WHY were you born? After death, then what? What is man's destiny? These are the most important questions of your life, yet they are often lost in the shuffle of most religious debates. A cloud of superstition has crept over the main denominations of Christianity. This cloud of counterfeit doctrines prevents mankind from seeing the clear scriptures which outline God's master plan for man. In place of the five fundamental biblical doctrines which identify God's true Church, man has concocted five false doctrines, which are commonly assumed to be in the Bible. Following is a two-pronged presentation of each of the five fundamental doctrines: first an explanation of the true biblical teaching; then a study of the counterfeit.
1. The "Plan for All Seasons" The plan of God, expressed in the four following doctrines, is pictured by the first doctrine: the weekly Sabbath (Ex. 31:13-17) and the annual holy days (Lev. 23), which picture that plan of God through seven steps and three annual seasons. The "plan for all seasons" begins with the Passover in early spring. This solemn memorial service pictures the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died to pay the physical and spiritual penalty for man's sins. This initial holy day is immediately followed by the Days of Unleavened Bread, picturing sin (as leaven) being removed from the lives of newly baptized Christians. The third holy day, Pentecost, comes during early summer. Just as the early summer harvest is a small foretaste of the great autumn harvest, Pentecost pictures the relatively "small flock" of called-out Christians who receive God's Holy Spirit during this 6,000-year age of man's rule. There are four more holy days clustered in one month of autumn. The first is the Day of Trumpets, representing the trumpeted end-time warning to the world and Christ's subsequent return to earth at the "last trump." The Day of Atonement follows nine days later, picturing the Christian's resurrection to sonship (being "at one") with God the Father. Five days later is the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles representing the millennial fall "harvest" of human beings and the rule of God for 1,000 years. The last holy day, called the "Last Great Day," represents the time following the millennium when every human being who has ever lived (not having a chance for salvation in this age) will be resurrected to life and given his first chance to live the way of life God intended — on a beautiful, rebuilt planet earth. (For an in-depth scriptural study of these biblical holy days and festivals, read our free booklet entitled Pagan Holidays - or God's Holy Days - Which?)
The Counterfeit: Sunday and "Hallow Days"
In place of God's "plan for all seasons," mankind has forgotten the Sabbath and remembered Sunday. Then man replaced the holy-day cycle with a series of meaningless "hallow days," replete with their pagan origins overlayed with the trappings of modern materialism. God's Sabbath was given to remind man of the seventh-day rest at the time of creation (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:8-11); but it also pictures the future 1,000-year "day of rest" after 6,000 years (six millennial "days") of man's misrule. The weekly Sabbath is God's sign to identify His people (Exodus 31). Sunday — the day of the sun — carries no spiritual meaning. Contrary to popular assumption, Jesus Christ was resurrected on a Sabbath (Saturday) afternoon. Sunday observance clouds this fact, and thus confuses the understanding of God's great plan. (For proof of this fact, read our free booklet The Resurrection Was Not On Sunday.) Likewise, the annual holidays kept by modern "churchianity" portray no transcendent plan of salvation. Christmas is (at best) a materialistic "birthday party" celebrated on the wrong day; and (at worst) an unadulterated carry-over from pagan sun worship originally practiced at the time of the winter solstice. Easter, the other major "Christian" holiday, tries to picture Christ's resurrection — but on the wrong day of the week, wrong time of the day, with wrong symbolism (eggs, buns and Easter hams!) and even the wrong name (named after the Babylonian sun goddess Ishtar). The other "Christian holidays" don't even come as close as Easter does in picturing any part of God's plan on earth. New Year's is in the dead of winter, while God's calendar year starts in early spring. Halloween pictures demons more than it pictures God, and Valentine's Day is yet another remnant of Roman revelry. Each of the above-listed "hallow days" has pagan roots. Many other days are uninspired at best. They picture political, national, or sectarian memorials, not the plan of God, the plan for all seasons. (For more information read our free booklets The Plain Truth About CHRISTMAS, The Plain Truth About Easter and Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath?)
