Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

The First 500 Trillion Years

The Bible teaches us about the Millennium and the White Throne Judgment. God tells us that our life in the Kingdom of God will be eternal and the Kingdom will last forever (Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:31-33). God also describes for us the New Jerusalem that God will dwell in on the earth (Revelation 21:1-4).

The Bible doesn't give us much information about what we will be doing in the eternity that follows. We know it will be joyous (Psalm 16:11).

It is as if God gives us descriptions of the Millennium, the White Throne Judgment period, and the New Jerusalem as an example of the kind of happiness and accomplishment we will enjoy for eternity.

God has allowed scientists in our time to discover many things about the universe. Scientists make mistakes, and some of the things they teach are wrong, but one thing I think they are right about is the vastness of the physical universe. The universe is much greater than is needed simply to provide the view we have of the sky with the sun, moon, and stars visible to our eyes. At most we can see a few thousand stars with our naked eyes. But there is much more than that.

The stars we see are suns, similar to our sun, very far away, and each can have planets orbiting around them, some perhaps similar in size and composition to our earth. Most of the stars we see are in the Milky Way galaxy as we are, and there are many galaxies. Scientists estimate there are perhaps about 100-200 billion stars in our galaxy and there are perhaps 100-200 billion galaxies in the known universe.

I want to speculate a little about what the Family of God might be doing after the White Throne Judgment.

Eternity is a difficult concept for the human mind to grasp, so I have chosen to consider only a tiny slice of time, a mere fraction of a second compared to eternity, a small period of time that our limited human minds can more easily grasp. Thus the title of this post, "The First 500 Trillion Years". That is easier to understand than infinity.

God is creator, and He is the author of life and beauty. The life that exists on earth in all its variety is testimony to that. It is likely that God will lead His Family to create life on other planets in this vast universe.

Christ may begin by teaching us in detail about the chemistry of life, the DNA code, and how to design and create new forms of life, giving us knowledge far beyond anything scientists presently know. Then perhaps we will start with the planets and moons in this solar system. Mars would need a richer atmosphere and might need to be closer to the sun. Venus has too much atmosphere and the wrong kind and may need to be farther from the sun. The gas giants have moons that may be able to be modified to support life. Christ may organize us into teams to work with these planets, creating life, and managing the ecology.

Once we have done that with the solar system, we may go out to do the same with all the solar systems in the galaxy, and after that, the same for all the galaxies.

There are enough stars in our galaxy for each one with multiple planets filled with life to be ruled and managed by one person born into God's family in the Millennium or White Throne Judgment. And after this, there are enough galaxies for each son of God to rule and manage an entire galaxy. God will see to it that we have the powers of mind and Spirit to fulfill our responsibilities. Our minds and our powers will be vastly increased beyond what we have today.

Those in the Church today, the first fruits, those in the first resurrection, will have the priviledge of dwelling in the New Jerusalem, the headquarters of the universe, with Christ Himself (Revelation 3:12-13, 21). He will share His joy with us (Matthew 25:21-23).

And through all this, the greatest joy will be the happy and loving fellowship and unity we enjoy with God the Father, Jesus Christ, all the saints, all those made sons of God and added to His family in the Millennium and White Throne Judgment, and all God's holy angels.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Last Great Day Shows God's Mercy and Justice

Satan the devil deceives the whole world during this 6,000 year age of man (Revelation 12:9). A meaning of "devil" is "slanderer" or "false accuser". He is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). But he also accuses and slanders God. He does that by deceiving men with false religion into believing that God is unloving and unjust.

Most mainstream churches teach that to be saved, one must accept Jesus Christ in this life, and that this age is the only opportunity men will have for salvation. Yet the they know that throughout history, hundreds of millions of people never had the opportunity, due to time and chance and circumstances of birth over which they had no control, to accept Christ at any time in their lives, even to the time of their death. Yet according to the theology of this world, they are now condemned, never having been "saved" before they died.

