Now we're coming down near the close of one of the most interesting and yet neglected and least understood books in all the Bible. The one that tells us where Jesus Christ has been these last 1900 years, where He is now, what's He's doing. What's He'd been doing. What is His job? As I've mentioned so many times before, we usually think of Christ either as someone who was here, over 1900 years ago, who spent 3 1/2 years in the ministry, or we think of Him and see Him pictured so often, as a dead Christ hanging on a cross. And, it seems that almost nobody thinks of Christ as being alive today. As having an absolute mission today, and as being on the job today.
Now I know that some people seem to have the idea, the impression somehow, they certainly didn't get it out of the scriptures, that when Christ was going to heaven, He was having to bow out so far as having any connection with anything earthly is concerned. He had said, I will build my Church. Jesus Christ had called His disciples and He had trained them for 3 1/2 years, in other words, it was just like going to school, or to college, it was certainly not the kind of colleges that we seem to have today. They went around from place to place with the disciples went right around with Him and there were, as far as we know, at least fourteen of them. At time there were a great many more who followed with Him but I mean fourteen who followed constantly from the beginning to the end of His 3 1/2 year period of ministry. And, they were under His training. Getting experience as He taught them and as they learned. After which, they were ordained as.., not only ministers, but they were ordained as Apostles. That is ambassadors for Christ and an ambassador is one who carries a certain authority, and an apostle is 'one sent' but sent with authority representing the Church, the Kingdom, the government.
And so, the common conception has been by a great many, that Jesus just said, well, now, I'm going away and I wont be able to look after this any longer so that He turned it over to the Church and to the Apostles and told them to run it best they could; suit themselves. That He wouldn't be able to help them anymore; He was going way off, where He would be completely out of the picture. He wouldn't any connection with it anymore at all. He had started it and now it was up to them to carry it on. And so, I think that you find in a good many quarters that we have religion organized, where they look to men or a man or a board of men as the head of the Church.
Now in your Bible, my friends, you'll find that Jesus Christ is the head of the body; the body of Christ, which is His church. He is the living active head of it yet today! A lot of people don't seem to realize that. A lot of people don't seem to realize that Jesus Christ has been just as busy for 1900 long years as He was that 3 1/2 years that you read about in Matthew and Mark and Luke and John. And if you want to know what he has been doing for all these 1900 years, the main book in your Bible, where you find it, is the book of Hebrews. The book of the priesthood. Jesus Christ is the High Priest at the present time. Now, what is a priest. Well, a priest is a minister. The priest under the Old Testament or the ministers. Their ministry at that time was a physical ministry. They took care of the physical round of duties under the rituals of the law in the law that God gave to Israel as the nation, and they were also a congregation or a church. There were rituals, ceremonies; they were all physical in nature.
Now He gave them too His great spiritual law, that law is eternal. Sin it the transgression of that law — (I John 3:4). That is a spiritual principle, it's a spiritual law and it regulates your relationships with God and with you neighbor. That is the law that regulates whether or not you're happy. That's the law that regulates how you get along, whether we have peace, whether our lives are really abundant and full and enjoyable and happy and whether its good to be alive or whether you're having heartache and headaches and all kinds of disappointments and frustrations and you're living a rather empty fruitless life and wondering why you're not happier. Well, the thing that determines that is the law that God set in motion. It's a spiritual law.
A lot of people don't realize that, but God also gave to His Church and His nation, they were both church and state united, beginning with Moses, he gave them a set of physical laws that were church rituals, so to speak. Now, they embodied sacrifices, animal sacrifices, because the Messiah had not yet come. The Messiah had not come to be born as a babe, to be born of a virgin, to grow up as a man and to be despised and rejected of men; to bring His message from God and to die for them, to give His life, the life of their very maker. Born now as a human flesh so the he could die and to die for the sins of the world. That had not happened and so they took a substitute; animals. They had goats, and bulls and lambs and one thing and another. Now they were merely a substitute. And, as you read here in this very book of Hebrew, it's impossible for the blood of animals to remit sins, (Heb. 10:4), they were merely a reminder of sin, they were merely a reminder that they should look forward to the fact that a living messiah, a man who was divine, who had been the divine maker of them all, who had been God, had been with God from the beginning and who was God and was with God. And who would come in the human flesh, born of a virgin, and yet human because He was born of a virgin and born of God so he was divine too. But born human so that He could die. But He would pay the penalty of their transgressions because if there is a law, there must be a penalty and if there's no law, there's isn't any penalty.
