Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
And now get out your Bibles and look with you own eyes and be surprised. See how the Bible says exactly the opposite of what you thought. And how the teaching of Jesus was not the teaching of the, so-called, Christianity of this day. And how Jesus taught exactly the opposite of what you have come to believe, what you have accepted. And how He practiced customs that were nothing like the customs practiced by, so called-Christians, of this day and age. There is nothing more astonishing.
Now if you will turn in Matthew, let me see, here we were in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, Matthew the seventeenth chapter. And we were seeing in the preceding program how Jesus had said that there were some standing there, where He was talking to them at the time with His disciples, that would not die. That they would still be living, when they would see the kingdom of God come with power. Many people have never understood that.
Well we went on in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew and the first verse, and we saw that six days later Jesus took three of His disciples with Him up to a high mountain apart. And there He was transfigured, in the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. And there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with Him. And the answer was simply this, that:
"...as they were coming down from the mountain [verse nine], Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man..." (Matthew 17:9 American Standard Version)
Jesus didn't say the kingdom of God will come before some of you die. He didn't say that He would come in His kingdom, but He said:
"...there be some standing by, that shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power." (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1 ASV paraphrased)
They did see it in a vision. He didn't say that His Second Coming would actually take place, but He said there some standing there, according to Matthew's account, which; "...shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28 ASV). And they saw it.
Mankind Rejected Christ's Gospel Jesus Christ was preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. That gospel mankind rejected very, very quickly. That gospel was not allowed to be proclaimed and preached in any organized manner to the world, except for a 38 year period after Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. And that was the end of the organized proclaiming of that message, of that gospel that God had sent by Him.
Now, the number of people who did accept His name, and His person began to increase. And the Roman world, at first, began to persecute the Christians. They martyred them, but the faster they martyred them, the more they grew, and the more people accepted Christ as a personal Saviour. And the main thing was to do away with idolatry in those days, and accept Christ. And worship Him, instead of idols, or graven images, that was the main thing in those days.
Well as time went along, they began to develop into different ideas of men, different sects sprang up. And so inside of a couple hundred years, or a little over two hundred years, we had about fifty different denominations or sects, all claiming to be the Christian religion. And it was in the fourth century, the very beginning of the fourth century, that the emperor of the Roman empire, the ruler of the government, unified the whole thing.
Now in the meantime, you know how Nero, for instance, the emperor of Rome, persecuted the Christians. Threw them into the hungry lions for Sunday afternoon sport. And the pagans would gather around and make sport of seeing these Christians torn apart, and just made food for the lions.
But they finally gave up, because they couldn't stamp out Christianity. And so they began to come in with it. And the pagans joined in wholesale, and they brought with them their pagan customs; their pagan philosophies; their pagan doctrines. And so finally it became more or less paganized, and I think it was a great deal more, than it was less, if you know the truth. And if you'll study the real authentic history of the time.
Now what did they do? They continued to take the name of Christ. They continued to preach about His person. But they did not continue to accept, or to proclaim His message. And His message was the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is two things. Everything in God's way, everything in God's plan is dual and has a dual significance. The kingdom of God is at once a government, a ruling government, and it's governed by laws. And at the same time it is a family, it is the family of God into which we may be born. And you cannot see the kingdom of God, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God, except you be born into it. That was the teaching of Jesus.
Now let's get back and see exactly what Jesus Christ did teach, what He believed, the message that God had sent by Him. He said, "I have spoken nothing of myself" (John 8:28 paraphrased). He didn't have His own ideas. He didn't come as a religious leader with some ideas of His own. He brought what His Father had sent Him to bring. And He said, "...as the Father hath commanded me, so I have spoken." (John 12:49 paraphrased)
Believe What The Bible Says Now, He explained that they had seen the kingdom of God in a vision, and it was a vision. And they saw Him coming in His kingdom, and Elijah, and Moses there, but that was a vision. Now let's continue. I want to drop over into Mark's account of it for just a second here, a couple of verses. That's Mark the ninth chapter and beginning with the tenth verse:
"And they kept the saying [the disciples] questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean." (Mark 9:10 ASV)
Because Jesus had said:
"...Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead." (Matthew 17:9 ASV)
Now notice, they questioned among themselves, what the rising again from the dead should mean? They didn't know what a resurrection from the dead meant. But Jesus was teaching them, and He did teach them, but how many people have been taught today? How many people today know what the rising from the dead means? We don't seem to believe that today. That isn't the common teaching of what is called Christianity today; 'the rising of the dead.' Some people believe it, that call themselves Christians, but a great many who profess to be Christians don't believe it, my friends. The majority of Christians today, or so called Christians today, actually believe that when you die, if you are saved, you go immediately to heaven. If you are lost you go immediately to hell, or some believe, you go to a place called purgatory.