Moreover, much of this same theology teaches that all men have immortal souls, and that those who are unsaved at the time of their death will suffer eternal torment in hellfire.

Talk about a monstrous idea!

But this is Satan's slander against God. He falsely accuses God of being cruel, by torturing men forever in hellfire, and unjust, by condemning those who have never had an opportunity to be saved. He also accuses God of weakness or incompetence, because he accuses Him of being powerless to bring salvation to all mankind.

So through much of this world's religion, Satan falsely accuses God of cruelty, injustice, or weakness, or a combination of these.

Mainstream churches never directly accuse God of these things. They will tell you that God is loving, just, fair, kind, all powerful, all wise, and all good. But those are words they say. They cannot believe those things deep down and still believe the traditional doctrines of their church about the soul, about hell, and about this being the only time of salvation.

The meaning of the Last Great Day shows that Satan's accusations against God are false, and the fulfillment of that day will clear God's name and glorify His reputation.

Ezekiel 37 describes the fulfillment of the Last Great Day. Everyone who has ever lived and never had a chance for salvation will be resurrected back to physical life. At that time, salvation will be open to all, and that includes those among men who have believed Satan's lies. They will find out that God is more loving, more just, wiser, and more powerful than they ever thought before. Those people will rejoice, and God's name will be glorified. People will be able to be re-united with their loved ones, and everyone will have a chance for salvation. I believe most people will choose God's way and enter God's Kingdom.

What a day that will be!

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Millennium Prepares for the White Throne Judgment

The Last Great Day represents the great White Throne Judgment, a time when most of mankind that has lived and died during the six thousand year age of man is resurrected back to physical life. Those in that resurrection will have their first opportunity to learn the truth without Satan around to deceive them. They can then choose to accept God's way of life and gift of eternal life or to reject it.

But this post is not about the Last Great Day. It is about the Millennium.

The general resurrection is described in Ezekiel chapter 37. "Again He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.' " ' So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord God: 'come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.' " ' So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army" (Ezekiel 37:4-10).

How many people have lived and died in the earth since mankind began? There are about six or seven billion people alive today. Perhaps there will be 20 or 30 billion or more in that resurrection.

Think about their physical needs!

What will they wear? What will they eat? Where will they live? How will they find homes? All the physical possessions they had in their former life will be gone. Will they have to start from scratch, living in poverty and squalor until they can build up farms for themselves? I don't think so.

God could miraculously provide everything. But it seems that God uses His servants including physical human beings to do what we can to do His work.

Isn't it likely that preparing for these people will be a job for mankind in the Millennium?

Clothing will have to be produced. Food will have to be saved and stored. Housing will have to be built. There are many things that will have to be done to prepare for the arrival of 20 billion or more human beings who will have nothing and will need everything.

There will be a lot of work during the Millennium to prepare for the White Throne Judgment period. But this work will actually be good for mankind in the Millennium.

God's way of life is the give way, the way of love and service towards others, and we learn by doing. Just as the Church learns to put into practice the law of love by working to bring the gospel message and the Ezekiel warning to the world now, so people in the Millennium will have the opportunity to practice the way of love by working to prepare to provide the necessities of life to those who come up in the general resurrection that follows.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unity in the Bride of Christ

One blessing of the Kingdom of God during the millennium and for eternity that I think we can well appreciate in this time of the scattered condition of much of the Church of God is the unity that will exist in the resurrected Church, the wife of Jesus Christ.

We, the members of the true Church of God, when resurrected will marry Christ. The Church of God is to be the bride of Christ. We, who are many, will collectively be that bride. Yet Christ will have ONE wife, not many wives (Revelation 19:7). How is that possible? We will be so united in purpose and love towards each other and so much of one mind to serve Christ that from God's point of view, we will be one, not many. That will certainly be true to a greater extent than now, but not only that, it will be true to a greater extent than has ever been true in the Church, whether under Mr. Armstrong's leadership or anyone else. That is because, for the first time, we will be perfect, without sin, righteous, not subject to the carnal pulls of the flesh, not subject to Satan's temptations. God cannot be tempted, and as full-born sons of God, we will not be tempted either (James 1:13).

