Answers from Heaven
Section 5 - Commitment (Advanced)
(Click for Basic)
This final section of the Answers from Heaven Bible study series involves solidifying and strengthening the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a newly converted student of the Gospel. Yahweh has His Laws that are laid out for the benefit of His creatures. Upon these Laws He builds Covenants, formal agreements with various groups of people that bind them to Him, and Him to them, in such a way that He protects them and makes them prosperous. In response, the people offer Him worship - not worship as "payment," but allegiance that will refine their own souls, and make them more and more perfectly the holy, healthy, and blessed people over which He desires to watch.
The idea that Yahweh "receives" offerings, sacrifices, and worship from His people is a bit of a simplification - and an unfortunate one. What the Creator desires is to have His love returned freely by those whom He has made. In order for humans to receive and return perfect, holy love, they must themselves be holy people. As such, the questions in this section look at the life that is lived in harmony with the Bible's principles. They look at daily, weekly, monthly and yearly blessings that come from following God's instructions to us and the importance of fellowship with other believers. Issues such as baptism and Church membership are examined here as well. The Advanced category goes into more detail on Church membership as the modern form of Yahweh's covenant, that powerful connection between God and mankind that is vital for effectively fulfilling the refinement of our faith.
Question 1: What is that God gives to His people?
Bible Verses: Deuteronomy 7:9, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 1:1-3, James 1:5, Job 32:8, Ezekiel 11:19, Titus 2:14
Notes: The Scriptures promise a multitude of blessings for those who love and serve the Creator. Although such things may be seen as a "reward" for service, and even described that way at times, the clearer view is that the Almighty loves all of His creation, His human children in particular, and wishes all people to be saved. (1Timothy 2:4) Those who enter a covenant with Yahweh receive the natural benefits of being close to Him, those things that He eagerly awaits to bestow on everyone; and yet, He knows that giving gifts and blessings to sinners would only confirm them in their destructive ways, and cause them to grow bolder in their rebellion
Those who are covenanted with God through Christ are of His Spirit. As such, the good things He waits to pour out upon mankind can be safely bestowed without leading to pride, laziness, or any other carnal inclination. We see from the verses provided that Yahweh gives His people mercy, love, protection, health, success, wisdom and understanding, so that they may effectively accomplish their sanctified goals, as well as bear a powerful testimony of what the life lived in Christ looks like.
The ultimate result of receiving the Gospel is life everlasting. That life, however, is merely a continuation of this one. We do not receive a clean heart or a right spirit (Psalm 51:10) to cease from evil and do good (Isaiah 1:16, 17) when Christ returns at the end of this age; instead, we receive this at the moment of conversion, and the experience lasts for all eternity. The blessings received here, and the impact they have upon the character, shape what we become in the everlasting days ahead.
Perhaps the most important blessing our Father gives to us is a change in who we are. We are no longer stony-hearted, but have a warm heart of flesh. The desire to do right, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, dominates the behavior of the convert. No longer can the Christian support individuals, policies, or organizations that oppress others, or seek to compel agreement by means of force.
While some believe in absolute predestination - that one set of people are destined to be lost, and another destined to be saved no matter what, the true followers of Christ recognize that it is His love for humanity, and His death to ensure our freedom, that "compels" us to choose to worship and serve Him. By His grace we may see a better way, and by His Holy Spirit, we may choose to receive Him. If the most important blessing is the change in who we are, then the greatest gift, which empowers that change, is Yahweh Himself through His Son.
Question 2: What is it that God wants His people to give to Him?