Now, that's the common believing today. That either you go to purgatory, or else you just cut the purgatory out. Some of them do because they don't find that in the Bible, and then they say that you are plunged immediately into hell, or you get to go immediately to heaven when you die. My friends that is not the teaching of your Bible and you can't find any such teaching in your Bible any place, and I challenge you to try to find it.
It's about time we began to wake up, and see what the Bible does teach and how far away from it we have strayed. And how we have accepted the things we have always heard, and we have supposed that these ideas came out of the Bible. But, Jesus said:
"...in vain do they worship me, Teaching as [your] doctrines the precepts of men." (Mark 7:7 ASV)
Not the words of the scripture, not the plain language of scripture, but the the precepts of men. And I tell you, we have been so deceived we just can't believe it. Oh I know this will offend a lot of people. It is so astonishing we just can't believe that that could be true. I ask you open up your minds, and open hearts, and open your Bibles and look and listen without prejudice and search the scriptures your own Bible, whether these things be so.
And, if you will continue for just, well even just a few weeks, to listen to this program, and open your Bible. And if along with it, you'll open both your mind and your heart, and you will study it prayerfully, my friends, you will be amazed. You will be dumb-founded, you will find that what you are hearing on this program is the plain truth of your Bible. Exactly as it is, not some new translation, not some new fantastic interpretation — we've had too many of those. I bring you the plain words as they are. THE BIBLE SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN INTERPRETED IN THE FIRST PLACE. IT NEEDS NO INTERPRETING. God Almighty wrote it and made it plain. And Jesus Christ Himself said:
"...I thank thee, Lord God in heaven, that these things are revealed unto babes, and hidden from the wise and the prudent." (Matthew 11:25 paraphrased)
The wise and the prudent have to get so intellectual, they have to twist the scriptures around, and interpret them. Which means put their ideas into it, make it mean something different. Change the Bible from what God gave us to the way they want to put their message into it. It's about time we quit that, and began to realize that the Bible means what it says and a babe can understand it, if he wants to. I'll tell you why they don't want to understand it: it's because:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable to correct us, to reprove us, and for doctrine..." (II Timothy 3:16 paraphrased)
But people want the precepts of men for doctrine instead. And people don't love correction and reproof. And it's also profitable to instruct us in righteousness, and people do not love instruction. That's why they want to read their meaning in it. They want to go on believing like they always did and try to say that that is what the Bible says, so they twist it around. They interpret it, my friends. I do not have an interpretation of the Bible. I put no interpretation on it, I take it as it is. And you'll be a lot happier too, my friends, when you do the same; a lot happier.
The Resurrection Explained Well now here these disciples, reason amongst themselves. They didn't understand about the resurrection of the dead, and a lot of people today don't. What's the use of a resurrection, which the Bible teaches, if you're already in heaven or hell? And have been there for maybe five hundred, or even five thousand years before it happens. What's the use of bringing people out of their graves? Or I don't mean out of the grave, because nobody believes they are in their graves; actually that's where they are. That was a slip of the tongue; I let the truth slip out that time.
But I mean most people believe they are either in a hell fire somewhere. And I've heard that described as being on the surface of the sun, and down in the middle of the earth, and all kinds of places, everybody has an idea. Why don't you find out, in the Bible, where hell is? That kind of a hell just isn't described in the Bible, there's nothing about that kind of a hell in it.
There is a lake of fire described in the Bible. Jesus Christ did talk about Gehenna fire that will burn them up. That's something else, but that's not the kind of hell where people have already been a long time and where they are still burning, burning, burning and never able to burn up. There is no such hell as that taught anywhere between the covers of your Bible. I challenge you to find it, and write in and show me, if you think you've got it.
Now, what would be the use then, of bringing them out of there for a resurrection and into a judgment, after they are resurrected to find out whether a mistake had been made or not? Maybe they've been punished all this time when they shouldn't have been? And then what's the idea, if heaven is so joyful, and so wonderful, and if they've been up in heaven hearing the voice of Jesus all this time, although Jesus said; "...the hour is coming, when they will rise out of their graves and hear his voice, then" (John 5:28 paraphrased). So He didn't preach what people believe, but just the opposite.
But if they had been, like people believe, up in heaven, hearing His voice all these hundreds of years, and thousands of years, what's the object in having them resurrected out of the ground? How can they be resurrected, which means, 'brought up', when they are already way up above ground up in heaven? How are you going to do it? No it doesn't make sense, and even if you could do it, and you'd have to be a whole lot better than a magician. And if you could, what would be the object in bringing them down to this earth again from heaven? To find out whether they had been enjoying all this bliss by a mistake, and God had made a mistake, and they shouldn't have ever been up there? Maybe they should have been in hell?