That's another thing, a lot of people think there isn't any law today, well if there isn't then, then there isn't any such thing as sin. There isn't any penalty. You don't have anything to worry about. You don't even need a savior if there isn't any law. If you haven't broken the law of God, you don't need a savior. You don't need shed blood for the remission of your sins. You don't need anything of the kind, if you're alright and if there's no law. You know, if some policeman would come barging in here, break down the door of this studio, and come in here and say, Mr. Armstrong, I'm placing you under arrest. I'd say, what for? What law have I broken. Well, you haven't broken any law but I'm placing you under arrest for preaching the gospel to these people. Well, I would say, if there any law against preaching the Gospel. We have any such county ordinances or laws, is there any state law, any government law. Am I violating any law? No, no you're not violating any law. Well, you know, if he placed me under arrest under those conditions he never could get a conviction, he couldn't do anything but I certainly could sue him for false arrest, could I? Yes, and how long do you think a policeman would last that would do a thing like that. He'd be fired right off the force right away because the police department doesn't countenance a thing like that; they don't go around arresting people unless they have broken a law or at least they believed they've broken it. And they can't be convicted unless it's been proved either through a judge in court or by a jury that they have broken a law, according to man's way of proof. It isn't always absolute proof either, is it? But, you know with God's laws, you don't have to be caught by men, you don't have to be judged by men; the law is automatic. Yes, its spiritual and you can't get around it, it sees you! You can't ever beat it. It's always there.
Well, now, they had these physical rituals though, because my friends, we have the spirit of God, the very power of God within us to give us the power, the strength, the love to fulfill the law, the ability to keep the commands of God, to obey God, to live God's way according to His law. They didn't have that then. And so God gave them a substitute to help them to be obedient. And what He gave them was just a whole series of rituals. Of things to do, morning, noon and night. Different washing and carnal ordinances, rituals, things of that sort. Besides these animal sacrifices. Burning of candles, meat and drink offerings, all sorts of things. Now, it was a ritual, it was a round of duties, it was all physical labor. Things they had to do morning, noon and night. Why? Well to keep them in the habit of obeying what they were told to do. That was a physical law of God, they're physical beings and at that time, God was dealing with a physical people; a physical nation. God had to manifest Himself to them physically as He did at Mount Sinai when He came down they heard His voice, they saw the lightning and heard the thunder; they heard His voice. The could touch the mountain, it was a physical mountain they could see. Also then, He gave them a physical law because they were not spiritual minded. They couldn't understand spiritual things. God knew that, He didn't expect them to. So, they didn't have the spiritual love that would fulfill the law. So, He gave them a constant round of physical duties by a physical law to teach them obedience to that physical law that would help them to be obedient to the letter of the spiritual law. That's the only way they could keep it was in the letter, but we can keep it according the spirit today because God has given us His spirit; His Holy Spirit.
And so, as we were seeing here in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, while, they at that time, in the days of Moses, they had come to Mount Sinai, something that could be touch, something they could see and feel and they heard the voice of God, and they heard the cleft of the thunder, and all that sort of thing.
And they were quite frighten, but He said, we are come to Mount Zion, — (Heb. 12: 22), that's the spiritual mountain, not a physical mountain you can see, but the invisible mountain which is really the Church, and then the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and the heavenly Jerusalem is the Church and the Church while it's here, the members of the Church are ambassadors for Christ, we're like as if we were in a foreign country now. Our country then, is the Kingdom of God. Our citizenship is reserved in heaven. Jesus Christ will bring it with Him when He comes. His reward will be with Him when He comes. This isn't what most of you have been taught. This is what the Bible teaches. How contrary have we been taught to the Bible. Why the Bible itself says that "all nations would be deceived at this time" — (Rev 12:9 & Rev 18:23). Many false prophets would go out and they're very probably sincere. I'm not accusing anybody of any dishonesty in any place. But I do know that the Bible says and Jesus Christ Himself said the "many false prophets would arise, deceiving and being deceived themselves," but He said that "when the blind lead the blind that they both fall in the ditch." — (Mt. 24: 11 & Mt. 15:14).
You know, how do you believe what you believe. Primarily because you've always heard and been brought up to believe a certain thing. You've read it, you've been taught it and you've accepted it, you've taken it for granted. That's the way we come to believe things. We've been born in this world, the world has been deceived a long, long time, long before we were born. And, what's our school system? Why, just to teach you to memorize what the book says. And we grow up believing what ever religion is palm off in its day. We suppose it's the truth.
Well now, I think it's wise, my friends, to look into the Bible and see and prove it. The Bible itself says "prove all things!" God challenges you to "prove all things" — (I Thess. 5: 21)! I say listen to me. Some people think because I don't preached just what you've grown up believing, what you've assumed, you've absorbed it, you've been taught it, you never proved it, you never looked into it to see whether it was true. You take it for granted. What we believe what we think is true we're very indignant if anyone say anything else. We're willing to fight at the drop of a hat. We're willing to contest whatever he says, we're think he's all wrong if he doesn't agree with us. It never would occur to us that we could be wrong, not would it?
