Greetings everybody, from Big Sandy, Texas. And I want to continue on in this series that I have been going through the last several weeks on television. Why did Jesus Christ raise up the church? What do we need a church for? And why didn't he just save individuals alone by themselves? Why do we need a church with an organization? What is the church for, or what is its purpose?
The real purpose and function of the church simply has not been understood. Well, Jesus came. Now what he did first, he called his disciples. But he had to meet Satan, and he had to meet him head-on, and he had to overcome Satan. Now, the record of that — it was the most titanic struggle that has ever been, in all history, between two antagonists at this time, but Satan was trying to overpower, overcome, and destroy Jesus Christ.
Jesus had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, without a morsel of food or a drop of water. And let me tell you, he was hungry. Now the two greatest temptations that could possibly come to a man, especially, ordinarily, is hunger, but in that condition, it was super hunger. He was so hungry, but the other one is not even a greater one, is vanity. So Satan came and said, "If you be the son of God, you just perform a miracle and turn these stones into bread, and then you can eat."
He appealed to his desire to eat and perform a miracle. He challenged, "If you're the son of God." You know, an average human being today would have said, "What do you mean, 'If I'm the son of God?' I'll show you whether I'm the son of God." And he would have immediately have fallen into the trap, and he turned the stones into bread, and had a meal right there. And he would have fallen into Satan's trap.
Well, Satan put him the three very supreme tests. But Jesus finally snapped out a command, and said, "Now I'm in command, you get out of here," and Satan got. And Christ qualified to restore the government of God on this Earth and to setup the kingdom of God. He had to qualify, and he could not preach the good news of the coming kingdom of God until someone had qualified to rule it, and to overcome Satan, and to be a successor to the former Lucifer that was on the throne of the Earth.
Jesus Had To Overcome Satan So now, Jesus was. Jesus had qualified. Now those called into the church must qualify with him. Let me just, if you will turn to Revelation [2 and verse] 3:21. "To him," Jesus wrote these words after he had ascended to heaven, "to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame." (Rev.3:21) Now Jesus had to overcome Satan to qualify to replace Satan on that throne.
Satan was on the throne. And let me tell you, if you're going to qualify to sit with him on that throne, you have to overcome Satan. Now then, I tell you, that mankind has been cut off from God for 6,000 years. They haven't been lost, but they haven't been saved. They just have not been judged. And the greatest fallacy, the most universal error that is believed in all kinds of Christendom, in all churches and denominations, is that if you're not saved, you're lost, and that you've got to get everybody saved now — and that is not true.
Now Jesus Christ himself said in John 6:44, "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him." Now you can't dispute that. Jesus Christ said that, that's what he said, and that's what he meant. No man can come to him except the Father draws him, and God is only drawing those that have been predestinated to be called now, and they're called for some special job. Then the church has been called for a special job. What is it?
Most people in that church don't know it. They don't know what they're called for, they think they're called to get — get, get salvation. Satan is the great getter. You were called to give. Give — that's God's way, that's the way of God's law. Love is giving, outgoing, and love away from self. Now there's no scripture that can nullify that, when Jesus said, "No man can come to me unless the Father calls him."
Well, Jesus was crucified, he was resurrected, and he was three days and three nights in the tomb, and then after his resurrection, he was with his disciples for 40 days. He had taught them, they had seen him proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. He taught it to them so they could go proclaiming that same good news, which is really an announcement of what God is going to do, not an asking of what we want to do, or whether we are willing to come in on it or not.
Jesus Taught The Kingdom of God Well, now in Acts the 1st chapter and in the 3rd verse (Acts 1:3), here Jesus was resurrected. It says here: "unto the apostles whom he had chosen, to whom also he," Jesus, "showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them 40 days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." He taught the kingdom of God. And after, in that 40 days after his resurrection, he still was teaching them the kingdom of God.
Jesus had gone about all the cities and villages, preaching in the synagogues, teaching the kingdom of God. In other words, announcing it's going to come, whether you like it or whether you don't. You don't have to agree with it. You're not... it doesn't require a vote or anything of the kind.
Well, then came what we call the day of Pentecost, and originally it was called the day of Firstfruits, because it is the first harvest, and it is intended to show us that God isn't saving everybody now, only those he's calling to special duty, to a special mission. And if he calls you now, it isn't just to get saved, to get your salvation, it's to give of something for him. I wonder how many of you believe that.
[Commercial break: Just What Do You Mean... Conversion?] Now then, I want to show you what that mission is. Well, we come to this day of Pentecost, Acts 2, verse 1 (Acts 2:1), "When the day of Pentecost," or the feast of Firstfruits, "was fully come, they," and if you look back to the 15th verse of the chapter before it (Acts 1:15), it tells you that the "they" were the 120. After 3½ years of Christ preaching to thousands upon thousands of people, only 120 believed him. More believed on him, but only 120 believed him and followed him.
Now it was that 120, "were all with one accord in one place." They really believed what he said. And now suddenly, the Holy Spirit came in a way it has never come since. It came in something they saw, like flames of fire, tongues of fire. They heard the sound of a rushing, mighty wind. Pentecostal people today don't have anything like that. That has never been repeated since.