What are you going to do? Have some people enjoying heaven here for about five thousand years? And they've had all this thing here for five thousand years by an error and mistake, and they should have been punished in hell? So now, I guess we will have to send them down to hell. And some of the people in hell were burning down there, screaming, shrieking, their mothers were hearing it, but couldn't help them. Their mothers up in heaven, saved mothers in heaven, apparently hear their lost children shrieking down in hell. Most people believe that. That's the way they interpret 'Lazarus and the rich man.'
Elijah Shall Come Now, getting back to Matthew's account of Matthew 17, now in verse 10. I'd like to give it to you as Matthew had it:
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? And he answered and said, Elijah indeed shall [come], and shall restore all things:" (Matthew 17:10-11 ASV paraphrased)
Now He said Elijah shall come — then from that time, there was going to be a coming of Elijah. Elijah was to come in the future from that time. But He said:
"but I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they listed [or whatsoever they desired]..." (Matthew 17:12 ASV paraphrased)
Now Jesus had said in one place, that John the Baptist was Elijah, and He said if you can bear it, well here let's read on, here's where He says it, right here. I was thinking it was in another place, it's right here:
"...Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. Then understood the disciples that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:12-13 ASV)
He spake unto them of John the Baptist, and He said but I say unto you, that Elijah is come already. And it was John the Baptist, and you know he was beheaded. They persecuted him too, just like they did Jesus, and they crucified Jesus, and they beheaded John, and they martyred all of the apostles.
They didn't like that message that God sent, and that message was God's message of love. That message was the way to peace, world peace. That message was the way into happiness and to prosperity, and to a happy filled abundant life, and life eternal, in the kingdom of God. Why do men despise that message; the message of love; the message of peace; the message of happiness and eternal life and salvation? Why have men invented a way of salvation of their own?
Many of you are being misled. You don't know what a Christian really is. And I want to tell you today, if you'd get the modern definition of a Christian, the apostles, if they could be brought back from the dead, that Jesus taught, and went out preaching, and that were the first ones to be called Christians; well they would almost turn over in their graves. They would be astounded, they would be astonished, if they could read the modern definition of Christianity.
It isn't the idea that they had in that time. What's happened to it all these, through these years? It's about time we began to blow the dust off our Bibles. Because the Bible is the same Bible that they had then, or that was being written in the New Testament times. The Old Testament scriptures already were written, and the New Testament was being written, during that first fifty, sixty, seventy years, from the time of Christ.
Well now, notice He said: "...Elijah shall come..." and yet he had come in John the Baptist. But He also said, "He shall come." Now, let me just explain a little about that. They had asked John the Baptist, as you read in John's gospel, the first chapter and the twenty-first verse:
"...they had asked [John] What then? Art thou Elias? And he [said], I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." (John 1:21 KJV paraphrased)
Now Jesus here said, that John the Baptist was the Elijah, that was to come. And he came preparing the way for the first coming of Jesus, when He came as the humble, human, lamb, in flesh and blood, as a flesh and blood mortal. God changed into man. But, He was man and He was the Son of Man, as He called Himself. And He was made mortal for the purpose of death, that He might taste death for every man. That He had blood in His veins, and His life came by His blood, and He gave that blood. He poured out that blood in death on the cross for you, and for me, to cleanse us from sin. And to pay the penalty, that we have incurred by our transgressions of the laws of God. That is what Jesus Christ did.
And John the Baptist came preparing the way before His coming. But now, He said that John was Elijah, and that Elijah is already come. God used him in the same power and in the same function, and put in him the same spirit. It is the one spirit of God, and that's the same spirit that was in the original Elijah. It is the same spirit that was in Jesus, for that matter. The Holy Spirit is the same one and self-same spirit.
Then again, Elijah is to come to prepare the way before the Second Coming of Christ again. And that's why Jesus said here, that Elijah is come already. And yet He'd said previously to that, Elijah indeed cometh, and shall restore all things. In other words, he shall come. There were to be two comings of Elijah, just like two comings of Jesus Christ. The one to prepare the way before the First Coming of Christ, and the other to prepare the way before the Second Coming.
Somewhere on this earth today is the one in the power, and in the spirit of Elijah. But a different person, not John the Baptist, and not the original Elijah, but one whom God is using in that power, and in that spirit, and for that purpose. Merely an instrumentality in the hands of God, that's all. God respects no man's person, let's understand.
