And greetings friends, this is Herbert W. Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
And once again, let me ask, why does God permit wars? Why does God permit suffering? Why does He permit poverty and unhappiness on this earth?
My friends, it is simply because God wants men to think and to act for themselves. It is because God Almighty is working out a purpose here below and that purpose is to bring us to learn certain lessons. And God has marked out a division of seven thousand years to accomplish His purpose and the first six thousand years are the six thousand years of human experience that God has allotted to mankind during which He has kept hands off and allowed human beings to govern themselves, to do as they please, to accept the Government of God, to accept the ways of God, the laws of God and find happiness and peace if they will or to reject the ways of God and to bring on wars and poverty and suffering and sickness and heartaches and headaches and fears and worries and empty lives and everything that we do have now. Because these things that we see, my friends, are the things that have resulted from the ways of man, the things that man has brought on himself.
Now, as I've been saying the last two or three programs in this series, God could have stopped it, God could prevent wars but the only way He could prevent wars would be in effect, as I have worded it and in the vernacular, to cram His religion down our throats. And you know, people just wouldn't like that because the carnal mind, the natural mind of man is enmity against God. It seems to think that God is all wrong and human beings prefer to live their own way and God has been giving us six thousand years to do it and our own way has not brought us the peace we expected. It hasn't brought us happiness. It hasn't filled our lives with interest and abundance and happiness and joy but with emptiness and left a great void in the human soul. That's what's happened.
Now, Jesus Christ came bearing a Message from God to man in a world that had forgotten God, in a world that did not retain a knowledge of God and the knowledge God had revealed and had not liked to retain that knowledge and had kept God out of its system of knowledge altogether, in such a world, God sent His Son Jesus Christ bearing a message.
Now, the world has proclaimed, more or less, the Son of God. They have proclaimed Jesus Christ and the name of Christ, but His message, I tell you, my friends, they rejected millennia ago, or rather hundreds of years ago, centuries ago, yes and almost millenniums ago as I was about to say because it is almost two thousand years ago—two millenniums—that they rejected the Message of Christ. And what was the Gospel of Christ? And why don't you hear it preached today? The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel He preached, the Message He brought that God sent to mankind, which mankind spurned and rejected was the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
Now, what is the Kingdom of God? A lot of people think it's here now.
Now, that brings us back to the point where we are in this series in going through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to see what Jesus did preach and why you haven't heard that message today. And what was His Gospel, and what was the example He set, the customs that He followed, and why do we practice identically opposite customs and not follow those of Jesus today? He set us an example that we should follow His steps but people today don't, the churches don't. The churches don't preach the Gospel He did. You think they did but they don't, my friends, because He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. What and when and where is the Kingdom of God? Very few have ever understood it.
Now, we've been going into the parables recently. We have come up to the place in going through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where Jesus was speaking to the multitudes in parables and we saw here a week or more ago how Jesus spoke in parables and the people did not understand. He did not speak in parables to make the meaning more clear but to hide the meaning, to cloak it and to shut it up from the people.
And so His disciples had come and said, "Well, why do you speak in parables? We don't understand, please explain this parable to us and tell us why you speak to the people in parables." And He said, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God but to them it is not given." He said unto you it is given, that I read what I just now read in Matthew thirteen and now I am in Mark four, where He said, "To you is given the mystery of the Kingdom of God but unto them that are without [they were not within the fold, they were without]. All things are done in parables that seeing they may see and not perceive and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest happily they should turn again and it should be forgiven them [and as the King James has it they should be forgiven and they should be converted]." "Lest...they should be converted." My friends, that isn't the way you're hearing it today. That isn't what people believe. And if you're going to judge the Truth of what I'm telling you, according to what you have heard and what you now believe is right you'll think I'm all wrong, but I'm reading that out of the Bible.
Now, finally we come here to Matthew thirteen. And here is another parable—Matthew thirteen verse twenty-four: "Another parable set he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto..." Do you notice that in every parable He is speaking about the Kingdom of God?
