Well greetings friends. This is Herbert W Armstrong with the Good News of the World Tomorrow.
Why is it my friends, that today, we hear a so-called way of salvation proclaimed that is exactly the opposite of the way that Jesus Christ proclaimed that we should receive eternal life? Why is it that we hear doctrines promulgated today exactly the opposite of those that the apostle Paul taught the Gentiles? Because he taught exactly as Jesus Christ had taught His disciples.
Now in going through the New Testament, if you'll get your Bible, open it up and open your mind and your heart along with it, you will be surprised at what you see. Why is it so many people believe the Bible says exactly the opposite of what it does? Now let's see what it does say?
Today they'll tell you there are no works to salvation. It's all free, Christ bought it all and paid for it all for you. Now that is true, it's free and Christ paid for it. But let me tell you that: "there are no works of any kind" — they are trying to delude you or they themselves are deceived. There are works; and you either have good works or bad works. It's just a case of which you're going to have. And if you do not believe in any good works and obedience to God you're going to have bad works and disobedience "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: [for] it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7 KJV). And it is simply going to go in the opposite direction, that is, that of rebellion against God and that of sin, and it's going to go that way absolutely unless something is done to change it.
Now here we are picking up the story thread, Matthew 18:15, Matthew eighteenth chapter verse fifteen. Jesus is speaking here to His disciples, let's notice what He said. He was teaching works all the way along if you'll notice not no works, and when the young man came to Him as we'll come pretty soon here in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew as I have quoted it so often. And asking what he should do to receive eternal life. Jesus didn't say there's nothing that you do my dear fellow, that I'm going to do it all for you. He said, "...if you would enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17)
Obey God! Obedience to God — that is the teaching of your Bible from one end to the other. Of course I know they take a few passages of single verses and parts of sentences, distort them out of their context, put a peculiar meaning on them that the apostle Paul would be astounded at if he would come from his grave and see it and hear it today. Out of the books of Galatians and Romans and tell you that Paul taught that there are no works of any kind, that we just do what we think is right and obey our consciences and believe in Christ and an empty faith and you'll get into the kingdom of heaven.
If a Brother Wrongs You Now Jesus said: "Moreover if thy brother [He's talking to His disciples and teaching them, and they were the future apostles of the Church] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone [in other words don't go around gossiping about it, don't tell others behind his back. Today we, that's exactly what we do I'm afraid; someone wrongs you; instead of going to that man about it you tell everybody else what he did. You broadcast it and tell everybody and run him down, do everything you can like that. But you avoid him, you're somehow afraid to face him. Now Jesus said if your brother shall wrong you in any way go tell him his fault between you and him alone]: and if he'll hear you, you've gained your brother." (Matthew 18:15 KJV paraphrased)
You know in another place He tells you that if you're going to go see anyone with anything of that sort you'd better pray a little bit before you go and go in a spirit of meekness (I Corinthians 4:21, Galatians 6:1 KJV). And pray and get close to God and ask Him for His Spirit which is after all a spirit of love. However, it is a spirit of justice, that doesn't mean you're going to condone wrong at all; but you can go with a kindly spirit.
But anyway He says go to him alone: "...and if he'll hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee..." (Matthew 18:15 KJV last part)
Then what? Then, go ahead and broadcast it and take it around to others and say a lot of evil about him behind his back even though the evil may be true? You know we're told to not speak evil of others behind their back, and even though that evil might be true, we're still told and commanded in the Word of God, if we would live as Jesus taught; which is the only way of life that will lead to peace and happiness and contentment, and a full abundant life and everything we want, we are told not to speak evil. Now the evil you speak might be true. It isn't a case of whether it's true or false; it isn't a matter of telling lies about another man behind his back; it's a matter of telling things that are evil that the man is accused of or has done whether he did it or not. A lot of us don't stop to think about that.
But if he will not hear thee, then what? "...then take with thee one or two more that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." (Matthew 18:16 KJV paraphrased).
Oh how that has been perverted and misapplied. Most of them apply that that you have to have two or three scriptures on every source of everything; that you can't believe God and so you need two or three witnesses from God before you can prove anything.
In the very last chapter of Matthew, Jesus in giving the commission to His disciples, told them to go into all the world, Matthew 28:19: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe [what?] all things whatsoever I have commanded you:" (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV paraphrased). Teaching them to observe commandments of course.
But here's the point. The only place in all the New Testament where there is any command to baptize people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is that one verse, right there.
Now there are people who believe that because you don't have another witness to prove it that you must throw that out of your Bible and just cross it out. And therefore they find people who have been baptized and as the preacher used the term in doing it; 'in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,' that that was all wrong, that they've got to get the Father and the Holy Spirit out of it because in all the other passages it says to baptize them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so they want Christ only; they don't want any Father in it and they don't want the Holy Spirit in it; and so the've got to be baptized all over again which is in itself is contrary to the Bible.