Bible Verses: Deuteronomy 6:5, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 30:4, 1 Chronicles 16:34, Deuteronomy 16:17, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Proverbs 23:26, Exodus 10:25, Hosea 6:6, Romans 12:1, 1 Timothy 2:6, 2 Corinthians 5:19, Exodus 15:26, Leviticus 26:3-4, Malachi 3:10-12
Notes: Just as the Father gives us His love, so He requires our love in return. The divine love is not merely an emotion; it is a choice, a commitment, a way of life, and therefore it can indeed be considered a commandment - a thing that we are instructed to do. (Mark 12:30)
But if true, spiritual love is not an emotion, not a "good feeling," then how is it expressed? We are told that we are to give "glory" to Yahweh. This means that we are to give Him the highest respect. This shows itself in the way that we act, speak, and think. There are many who believe that Christians will not necessarily act differently from the rest of the world, except perhaps during times of formal worship. This is untrue; everything about the born-again believer bears the mark of divinity. They are conscientious about their choices, and the impressions that they leave on others. They do not say, "Do not judge me," instead, they invite judgment. They desire to be examined, so that the world - even the ungodly - will have no choice but to say, "They [have] been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13)
Many, many verses of the Bible say that we are to give thanks to the Father. Whether in words or songs, expressions of gratitude are ever heard from those who know the joy of salvation. Those who are in covenant with Yahweh also give of themselves, whether it is the faithful returning of tithes and offerings, time spent in evangelism activities, preparations of edifying materials, and so on. What distinguishes the genuine believer is the cheerful commitment that attends every act, for they serve One who has given His all for them.
The Scriptures also speak of offering sacrifices to the Lord. The sacrifices have taken on a number of forms over the years, and through the various covenants. What were initially a portion of the flocks, herds and harvests became whatsoever "increase" an individual's labors brought in. But more important than this was the "sacrifice" of the self. The human being, born in sin, was represented by the various animals slain under the Law. This principle endures to the very end of the Plan of Salvation, as we offer ourselves up spiritually, receiving a new life for the old, ruined one, so that we may bring forth those things that our Father truly wishes to see us produce.
Often overlooked, in discussions of what Yahweh wants from His people, is the fact that He gave Himself for our sakes. All that He is, and all that He had, was put into the sacrifice of Christ. The commandments were given to us with precisely the same Spirit - to bless us, and raise us toward the Heavenly Kingdom. Every Law, from the observance of the Sabbath day, to the instructions regarding tithing, to the prohibition on stealing and worshipping idols, is designed to refine our souls, and to prepare us for everlasting life. What we give to the Father and Son, we give willingly, knowing that They have need of not one cent, not one word of praise, not one of our hours spent in devotion... but knowing that they receive our offerings so that they can, in turn, pour out upon us more than we could ask or think to ask.
Question 3: By what characteristics are the worshippers of Yahweh known?
Bible Verses: John 13:35, 1John 5:2, 1John 3:14, Acts 2:42, Malachi 3:16, 1Timothy 5:1-2, Titus 1:15, John 15:18-20, 2Timothy 2:2, Psalm 15:1-5, 1 Corinthians 14:1, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Revelation 14:1-5
Notes: The Apostle John wrote a great deal about love; as a consequence, many of the verses describing the characteristic of Yahweh's worshippers are found in his writings. Love for the Father and Son, love for Their Law, and love for Their people, our fellow believers, shows where the Spirit of Holiness dwells.
Those who know and love the Savior will not be separate from His people; they will remain in close contact, abiding in doctrine and living in fellowship - if not physically close, then certainly in constant communication. The Church Family all become brethren and a pure life emerges from within this sanctifying community.
The follower of the Most High becomes committed to evangelism, to teaching others, because one cannot be filled with perfect love without it breaking forth into the world. The concept of religion as a "private" matter, or a "personal" choice, is meaningless to the born-again Christian. While, of course, the relationship between the Savior and the saved is intensely personal in one sense, the light of Christ's presence cannot be hidden under a bushel, (Matthew 5:15) nor will the believer deny Him before the world. (Matthew 10:33)
Psalm 15 provides a clear set of characteristics of those who love and serve Yahweh. They are upright, righteous, honest, of unwavering integrity, contemptuous of evil acts and bad company, and invariably kind to others. In such ways is the love of the Father and Son manifest through mortal men.
As a consequence of having the right spirit, the very Holy Spirit of Yahweh abides with His people. This is the same Spirit by which the prophets of old, and even the Son of Yah Himself performed various miracles among men. To the Remnant Church is also given a variety of spiritual gifts, not to dazzle the senses, but to confirm the outworking of truth in the faithful life. Those who walk with Yah need never fear misfortune, for they follow Christ wherever He goes, speaking as He speaks, honestly and without guile, to give His testimony to the world.
Question 4: What are the signs of a human being's commitment to the Creator?
