, God's daughters, the very sons of God. We'll be resurrected sons of God.

So what kind of things are we talking about? Well put in your notes; Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4 those two scriptures certainly which tie across to Deuteronomy 8:3 that talk about:

...... that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the [Eternal] doth man live." (Deuteronomy 8:3)

And He is teaching ancient Israel and at the same time He is teaching us, and He is teaching us through that word and His confrontation with Satan. Because what does Satan want, what will Satan do? He said in Luke 4:3:

"And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." (Luke 4:3)

And therefore in what way is he looking at this? He's looking at it in such a way which is a physical way, whereas it is a very different view that is needed. Now remember that scripture in Matthew 4:4:

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)

It's talking about this Word, it's talking about actually eating this Word daily. It's; "Give us day by day our daily bread." (Luke 11:3). So in exactly the same way, are we indeed eating that manna every morning?

The kind of things, to put it into practical terms, what kind of things are we looking at? Well let's have a look at your businesses. What happens in business? How do you apply God's Word to your business? Now there's many many passages that you can use but as I mentioned before in the Bible study one particular passage is the book of Proverbs. If you go through the book of Proverbs and you underline everything to do with business there you will find a wealth of information. And it will be a wealth of information coming from a Godly perspective – or the heavenlies as been talked about here in Ephesians.

So as far as business is concerned, if you've got difficulties on the business side, that's one of the books to go to. You know, if you want to learn a Godly perspective on the subject of business, go to the book of Proverbs, get a red pen or a pen and underline or mark down the side every single proverb that you can find on the subject of business. And then meditate, you know, go through it several times. Go through it several times. Meditate on it and say; "Well, how can that apply here in Nigeria? How does it apply here?" Now that takes some time. It isn't something that you do once.

Remember in the Bible study I said about the little boy where the father says; "Come here and listen to me." And he says, "Yes, Dad." Runs in and then runs out the door! That's no good. When he says; "Come here and listen to me", you expect him to come here, and listen, and take notice, and then think about what his father is actually saying; so it can then be applied. In other words you don't throw stones at your neighbour's window, you know, and you don't come back with; "Why?" You start thinking about it. "Now why should I not throw stones at my neighbour's window?" You know, these are the questions that should go through a little child's mind and if he doesn't do as he's told then obviously he would be spanked and this is what happens in real life. It's the same with God and ourselves. We need to ask the question, we need to ask; "Why is God saying that?"

If we're looking at the book of Proverbs and He gives us a proverb that applies in a certain way, why does He say that? How does it apply in Nigeria? I'm not going to do the work for you, you're going to have to do it yourself. You're going to have to get this book and go through it yourself. If you're having trials, go to James chapter 1, read James chapter 1. James 1 goes into trials.

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into [different types of trial];" (James 1:2)

And you think; "What a foolish scripture!" But why? What is he saying there? Why count it all joy? James 1:3 goes on and it says:

"Knowing this, that the [testing] of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing [all the good qualities that he mentions]. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God..." (James 1:3-5, paraphrased)

Ask Him for the wisdom so you can understand what is happening in this trial. You're not just taking the Book and just saying; "Right, I've got to count it all joy and therefore I'm going to go around with a smile on my face". That's not what it's talking about. And so these passages we need to make sure that we apply and we make sure that we apply and think about them as we are applying them.

The Joint Effort (PLAY FROM 52:23)

The point is, coming on to the next point, it is not only an individual thing. Now it is an individual thing, every single one of us has got to individually apply this word of God but it's more than that. It is also a joint effort as well.

Do you remember what happened with Cain and Abel? The story of Cain and Abel - what happened? "And the [Eternal] said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9). You know, he was sarcastic basically, wasn't he? "...Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9). Now the inference is that; yes, we are, we are to be our brother's keeper to a large degree. Turn over to Hebrews 10:23:

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another [notice; consider one another, this is a joint effort, it's not just ourselves, that's not what it's actually saying at all] to provoke unto love and to good works:" (Hebrews 10:23-24)

To encourage. It's not just provoke in the sense of, you know, sticking a pin in somebody, but to provoke in a righteous way. To provoke, to encourage them to go in a certain direction, to love and good works.

Now the word 'love' is very interesting. The word 'love' is 'agape', Strong's G26, and it does not mean just 'give', it means 'the way of give'. There is a great difference between that. Supposing I have a son and he comes to me and he wants a bike. I could just go ahead and give him a bike. Is that what he needs? Is that what he should have?