All Scripture Inspired Now my friends you will read that the apostle Paul said over here to Timothy, II Timothy the third chapter, that: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16 KJV first part). God does not need two witnesses to establish what He says; whatever God has said, is true. The only thing you need to be concerned with is the fact of course, we do have merely a translation of the Bible into the English language, we're not reading the original language, which was in the Greek language, and there is no actual original copy, that is, the very copy on which Matthew wrote with his own hand. Nobody knows where that is. And it's a good thing, God has seen to that because if you could find that copy that Matthew had written with his own hands; you know what people would do? They would revere it and make an idol of it and worship that very thing. That would be a relic that people would surely worship. And God has seen that we don't have any of that.
But there are over a thousand copies that have been very carefully copied in the original Greek language. They've been copied by different ones at different times. They've been so carefully copied, and there are almost no discrepancies from one of those copies to another out of the more than a thousand copies that are extent. The only thing is if one has made a little mistake and has copied a certain word or part of a word a little differently than all of the other nine hundred and ninety nine plus, why, we know that one was wrong and the others undoubtedly had it correct. And there is a way of arriving at it exactly.
And now again there is a man by the name of Ivan Panin who has discovered that in the New Testament — I think I've mentioned this before — that in the New Testament, in the original Greek language in which it was written, that in every natural division of thought, like for instance in the genealogy of Christ; in the whole genealogy, it divides into fourteen generations on one side and then another fourteen generations that followed. And so it goes, and any natural division, it is all a division of sevens and the pattern of sevens is woven into it in this manner. You can count the letters and they're divisible by seven; in any part or portion of it that is a natural division. You can count the words and they're divisible by seven.
Now, in the Greek language there is a numeric system; like for instance, we have Roman numerals where an 'I' is a 1 and a 'V' is a five, an 'X' is ten and 'L' is fifty and so on. Now, letters stand for numbers and in the Greek language you can add up the numbers that the letters stand for and they still will be divisible by seven. Now if you had a thousand Hebrew scholars and they'd take a thousand years, they would never be able to write a book in the New Testament such as has been written and have it make sense and carry the great dynamic living message that it does; and so construct it that the numerics, if you add up the numerals of the numbers that these letters represent, would be divisible by seven, and that the number of actual letters would be divisible by seven, and that the number of words would be divisible by seven. Now we not only have all of these copies but we can check it that way and tell whether or not any one passage was there.
Now there are some passages that are in dispute. The very last verses for instance of Mark's gospel has been in dispute and some claim that it was not in the original, that someone as a copyist or an editor just added those last words and that others copied it. And so we find that maybe a few hundred of the copies will have it and other hundreds will not. And so it goes.
And there is doubt now among the theologians and the higher critics and the so called great scholars of the Bible, as to whether certain portions are genuine and were actually inspired and written by Matthew or by Mark or by Paul or whoever wrote the book in the first place.
Well by all of these various copies, by going to the oldest manuscripts, and by applying this system of numerics that does apply in the New Testament, I tell you we can always tell so that we can be sure. You know, a lot of people say, well if you have to go to all that bother to understand the Bible, I just don't have time. Well some of you just don't have time to gain eternal life so you'll live forever. You're just so busy that you haven't got time to gain eternal life; you're so busy you're just going to have to live your life out, run down and die. And "...the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23 KJV), and that death is for all eternity, and some of you are just so busy you're going to have to get it I guess; you're just too busy to gain eternal life. Listen, everything worth having takes a little bit of effort and its worth a little bit of working for.
And you know God has so concealed the real riches in His Word — the Bible — so that you do have to spend a little bit of time to get them. You wouldn't appreciate them if you didn't. If it just came so easy; you know we're living in this modern push button age. You just want to push a button and everything is done. They're going to have to invent something to do your thinking for you because actually it's going to be a lot of brain work to make your brain work and to do any thinking and it, the idea seems to be its wrong to exercise or to make a motion or do any work whatsoever.
I guess that has comes from this idea that we all get to go to heaven if we're good, or if we get the secret password or if we, if we conform to whatever may be the idea of the particular sect or denomination. They don't get the way of Christ out of the Bible, they all have their own way and they all seem to think they're going to heaven and when they get there they're just going to lie around, or should I say lay around; I think that's what they think they're really going to do; and if you know the difference. And have nothing but idleness and ease and they won't even have to work their poor tired brains. Now most people think that's the way to be happy.