Let's turn over here to the 41st verse: "Then they which gladly received Peter's word," when he preached a sermon, "were baptized, and the same day," if you'll notice, not the disciples talked them into being converted, but rather God added (Acts 2:41). God has not sent us out to talk people into being converted. God has sent us out to announce the good news of the coming wonderful World Tomorrow, a world of peace, a utopia on Earth, not the doom of everything.
We're not prophets of doom, we're prophets of hope, in the church of the living God. "That same day were added unto them about three thousand souls." Well, that was added to the 120. Now, if you take verse 47 of the 2nd chapter (Acts 2:47): "Praising God and having favor with all the people, and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." They weren't saved yet, but they were going to be.
It isn't that the apostles — and I want you to get that, the meaning is very specific there. It doesn't say the apostles talked them into it, but "God added." They merely made an announcement, and they told the facts and the truth. And some people were pricked in their heart and they believed it, and in their mind.
Jesus Healed Now then, they get a different mind, the mind of the Holy Spirit, once they really do believe in Christ. Well now, a day or two later you come over here to the 4th chapter, and Peter and Paul were going into the temple, and here was a cripple. It was very well-known, he had been a cripple from birth, and he was a beggar, and he was right there where everybody saw him, and they healed him, and he just leaped up and instantly he was leaping and running and walking.
Now that was a miracle because the average man, even if he was healed, he would have to learn to walk, and it would take him a few weeks at least to learn how to walk all over. But this man was instantly healed. Notice now in verses 1-4 (Acts 4:1-4), "As they spake unto the people, the priests, the captains of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon," that's Peter and John, "being grieved that they taught the people, and they preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and they laid hands on them and put them in the hold," or the prison, "until the next day."
Going on to the 18th verse (Acts 4:18): "And," the next morning now, "they called them," Peter and John, "and commanded them not to speak at all nor to teach in the name of Jesus." They were called before the priests and the dignitaries, and that was a frightening thing. They'd spent the night in jail.
It says then in verse 21-22 (Acts 4:21-22): "And when they had further threatened them," Peter and John, "they let them go." Now they were a little bit frightened, they were human. And they had been to some extent intimidated, and the apostles, what did they do? They went to the members that God had added in to the church.
Notice in the 4th chapter now, and verse 23 (Acts 4:23): "And being let go, they went to their own company," that is, in the church, "and reported all the things that the priests and the elders had said to them, and when they heard it, they lifted up their voices unto God with one accord." Notice they were with one accord, there weren't any divisions between them. "And said, Lord, thou art God which hast made heaven and earth and the sea." And they asked God to send the Holy Spirit and to strengthen these men, and encourage them that they could go on preaching the word.
Verse 31 (Acts 4:31): "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness." They went right on doing it. Now I want you to notice further.
Persecution Sets In Savage persecution had set in, in the 8th chapter of Acts, in verse 1 (Acts 8:1): "Saul was consenting unto Stephen's death, and at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem." Now this comes to about 33 A.D. The church was raised up and born in 31 A.D. This was within about two years. "And they were all scattered abroad throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." A terrible persecution came in.
Now just a little bit later, James was martyred, and Peter was taken and once again put in prison. Now then, I'd like to have you notice the great commission. Notice in Matthew 28, and I want to read this to you in the Revised Standard translation too, but it says here in the beginning of the 16th verse (Matthew 28:16): "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, unto a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they," the disciples, the eleven, "saw Jesus, they worshipped him, but some doubted, and Jesus came and spake unto them."
Unto whom? The eleven disciples. Judas already had left, and they had not yet appointed Matthias to take his place at that time. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore," and here it says "and teach all nations." Now some construe that to mean, "Go out and talk everybody into being converted." It doesn't say anything of the kind, it doesn't mean it.
"Teach" — to get, to understand that, you need to get it as it is in the Revised Standard translation: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Make disciples... Now, a disciple is a student or a learner, one that is listening but not necessarily agreeing, but being taught. In the King James, it's "Go and teach in all nations," it doesn't mean to teach everybody. Did they go and teach everybody in China, and Japan, and India? Of course not. And it hasn't been done to this day. And that isn't what Christ commissioned them to do.
"Baptizing them," now who would they baptize? The only ones who could believe were those that God had called. Jesus said so: "No man can come to me except the Father draw him." No man could come to him otherwise. "Therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." It's just teaching, but not talking them into anything. And I think that we have misunderstood so much of that.
[Commercial break: The Plain Truth Magazine] The church is not a worldly organization. Let me repeat that. Now listen. The church is not a worldly organization. It is not a carnal-minded organization, it is a spiritual-minded, spiritual organism. But it is organized. Even though it's a spiritual organism, it is organized. Now then, if you're building a building, and the church is compared to a building, then you have to have a foundation. What is the foundation?
I want you to notice now in Ephesians the 2nd chapter, verse 19 (Ephesians 2:19): "Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." "Household of God" is the family of God! We're begotten to be born of God at the resurrection. "And are built upon the foundation." Now what is the foundation of the church? Here it is.