Now, Mark and Luke and John all speak about the Kingdom of God. But where Jesus spoke the same words and Matthew recorded the same speech according to Matthew. Matthew wrote it down—Kingdom of Heaven. And Mark and Luke and John always wrote the same speech and the same words down as if Jesus had said the Kingdom of God. And as I have explained it isn't the Kingdom inside of God or inside of Heaven, it's the Kingdom that is ruled from Heaven and ruled by the Almighty God whose throne is in Heaven. And it is owned by... the word "of" denotes ownership and it is the Kingdom of... that is owned by and governed and ruled by God from Heaven.
Now, "Another parable he set before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man that sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away." Now, here again it is the Kingdom and it's the Kingdom of God. Is He talking, my friends, about this present time?
Now, people have tried to think, they have supposed that Jesus spoke in parables to make the meaning more clear. They have supposed that this is the only time of salvation and that pretty soon it'll be too late. God has been making a desperate effort to get the world saved. Of course He hasn't succeeded very well because most of the world is certainly not converted in any manner, shape or form and a far smaller portion, by the way, than you think because the whole world has been deceived according to the Bible and according to Bible prophecies, false prophets have gone out deceiving the world by telling them that Jesus is the Christ, by proclaiming His name, by posing as the ministers of Jesus Christ, by pretending that they are the ministers of righteousness while actually they deny the Law of God and preach unrighteousness or sin and uphold sin while they have their own standard of what they call right and wrong and they give their own definition of sin and deny God they're leading the people into sin without calling it that. They've turned the truth upside down. And that which God says is right they sneer at and say it's wrong and that which God condemns as wrong and which God says is an abomination to Him, they uphold and endorse and they indulge in. My friends, we're living in such a world and it's about time to wake up and to realize in what kind of a world we are living.
Now, it is supposed by the people that are setting themselves up as self-appointed teachers of the Bible and preachers of it in this world and as we have been deceived into believing that Jesus spoke in parables to make the meaning more clear and that when He spoke of the Kingdom of God as He did in His parables He was speaking of this age we call the Church age or the Holy Spirit dispensation or the dispensation of Grace and the various names that the various churches or various denominations or various preachers will use in describing it. In other words, this present time from the time after Jesus ascended to Heaven and the Day of Pentecost that year up until the present and on and until the Second Coming of Christ. And so they tell you that this not only a day of Salvation but the only day of Salvation as most people believe. And they believe that, my friends, erroneously, strange as that may seem. That is not the teaching of the Bible but it is the teaching of men universally today.
Now, what is the Kingdom that Jesus is talking about? They always suppose He's talking about this Church age and about the Church because most people believe that the Church is the Kingdom of God. Now, just notice this a bit.
Here is this parable of the "man that sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. And the servants of the householder came and they said to him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares? And he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants say unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he saith, Nay; lest haply while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat with them. [Now, notice.] Let both grow together until the harvest..."
Now, this is in the Kingdom, the Kingdom age. Whenever the Kingdom age is they are both to grow together in and during the Kingdom age until the harvest. When is the harvest, my friends? Is the harvest the present time? Is the harvest the Second Coming of Christ? I want you to notice. "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them..." And notice they're gathered in bundles.
Have you noticed how people are being gathered into bundles? Have you ever noticed that it is human nature that people want to belong? They just want to belong to something. They want to belong to a club. They want to belong to a lodge. They want to belong to some society. They want to belong to something they can join and feel that they belong—that's psychology. And do you know that the psychologists are teaching that today? Do you know that in nearly every college and university in our schools of higher learning where they are training the future leaders of this nation? The future leaders for the churches and church pulpits, the future leaders for business and commerce, the future leaders of our government and our statesmen are being taught and trained in these colleges and universities and they have a psychological idea—they feel there that, well, it's human nature, everybody wants to belong and so they say, "Let's encourage it. Let's have every kind of group and fraternity and society we can and let them bind themselves up in bundles." I wonder if you ever notice the significance of that and what is taking place today.