Bible Verses: Isaiah 6:5-8, Matthew 3:1-3, Romans 5:1, Acts 22:16, Matthew 28:18-20, Philippians 3:8, Romans 8:38-39, James 1:19
Notes: When an individual first comes into contact with Divinity, there is a breaking-down of all that was before. As the reality of one's life record, with all its guilt and sins, is seen in the light of God's perfect purity, there is a moment of awareness. As the Holy Spirit reveals God's presence, the soul is overwhelmed - it feels destroyed. This is only the first step, however. Paul describes a godly sorrow that "worketh repentance to salvation." (2Corinthians 7:10)
Repentance, turning away from that sinful life record, leads to faith. There is a belief, based upon God's promises of forgiveness and love, that there is hope for cleansing, and a future worth living. When the promises of God's salvation are grasped, then the very love that called the individual to repentance is seen in a new way, and the new believer begins to fulfill the "two great commandments in the Law," these being, "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," and "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Mark 12:30, 31)
It is this love, directed to the Creator and to one's fellow human beings, that forms the basis of God's Covenant with us and, in its truest form, Church membership. Membership in Yahweh's Church is an expression of that love, and of unity with others who have experienced the same transformation. It is designed to provide vital advantages over the experiences of a solitary worshipper, for we are given our fellow members, not merely as co-recipients of the divine love, but also "He gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12)
The role of the Church is to perfect Christians in the way of the sanctified life, therefore its experiences are vital for manifesting holiness, "without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14) The other benefit that a formal covenant provides over the experience of the lone worshipper is that individuals have a basis for coordinated evangelism, "the work of ministry," to more effectively reach out to others.
The sixth chapter of Isaiah shows how encountering the Almighty alters the course of the life. He is first overwhelmed, and then cleansed by the angel's coal, and then he is sent into the world to bring repentance and faith to others. In the time of Isaiah, the covenant did not involve baptism into the Body of Christ, for Christ had not yet appeared, but the activities associated with being converted, called, and sent, are all present. When these appear, we may know that the individual is committed to the Father's work.
Once we speak of Church Membership, we need to consider those who are associated with various other Churches. After all, a number of other religions may require or encourage their membership to do great evangelism work in terms of outward appearance, and speaking to them will often reveal that they have a deep sense of commitment. In such a case, it is the foundation for the Covenant that must be examined, to see if it is built on proper, Biblical principles.
Are the commandments of God its foundation, even in the New Testament era? (Romans 2:13-15, Romans 3:31, 1John 3:24, and see Question 6 below) Is complete victory over sin its key principle? (1John 5:4, 1John 3:9) Is the sanctified life of Christ the pattern for every aspect of the believer's experience? (Mark 8:34)
If the answer to any of these is "No," then this is not the true covenant of Yahweh, even though its adherents may be ever so sincere. What the Bible believing Christian must seek, and never be satisfied until it is found, is the true Covenant that Yahweh has with humanity for this generation, and they shall be a people who are called by the Scriptures "The 144,000" that follow Christ, the Lamb, wherever He goes. (Revelation 14:1-5)
As those verses show, the truly redeemed are Christ-like in both great things and small. Their works are without fault, and their words are without guile. Like Paul the Apostle, they consider all things that may be known inferior to the knowledge of the Savior, and nothing - not temptation, or trial, or even death, can separate them from their commitment to His service. When the words, and actions, and even the emotions are subject to the Spirit of Christ, then we may know that the Holy Spirit is residing within, rendering the unruly flesh "dead," and revealing the covenant to others as a standing testimony.
Question 5: How is Yahweh's love shown to those who are committed to Him?
Bible Verses: Matthew 5:44-45, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Corinthians 14:12, Ephesians 4:8, Zechariah 2:8, Galatians 3:29, Revelation 21:2, Galatians 4:26, Matthew 21:33-43
Notes: We cannot say, "I know that God is blessing me, because good things are happening to me." Despite the false claims of some popular religious teachers, material prosperity is not the proper indicator of Yahweh's favor. We read that the good things of the Creator - His sunshine and His rain - fall on both the righteous and the wicked. There are some blessings that we receive simply because our Father loves us, regardless of our beliefs and our behavior.
