Christian

Are You Worthy To Take The Passover?

Are You Worthy to Take the Passover?

What does the Passover mean to you? Do you really know why Jesus had to suffer and die — and what is required of us?

 

By Allen L. Stout 

The Good News Magazine, March 1984 

  Paul wrote to Christians: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (I Cor. 11:26-27). Paul was writing about the Passover, the annual memorial of the death of Jesus Christ, which God commands His people to observe. How few professing Christians understand! If you have not been aware of God’s annual festivals, write immediately for our free booklet Pagan Holidays — or God’s Holy Days — Which? Many have not fully comprehended the significance of Paul’s warning. Some, feeling they were not worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice, have not taken the Passover. Others have taken the Passover in a casual or ritualistic manner. It’s time we all understand! The Passover is the first of the Christian festivals commanded by God (Lev. 23:5). It is not to be taken lightly.   Purpose of the Passover   The Passover originally represented the turning point in the separation of Israel, God’s chosen people, from Egypt, which symbolized sin. The blood of the Passover lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts, distinguished those whom God was sparing (Ex. 12:13-14). The Passover for Christians today is a memorial, an annual reminder or renewal of our spiritual covenant with God. It reminds us not only of when God called ancient Israel out of Egypt, but, more important, of God calling us today out of sin. Let’s make the meaning of Passover clear by examining what the Bible says. What was required to free us from the bondage of sin? God’s sacrifice of His firstborn, Jesus — the blood of the Lamb. Why? Why couldn’t God just forgive our sins without a sacrifice? Why did Jesus have to give up His glory with God, take upon Himself the form of a servant, become a human being and suffer and die for our sins (Phil. 2:7-8)? Because there was no other way to save man from the consequence of sin.   God will not compromise His law   God can do all things, but God will not compromise His law (Matt. 19:26, 5:18). God’s law is perfect (Ps. 19:7). It would, if kept, produce and maintain a peaceful and happy society. Tragically, no human has kept God’s law perfectly — all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). The Bible likens sin to leaven — if sin is not disposed of, it grows and spreads rapidly (I Cor. 5:6). The whole world is suffering under the curse of sin (Gal. 3:10)! Death is the penalty for sin — breaking God’s law (Ezek. 18:4, 20, Rom. 6:23). God will not allow anyone into His holy Family and Kingdom who will compromise His law (Gal. 5:19-21, I Cor. 6:9-10, Rev. 22:14-15). God’s law requires that blood be shed for the remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). Thus blood had to be shed in order that the sins of every human might be forgiven, upon repentance.   The sacrifice of Jesus   The only way God could redeem humanity — all of us! — from the death penalty without compromising His law was to have our penalty paid. Enter Jesus Christ. Notice what God’s Word says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…. when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son … through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:8, 10-11). Our sins had separated us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). We had the death penalty hanging over us. But Jesus’ sacrifice paid the death penalty for sin in our stead (Rom. 3:24-25). Does Jesus’ death save us, then? Let’s see what the Bible tells us.   What is required of us?   What is our responsibility, given Jesus’ sacrifice, in God’s plan of salvation? Notice Acts 2:38: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus’ sacrifice does not redeem us from the death penalty until we have repented of breaking God’s law, turned from sin and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master. We must submit to God’s government over our lives and begin to live God’s way. Then what happens? Notice Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Jesus actually lives His life in us (verse 10). We strive to follow Jesus’ example as revealed in the Bible (I Pet. 2:21). We shall, then, be saved by Jesus Christ’s life (Rom. 5:10)! By obeying God’s law with the help of God’s Holy Spirit and by submitting to God’s government, we actually begin to take on God’s very nature. We gradually overcome sin — sin no longer has power over us. We are God’s servants rather than the servants of sin (Rom. 6:12-16). We have embarked upon a new way of life that leads to every blessing and joy for eternity. To turn back from it — to reject God’s way and Jesus’ sacrifice, which paid our death penalty — brings the death penalty on us again, this time with no chance for redemption (Heb. 10:26-29). Now what about observing the Passover?   Are you worthy?   God’s redeemed people are commanded to observe the Passover annually, in its New Testament symbolism, as a memorial of Jesus’ death and to picture what God has done in our lives (Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:14-20, John 13:2-5). And we are to do so in a “worthy” manner, as we have seen from I Corinthians 11:26-27. What, exactly, does it mean to be worthy? Paul warned, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (I Cor. 11:28). What is your attitude? John wrote: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). As long as we live in this evil, Satan-ruled society, there will be tests and temptations to break God’s law. We are tempted through our own lusts (Jas. 1:14) to cheat, to lie in business, to boast, to swear, to gossip, to commit adultery (Matt. 5:28) and to put other things before God. And we as Christians — yes, as truly called and redeemed Christians — will slip occasionally and sin! But, as long as we are repentant, striving to overcome sin, God accepts us, applying Jesus’ sacrifice (I John 1:9). God continues to lead us. We live under grace (Eph. 2:8). No one is worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, but not to take the Passover is to deny Christ. To take the Passover in a worthy manner, we must repent of our evil desires and ways, come to hate the sin that Jesus had to suffer and die for and set our will not to compromise God’s law. “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned [judged] with the world” (I Cor. 11:29-32). Our goal, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:48, is to become perfect, as God the Father is perfect. Keeping the Passover and understanding all it pictures, as well as striving to keep all of God’s other laws, is vital to attaining that perfection. So, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”!]]>