"Let them grow together until the harvest..." Now, when is that harvest? Is that speaking of our age now or the age to come? Well, we're doing that thing now but specifically what was Jesus referring to? At the time of the harvest, whenever that is, He says, "I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them..." These bundles of human beings gathered together are being bound up in these bundles to be burned. I think, my friends, that's something worth looking into. I think that's something you might investigate and begin to think a little bit about.
"But," He said, "gather the wheat into my barn." They weren't bundled at all. They come into the barn, in other words, that is the Kingdom of God and that is the place where you want to go, the wheat, that's what He's saving. But the tares, He's not going to save, He's going to burn.
Now, the wheat is going to be saved, in other words, Salvation and eternal life is what it portrays there.
Now, for just a moment, I want to show you something. First, when is the Kingdom of God? Jesus spoke another parable later over here you find it recorded in the nineteenth chapter of Luke. So I'm going to jump over to it just now, verse eleven, Luke nineteen:
"And as they heard these things, [Jesus] added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear."
Now, you know, a lot of people in that day thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately. In other words, the Church was the Kingdom. There was the beginning of the Church. The Church as you read in Ephesians is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
Now, here were the apostles right there in training. And they thought that here is the nucleus of the Church and the Kingdom of God is the Church therefore the Kingdom of God is immediately to appear in our time and generation back there nineteen hundred years ago. Now, it was in that time that the Holy Spirit came and the Church started. And because they thought that that would be the Kingdom, Jesus spoke a parable but, you know, the people have never understood His parables. Only those to whom it is given can seem to understand the parables. I hope you can understand it. But "because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear," He gave this, here it is.
"He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return."
Now, Jesus is that "nobleman." He went to a "far country", that's Heaven. Jesus said to His disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away: if I go not away, the [other] Comforter [that is, the Holy Spirit] will not come..." And if the Holy Spirit didn't come, my friends, they could never have been impregnated so to speak begotten of the Spirit of God—the very Life of God—and impregnated and filled with the nature of God so that they might be now begotten and later born into the Kingdom of God.
Now, remember that Jesus had said to Nicodemus, that you must be born again. Now, He didn't mean any hocus-pocus of just saying, "I accept Christ." or what people talk about giving their heart to Christ or professing Christ or receiving Christ or something like that at all. He was talking about being born. And Nicodemus, said, "Well, how can I be born, go back in my mother's womb and be born." He knew it meant more than just shaking hands with somebody or kneeling at an altar or being baptized in water. It means a lot more than that. And so Jesus said, "Well, that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Now, you were born once, you were born of the flesh, you are flesh. But of course, people don't believe that today. They think that what you are is an immortal spirit just inside of a body of flesh and they think that the flesh is not you. The flesh is merely the cloak that you wear or the garment that you have around you but that you are spirit. But Jesus didn't say that. Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh, is flesh."
Now, you were born of the flesh, you are flesh. God said to Adam, "Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou [He didn't say the garment you have around you] shalt thou return."
Now, He said but, "That which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit." And He said you must become "born of the spirit." Now, God is that Spirit and, my friends, when you're born of the flesh, you are flesh and you are ... well, it's everyone after his own kind. We reproduce after our kind. And when you're born of God, then you'll be of the Divine Family because God is of the Divine Kingdom. There's the difference—God is immortal and God is Divine.
Now, because they thought the Kingdom of God would immediately appear, He said He had to go to Heaven. He had to go to Heaven in order to send the Holy Spirit for them that they might be begotten of God that they might later enter the Kingdom of God.
Now, all through the Bible it is pictured that Satan is the actual, invisible, present ruler of the world but of course that's only by God's express permission. God could change that and alter that any minute. God has allotted a certain definite time for Satan and when God's time as God set the bounds has expired Satan the Devil just isn't going be around because the Angel with the key to the Bottomless Pit will come and lay hold on him and take him away.