"The foundation of the apostles," that's the apostles of the New Testament, "and the prophets," the prophets of the Old Testament, whose prophecies were for us today, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone in whom all the building, fitly framed together," together, not separated. It's got to be organized, it's got to be together. "Groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord." The church now is like a building, and it's compared to a building. It is a temple, and it is the temple to which Christ is going to come.
Prophecy For Today And I'm coming back to that, but I'd like to turn back for just a moment to the prophecy of Haggai, which is a prophecy for today, and not an Old Testament at all. This is a prophecy for today. I'll just read a few verses here. It's primarily the word of God to Zerubbabel, who was the governor and also the builder of the second temple, after Solomon's temple had been destroyed. Now this was 70 years later than the destruction of Solomon's temple, and they had gone back, a company had gone back. There was Ezra, Nehemiah, as prophets, but Zerubbabel was the governor and the builder of the temple. And Joshua was the high priest.
"For thus says the Eternal of Hosts, yet once in a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land." (Hag.2:6) Now when is he talking, when is this? He was talking about men way back there, 400 years before Christ, 450. "And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Eternal of Hosts." They were building that second temple.
Now, Christ came to that temple in his first coming. "The silver and the gold is mine, saith the Eternal of Hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former." The glory of that building they built didn't even remotely compare to the glory of Solomon's temple.
And yet it says "the glory of this latter house will be greater," and it's talking about the time when God shakes all the nations, and that hasn't come yet. That's going to happen in a very few years, in our lifetime, in our generation. That's when it's going to happen. The temple to which he is coming, is going to be more glorious. When Jesus came the first time, he came to the temple that had been the temple of Old Covenant Israel, it was a physical building. They were a physical, carnal people.
This time, he's coming to a spiritual temple that will be filled with glory, and it'll be the church, then resurrected and glorified and married to Christ in the marriage of the Lamb. That's the temple to which he's coming — the church! And the church has got to be built the way Christ wants it! That's part of the purpose of the church.
Now then, let's get back now to Ephesians again, in the 5th chapter of Ephesians (Ephesians 5:25-27): "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church." Now it says later, "This is a mystery, but we speak of the church, which will become the bride of Christ." And the church is to marry Christ.
Now the Old Covenant Israel was married to God, or it was the one who became Christ. But they were not faithful, but they didn't have God's Holy Spirit. They were not subject to the law of God, neither indeed could be. But now, you will notice it's going to be different.
You notice now in Revelation 19, verses 6 and 7 (Revelation 19:6-7): "And I heard," this is the time that had come to the coming of Christ, "I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and of the voice of many waters rushing..." And go over to Niagara Falls, and you'll hear it, and it's quite a thundering sound. "As the voice of mighty thundering, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." Christ is coming to reign, and to rule.
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb," Christ is that Lamb, "has come, and his wife hath made herself ready." Are we making ourselves ready, brethren? We are the temple to which he's coming. Now, let's get back and get some of these scriptures together while we're at it.
Satan's churches And now, notice here in I Corinthians 12, verse 11 (I Corinthians 12:11): "But all of these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will," that is, to which job or what function you have in the church. We don't all do the same thing. "For as the body is one," and there's only one church. There are not two churches. There are not three churches. There are not hundreds of churches. They are not God's churches.
Satan has this world deceived, and there are many that are Satan's churches, but there's only one church of God. "But all these of the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." God decides, God has decided who's going to be an apostle, and who's going to be this and that and the other thing. Christ said to his disciples, "You didn't choose me, I chose you."
"For, as the body is one, and hath many members, and all of the members of that one body, being many, are one body," not a lot of different churches. "For, by one Spirit are we all baptized into the one body," only one church. Now, you're either in the church of God, or you're out of it.
And if you're out of it, it makes me think of the advertising slogan they're always coming up with something in beer, and cigarettes, and one thing or another. They used to have a cigarette ad saying, "They satisfy," and I don't think they do. But I know what does satisfy, is the Spirit of God. Here's another one, "If you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer." And let me tell you, if you're out of the church, you're just out of Christ. And don't you forget it. They're just one body. There is one church, and Christ is the head of that church.
Now, in closing, I just want to say again, this book, booklet, I want to mention again, Just What Do You Mean... Conversion? There is no booklet like this. Very few people understand what conversion is, and I'll tell you. It's about 99 and 44/100 percent impure, and misleading today, of the teaching in the world. If you want the truth, you don't have to pay for it. This booklet is free. What do you mean, conversion?
And the other one is: What Do You Mean... Born Again? What is it to be born again? You know, even heads of government sometimes don't know what it means to be born again. And you need to know what it really means. This booklet will make it plain, and there is no, absolutely no refutation of it one way or another, it's the plain word of God, very plain, very simple. So now, I will say, I've about talked myself out, and I've about worn you out, I'm afraid, so I'll say goodbye for now. Until the next time, this is Herbert W. Armstrong, saying goodbye, friends.