Never again will we be divided. Never again will any of us give in to impulses of selfish ambition or disregard for others. We will love each other as we love ourselves. Never again will any of us sin by disbelieving what God says. There will be no heresy, no disagreements over doctrine, no divisions at all. Everyone will be perfectly fit and able to do the job and fulfill the office assigned to him or her with perfect love, wisdom, and competence. We will all be eager and willing to help any of us with advice, counsel, and cooperation. Those over us in authority will love us and we will love those under our authority. We will not lie to each other. We will be like God and Christ because we will be God's children and Christ's bothers and sisters. We will no longer have human nature, which is Satan's nature.

But we must be learning that way of life and that character now.

Jesus Christ wants one wife, not many wives quarreling with each other. Perhaps that is why He placed so much emphasis on love and unity in the Church now. He commands us to love one another (John 13:34-35, 15:12-17). He prayed for our unity not only with each other but with God (John 17:20-23).

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:17-18). These are good verses to especially keep in mind in our dealings with each other during the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a good time to practice them, and then remember the lesson during the year that follows.

It is that love and unity and fellowship that will help make our eternal lives joyous (Psalm 133:1-3).

We should strive for that love and unity now. But in the Kingdom of God, we will have that love and unity in its fullness for eternity. That is something we can look forward to.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

The Days of Unleavened Bread - Repentance, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

The Millennium Will Be a Time of Joy for God Too

When we picture the millennium, we think of the happiness and joy that all humanity on earth will experience at that time. We also think of the happiness we as the spirit-born Sons of God and first fruits will experience being in the Kingdom of God.

But God the Father and Jesus Christ will also experience joy during that time.

How long has God the Father and Christ been planning to expand God's family? How long has God been planning to reproduce Himself? For thousands of years, certainly. For millions of years? For billions of years? Probably. For Eternity? Possibly.

And now, in the near future, it is finally about to happen!

For the first time in the history of the universe, the Family of God will expand to include more than just the Father and the Word who became Christ. The first stage of God's plan and purpose for mankind will have been accomplished. The first fruits will have been born by a resurrection from the dead or instantaneous change from mortal to immortal at the return of Christ. Tens of thousands of the Father's children will have been born (1 Corinthians 15:50-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Romans 8:29, Revelation 14:1-5).

And Christ will enjoy the first one thousand years with His new wife in a marriage that will last for eternity. For the first time, Christ will have a bride that is like Him, compatible with Him, glorified as He is glorified, righteous, trustworthy, and faithful (1 John 3:1-2). There will be no divorce from that marriage. There will be no marriage problems. It will be a perfect marriage. It will be a gloriously happy marriage for eternity, and Christ will know it absolutely, and we will know it too. The resurrected Church will be that wife (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-32, Revelation 19:6-8).

Christ will for the first time in thousands of years be able to see Abraham again, and Isaac, and Jacob, Noah, Moses, David, and also the apostle He loved, John, as well as all the prophets and saints who have lived in the last 6,000 years, both those we know about and those we never heard of, and including all of us who make it into the Kingdom. Christ will be able to see all of us together. And He will give us our jobs and assignments and direct us in our work. He will have the pleasure of rewarding us and sharing His joy with us in a fuller measure than He ever could while we were mortal in this physical life (Matthew 25:20-23).

What a glorious time that will be for God, for Christ, and for all the saints.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Millennium

Wednesday night at sunset begins the seven-day festival, "The Feast of Tabernacles", which pictures the Kingdom of God ruling over the earth during the millennium. The millennium is the period of time for one thousand years when Christ and the resurrected saints rule the earth (Revelation 20:1-9).

But the millennium is not the Kingdom of God. The millennium is a period of time lasting one thousand years. The Kingdom of God will go on forever.