Now, Daniel saw in visions this young nobleman going to the far country to get for himself a kingdom and to return and here it is in the seventh chapter of Daniel where Daniel says, verse thirteen, "I saw in the night visions [Now, he saw this in a vision.], and, behold, one like the Son of man [that's Christ] came with the clouds of heaven, and he came to the Ancient of days [Now, Jesus ascended up to heaven in clouds. So He left the earth in the clouds of heaven and He came to the Ancient of Days—that is the Father sitting on His throne up in Heaven], and they brought him [Christ] near before him [the Father]. And there was given him [Christ] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations,..."
Now, this isn't in heaven because you wouldn't have a lot of different nations up in Heaven. This is the people of the earth. But He's gone to Heaven to get this rule.
God is the supreme ruler and God has decreed that Satan's rule is to last for six thousand years. And that six thousand years is now almost over and at that time Jesus Christ is to have it.
Now, Christ had met Satan in immortal combat. And in the greatest battle and the greatest fury that was every fought in all the history of the world, Jesus Christ met Satan the Devil in that temptation. Satan tempted Him in His weakest points (He was hungry), he said, "Turn these things here you see into bread." Perform a miracle and give yourself food. He appealed to His vanity ability to do things. He also appealed to hunger. And I tell if you fast for forty days you'll find that real hunger sets in after that amount of time and it's a hunger such as you have never experienced and Jesus was tempted as you have probably never known a temptation. But Jesus resisted it and He quoted God's Word and He said, "It's written that man shall live, not by bread alone but by every word of God." And the Word of God had said, "Don't fall for this kind of thing, don't yield to that kind of temptation but trust God."
Then the Devil tempted Him again. And then again the Devil led Him up and said, "Look at all the kingdoms of this world, I'll give them to you if you'll fall down and worship me."
Jesus turned and said, "It is written that you shall worship the Eternal thy God and him only shalt thou worship." And He was that very Eternal.
And then He gave the Devil a command. Now, he said, "Get out of here, get thee hence." Jesus now was in the driver's seat. Jesus was giving the Devil an order and the Devil obeyed—he slunk away and right then Jesus was his master. The Devil tried to tempt Jesus to get Jesus to obey him but Jesus obeyed God the Father instead.
Now, God had given Adam some commands. He had revealed to Adam the purpose of life and the way of life. He had revealed Himself to Adam. He had told Adam he was dust. Adam didn't believe it.
The Devil came along and said, "Oh now you won't surely die, you are an immortal soul. Why, don't you be like God, you don't have to obey Him. Do what you think is right." And Adam, gullible as he was, actually believed he was doing what he wanted to do and obeying only his own idea and actually he was obeying the Devil. And he became the Devil's property and sold out the whole human race to the Devil until Jesus came to ransom us from the kidnapper the Devil and He paid the ransom price, His own life.
But listen, before He did that, He met the Devil. And there again the Devil tried to tempt Him as He had the first Adam. But Jesus didn't disobey God and obey the Devil and He wasn't... He was tempted into thinking He was just obeying His own ideas but He knew better. And now, He turned around and gave the Devil an order and the Devil had to obey Him because Jesus had previously quoted to the Devil it is written, "Thou shalt worship [and that means also obey] the Eternal thy God [and Jesus was that Eternal] and him only shalt thou worship." And then He said, you get out of here. And the Devil had to obey and he did.
Now, Jesus conquered him, Jesus was his master, Jesus then and there qualified to rule the world but He didn't take over the office. He wasn't inducted into office at that time because God had ordained that there was to be the six thousand year period of man to do as man pleases with the Devil here to, well, to tempt him, to influence him and all of that. The Devil can't force you to do a thing. You make your own decisions. You can't blame it really on the Devil in a way because you are not falling for any of the temptations of the Devil unless you do it willingly and God has made His Truth available if you would look for it and you could follow God's Truth instead of the Devil's lies but the world has followed the Devil's lies and seems to prefer it. Well, God has allotted six thousand years for that.
Now, Jesus meantime then went up to Heaven to get the approval of the very throne of God. God is the ruler over all this universe. So, here it is. Daniel saw it in visions, in a night, in a vision, and here came Jesus, a Son of Man before God the Father and His throne.
