The World Tomorrow

Law and Grace

by Herbert W Armstrong


Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.

Why is it, my friends, if people are already saved when they accept Christ, why is it that God doesn't take the new converts immediately to heaven, if heaven is where they are to go? If heaven is the reward of the Christian, and you need to really search your Bible to see whether you can find a definite promise anywhere there that it is. Why must the professing Christian live on after he is completely saved? If he is completely saved when he professes Christ, accepts Christ, or is baptized, or makes his decision for Christ, or whatever wording you want to apply to it. Why is it that a Christian has to live on in this sordid world and suffer? You read that:

"Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the [Eternal] delivers them out of them all." (Psalm 34:19)

Why does the righteous have to go through so many afflictions? Why do you read in your New Testament that: "...all [who] will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12)? Why do they have to suffer? If they are already saved and there's nothing to this Christian life, why don't they go off to heaven immediately? Or is there some purpose in the Christian life after all? There must be some purpose if God has us stay here after we accept Christ. What is the purpose then of the Christian life after conversion? Now you read in Galatians the third chapter and the very last verse that:

"...if [we are] Christ's, then [we are] Abraham's [children], and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29)

If we are Christ's, we're Abraham's children, that is Israelites, and we are heirs according to the promise made to Abraham. Well, you'd better search back and find out whether that promise was heaven or not, or what it was. But nevertheless that's not the point I want to bring up at this time. We are heirs, heirs, not possessors, not yet inheritors. Why don't we inherit the reward immediately, why are we only heirs now? Is there some purpose then to the present Christian life?

Christ Our High Priest Now (PLAY FROM 02:36)

Well, my friends, the third chapter of Hebrews explains it. Now we've been going through this priesthood book, I think perhaps the most neglected book in the New Testament. The book that tells us about the mission of Jesus Christ now. As I said before, people do a lot of studying about the life of Christ on this earth for three and a half year ministry, during His ministry, and preaching the Gospel, and teaching His disciples three and a half years.

But, my friends, what has He been doing for now over 1900 years? What's He been doing? He's been very busy; He's been on the job night and day and He's on the job for you. And of course, even more important to us perhaps, certainly important in that relationship is; what does that have to do with us?

Now we've been seeing that Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and He's on the job as a High Priest. Well why do Christians need a High Priest? Why do Christians have to stay on and live in this life? Why do we need a High Priest? Why aren't we taken to heaven immediately? Why do we stay on and suffer? Why must we suffer persecution? Why is it "...through much tribulation [that we must] enter into the Kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22)? Why did Jesus say:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace: I came not to bring peace, but a sword. And a man's foes [his enemies], will be those of his own household [He said]. I have come to set a man at variance against his father, mother, or his wife or his children; and the children against their parents or their brothers and sisters. [And He said] if you love a father, mother or a wife or a husband [or whatever it may be] or children more than me [He said] you are not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37 paraphrased)

Now He represented the persecution that is going to come and sometimes from those in our own household, He represented that, as a cross we have to bear. That is part of the persecution. So, as He bore His cross, sometimes we have to take up a cross of that sort and bear it, if we are Christians. Why?

Again, you'll remember that Jesus said when He was here on earth before, that: "...broad is the way [or the gate and easy and smooth is the way], that leads to destruction...many there be that go in thereat: But narrow is the gate, and strait is the road [ruddy, hard, difficult], that leads to [everlasting] life, and few [He said], there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14 paraphrased).

Why He said; "...I say unto you that many shall seek to enter into the Kingdom of God and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24 paraphrased). He said; "...It is more difficult [for instance] for a rich man to enter into the kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle" (Matthew 19:24 paraphrased). Now why did Jesus Christ say those things, you don't hear much of that kind of talk today, but that is what the Savior taught, that's what your Bible says. Why?

Ancient Israel Did Not Endure (PLAY FROM 05:56)

Now in this third chapter of Hebrews we find a lot of that reason:

"...(as the Holy Spirit [said], To day if [you] will hear his voice," (Hebrews 3:7)

Now that is quoted directly from the ninety-fifth Psalm, Psalms 95 verses 7-11. And he quotes that whole psalm, that takes the rest of verse seven and eight, and verse nine, and verse ten and verse eleven. And then the apostle Paul, who wrote Hebrews, or is supposed to have written Hebrews, comes back to his own speech then again in verse twelve.