You know, we ask the question, is it not better for him to save and learn to get a bike himself and I would then put half perhaps plus a pound. This is what happened with me and my own father. I wanted a bike but there was a rule in our house. And my father could have gone out and bought a bike immediately, no problems, he was a businessman, he had a haulage business. You know these trucks that you see on the road, he had about 15 of those; and he could have bought a bike immediately. But he didn't. What he did was he said; "Look, you save out of your pocket money, out of the jobs that you do, out of work that you do. You save and to whatever level you actually save to I will double that, so I will add the same amount to it plus one pound." I think I had got up to about eleven pounds at that time, which was back in about the late 1950s, early 1960s. And so he doubled it and added another pound.

Now he could have just gone ahead and bought the bike. That's not showing love. The love that is needed is outgoing concern. It is the WAY of give. It is the way of trying to encourage somebody to in fact go in a Godly direction. To encourage people to go the way God wants us to go in. So when we are looking here, Hebrews 10:24 says:

"And let us consider one another [here in the Church, we should be considerate of each other; we must realise that not everybody is at the same level, people are at different levels] to provoke unto love and to good works." (Hebrews 10:24)

To encourage. It's not to provoke by sticking pins in them. It's to provoke in the sense of encouragement, to encourage them to go in the right direction; to love and to good works, in the true kind of love. Incidentally, that agape, remember that scripture over in I Corinthians 13:3 that talks about agape? It says:

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not [agape], it profiteth me nothing." (I Corinthians 13:3)

It's totally worthless; so you can actually go ahead and you can give everything, the very body to be burnt, you can give all the goods to feed the poor, but you can do it without real concern. You can just kind of give it to salve your conscience; that's not the way it is. We should be as it says here; "...provoke unto love and to good works:" (Hebrews 10:24). Because we're all in this together, all the Church members are in this together. But notice what it says; how can we do this? How can you provoke to love and good works if you don't come together to meet? It's very very difficult and in this shattered Church era that we find ourselves in today it is a very difficult thing. But Hebrews 10:25 says:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another... " (Hebrews 10:25)

That's provoking, it's exhorting, it's encouraging, it's outgoing to each other. If there are problems you see then you do what you can to help, to encourage them to go in the right direction. And you're not doing it out of a selfish way, it's to encourage, it's to be encouraging, to be outgoing, it's to have the mind of God. And why are we doing this? Because eventually you are going to have to do the same in the world tomorrow and if you don't learn to do it now, if we don't learn to do it now, we won't be there. That's how serious this is. That's how important this is. So Hebrews 10:25 says:

"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)

So here, where we stand now - at this time in history - it becomes very very important indeed that that is the case. Turn back to Galatians chapter 6:1, it says:

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1)

Now we know about Matthew 18:15 that says go to your brother alone if you have a problem with them and get things sorted out. It says don't let the sun go down on your wrath, so things are sorted out early. But it says here when we do go to somebody, if we see somebody overtaken in a fault, if they have a difficultly, again we're going there to provoke, to encourage in love and good works. We're doing it in an outgoing way and in that doing that; "...ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness..." (Galatians 6:1). Now what I want you to notice, is the context of this verse. Now this is a problem because the context has got a chapter break in the middle and there's no chapter break in the middle of the original. In Galatians 5:22 it says:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness [it's part of the fruit of the very spirit of God], temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. [But] Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness..." (Galatians 5:22-6:1)

That's the context. So we do it, we've got to make sure that our relationship with God is right ourselves. We've got the make sure that that water, as it says in Jeremiah 17:8 that the tree by the waterside, with the roots going in there and not drying up, not putting our faith in man, not putting our faith in man's ways but have the very spirit of God flowing. Producing the good kind of fruit; one of which is meekness, that's humility, that's teachableness ourselves. So that we can go to a person as part of a joint effort.

What's going to happen? Let's just ask the question – suppose you have a problem with somebody and you both get into the Kingdom of God and you haven't sorted the problem out. What are you going to do, sit on some galaxy somewhere far away while the other person sits on another one? Is that possible? Again, what's God going to do? What is He doing? He is examining what? The heart. What is in our heart, what is really deep down there? We've got to grow up; all of us, every single one of us has got to grow up.