2. Man's Destiny — To Become God The Pharisees of Jesus Christ's day thought it was blasphemy that Jesus called Himself the "Son of God." At least they recognized the shocking seriousness of the claim; but today the expression "Son of God" connotes any kind of "religious type" of person. The literal meaning of the words "Son of God" are lost on most people. But consider for a moment what a son is and what God is. A son of a human being is fully human, as his father is; and he grows up to assume the same adult responsibilities of fatherhood. A true Christian is a "son of God" in the same way. He will become God, as God is God. Notice these plain scriptures: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.... we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ..." (Rom. 8:14-17). "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.... and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:1, 2). God Himself is quoted in the first person as saying: "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High" (Ps. 82:6). "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). This image is literally the "brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person" (Heb. 1:3), as reflected in the present glory of our firstborn "elder brother," Jesus Christ. The first two chapters of Hebrews make this doctrine clear. Man is born lower than the angels to gain character for a rebirth higher than the angels — at the God level: "Thou hast put all things under his feet.... But now we see not y et all things put under him" (Heb. 2:8).
The Counterfeit: A Closed Trinity
According to a recent Gallup poll, the concept of the Trinity — "God as three persons in one" — is believed by 83% of professing Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. Yet for all that belief, few Christians can explain this enigmatic doctrine. "The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who would try to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind. But he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul." Or so the Handbook of Christian Truth tells new converts. Besides being difficult to understand, the Trinity is also difficult to find in the Bible! The word "Trinity" nowhere appears in Scripture, while the sole "proof text" (I John 5:7) was added by later copyists, who first forged the spurious verse as late as the eighth century A.D. The Trinity is not a biblical term nor a biblical doctrine. It is a conspiracy of Satan the devil — using some dishonest "church fathers" of the Middle Ages — to convince man that his true destiny is impossible to achieve. The Trinity is a scheme to close the Godhead to mankind. If Satan and his demons, who disqualified themselves from ruling with God, can convince professing Christians to believe in the Trinity, then Christians would never dare imagine that they were created to be born into the God family — and to rule over those same fallen angels! God is a family, a growing family with more sons and daughters begotten every day — to be born again into a spiritual body at Christ's second coming. The God family is not closed to just three members. It is open to all who will qualify. God is now two members — the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is merely God's nature sent to impregnate the minds of the thousands of sons who are destined to become God. (Read our free booklets Just What Do You Mean... Born Again? and Is God a Trinity?)
3. Destiny of the "Saved": Rulership on Earth "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5:5). Very few Christians believe these plain words of Jesus Christ, yet the entire Bible is filled with rulership over planet earth as the reward of the saved. Words cannot be clearer than these scriptures in the book of Revelation: "And we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10); "And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4); "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron... " (Rev. 2:26-27). From Genesis to Revelation, the hope held out to Christians is the reward of earthly rulership in the afterlife. Adam, the first man, was created to have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-30). All the prophets of God spoke of God's Kingdom on earth. Read chapters such as Isaiah 2, 11 and 35; or Ezekiel 36 and 37. Read Amos 9, Micah 4, or Zechariah 14 in the "minor" prophets; or Jesus Christ's own prophecies in Matthew 24 and 25. He constantly spoke of His return to earth. True Christians are learning the
A cloud of superstition has crept over the main denominations of Christianity. This cloud of counterfeit doctrines prevents mankind from seeing the clear scriptures which outline God's master plan for man.
principles of rulership in this life, so that they can later serve as educators, mayors and ministers to the millions of physical human beings who will live on over into that Utopian age.