Well, you know, I had quite an awakening when I found that the things I had grown up believing were not what the Bible says but in many cases exactly the opposite. Why, my head was whirling around and I didn't know what to think? Yes, it made me a little mad, for a while, as it's making a lot of you people as you listen this program, I know. I've gone through that same experience. But, the Bereans listened to the Apostle Paul without any prejudice. But, they searched the scriptures then daily whether these things he preached were so and yet, without prejudice. Well, that's all I ask, just listen, my friends, without prejudice. But, prejudice is a barrier that will just close down the door of your understanding so you won't be able to understand at all. So listen, check up. Read your own Bible. Study your own Bible. And search the Bible whether these things be so.
If the Bible is true, then all nations are deceived today! And they've gotten away from "the truth that had once been delivered to the saints" — (Jude 3). They have turned grace into lasciviousness or license, which is license to disobey God. Now, if the Bible is true, then the doctrines that are deceiving the people today, and what is popularly called Christianity today, will be something that makes the grace of God of no effect by tradition and something that is giving license to disobey God on the grounds that you shouldn't obey God and therefore, absolutely taking grace away from the very people that promises grace to. Now, that's something to think about. Because if that's true, my friends, millions upon millions are deceived in our beloved America today. You know, I know that my eternity is at stake and yours is too. Well I found that I had to look into this thing and I was just so shocked that.., I was angry for a while, my head was in a whirl, I was bewildered, I was all mixed up, but, you know, pretty soon; it all cleared up. And it began to make sense.
And for the first time in my life I saw that there's no superstition in the Bible. Oh, no, there's sound, common sense; it makes sense! And it is true! And it's consistent.., every bit of it and it is the truth! Well, now here, you are come to Mount Zion, and the heavenly Jerusalem. And so, those that are in the Church and the heavenly Jerusalem is the Church. It the Jerusalem above which is the mother of us all, and it is the Church as other scripture very plainly explain.
And the heavenly Jerusalem, well are, our citizenship. I've been explaining that, is on reserve up there but we're here as in a foreign strange land like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They dwelt in the land of Palestine, over there, but it didn't belong to them then. They died not having received the promise, and yet God promised to give them to for an everlasting eternal possession. But He never gave it to them during their lifetime. They were there, it says, as foreigners, as strangers and pilgrims in the earth. Just like a pilgrim way off in a far away strange country that's foreign to him. He's not a citizen there, at all. His citizenship is in another country. Well, my friends, maybe that's where your citizenship ought to be if you're a real Christian. Your citizenship should be up in heaven. But you're not going up there to it. It's going to come down here to you when Christ comes because He going to bring the reward with Him. That's what your Bible says.
So, we are come into this spiritual mount, not a visible one that you can see. You can't go up and touch it like the children of Israel could Mount Sinai. It's the heavenly Jerusalem then to an innumerable company of angels. Now, I wonder, if you understand that? You know, many sermons could be preached on this one twenty-second verse here, this twelfth chapter of Hebrews — (Heb. 12: 22). We are come then, if we are Christians, and this is speaking of Christians not only to Mount Zion which is the Church, spiritually speaking, not only to the heavenly Jerusalem which is the mother. Now, let me explain that a little further before we get then into the matter of these angels.
We are begotten of God if we're Christians. We're like the unborn babe; begotten, conceive, not yet born. It must be nourished and fed. And it is protected, it is cared for, nourished and fed by the mother until it grows large enough to be born. Every one of us, my friends, started from a little nucleus smaller than a pinpoint. And we had to grow large enough to be born before we were born. But yet, we existed. We were conceived. Our life actually existed. About the size of a pinpoint. And there were all of the characteristics that we have inherited by heredity from our parents, our father and our mother, actually within that little tiny nucleus, so small that scarcely visible to the human eye. In fact, the nucleus itself would not have been visible to the human eye.., actually. And, the mother's job was to protect and to nourish and to feed.., until it was born. And even then, to take care of it. The baby after it was born for some time, finally we grew up where we can take care of ourselves.