The Healing of the Epileptic Son "And when they were come to the multitude [continuing on now, verse 14, Matthew 17] when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a man, kneeling to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son:...he is epileptic, and he suffereth grievously;" (Matthew 17:14-15 ASV)
Now Mark's account has this in it, that this man answered, he said;
"...[Master], I brought unto thee my son, [which] hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever it taketh him, it dasheth him down: and he foameth and grindeth his teeth, and pineth away:" (Mark 9:17-18 ASV)
Now, epilepsy does do exactly that. Now in this one case, epilepsy, which is a common thing today, was demon possession. Now I do not say that epilepsy is always demon possession. If it is demon possession, it is spiritual. That is, the cause is spiritual, not physical. A demon is a spirit being. And if it's a demon in him, that tears him and causes him to fall down, and go into one of these seizures, and foam at the mouth and all that sort of thing, then that is a spirit being inside of him. And the trouble, and the cause is not physical, but spiritual. And in that case, I say to you, by authority of Jesus Christ, that no physician and no doctor of medical science, which is a material science, and no man using merely that material science can even comprehend what it is. He knows not the cause, he is unable to deal with it. He knows not what to do. No wonder then, that so many are not finding a cure.
I do not say, though, that all epilepsy is of that nature. I do not know, but what some of it might be a physical matter, and there might be a physical cause, that would produce the same effect. Now if the cause is physical, then perhaps something could be done about it physically. But, if and when, the cause is, as it was in this case, a demon, and it was demon possession, I say to you that you're wasting your time trying to treat it physically, or going to a material medical science. Unless the doctor that you go to, also is an instrument in the hands of God, and has understanding, and has the power to cast out demons. And I certainly don't know of very many that would fit that description. Now he was epileptic:
"...suffering grievously; [and] oft-times [his father said] he falleth into the fire, and oft-times into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him." (Matthew 17:15-16 ASV)
Now Jesus had sent them out, and given them power over sickness and disease and over the demons, to cast out demons and to heal the sick. But here this father brought this son to Jesus' disciples and they couldn't cast out the demon. They couldn't cure him.
"And Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I [bear] with you?" (Matthew 17:17 ASV)
Do you see, my friends, Jesus was human? He was tempted in all points like as we are, but He wasn't — He didn't sin. Yes I tell you, His patience was tried. That shows just a little beginning of a lack of patience there, doesn't it? It certainly isn't enough to have been sin, because He never sinned. But Jesus said; "...O faithless and perverse generation..." (Matthew 17:17 ASV)
Now notice, this a generation of people that are perverse. They don't want the natural truth of God. They're perverse, they want something that is wrong, and unnatural. They don't want the natural way that God created and caused by His laws that He set in motion to bring us peace, to bring us happiness, to bring us prosperity. God set down the way of life. He revealed that way to our first parents. He revealed it in the antediluvian world through Noah. He revealed through all of His prophets, but the people wouldn't accept it.
Now He was revealing it through Christ. They accepted the person of Christ, but not that message, not the way to happiness, and to peace. No, they were perverse and they were faithless. They lacked faith, they couldn't trust God. They can't believe God, and they can't today anymore. Well I think you can see that Jesus' patience was surely tried.
"...O faithless and perverse generation [He cried out], how long shall I bear with you? bring him hither to me [I can see just a little bit of righteous indignation there]. And Jesus rebuked him; and the demon went out from him: and the boy was cured from that hour. [Now] Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and [they] said, Why could not we cast [him] out?" (Matthew 17:17-19 ASV)
I should think they would come privately to Him. Well they wouldn't want to confess that in front of anybody, would they? But they came privately to Jesus, they didn't want anyone else to know how weak they had been, except those that already knew it. They didn't want to talk about it, but they did come to Jesus. They couldn't understand it, and they said:
"...Why could not we cast it out? And He [said] unto them, Because of your little faith..." (Matthew 17:19-20 ASV)
Or your unbelief, they had such little faith. Now even though Jesus had given them power over demons, and power to cast out demons, power to heal the sick. Authority over sickness and disease, still if they didn't exercise faith, they couldn't do it, don't you see? And here they had been given that authority, and that power, but because of their little faith, they were not able to use even what Jesus had given them. That's true of all of us today.
Now my friends, I know that there are a few hundred ministers listening to this broadcast. All over the United States ministers listen to this program. So you ministers listen, let me just say, if you know the great commission and if you realize God has given you authority, and power to heal the sick, and to cast out demons, you can't do it unless you keep close to God. Unless you too have the faith, and that only comes by keeping close.
"...Because of your little faith [Jesus said]: for verily I say unto you, If you ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20 ASV)
And then in Mark's gospel it says:
"...This kind cannot come out by nothing, save by prayer." (Mark 9:29 ASV)
Now most translations have prayer and fasting, but the 'and fasting' is, undoubtly, left out of the original, and was not inspired. But I can tell you, that fasting, nevertheless with prayer is the way to get closer to God, if you've strayed away from Him.