On the other hand, there are particular, spiritual, blessings that are given to the faithful among His children. These gifts include more mundane skills, such as organizational ability, wisdom in spiritual matters and administrative aptitude, but they also include more supernatural blessings such as healing and prophecy. While such abilities have been found (rarely) among those who are not members of Yahweh's Covenanted people, (Numbers 22:4-6) they cannot be used to edify the Body of believers.
The main characteristic of the gifts that Yahweh gives to His people is that they are used to strengthen the faith of the Church. None who have received true blessings from Yahweh can fulfill His intentions for them outside of the context of His Covenant, for as the Apostle taught, " We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." (1 John 3:14)
While the Creator loves all human beings, He only consistently gives special blessings (whether natural or supernatural) to those who are "one" with Him, and for the purpose of sanctifying them unto their own salvation and the everlasting good of others.
The nation of Israel is the Old Testament "type" for the spiritual nation of Yah's people today. It was called the apple of Yahweh's eye and today, we who are in Christ are "Abraham's seed," and inheritors of all those precious promises. The Apostles write of a "new" Jerusalem, one that is "above;" and while some Christians today are still focused on Israel "after the flesh," the saints of the Most High know that we have been called to fulfill the purpose for which previous groups have been raised up, to reveal in our words, our actions, our lives, our religious observances, and our victories where the previous "vine keepers" failed, that the love of the Creator rests on those who are faithful to Him, even in this darkest of all generations.
Question 6: On what foundation is the Covenant with Yahweh based?
Bible Verses: Exodus 24:12, Leviticus 24:22, Deuteronomy 27:8-10, Jeremiah 31:33, 1 John 3:4, Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:11, Romans 6:14-18, Matthew 6:10, Revelation 20:11-15, Nehemiah 9:36-38
Notes: All covenants, all agreements and contracts, must be based on a law. To say that we have a "New Testament Agreement" with God, and yet deny the enduring authority of the Divine Law, as some modern Christians do, is to accept a covenant without any basis in principle or reality. Christ's death, rather than annulling or destroying the Law, did the exact opposite: it revealed that the wages of sin is death for everyone guilty before God, whether that guilt is actual or imputed. The Savior transferred the guilt of humanity unto Himself and took the penalty of death, not so that the Law would be abolished, but so that the transgression of the Law, our violation of the Law, should not follow us to judgment.
The "New Covenant" is that the Law is not merely an external list of rules - it never truly was that - but it is now more clearly understood to be a set of principles, expressed perfectly through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and written on the hearts of believers. It is divine love as revealed by the Law that determines how they think, and speak, and act. It is the Law that brings knowledge of sin and righteousness; in fact, it is the only way we define "sin" in both the Old and New Testaments. Without the Law, there is no basis for judgment between right and wrong according to the Scriptures.
That being said, merely living according to the Law does not make one righteous, and the New Testament authors such as Paul make this very clear. Some have come to believe that if you live a "good life," and do all that the Bible commands just as written, and to the best of your ability, this makes you righteous. All have sinned, all have come short, and a lifetime of good deeds does not make up for one transgression. Because of this, the Law itself cannot justify anyone - instead, it makes us aware of our need for the Savior. By His sacrifice and our faith in His salvation we are declared just, and we are saved.
In Christ, we are no longer under the Law. Its penalties have no claim on those who are in Christ because (and this is not just a legal fact but a spiritual one) those who are in Christ do not commit sin. They do not violate the Law at all, (1John 3:9, 5:18) and therefore are innocent of transgressing it now, and have been forgiven for their sins of the past. (Romans 3:25)
Even though the saints are no longer guilty of violating the Law, and even though they are justified by faith and not obedience, the Law itself continues to form the documented basis for what righteousness and transgression mean. We know that we are saints, we know that we are in Christ, and we know that we have the divine love upon us, because we are in harmony with the Law, and fulfill the Covenant of Yahweh according to the new nature that has been placed within us. This is the evidence of the Spirit having written the Law (the very same, unchanging Law) on our hearts.