Because we're in a time where it's not far to that Kingdom. That Kingdom is going to come. If we're not ready for it, we will not be there, it's as simple as that. We're not going to be there, God will not have somebody who's not actually there and ready for it. And we find, you know, the apostle Paul had the same problem over in I Corinthians 3. If we lead in from the preceding verse in I Corinthians 2:16, it says:

"For who hath known the mind of the Lord [that's what we're aiming for, we're looking for the mind of God, the mind of Jesus Christ as this God in the flesh as He walked through the earth and actually exhibited the characteristics of God when He was down here on earth], that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ [we have it through the very spirit of God]. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal [what we're looking at, what Paul could see within the Corinthian Church was coming from the carnal nature, fleshly nature that was going in a certain direction]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Corinthians 2:16-3:1-3)

Isn't that what you find out in the world? Is that not what we find as you go around the world, you're in business in the world? That's what we find and there's got to be a different way. It's got to be a different way. And all of us are guilty of that. You know, I let my training that I learnt some time ago – I actually sold life insurance for five years. It's a hard job, it's a difficult job to sell life insurance. But you are trained in a certain way - but you are trained in the world's way. And if I am ever in a negotiation I've got to be very very careful that I don't slip back into a world's way of looking at things because that's all that you were trained at. You were not trained in God's way of looking at things.

First of all, first and foremost, whatever training we have - first of all we are being assessed by God Himself and our relationship with another person is absolutely crucial. And that has got to remain there. So we've got to make sure that that is the way we behave, the way that we conduct ourselves. But here these Corinthians weren't conducting themselves that way. I Corinthians 3:4:

"For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (I Corinthians 3:4)

Aren't you going in just the same way as all the rest of the world; what are you going to do, be somebody in a galaxy somewhere and somebody else over in a galaxy somewhere else; saying this one's of Paul, this one's of Apollos, this one's of Cephas, this one's of Christ. Is that what's going to happen? It won't be that way, it's not going to be that way. I Corinthians 3:5:.

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers [servants] by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?"

In other words it was God who was giving this information, God who was giving the meat. And if you turn back to Hebrews 5:9 we see the very purpose starting to come out now as to why we are here, why we have final exams, why we are being examined by God and here notice it says:

"And being made perfect [or mature], he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him [there is obedience before God and we've got to be obedient towards God]; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing." (Hebrews 5:9-11)

It's like the little child comes in there and he says; "Now listen to me." And he says; "Yes, Dad" and runs in the opposite direction. He was talking to the Jews, they reckoned they already knew all that they needed to know. But if we feel that, then as it says here you become dull of hearing, you're not listening. It's not me talking that you need to listen to, it's reading these words. Reading these words within scripture and allowing God's spirit to talk to you so that you understand these words and understand the scriptures. But you've got to do the work, you've got to be obedient, you've got to go out and actually apply them. Hebrews 5:12:

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God [the very basis]; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe." (Hebrews 5:12-13)

He's not in his final exams, he's just a baby. Not even in kindergarten yet and yet we've got to grow up. We are on the home stretch, very much so and that home stretch means that we've got to grow up. We've got to be ready and prepared and allow God to give us these final exams. And if they are difficult at times we should be encouraging each other through those difficulties. We should be praying for one another. Hebrews 5:13:

"For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use [or habit; the ones that actually get this word of righteousness, and use it, and use it again, and use it again, using it continually] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection..." (Hebrews 5:13-6:1)

And here he starts listing the list of doctrines that you see through the Holydays, but that's just the basis. You know, "you keep the Sabbath, you do well." But, you know, keeping the Sabbath, so do the Jews. You keep the Holydays, so do the Jews up to a point, not every single one the way they should do. You believe in one God, demons believe that. You believe that Mr Armstrong was an apostle, demons believe that and tremble. You know we've got to grow up, we've got to start looking at things from a Godly perspective.

We've got to be sitting in the heavenlies as Christ is, looking at this earth saying; "Okay, this earth is about to come to a point where it is going to need the elect there". If the elect weren't there there would be no earth left; "...but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:22). That's the perspective, that's the perspective that's being given. Here as it says; "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again..." (Hebrews 5:12).

The Purpose of Final Exams (PLAY FROM 1:08:56)

Final point Revelation 19:7; is the fact is that these exams have real purpose. They are not there for no reason. They are there so that we are prepared for something. We are prepared for a work that has to be done after the exams and here it says:

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)

We talked even when we read in Ephesians about the wife, the one who is the complement to the One who fills all in all, yet that is what the wife is going to become. That we will complement the very Christ Himself. And that wife has go to make herself ready, she's got to be ready. But what is she ready for? What is she preparing for? Well it goes into the next chapter, in Revelation 20:4:

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4)

That's what they are being prepared for. They are preparing for that particular time of a thousand year period. This is the first resurrection, that thousand year period. The ones that are ready there.