"And there was given to him [Jesus] dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people and nations and languages should serve him [that's speaking of this earth where people speak different languages, different nationalities. Yes.]: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
He went up there to get permission to rule the Kingdom. To rule His Kingdom is that which He rules when He reigns over the nations of the earth.
My friends, that Kingdom has not yet begun. And because the people thought it would begin and that it would be the church...
Does the church rule the world? No. It's tried to but it hasn't. There isn't a church on the face of this earth today, I verily believe, except the one true Church of God that most people don't know, they don't even know where it is or where it exists.
And I tell you there is not a church of men on the face of the earth today that wouldn't rule the world if they had the power. And they would rule not in righteousness and justice but like the most wicked tyrants that have ever lived if they had the power and the opportunity.
Now, going back to this parable in the nineteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus "said therefore, A certain noble man went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. [Now, Daniel pictured that. Then] he called his ten servants, and delivered to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens [Now, the citizens are His own tribe, His own nation, Judah, to which He came.] ... [they] sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us."
They rejected Him as their king. They crucified Him, well, in a way they did. In another way, we've all crucified Him because He died for your sins and mine and we're the real guilty parties. I'm not trying to just blame it on the Jewish people at all. But there were Jewish people of that time and that generation who cried out for His blood and that is a historic fact. And, again, it was the Roman soldiers that did it after Pilate okayed it and so they put Him to death. But actually, my friends, it's you and me who caused Him to die because of our sins and He died voluntarily for us and we'd better remember that.
Now, He said to His ten servants (that's the other ten tribes of the House of Israel), "Occupy till I come."
"And it came to pass, that when he was returned [Now, this is the Second Coming of Christ], having received the kingdom, that he commanded those servants to be called to him, unto whom he had given the money, that he might know how much each had gained by trading. Now the first came and said, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds..."
He had increased his spiritual stock and trade. He had grown in grace and knowledge. He had studied the Bible and learned and learned more of God. He had kept close to God in prayer. He had grown closer to God and farther away from the world. He had obeyed God and carried out God's mission on the earth. Well, he'd accomplished something.
So Jesus "said to him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful [over] in a very little [and anything we do in this world is a very little], have thou authority over ten cities."
When the Kingdom is established, there will be authority over cities. Jesus will be the King of kings and we will be kings and we'll rule the world and the Saints are to rule the world. Oh, I tell you, my friends, it's time that we get it.
Now, real quickly, over to the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation. And here come the Saints that lived and died and even those that were martyred and they are resurrected and they reign with Christ a thousand years—that's in verse four. Satan is put away in verses one and two and three. And now, in verse five, the rest of the dead will not live again till a thousand years are finished. And in verse six, here are the dead reigning with Christ a thousand years again. Then at the end of that time, we find that the Devil is loosed and finally we come to the second death in the Lake of Fire where they are burned up and that, my friends, is at the end of what we call the Millennium, the thousand years after this present age. Now, that is where the tares are burned up.
So, you see the Kingdom of God, my friends, has not appeared. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom over which Jesus will rule and which those in the Kingdom, Saints then made immortal that have entered into the Kingdom which flesh and blood cannot enter into. The Kingdom is not the Church. The Church is made up very much of flesh and blood. The Kingdom of God can't be seen or entered into or inherited by flesh and blood. You must be born of God until you are like God, immortal, spiritual, divine, glorified as Jesus was.
Now, then, you see the harvest then is the end of the age, it's the end of the Millennium, not the end of this time. Oh, how men have misunderstood these parables.
"...with many such parables he spake the word unto them, as they were able to hear it; and without a parable spake he not unto them: but privately to his disciples he expounded these things."
Yes, and "unto the multitudes" He spoke "in parables [it is in Matthew]; and without a parable spake he nothing unto them..." But He expounded these things privately to His disciples.
Now, we'll go further into this and the truth will become so plain, if you listen every day, this same time, this same station.
And now finally, let me remind you if you want to really understand your Bible, if you're willing to set yourself to devote a half hour or more every day to Bible study, you may enroll now for the "Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course." There is no tuition.
And so, goodbye, friends until tomorrow.