All things are to be done on earth as they are in Heaven. In addition to the Law, in the spiritual Kingdom there are books - records of the names of the faithful that have built their hope on the sure foundation of the Father's love and the Son's sacrifice. It is upon the records kept in these books that the final judgment will rest, and we read that when covenants were made with Israel the people signaled their agreement with its particulars, and commitment to its authority, by signing their names to it.
This practice has a modern equivalent in the membership records of the earthly Church. While some may resist the idea of committing to the earthly Bride, and some indeed declare open contempt for "organized religion," we know that our Father is a God of order, and that His Covenant, rightly understood, is not only between His people and Himself, but between His people among themselves. The two great principles of the Law reflect this, and His people are found doing on earth that which is done in Heaven.
Question 7: What specific role does Church membership play in religion?
Bible Verses: 1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 John 1:7, 1 Corinthians 14:29, Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:15-18, 1 John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 3:16, Ephesians 4:16, Acts 15:22-27
Notes: As stated above, membership in the Church, the "Body of Christ," is a visible sign of our commitment to Yahweh. It is a token of our agreement with His divine plan to save all who come to Him, and to destroy the existence of sin in His created universe forever. In the Bible, believers were not merely baptized into Christ. They were baptized IN His name, but INTO His Body, which is a term used for the visible, united Church on earth. In addition, and practically, the Church brings us into contact with those individuals examined in the last section (pastors, apostles, teachers, etc.) that aid us in perfecting character, and therefore fulfilling what it is that Yahweh wants from His people.
The Church is a place of fellowship, of communion with the Holy Spirit through others that are also filled with Yahweh's divine presence. It is the institution that the Creator has placed upon the earth to be the ultimate means of judging both doctrine and prophecy, and to settle disputes as they arise among believers. The Bible does not speak of one, infallible individual at the head of the earthly Church (i.e., a Pope) nor does it speak of the Church as if it were a disorganized, haphazard collection of individuals. There is order, but there is also freedom. There is authority, but there is also the direct influence of the Spirit on each believer's conscience. In this balance, the will of the Father is revealed.
While the Savior will sustain those who, due to unusual circumstances, cannot find other believers with whom to fellowship, it is not God's plan that His people be isolated. It is in harmony with His character that there should be unity, peace, and communion, for the proper expression of His divine love, for the perfecting of His saints, and for the effective testimony of His salvation to others.
Looking a little deeper, membership in the earthly Church actually has a dual significance. In addition to the Church being an organization designed to bless and sanctify its members, they form, spiritually, the "Temple of Yahweh" on the earth. The members, the individual stones, must be joined together in unity. In this way, the Gospel work can truly go forward with power. Physically, we have a support system in a world that is increasingly hostile towards the principles of Heaven, but in addition to this we have a beacon of faith, a light on earth that may guide others to the truth. The Church of Yahshua provides a spiritual, practical, and even financial basis from which organized efforts to reach the lost and dying may be conducted, even as it was written of the ministerial trips in the Book of Acts.
Question 8: How does our commitment to God determine our eventual destiny?
Bible Verses: Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 10:9-10, James 2:19-26, James 1:27, Revelation 22:11, Matthew 12:33, 2 Corinthians 6:2
Notes: On the Day of Judgment, there will be only two kinds of human beings. There will be those who were faithful to the Creator, and those who denied His authority to be the Lord of their lives. These are identified, symbolically, as the sheep and the goats. To the sheep, the faithful ones placed at the Savior's right hand, words of praise are given; however, it is not praise for the things that they believed or claimed to believe. Instead, it is pointed out how well they fulfilled the will of their Father in Heaven. They were kind to the poor, and helpful to those that were ill or weak. It was their faith that led them to do these things; however, their faith and commitment were expressed by the fact that they lived according to the principles laid out in the commandments and teachings of the Scriptures.
Certainly, it is belief in Christ that leads us to everlasting life; as Paul writes, if you believe in the sacrifice and resurrection of Yahshua, you will be saved. The journey to everlasting life does not end, however, with the expression of belief. As the next verse reads, "for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." The proper faith in the true God and Savior leads to righteousness, to right-acting and right-living. This is not a conflict with, but a confirmation of, what the Apostle James writes... that faith without corresponding works is not truly faith at all, but a dead expression that contains no vital connection to the Father, and no commitment to His Spirit, or His principles as expressed in the Law that He has given to us.