" Wherefore [now here's what is thrown in], (as the Holy Spirit [said], To day if [you] will hear his voice," (Hebrews 3:7)

Now David wrote that, but here in the New Testament you find that, the apostle Paul says the Holy Spirit said it; and just said it through David and David is only used in writing it. Now there is just one little thing to notice in passing. This again affirms that; "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." (II Timothy 3:16), and this is Old Testament scripture.

There is a life that we have to live as Christians and to hold fast that Christian life, lest they should come short of that state of future glory which Christ had prepared for them. I want to tell you, my friends, very few people have any conception of what that future glory is, that is at the end of this life. If we endure until the end, and if we overcome. If we are saved because:

"...he that...[endureth] unto the end [says your Bible, and so said Jesus Christ], the same shall be saved [shall be, in the future]." (Matthew 24:13)

Now; "...The words strongly imply," says this commentary,{1} "as indeed does the whole epistle," the whole book of Hebrews, "the possibility of falling from the grace of God, and of perishing everlastingly..." I want you to notice that now once again this verse seven:

"Wherefore (as the Holy Spirit [said], To day if [you] ...hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation [like they did], in the day of temptation in the wilderness:" (Hebrews 3:7-8)

That is, in the days of Moses. It certainly does imply the possibility of falling from the grace of God and perishing everlastingly. Now God commanded them to do certain things. One thing they were to do was to just root out the enemy of nations there, those people. God was going to use the Israelites to punish them, because those people had defied God. And were doing the things that were injuring them, and it was for their own good that it happened, as a matter of fact.

But the Israelites didn't obey God, the Israelites having received this order "...departed from Horeb and they went forward three days' journey..." (Numbers 10:33 paraphrased) till they came to Taberah, Numbers 11:3 {2} where they provoked God the fourth time, by murmuring for want of flesh to eat. Then they went to Hazeroth, Numbers 11:35. And from there they went to; "...the wilderness of Paran [and a place called] Kadesh..." (Numbers 13:26). And so it was – I don't think I better take time to read all of it but they wanted a man then to lead them right back into Egypt again, they didn't want to go on. They continually defied and disobeyed God.

Now the point is this: God had brought them out of Egypt and out of their slavery by a series of miracles, divine miracles. And God had shown them that He was God, He had proved to them by these miracles that He was God,{3} but miracles don't seem to ever convince anyone. Here they made another god out of gold, their gold earrings and everything while Moses was up on the mount. And they grumbled, they murmured, they complained, they grumbled because they didn't have bread, they grumbled because they didn't have water, they griped and grouched about this and that. They refused to go on into the land of Canaan as God said.

Now, the Holy Spirit said, in the time of David, through David to the Israelites then, which was hundreds of years after Moses. And now here's Paul using it for us today, in the Christian age said:

"...To day [now they had a day in Moses' time, now there is a day called today in David's time] if [you] ...hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in [Moses' time in] the...provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers [God says] tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years." (Hebrews 3: 7-9)

What works of God did they see? Why, God delivered them by miracles out of Egypt, God sent the manna from heaven, God sent the quails down for food, God did one thing after another. When they were sick, God appeared and said; "...I am Yahweh Ropha..." (Exodus 15:26), which means, God your Healer, your God Healer, I am the God that heals you. And He said; "I won't lay these diseases on you of the Egyptians, if you will only obey me and walk in the ways that I'm giving you. " (Exodus 15:26 paraphrased)

And God gave them the ways that would have led them to rest, that would have led them to peace, that would have led them to happiness. God was delivering them out of slavery, God was delivering them from misery, and from suffering. And He was showing them the one way which they could go that would lead them into happiness, and into peace and into prosperity.