Well, it is so spiritually speaking and that is an exact type. Once we are conceived or once we are begotten of God, the very nature of God, His life impregnated within us, that's the Holy Spirit, the power of God, the nature of God, the very life of God Almighty within us and we're already born even naturally in the flesh in God's image; same form, same shape. Jesus was! He looked like the Father and he looked like other men, too. And then, my friends, the Church is the mother and the job of the Church is to feed spiritually, to protect, to preserve, to nourish and to feed.., these members in it that are spiritually begotten and must grow spiritually until we're spiritually developed enough to be born of God into the Kingdom of God. And we're finally born of God into His Kingdom.., why then as you read over here in I John, let me see, is that the second or the third chapter, I John and the ninth verse: Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, His seed [meaning God's] remains in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God. In other words, God's nature abides in him and he cannot sin because the human nature is gone by that time. And there's no human nature in him, only the divine nature, and he cannot sin. Because there's nothing any longer to tempt him to sin. Now, when Jesus Christ was here, He partook to the nature of men. It says, He didn't take on Himself the nature of angels, He took on the seed of Abraham. A human nature, and He was tempted in all points like as we. But Christ is not tempted now.
By a resurrection from the dead He is a divine son of God and He is very God. And He isn't tempted now. Neither is God tempted. God isn't even tempted. Christ was tempted while He was here in the human flesh on this earth just as we are. Yet He was without sin. He is our High Priest who can keep us free from sin now.
Now the Church has been given two great commissions or two functions: The first one that is stressed first is go ye in all the world and proclaim the Gospel — (Mark 16:15). And that's the message that God sent in this world by Jesus Christ. That the message the world has rejected. The world accepted Christ. The world talks about Christ. The world preaches about His person. It exalts Him, it tells about how great Christ was but the message He brought, oh, no, that must be ruled out. Because that message was primarily a message about the government of God. Surrender, repent, obey, and receive God's Spirit. That was the message of Christ. And it was a message of surrender to God and people don't want to surrender, they want their own way. We are in a world in rebellion against God. God has given us our choice and He said, Choose and we have chosen: Rebellion; not obedience.
Christ came with a message of obedience. A message of repentance.., as well as a message of faith. And the two go hand in hand. And it a living faith that is proved by our obedience. That's what He taught. And the message about obedience to God and the message about what it really means to be born again, to be born into the Kingdom of God; that message has been stamped out. Now we hear a lot of the message about being born again but they teach you that you're already born again if you,.. well in some churches they shake the preacher's hand and in others you're sprinkled in water or by water and in others you just receive Christ, as they say, or acknowledge Him before men and what ever it may be just like different forms of initiation into some secret lodge or something. And that's actually, my friends, what a lot of men have made of it. But, that isn't what I find in the Bible. That's just some kind of man made religion when you have those things.
Now, actually, my friends, when you have really repented of your sins, when you've really been conquered by God and your will is conquered, and till you ready to say to Jesus Christ, not my will, but thy will be done! When you have decided now that you will obey God, changed your mind about this thing until you are now no longer going the wrong way but seeking God's will and wanting to do it, no matter how hard it may seem cutting against human nature. Then when you come to God through living faith in Christ Jesus as your savior, then He says you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now, He says you should be baptized under Christ too. And then you shall received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That God's promise. Now, God can't go back on His promise, He'll keep His promise. Don't misunderstand me. It's alright to cry some tears at the alter and I think if we've really come to ourselves, I think we will be so broken up, we'll feel like crying a lot of tears too. But it should be sincere and from the heart and really mean something. And it's certainly alright to profess Christ before men and it's certainly alright to receive Christ. I don't say those things are wrong. I just say those things though, as a physical ritual, are not going to save anybody. Because salvation is something that is an experience and it really take place right down deep in your heart. And it takes a real repentance. It takes a real being conquered by God and a real living faith in Jesus Christ. Then you'll receive the faith of Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit which comes as God's gift to you. That's the kind of faith that finally will justify and save you.
Alright, now we're come unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. That's the true church. The first commission of the Church is go into the world and proclaim the gospel. The second is, Jesus said, well feed my sheep, or feed my lambs as some translations have it. So, one of the functions of the Church is to feed those in it. Give them the spiritual food, the nourishment by which they can overcome and help them to do it by which they grow in grace and in knowledge of Christ. The spiritual knowledge. The knowledge and understanding of the Bible. Until their character becomes more and more like His.
Now, next, you are come to an innumerable company of angels. That is so many you couldn't count them. You can't number them. That means more than a million, I can tell you that. Now, do you understand that. I would, have to, my friends, take the next five or six broadcasts of thirty minutes each just to explain what that means.., to explain to you what angels are, and the mission of angels. I wonder, if I just shouldn't stop right here before we go to the next verse and spend three of four broadcast to tell you about it. You know, I asked our group of people in a service that we were holding not so long ago how many of you have ever a sermon on the subject of angels. Have you ever heard a sermon explaining what angels are; what are their function? What are they? Why are they? Why did God create angels? What do they have to do with us or what do we have to do with them? And only one person held up his or her hand. I don't remember which it was now.