The Kingdom of God is the government of God that will rule over the earth during the millennium, and it is also the family of God, or "God Family". Flesh and blood human beings living on the earth into the millennium will not be IN the Kingdom of God while human during the millennium, but they will be RULED BY the Kingdom of God, with justice and love. And they will have the opportunity to hear the true gospel, to believe the gospel, to repent, and to eventually enter into the Kingdom of God also. Salvation will finally be open to all.

The Kingdom of God will include Jesus Christ and all the resurrected saints made immortal and made full Sons of God. As part of God's family, we will live forever in power and glory and joy. With Christ we will rule the universe. The millennium is just the beginning.

God does not give many details of what projects we will be working on in the vast universe for millions, billions, or trillions of years into the future. But there is a great deal of information about what we will be doing in the millennium. We will be kings and priests helping Christ rule the nations on this earth (Revelation 1:5-6, 2:26-27, 3:21). And the Bible is full of information about what life will be like during the millennium, and much of this information will be related and expounded upon by God's ministers in Church of God Feast sites all over the world during the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.

It will be a period of great happiness, peace, prosperity, and justice.

God commands us to gather to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and to rejoice. We are to spend the second tithe we have saved for a year to enjoy food and fellowship that will help us to have a small foretaste of the prosperity and happiness that will exist all over the earth during the millennium (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).

There are really two aspects of the joy that the Feast of Tabernacles helps us understand.

One, there will be the happiness that will exist on the earth among mortal human beings when the nations are taught to obey all of God's laws. Satan will be put away and people will learn the truth about God's way of life that results in happiness. The Kingdom of God will teach mankind God's law and enforce peace and justice.

But also, we ourselves who will be IN the Kingdom of God and part of that Kingdom will experience a joy we can only partially imagine now. We will share in the power, glory, and joy that Jesus Christ experiences now (Matthew 25:20-23). We will live forever with no fear of death. We will finally be free of human nature and temptations to sin. And we can look forward to ever increasing accomplishments working with the whole vast universe that Christ presently rules. And this will go on forever.

During the Feast we will have many opportunities to enjoy food, fellowship, service, and fun that we do not experience during the rest of the year. But we should not get so wrapped up in just the enjoyment of the moment that we forget what that enjoyment is supposed to represent. It represents the happiness we will enjoy in the Kingdom of God and it represents the happiness mankind will enjoy during the millennium when the Kingdom of God is ruling the earth.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Feast of Tabernacles - the Millennial Rule of Christ, Chapter 2

God's Purpose for Mankind, Chapter 2

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Chapter 2

Friday, October 7, 2011

Atonement and Fasting

Like many of God's holy days, Atonement is rich in meaning, and it has more than one meaning. It represents the putting away of Satan so he can no longer deceive the nations (Leviticus 16:10, 20-26, 29-31, Revelation 20:1-3). It also, like Passover, represents the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins (Leviticus 16:7-9, 15-19).

There is an important lesson in the Day of Atonement about overcoming Satan and his influences. There is a connection made between fasting and overcoming Satan.

The Day of Atonement, the day that represents the putting away of Satan, is the only day God commands us to fast on. Fasting is an effective tool for overcoming the temptations and wrong influences that Satan uses to attack us and try to destroy us spiritually.

When Jesus went into the wilderness to face the greatest temptations that Satan could throw at Him, He fasted for forty days (Matthew 4:1-2, Luke 4:1-2). Though He was physically weakened by that ordeal, He was close to His Father in heaven. He was able to resist all of Satan's temptations.

When Jesus's disciples tried to cast out a particularly resistant demon and could not, Jesus said that this kind of demon can only be cast out through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:17-29).

The lesson in all this seems to be that prayer and fasting are valuable tools for overcoming Satan, temptation, and sin. For as long as I have been in the Church, and I am sure before that, the Church of God has taught fasting as a valuable tool for drawing closer to God, and the Bible confirms this. Perhaps God has given us Atonement so we can experience fasting as an encouragement to fast regularly throughout the year as a tool for drawing closer to God and overcoming sin.

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Day of Atonement - the Putting Away of Satan, Chapter 2