He said it would be "...a land flowing with milk and honey..." (Exodus 3:8). It would be a prosperous land. He promised them that if they would obey Him they would get into that land, they would have peace. He said their crops would last the year round, from the sowing time to the vintage, and the year around. And He said if any nation comes to invade you; "Why, ten of you would put a hundred to flight and a hundred of you can drive ten thousand others out..." (Leviticus 26:8 paraphrased). Why, they could have conquered anybody and come back and had peace immediately. But you know they never would obey God. So they saw God's works forty years.

God is Grieved with Disobedience (PLAY FROM 12:15)

"Wherefore [verse 10, God says] I was grieved with that generation [now this was said in the time of David, written in the Psalms, I was grieved with that generation], and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways" (Hebrews 3:10).

Now here is the comment on that in the Clarke's Commentary: "Wherefore God says He was grieved. God represents Himself as the Father of this great..."

He says, 'Jewish family', well they weren't all Jewish. As a matter of fact, none of them are called Jews in that time, they would be children of Israel, not the children of Judah. The Jews are the children of Judah, or the people that were in the nation called Judah. Some of them the children of Benjamin and so on. Paul was a Jew and he was of Benjamin.

"Wherefore I was grieved - God represents Himself as a Father (to this Israelitish) family, for whose comfort and support He had made every necessary provision, and to whom He had given every proof of tenderness and fatherly affection; and because they disobeyed Him, and walked in that way which they could not but be miserable, therefore He represents Himself as grieved and exceedingly displeased..." {4}

Why? Because they were bringing suffering on themselves, because He was the Father to them, because He loved them, and He didn't want to see them bring such unhappiness, and such suffering, and misery on themselves. God was delivering them from misery. God was delivering them from slavery. God had shown them the Way that would lead to permanent peace and prosperity, and everything good.

Now that was all material but it's a type, my friends, for us today. God is delivering you when you are converted from the slavery of sin which is rebellion against God and going contrary to His Way. And the Christian life is pictured by their journey through the wilderness. And my friends, if you'll just go right along the Way God says to go; and there is a Way. And the Christian life is a Way, and is so called all through the Book of Acts, where the apostle Paul and the others were preaching the Gospel. It's a way of life. The whole message here is that there is a Way by which we can come to the final rest. Not just Canaan, Canaan was a type of entering the Kingdom of God and immortality and eternity of peace, until we'll be like God, "as we shall see him as he is."(I John 3:2)

But many of us are disobedient like they were. We gripe, we grumble, we say; "Oh we don't want to go God's Way, we want to go our own way." And sometimes we want to turn back. And we're going to fall just as they fell if we do. Maybe you'd rather go on in your lethargy and take your chance. But you're going to suffer if you do. And there is going to " [weeping] and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:42) Now here it is today, and while it is today David said: "Harden not your heart..." (Psalm 95:8) but rend your hearts and turn to God with them. Well then:

"Take heed, brethren [says the apostle Paul to us now], lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Hebrews 3:12)

" evil heart of unbelief..." (Hebrews 3:12) Now let me read that in the modern Revised translation here, just once again, in that twelfth verse:

"Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," [today, my friends, is a dangerous day, you are living in terrifying times, now, while it is called "today"] that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:12-13 RSV).

And sin is the transgression of the laws of God and those laws are living laws, they're in motion, they're in action; they aren't just some ideas written on a piece of paper or merely on tables of stone. A lot more than that, they're really living, they're in motion, just like the law of gravity; the laws of chemistry, the laws of physics.

"For we share in Christ, if only we hold our...confidence firm to the end," (Hebrews 3:14 RSV)

Well now then, coming on:

"...exhort one another, while it is called To day [in the thirteenth verse] ...For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;" (Hebrews 3:13-14)

Oh, once you're in grace you are not always in grace? If you hold fast to the end, if you are an overcomer, if you grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Savior Jesus Christ. Otherwise, well, you are just going to fall by the wayside, and that'll be the end. Now:

"While it is said, To day [this is the day we live in, it is a dangerous day, it's a frightful day, while it is said To day] if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?" (Hebrews 3:15-17)

That whole generation, we've been going into it in past broadcasts – that whole generation, fell with the exception of two men, they all fell in the wilderness. Not one of them ever got to go into the land of Palestine which gave them physical peace and rest, from the physical slavery they'd had in Egypt. And from the hardships of going through that wilderness, the mountain and the desert wilderness that they had to go through around down through Mt Sinai and in that Sinai Peninsula; and back up into Palestine again.