Well there are some religions that have the idea of Nirvana; you know that means, just extinction, nothingness. And that they think is the desirable thing because there's some kind of work to living.
Industriousness Brings Happiness Now I knew a man that didn't know anything about God at all. He was an agnostic. He never said that he was sure there wasn't any God but he certainly wasn't sure there was. And I told this man himself that a Unitarian preacher had told me that he thought that this man's religion originated in his pocketbook and the man had a big laugh and he said, "Well I get away with it don't I?" Now that man was Elbert Hubbard. And a great many of my listeners at least will know who Elbert Hubbard was; he was a very great lecturer and prolific writer and he edited two magazines, I guess he wrote all of it himself; and he owned a hotel in East Aurora, New York and he lectured all over the United States, wore long hair and a great big hat. And I knew Elbert Hubbard and visited with him two or three times and talked with him. He was quite a philosopher as long as he kept in this material realm but he knew nothing of spiritual things. He was totally blinded and absolutely totally ignorant on spiritual things. But he was quite a wise man in this world and in material things and really one of our outstanding philosophers in that realm beyond a doubt.
Well, I was visiting him at East Aurora, New York one time and he put me to work. He was selling what they called 'goodie boxes,' that was the name he gave them. And at that time they were five dollars a box to be given away as Christmas presents and that was a big price, that would be about like twenty-five dollars a box today. And in it he had fruit and vegetables and things of that sort, just ordinary fruit. But now the potatoes were all scrubbed and tubbed as they say and they were wrapped in tissue paper so that they looked very deluxe; and so he could sell them for several times what they were worth. Which he did — made them look very nice in such a beautiful package. Of course people bought it just because of, look where it came from, it was quite the fashionable thing to do. Well I packed those Irish potatoes in, wrapped them in tissue paper; I must have wrapped several hundred of them there that afternoon. He had a good laugh; he said, "What do you think of me? You come to see me; I charge you the full price for a very expensive luncheon; I try to get you to stay overnight and I'm going to charge you the full rate for a room in my hotel and I put you to work and I don't pay you anything about it." And I said, "Who was that great philosopher that said; 'get your happiness out of your work.'" Now he enjoyed that immensely, because of course, he was the philosopher that had written that many times. Get your happiness out of your work.
I wonder if you realize my friends that even if you don't have a knowledge of spiritual things — and Elbert Hubbard didn't — but he did know that much. And that that's a material truth and it is a truism and it is true. That the only way you can be happy is to be industrious and to be busy. Idleness will never bring happiness to anyone. And here we're trying to get away from every bit of work. We have to invent some new gadget and some labor saving time saving device so we can just lay around and lounge around and do nothing.
Well, I tell you that is not God's way and God didn't put us here for that purpose, we were put here on this earth for a purpose. God help us to find that purpose and to begin to fulfill it and then we can be happy, and we can enjoy life and life can be very sweet, very good and very beautiful and very enjoyable. And it ought to be and God wants it to be, He doesn't want us to be miserable.
Well anyway, God intended us to put forth a little effort to get the truth of His word and you can have it if you want it and you have all the time there is — twenty-four hours a day; and if you're too busy to spend the necessary part of it studying the Word of God you're just too busy to get any salvation; you're too busy to find the way of happiness; you're too busy to make your life worthwhile or ever to enjoy it. And I say God help you and have mercy on you.
Talking about Human witnesses Well, now, "...if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." (Matthew 18:16 KJV)
He's talking here about human witnesses; in the mouth of two or three human beings. Now you can't put your trust in a man. The Bible teaches you not to put your trust in any man, not to put your trust in men; but to put your trust in God. All you need is one statement from God; you don't need two or three witnesses, if it is inspired of God, if it's proved that God said it, one statement is enough, you don't need anymore. But when a man says a thing you can't tell whether to believe him or not.
And today I'll tell you, it used to be that two or three would prove a thing and you couldn't get two or three people to lie but I think today you can get a hundred people to stand up and lie about anything. Times have changed. And of course the evolutionists call that getting better and better and improving and going upward and upward all the time as we come to a place where we have nothing but strife and confusion and warfare and where crime is increasing and where dishonesty is increasing. Is that progress my friends? That's the kind of progress we really have in this world; I call it progress in reverse.
"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church [tell it to the church]: and if he shall neglect to hear the church..." (Matthew 18:17 paraphrased)
Now when the Church speaks to him it speaks through God's own appointed men; those whom God has called and put in authority. Now for the lay members, if any one says anything they're not to bother the pastor of the Church about it; that is if you have God's true Church and Jesus said I will build my Church (Matthew 16:18), and He did. And if you ever do find His true Church that's what you're going to find and then you're going to have to decide this: do you care anything about being a member of God's true Church or do you care more about the approbation of people and what they think of you and having men think well of you. I just read to you the other day where Jesus said, "Woe unto you when men think well of you..." (Luke 6:26). But most people would rather have men think well of them than to have God think well of them.