Christ Himself tells us, "Either make the tree good and his fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit." (Matthew 12:33) Those who claim to be Christ's, and yet do not live the life that Christ would live in their place, reveal that they are deceived, or self-deceived, having accepted a form of religion without its essence. The word "religion" means to bind, to secure, and the true religion, which is acceptable to the Father, is that which "binds" us to Him in an everlasting union, resulting in not only the Faith of Yahshua in our minds and spirits, but the words of Yahshua in our mouths, (Matthew 12:35) and the pure actions of Yahshua in our daily lives and relationships.
While the Scriptures do speak of "good works" and the things done in the body, destiny is shaped, not by the work we have accomplished, but by who we are when the judgment is set. The works reveal, but do not create, those who are unjust and filthy, or righteous and holy. What we do is the result of who we are, and while some have difficulty seeing the distinction between a works-based faith (which is false) and a works-accompanied faith (which is Biblical) there is a difference between those performing labor in the hopes of a reward, and those performing labor because they are the kind of people who are driven to accomplish righteousness.
People such as this are righteous indeed, not only when in public, but also when in private, and then for all eternity. Christ does not, at the point of His return, convert anyone to His faith, or provide anyone with His character. These are gifts for this current age, this very moment, and those things that His servants are even now occupied in presenting before the world.
Question 9: What does it mean to be truly committed to God?
Bible Verses: Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:5-7, Revelation 7:2-3, Psalm 16:8, John 6:51, Hebrews 10:14, Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Psalm 23:6, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Psalm 51:16-17, Luke 16:17, James 1:25, Luke 23:56, Deuteronomy 25:15
Notes: While the characteristics, the faith-based actions, mentioned in this section several times show how onlookers can tell that we are with Yahweh, spiritually there is a symbol that the angels themselves can behold. When we are committed to the Father and Son, we become entirely new creatures; we become those who have an everlasting destiny. The old life ends; it is not merely improved by conversion, but it is replaced by the very life of Christ Himself.
We are born again, not of the flesh, but of the Holy Spirit, and truly take our places as children of the Most High. When we are Yahweh's own saints, we are given a "seal" upon our foreheads, a spiritual sign that we are settled into the truth so that we cannot be moved by either trial or temptation. We have eaten the "bread of life" that the Father has sent to doomed humanity, and by this acceptance of His provisions have been declared perfected by faith, and translated into the Heavenly Kingdom, set apart from those of the world to live for and serve God forever.
This life and service do not begin on the Day of Judgment. They begin the moment that new life is experienced, for "now" is the time of salvation. Now is the time at which that life of joy, fellowship and service begin, stretching on into eternity within Yahweh's spiritual House. Being committed to God means that we receive His seal, which cannot be broken, and our entire lives are "marked" with the impress of His glory in everything we do, whether they are great deeds or small gestures. All that we do is done to the glory of Yahweh.
Although the life of faith is one of sacrifice, it is the "life" and not the "sacrifice" that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father. When the right heart and Holy Spirit guide such a life, this will be manifest in certain ways. Some Christians believe that a change in the spirit does not necessarily translate to different actions, and that we cannot truly "know the heart." While it may be true that we are not equipped to determine with assurance whether or not someone is truly converted in most cases, it is also true that Christ and His apostles taught that a reformed heart and mind will necessarily lead to obedience to God's Law. After all, it is upon this Law that the covenant, the agreement, is based. Thus, Sabbath keeping, honest business practices, a sanctified lifestyle, and righteous decisions in all matters will be revealed in the life of those who live in this relationship with God.
Question 10: What is the significance of Yahweh's blessings to His covenanted people?
Bible Verses: Psalm 35:9, 1 Peter 2:9, Exodus 15:26, Mark 16:18, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Genesis 18:26-32, 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, Matthew 10:8, Deuteronomy 5:29
Notes: The Scriptures speak of Yahweh's people, those that are particularly His, as being happy, holy, and healthy. We also read that the prayers of those who are in a covenant relationship with the Creator can aid the sick in recovery, and even heal the land of its curses, preserving it against destruction.