God Tests the Obedience of Isreal (PLAY FROM 18:05)

Now that's the type, my friends, of our being released by the power of God from the slavery of sin. And, "...sin is [merely] the transgression of [God's laws]" (I John 3:4). Crime is sin, when do we call crime sin? Well we don't very often do we? Well it is, crime is sin. Doing the things that violate the laws of God like murder, and stealing and adultery, and all that sort of thing, that's all sin. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief, well then, neither can you, neither can you. Now here it is:

"And to whom did he swear that they should [not] enter [into] his rest, but to those who were disobedient?" (Hebrews 3:18 RSV)

That's the modern Revised translation, those that were disobedient. So we see that they were unable to enter in because of unbelief; that unbelief and disobedience are synonymously used in all the same thing.

Now my friends, before we come to this fourth chapter - what was their disobedience? Just what was their disobedience? Turn with me if you will, quickly back to Exodus 16 verses four and five, and I want to show you. Now they began to grumble as soon as they got over here into the Wilderness of Sin, before they came to Mount Sinai. And here it is even before they had known anything about an Old Covenant God was going to make with them. Before they knew anything about a law of Moses. Not a line, not a word of the law of Moses had come. But before that time, before the Old Covenant, before the Levitical Priesthood:

"Then the [Eternal] said [to] Moses [they were hungry, they were griping and grumbling because they didn't have enough to eat, and God said to Moses], Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you [going to send you manna right down from heaven direct]; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I many prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no." (Exodus 16:4).

What? Did you hear that? "...whether they will walk in my law..." (Exodus 16:4.) This is two weeks before they came to Mount Sinai. Now listen, I have heard many say that; "Why the law wasn't given until they came to Mount Sinai and that Moses gave them the law." Well this is God talking about God's law. And this is before Moses, law of Moses that is, this is before the Old Covenant, it's before all of those things. And God wants to know now whether they are going to walk in His law or not. And He's going to use the very manner in which He sends them this physical sustenance, this bread, this manna from heaven to prove them, whether they will obey or not. Now here, the thing was disobedience, wasn't it back there? Alright, now what was their disobedience?

"And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. [so, coming down now to verse 22] And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for a man; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, this is that the [Eternal] hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the [Eternal]..." (Exodus 16:5,22-23 paraphrased).

Now there it was a type of the rest, a spiritual rest, and a type of the actual rest they were going to have when they got to the land of Canaan.

"...To morrow [this was on a day then that we would call a Friday today, and he said, To morrow shall be] the rest of the holy sabbath unto the [Eternal]: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe [or boil] that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay it up to be kept until the morning." (Exodus 16:23)

Now every other day if they laid any over until the morning and tried to keep any over it would breed worms and stink. Now he tells them to do it on this night. And on that particular day twice as much came; there was a miracle from God.

"And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein" (Exodus 16:24).

But every other day in the week it did stink and there was a worm. God is showing them whether time was lost by a miracle. Some people say; "Well, I don't think we know which day is the Sabbath, I don't think we know which day God rested on at Creation." A lot of them didn't think so either, but God is showing them by these miracles. So now, here came the morning, and it hadn't bred worms or stank, and here it is on the Sabbath day:

"And [so] Moses said, Eat that to day; for today is a sabbath unto the [Eternal]: today you shall not find it in the field. Six days [shall ye] gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather..." (Exodus 16:25-27)

Now they thought time got mixed up. Or they thought; "Well I don't see where it makes any difference which day is the Sabbath. What difference can it make just as long as it's one day in seven? It doesn't make any difference which day it is, let's go out and gather today and make this a work day, and let's keep Sunday now. Let's rest tomorrow." So they:

" ...went out...on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none." (Exodus 16:27)

Now what did God think about it? It didn't make any difference did it? Why not any more than it does today, did it? Listen:

"And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, how long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?" (Exodus 16:28)

God's commandments and God's laws, not the laws of Moses. He didn't say; "How long do you refuse to keep Moses' laws." The law of Moses wasn't even given until a lot later than this. This was God's law and God was checking them, God was testing them, whether they would walk in His law or no. I'm showing you, my friends, what their unbelief was, that they couldn't enter into His rest. Listen:

"See...that the [Eternal] hath given you [not Moses, the Eternal hath given you] the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." (Exodus 16:29)

It had to be a definite seventh day then didn't it? It didn't make any difference which seventh day? Oh it certainly did, listen:

"So the people rested on the seventh day." (Exodus 16:30)

Yes, I should think so.