Well that's just like most people are too busy to ever gain eternal life, and they're too anxious about what people think to ever have eternal life. Very few people seem to hunger and thirst for truth, for righteousness or for eternal life; they just hunger and thirst, for vanity and greed and selfishness and having their own way and what other people think of them; and for ease and idleness and the very things that are a curse to you. And then they wonder why they are so miserable and their lives are so empty and why they're so unhappy.
Now for the lay member; if someone does something wrong to you go to that person alone and tell him. But tell him in as kind a way as you can, but maybe you might have to be a little firm about it if he's really done something, but pray over it first. "...if he won't hear you take one or two that in the mouth of one or two other witnesses the thing may be established. And if he neglects to hear them tell it to the church..." (Matthew 18:16-17)
And that means to the constituted offices of the Church and they will be those whom God has called; whom God hath chosen and set in a position of authority and they carry the authority of Jesus Christ, if it is the true Church of God. Now, then let the church tell him; and that means of course either the pastor or someone with delegated authority.
"And if he neglect to hear the church let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." (Matthew 18:17)
Now that means he's not in the church; if you know the direction of the Church in the Bible and Jesus is here giving instruction for the church. Now actually at the time Jesus said this, the church hadn't even been founded yet. It wasn't founded until after He was crucified and had been resurrected from the dead and had ascended to heaven, the church started on that day of Pentecost. That is the New Testament church, actually the church was in being and had been since the days of Moses but that was the Old Testament church. Now, in case some of you don't believe that just turn over to — let me see, it's Acts isn't it, the seventh chapter of Acts I believe it is, let me turn to it and catch it here, yes, the seventh chapter of Acts, the thirty-seventh and the thirty-eighth verse. The church was in force and affect before the day of Pentecost but this is it.
It says here; "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel [way back long before Christ and the time the children of Israel came out of Egypt and Moses said]: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in Mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles [what, to be nailed to the cross? No to give unto us]: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey..." (Acts 7:37-39). They hardened their hearts and Jesus said we're not to harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:15), but we're to obey. And obedience is taught all through the New Testament.
Answers To Prayer Well, now He continues to show that those whom He sets in His Church are clothed with authority. Continue in verse 18:
"Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:18)
Now there it is, and actually the meaning of that is that we would bind on earth, that is God's ministers shall bind on earth that which is bound in heaven, and that which they know and have been led to know is God's will to bind in heaven. And that God does therefore bind it in heaven. Now He continues:
"Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:19-20)
I wonder if you've ever noticed that; now I know people that have claimed that and have had prayers answered as a result.
"I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)
If you're up against it and you know that there is something that God has promised and you have to ask Him for it and you ask in prayer, believing; of course you shall receive it. But I'll tell you, one way to bolster it up is to get some other believer who really believes and is obedient to God to ask with you and to agree with you.
Now there are a few little things there I want to pause and explain just a second. How are you to know you can get an answer when you pray? The first thing to know is, you must ask according to God's will and in Ephesians we read that you should not be ignorant but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17), because the Bible is the expression of His will. Now if you know the Bible you will know what is His will. In the Bible God has made you thousands of promises of things that is His will to do that He wants you to ask when then the need comes and He will perform it; He has promised and God can't break a promise. The secret of getting an answer to prayer is to just hold God to a promise He's made and He can't break it. You can hold Him to it and He will have to do it. Yes, but you have to know it's something that God has promised, something that is His will that He has revealed is His will in the Bible.
Now of course it's always His will to do His will isn't it? And if He's revealed His will you know it's His will; and if it is His will; well, here, if we ask anything according to His will we find that He hears us and if He hears us we know we have the petition. In other words if you don't ask according to His will He isn't even going to hear you in the first place anyhow. But If He hears you He will answer.
Now, in the second place; "...whatsoever we ask of him we receive [says the scripture] because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (I John 3:22 paraphrased).
Most of us don't want to keep His commandments; we want to do the things that are pleasing in man's sight. There are works and you either have good works or bad works, it's just a case of which you're going to have and if you do not believe in any good works and obedience to God you're going to have bad works and disobedience because "...the carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). And it is simply going to go in the opposite direction, that is that of rebellion against God and that of sin, and it's going to go that way; absolutely unless something is done to change it.
Now, get someone that is also obeying God and who really believes; "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20 KJV). And Jesus will be in the midst where ever two or more are gathered in His name and are submissive and are obedient.
Oh I'm going to have to break off there.