GRACE- Do You Really Understand it?

GRACE

Do You Really Understand It?
  The word grace is part of every Christian’s vocabulary, yet for many the subject is confusing. Let’s let God’s Word give us a clear understanding.    

By Douglas G. Peitz

[Original Publication]

  Few people — even professing Christians! — really understand what grace is. And rather than searching the Bible for God’s teaching on the subject, they get bogged down in debate over whether grace does away with God’s law. Is grace, as many assume, merely unmerited pardon for sin — or is it much more? Why do we need grace, if we do? Does grace abrogate the need to keep God’s commandments? We need to know! Let’s go to the Bible and let God’s Word answer.   Grace in the New Testament     The New Testament Greek word translated “grace” is charis. Charis was a widely used word in the first century; its primary meaning is “that which gives pleasure or delight.” But, like the English word grace, charis held a variety of associated meanings not dealing with the grace of God toward man. Before we see what God’s grace is, let’s first look at these other uses. Luke, in describing Jesus’ childhood development, wrote, “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40). In other words, God was well pleased with Jesus Christ. Obviously, charis is not used to mean unmerited pardon for sin in this case, since Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15, II Corinthians 5:21). In the book of Acts, Luke uses charis to express kindness, favor or goodwill toward another. God gave Joseph “favor [charis] and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Acts 7:10). Also, the Church was given favor, or charis, with the people around Jerusalem (Acts 2:46-47). Charis can also express thankfulness. Paul said, “But thanks [charis] be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57). Finally, charis can be used to denote a gift or favor done as an act of goodwill: “Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him [Festus] against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor [charis] against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem — while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him” (Acts 25:2-3).   God’s grace     Charis was used by the Greek world in all the above senses. But the New Testament writers applied this word in a new sense to describe what God is doing for humanity. They realized that God’s plan of salvation is so kind, so merciful, so unmerited and so thankworthy that it is the ultimate charis! God’s purpose is to reproduce Himself. Those whom God calls (John 6:44) are given the chance to repent and accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Then, upon being baptized, they are given God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), which enables them to develop godly character and ultimately be born into the very Family of God (I John 3:1-2). Charis is an all-encompassing word for this whole process of conversion that is being accomplished by God’s power.   Why grace is necessary   Why is grace essential to salvation (Ephesians 2:8)? And why are all efforts to earn salvation futile (verse 9)? There are two reasons. First, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) — sin being the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4) — and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We have all earned the death penalty. And just as any government today realizes, the violation of law cannot go unpunished, or anarchy would ensue. No, a penalty must be paid, regardless of how sorry the criminal is or how good he promises to be in the future. Similarly, our regret and subsequent good behavior can never pay the penalty for sin, because the penalty is death. And God’s laws are enforced. God does not compromise with sin by allowing a way of life that leads to unhappiness, misery and death to go unpunished. The penalty for our sins must be paid. Second, not only have we sinned, but man by himself is incapable of overcoming sin. Paul said in Romans 8:7, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Our best efforts are futile unless God gives us the help we need. God’s grace toward us begins when God begins calling us. Unless God opens our minds, we cannot understand His purpose (John 6:44). Paul commented, “God … called me through His grace” (Galatians 1:15). The very fact that you can understand the truths of God as revealed in the Bible is because of God’s grace. But being called is just the beginning of grace. The process of conversion requires more than understanding. It requires change, or repentance. We must freely choose to obey God — and unless God shows us what to repent of and the importance of obeying Him, we cannot repent. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance,” Paul explained in Romans 2:4. But being sorry for sinning, and changing, is not enough. So God’s grace continues with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [an atoning sacrifice] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness” (Romans 3:23-25). Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin, which is death, in our stead. Christ’s sacrifice is the supreme expression of divine grace. It is totally unmerited (Romans 5:6-8). Christ’s sacrifice frees us from the penalty of breaking God’s law. But it does not do away with the law! Think: Would God now allow the violation of laws that necessitated the death of His own Son? Of course not. Grace does not nullify God’s law. Rather, grace is necessary because God’s law is eternally binding. As Paul explained: “Shall we continue in sin [the transgression of God’s law — John 3:4] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) Continuing in sin would mock Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice.   Unmerited but not unconditional     Here is where many misunderstand. Grace is unmerited but it is not unconditional. There are two conditions: repentance and faith (Mark 1:5, Acts 2:38). Although we can never earn salvation, God does set certain requirements for receiving His grace. Let’s understand. Once God, by His grace, reveals to us the need to repent and humbly accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, we must do our part. We must voluntarily yield ourselves to God, admitting where we have been wrong, and make the necessary changes. Then we must be baptized as an outward expression of our repentance and faith (Romans 6:3-6). Don’t misunderstand — God’s grace is free and unmerited, but if we refuse to change our lives — to obey God — He is under no obligation to bestow His grace upon us. God will not allow Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be taken lightly. The process continues. Peter tells us we must now “grow in grace” (II Peter 3:18, Authorized Version). Grace is unmerited pardon for sin, but it is much more. For if grace were merely the unmerited forgiveness of sin, how could we grow in grace except by sinning more? No, we must, while coming under God’s grace, overcome sin. If you are truly under God’s grace, you will be striving diligently to obey God’s commandments. Paul said: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). We are to develop godly character by growing and overcoming in order that we can ultimately be born into the very Family of God. But we cannot do this alone (Matthew 19:25-26). We need God’s Spirit. And His Spirit, by His grace toward us, is a gift (Acts 10:45, 11:17). God’s Spirit gives us the power we need to develop character. But we must work at it. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10). To grow in grace is to overcome sin through coupling God’s Spirit with our own efforts. Without God’s help, overcoming sin would be impossible. Finally, after we have developed godly character through God’s Spirit, one final act of grace is bestowed upon us — eternal life! We deserved death, but will receive life eternal. As Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The world is deceived into believing in a shallow, limited concept of God’s grace. True grace is more than the forgiveness of sin; it is the total process of salvation. Peter summed it up beautifully: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen…. I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand” (I Peter 5:10-12).]]>