Unbelief and Idolatry (PLAY FROM 24:18)

Now then, real quickly turn over here to Exodus 32, in the first four verses. I want you to notice, I want you to notice how they sinned, I want you to notice what their unbelief was. They didn't believe God, they didn't believe it made any difference. They didn't believe they had to obey. They thought; "Well, we can be under grace, you know, we don't have to be under any laws. We don't have to obey. We can be as impudent toward God as we want, we'll do what we think is right." That's what they did. Chapter 32, Exodus, beginning now with verse one:

"And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount [this was while he was up there with God for forty days right after God had given them the Ten Commandments], the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him [that's how much they thought about the man God sent to lead them, now verse two]. And Aaron said unto them [when they said they didn't know what had become of Moses], Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people [broke] off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, [that] brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 32:1-4)

This is what God looks like. Well they went into idolatry. I won't need to read the rest of it, time is fleeting so, the seventh and eighth verses I was going to read. Well here:

"And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and they have worshipped it..." (Exodus 32: 7-8)

Now what were the two great sins of Israel? They worshipped idols and they broke God's Sabbath. Now God had said to them in Leviticus 26, He said; "Remember to obey me; if you will obey my voice, then you will be the most prosperous nation on earth". And:

"You shall make you no idols nor graven bow down to them: ...I am the [Eternal] your God. You shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the [Eternal]. If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, the land will yield its increase..." (Leviticus 26:1-4 paraphrased).

I'll give you peace in the land and you'll become the greatest nation on earth, and so forth. But if you won't, then He said I am going to punish you twenty-five hundred and twenty years. They didn't, and those were the two sins that drove Israel and Judah both, into their slavery and their captivity.

Oh, I wanted to go on now, into the twentieth chapter of Ezekiel and then into the seventeenth chapter of Jeremiah. I'll have to wait till tomorrow. Listen, I'm going to show you that those were the two great outstanding sins by which they were not faithful, that they were disobedient.

"Therefore [chapter four], while the promise of entering [into] his rest remains [for us today, while it's today for you and for me now], let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it." (Hebrews 4:1 RSV)

And you are going to see, my friends, that we have to be obedient in the same way exactly, that they did. It's just as wrong, my friends, to fashion an idol out of golden earrings, or anything else, and worship it today as it was then. And it's just as wrong to break any of God's commandments today as it was then, and I want to tell you it does make a difference to God.

Related Reading (PLAY FROM 28:11)

Listen: Some of you've been in doubt about this Sabbath question. Alright, maybe time has been mixed up or lost, write in for our booklet 'Has Time Been Lost?'. And write in for our booklet on 'Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath?' now. Of course now we are in the New Testament, now which is the right day today? If you've been mixed up on that and you want the truth; write in for that booklet 'Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath?' And another booklet – and you have to mention them by name, so mention them by name; 'Has Time Been Lost?' and write in for our booklet; on 'What Kind of Faith Is Required for Salvation?'

You can be saved by faith, just; "...believe...[and] thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9) but it's a living and not a dead faith. And most of you my friends have been trusting in a dead faith because you didn't know what kind of faith would save you. Write for that booklet on faith, there's no charge.

So until tomorrow then, goodbye friends.


{1} Taken from Adam Clarke's Commentary Hebrews 3:7.

{2} Mr Armstrong said, Numbers 12:3 instead of Numbers 11:3.

{3} Mr Armstrong no doubt meant "He was" rather than "they were"

{4} Taken from Adam Clarke's Commentary Hebrews 3:10.