Furthermore, the saints are given spiritual gifts of diverse types to help them in their ministry. The followers of Christ who exercise their gifts on behalf of others become refined in their character, and even better able to communicate the Gospel to the needy. The testimony of salvation, paired with aid given to the poor and sick, is a powerful means of rescuing souls from destruction.
It is certainly true that the Creator, who is a loving God, is eager to give His blessings to everyone, regardless of whether or not they worship Him. Nevertheless, He cannot fully bless the rebellious, lest they turn even further away from Him, seeing no need for loyalty or obedience to the Law. Since their minds are already turned away from the faith, any factor that would strengthen their separation from the Most High would be dangerous.
Those blessings that do fall upon the unredeemed are measured to do the most to soften the heart and incline the spirit toward acceptance; yet the Enemy of Souls does his utmost to confuse and distort the invitation.
Those who are Yahweh's, who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and have the tokens of His covenant (repentance, faith, and baptism into His Body) see Him clearly, and thus receive blessings that are different from those whom He is still attempting to win.
He is patient with those in the world; as it is written, His longsuffering is what wins us to His mercy. (Romans 2:4) But once we are won, then the blessings He gives us are twofold. First, many of His blessings are necessary for us to achieve the perfection that is characteristic of the saved... His blessings are necessary for us to have the kinds of lives He wants His people to experience. Second, the blessings are a testimony to others, to reinforce the work that His Spirit does upon them directly.
In a sense, and briefly put, the blessings that the unredeemed receive are for their own sakes. The blessings that the covenanted saints receive are for the world - not for their sakes only. The words of the Savior are taken to heart: "freely ye have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)
When it comes to the work of applying spiritual principles to practical life, great care must be taken. Not all of Yahweh's blessings and commandments are spelled out in the Bible. As Christ said to His disciples, there were "many things" that they had yet to learn, some of which so different than what they expected that they would be unable to bear the news. (John 16:12)
The Law never changes; however the Covenant, with its own particular requirements for its corresponding point in history, may. Animal sacrifices are not required after Christ's death on the Cross. Special clothing distinguishing the nation of Israel from the Gentiles has been discarded, (Ephesians 2:14) as has circumcision. In this generation, the followers of Yahshua are faithful to the 10 Commandments written in stone, and given to humanity "forever." They also see blessings in other appointed times, which the Father set aside for holy purposes in both the Old and New Testaments. (Acts 18:21) Further, they believe that the "name" given to them has great significance as a testimony to the world, (Isaiah 65:14-15) and under inspiration have taken the name "Creation Seventh Day Adventists." Believing that such actions are the will of God for His remnant people, they are matters of conviction, and the world, in sympathy with the Enemy of souls, has confirmed their spiritual significance by attempting (with great force) to prevent the saints from holding true to these instructions. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Question 11: How can we identify the true covenant from the various false ones?
Bible Verses: 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18, 1 Peter 4:1, Matthew 6:33, Philippians 3:20, James 1:26, Revelation 12:17, Psalm 19:7, John 8:29, Mark 16:17-18
Notes: Many claim to know Yahweh, His will, and His doctrine. How do we know when we have found a people that rejoice in His truth? In a way, this is already answered by the fact that we have examined the characteristics and blessings that Yah gives to His people, but there is another way as well.
Victory over sin is only possible for those who are born again. It is THE way of determining the true believers from the false. Humanity has no power to avoid sin; therefore, no matter what degree of expertise one may claim to have in divine matters, if sin exists in his or her life, such an individual has no truth to share of everlasting value. Only those who have, like Christ, overcome sin by divine power, know of the covenant between the Creator and mankind.
In addition to merely "avoiding sin," those in a committed relationship with the Father and Son actively seek out righteousness. They pursue that which is best, not merely that which is acceptable, and in this way reveal the Holy Spirit they have received from the Savior.
This righteousness is manifest in the way that the saints speak with and treat others, with grace and discipline, and in their obedience to the Scriptures. They are eager to receive blessings to share with others. There are many who know of the Savior, but they do not really know Him unless they hear His voice, and follow His teachings and example.