And it's interesting that talking about the wise and foolish virgins; "...and they that were ready went in with him..."(Matthew 25:10). There is a certain stage. You know, when you go to your examination you're either ready or you're not. And at the point of the examination when you hand your paper in and you think; "Well I was never prepared for it", there is this feeling in the pit of your stomach. Can you imagine how much great a feeling that will be if we go and find ourselves at the end of our examination on life and realise that we haven't really prepared for it. The feeling will be a great deal more. But here in Malachi 3:3 we find a passage, again it flows on, Malachi is talking about the end time:

"And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the [Eternal] an offering in righteousness." (Malachi 3:3)

Now that purified silver as I've brought out many many times, what they used to do is they used to have a sandy area and they created a crucible in that sandy area and they put in the galena. Galena is an ore which in most cases has got a lot of lead in it and they put it in that sandy area and then lit a fire at the side and blew the fire into that galena and melted the galena. And they would then scrape the top off. As the lead would oxidise so they would keep on scraping the top of that oxidised lead off until finally they saw one thing – the refiner of silver saw his own reflection coming back from the silver that was left. At that point they would put water on and stop the process. And here it says like a refiner of silver. But what is He refining them for, what's He doing this for? And if you go over to Malachi 3:16 it says:

"Then they that feared the [Eternal] spake often one to another... " (Malachi 3:16)

Now notice again, it is not just a single person standing before the judgement of Christ, it is a group effort. Because we are going to work together in the future. If we're working together in the future we have got to work together today. You know, there cannot be divisions today within the very true Church. Malachi 3:16:

"Then they that feared the [Eternal] spake often one to another: 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 [thought upon His power, the Eternal One, the Eternal Being]. 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. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." (Malachi 3:16-18)

That's what it's all about. All of us – I'm not speaking just of one or two people, I'm speaking to every single person that's listening to me over the internet, all the people in here. The exams have a purpose and that purpose is that we can discern between him that serves God and him that serves Him not. The righteousness and the wicked because we're going to have to apply that principle in the future. It's not mere babes of Christ, they are people that have grown up, that are now behaving in a grown up way. They have developed sufficiently that they are ready to be born as the very born sons of God.

I Thessalonians 4:13. You see here it recounts the event of the return of Christ. Those that are called; "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..." (John 6:44). It is only those that are called that are actually worked with, they are predestined to be worked with by God, to be prepared by God, to be ready for that Temple and here we find:

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [those that have died], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." (I Thessalonians 4:13-14)

In other words the spirits of just men that now are asleep Christ will bring with Him and then resurrect them from the spot where they died. I Thessalonians 4:15:

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not [precede is a better translation] them which are asleep [remember that this book is written for those on whom the ends of the age are come, it's written for us; that we're not going to precede these people, these people will rise first]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God [the Last Trump]: and the dead in Christ shall rise first [that's the first event that will take place]: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

So as He returns we arise, we meet Him, and He then returns to the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives splits and we then begin the very Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God ruling over this earth. That's what we're looking for. I Thessalonians 5:1:

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you." (I Thessalonians 5:1)

Now Paul thought that at the time he was writing this, in I Thessalonians, he thought that he would be part of this group that would be alive at this time; but it became clear by the time you go to II Thessalonians that he had changed his mind. He said; "No, there are certain things that have got happen; the great falling away has got to occur and the man of sin has got to be revealed and then that wicked one that Christ will destroy with the breath of His mouth". Now I personally feel that the falling away has occurred, the man of sin has been revealed, we're waiting for that wicked one to actually come. But I Thessalonians 5:1 says:

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren [written to us], ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail [or birth pains] upon a woman with child [that's part of the things that we're looking for; we're looking at the first four horsemen and the way they rise and fall, false prophets, war, pestilence and famine, all of these things are rising and falling]; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (I Thessalonians 5:1-4)

You and I can read this book and we don't have to be overtaken as a thief. We can understand that; this time that we are in is a time of final exams because as I Thessalonians 5:5 says

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ," (I Thessalonians 5:5-9)

So that's the hope that we have and, as I say, we are in the time of final exams. This is, right now, a time of testing. If you're finding difficulty going through the time of testing then read James chapter 1 and understand what he has to say there.

We are tested in small ways now. Eventually we are going to be very born sons of God. That power will not be given to us unless we can handle those small ways now. We've got to apply God's Word and we've got to apply that Word faithfully. We've got think about what those small ways are that we are over at this moment in time; and then we've got to apply that faithfully. Apply that Word faithfully so that we are in fact faithful in small ways now so that we can in the future apply and administer those ways in the future. So we're ready then to do the same in the future, in the very world tomorrow.


Footnote:

{1} Mr Bowles was quoting from Revelation 10:7 instead of Revelation 11:7.