The Beautiful Analogy of Human Reproduction

The Beautiful Analogy of Human Reproduction written by Herbert W. Armstrong

[Original Publication]

Some of the teachings in the Bible are a little hard for the average thinking mind to understand. James tells us to count it all joy when trials, ordeals, reverses beset us. Troubles a joy? That’s pretty hard to accept, isn’t it? And, for the average person, a lot harder to put into practice. Few find any pleasure, let alone joy, in the obstacles and troubles they encounter. Yet this biblical teaching says we ought so to count them. There is a reason, although few understand it.   Continue reading…

Taxes and the Christian's Duty

Taxes and the Christian’s Duty

By Ministerial Services

Pastor General Report, June 01, 1984

From time to time around the United States, and in other countries where it is possible, certain citizens have followed tax evasion schemes in an effort to keep from paying taxes. These schemes may include declaring oneself a trust, declaring oneself a church, declaring that money has no value and therefore should not be taxed, among others. God’s Church is commanded by Jesus Christ to Continue reading…

True Friendship- Laying Down Your Life by Philip P. Stevens

A young girl’s compelling example poignantly illuminates God’s definition of friendship.

(SOURCE)

Rachel de Beers was a young girl who lived in South Africa during the 19th century.

Her family was poor, and Rachel and her younger brother Jamie worked as shepherds tending the family’s cattle.

One day Rachel and Jamie noticed that a calf was missing, and they began to look for it. In the course of searching they wandered farther and farther away from their home pastures. It soon got dark, and they realized they were lost. It was winter and it began to snow. The snowstorm reached a height during the night and then blew itself out the next morning.  Continue reading…

SHARING-"Who Shall Separate Us?" By Steven Botha

(SOURCE)

God wants you to succeed!

More than anything else, God wants you to fulfill your incredible human potential and be born into His very Family as an immortal spirit being!

Regular readers of The Good News know that the human destiny is tremendously greater than most people realize. Throughout history, God has worked with small groups of people for special purposes. He is doing the same today.  Continue reading…

Conversion Is A Process! by Herbert W. Armstrong

(SOURCE) How many times have you heard non-Christians, judging one who professes Christ, say in disgust, “Well, if that’s Christianity, I don’t want any part of it”? How many judge GOD by the way they see professing Christians live? How many assume that one must live a perfect life before he can become a Christian? Continue reading…