The Scriptures say that the true believers will "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." This means that they will act as the Scriptures describe, and speak as the Son of Yahweh spoke. Some Churches are composed of members that claim to have Jesus as their "personal Savior," and yet they do not honor His commandments. They do not obey His voice as heard in either the Old or New Testaments. Other religions take pride in their obedience to the commandments, including the Biblical Sabbath Day; yet, they do not have the "testimony of Jesus Christ," in that they do not speak as He spoke, and do not act toward others as He acted. It is only when the Law and The Testimony are united that the Covenant is intact.
Only those who follow the Scriptures' teachings, and can also say, like Christ, "the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him," can speak with truth and confidence about the Covenant of Salvation. That is truly a testimony worth bearing.
The Scriptures say that signs and miracles will follow those who believe. This is true; there is healing and there are supernatural blessings associated with those who follow Christ. The greatest miracle of all, however, is the conversion of "water into wine" in the heart of the believer. In the symbolism of the Bible, water represents the multitudes, the people of the world. (Isaiah 17:12, Revelation 17:15) Wine, on the other hand, represents both rejoicing and sacrifice, (Jeremiah 48:33, Revelation 14:18-20) a fitting representation of the saints. This is what happens to those who accept the Gospel, undiluted and pure, like "new wine." They are given perfect lives, like that of Christ Himself, of service and sacrifice for others, but ultimately of joy in the peace of Yahweh's presence, and then forever in the world to come.
Question 12: What does commitment to Yahweh look like in this generation?
Bible Verses: Proverbs 30:5, 2 Peter 1:19, Deuteronomy 5:29, Revelation 14:12, Revelation 22:14, James 1:27, Acts 2:46-47, Romans 16:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, Ephesians 4:1-6, Mark 16:15, John 17:20-23
Notes: The Word of Yahweh is everlasting. Though it was delivered to mankind in ages past, it is nevertheless filled with applicable wisdom, and a true picture of the character of the Creator and Savior of humanity. Although "modern thinking" largely considers the record of Yahweh's dealings with mankind to be symbolic or mythical, the faith of the Son understands the reality of what the Scriptures reveal.
From the miraculous creation of the world, to the healings of the blind and lame by Christ in the Gospels, the hope of the believer is revealed. The Father and Son are mighty to save, and to perform such works as are necessary to best bless and support the service of Their followers.
The religion that they have given us keeps us unspoiled by the world and its carnal philosophies, while providing us with commandments that have become more important, not less significant, with the passage of time. The days of rest and spiritual reflection are needed more than ever in a time when darkness consumes the planet, and there seems to be no escape from the thick cloud of temptation.
Even in this generation there endures a Remnant, a people committed to the belief in a better and endless Kingdom to come, a Kingdom that has begun in the hearts of those who have made themselves Christ's people. Yahweh has given His people a faith, a religion, and a name, to serve as a beacon, calling others to unity in Christ, and to a life of blessing and serving others. Although their practices are based upon the Bible, a Book that is available to almost everyone in the world, their obedience to its every applicable particular, from the holy days to the holy kisses, is unique.
As they receive light and blessings, so they eagerly share them with others. As they are drawn close to Christ, so they seek to draw others likewise near. In the Church, the earthly Body of Christ, all that Yahweh desires for His people is fulfilled. In the covenant with Yahweh, as it ever has been, His people fulfill all the Law, love for Yahweh and love also for His faithful children. If you, who have heard this study, know of such a people as this, hear them. Listen to their words, for they are messengers of the Father, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, to faith, and to life everlasting.
Here are some questions that a teacher may ask a Bible student in order to facilitate a discussion on the major topics of this section. By telling of their own experiences, and giving their testimony, Bible teachers can use these to guide the conversation toward the upcoming chapters of the study series.
Note that these do not have to be taken in order, and not all need to be asked. The conversation should be natural, free, and with the purpose of discovering the needs of the student that the Biblical faith can meet.
1) What experiences have you had with Churches in the past?
2) Why do you believe there is such a strong movement against "organized" religion in this generation?
3) What are the barriers to Christian unity in the world?
4) What is the relationship between Yahweh's covenant and individuality in religion?
5) What are some ways that Yahweh's covenants with mankind have changed over time?
6) Do you like the idea of being in a committed relationship with Yahweh?
7) Do you like the idea of being in a committed relationship with Yahweh's people?