The Counterfeit: Heaven as Reward of the Saved
The Bible nowhere promises heaven as a reward of the saved (read our free booklet What Is The Reward Of The Saved?), yet millions of Christians carelessly take this "reward" for granted. It would seem that their eternal place of residence would deserve more study and proof than most Christians give it. The scripture used most often by the "heaven-bound" is actually a greater proof text for an earthly reward. Jesus said; "In my Father's house are many mansions.... I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Certainly, if this were the only
Modern Christianity occasionally stumbles over these amazing truths, but it quickly picks itself up and carries on as if it had never seen them.
verse in the Bible, heaven might be suspected of being the "place" being prepared. But the clear verses throughout the Bible indicating an earthly reward include the very next verse: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3). Christ was speaking on the earth ("where I am") and of His return from heaven to earth. Despite all the humorous stories of "Saint Peter and the pearly gates," the popular songs about "seventh heaven" and "cloud nine," or the Negro spirituals about "that hebbenly land," jokes and music don't take the place of clear biblical truth on the subject. Even if a Christian could go to heaven, would he really want to be there? On the way up to heaven, he would theoretically pass Christ coming down! Further along in time, he would pass "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... [and) a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them... " (Rev. 21:2-3).
4. The Reward of the Unsaved: A First Chance What happens to the billions of "heathens" who lived before Christ was born, or, for that matter, after His death? Are atheists behind the Iron Curtain, or animistic savages in Africa, lost forever unless a missionary reaches them in time to mumble a few saving words about "the Lord"? The doctrine presented by modern Christianity teaches that those people are either "damned for all time" in a burning hellfire, or, at the other end of the doctrinal spectrum, they are saved if they were "sincere." A "good" pagan will be saved, a "sincere" atheist will make it, or a "dedicated" Hindu will go to heaven, say these permissive pastors. No major church promulgates the beautiful "middle-ground" truth that God will mercifully resurrect all human beings to a first chance to live under God's laws in the Kingdom of God on earth. God is neither cruel (to send all heathen to hell), nor wishy-washy (to allow an alien set of beliefs to occupy a position of rulership in His Kingdom). He is merciful, but firm. He will give all of the 50 billion people who have lived and died during the last 6,000 years a first chance to understand. Perhaps you may wonder, "Will there be enough room on earth?" Yes. there should be about an acre per person once the earth is remade to be livable everywhere. Or possibly you might wonder, "Will there be enough teachers?" Yes, after 1,000 years to prepare a perfect world, there will be millions of trained servants. The Apostle John describes this time: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it.... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God..." (Rev. 20:11, 12). This "White Throne Judgment" is further described in Ezekiel 37. For additional details about this fantastically encouraging doctrine, read our reprint article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?"
The Counterfeit: Ever-Burning Hellfire
If a man lives and dies without even hearing of Jesus Christ, "Christian" theology has it that he is destined to sizzle in hellfire forever. Is this the fate of the unsaved? If so, who could serve such a cruel God? Thankfully, the above scenario is more a reflection of the nightmarish fantasies of Dante Alighieri than of the Creator God. Confusion about "hell" has arisen from the original meaning of the word itself. The Hebrew word sheol and the Greek hades, translated into English as "hell," simply mean the "grave." When you read the biblical word "hell," it is most likely translated from hades or sheol. When God says in both the Old and New Testaments that Jesus Christ's "soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (Acts 2:31 and Psalm 16:10), the Hebrew and Greek words (sheol and hades) mean a literal "grave," not an ever-burning hellfire. The "corruption of flesh" is a further contextual indication that "hell" simply means "grave site." A further point of confusion arises from a secondary meaning of "hell" in the Scriptures. The Greek word Gehenna refers to a literal valley of burning refuse near Jerusalem. In biblical use. Gehenna refers to the literal burning up of dead humans who have deliberately and permanently rejected God. "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet..." (Mal. 4:3). And, "... Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). This is a hellfire of a short duration, intense heat, and specific time and purpose in the future, "in the which... the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.... [and) all these things shall be dissolved" (II Pet. 3:10-11). That all-consuming hellfire is the last recorded specific event of God's master plan on earth! But there will be more: "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end..." (Isa. 9:7).
5. The Nature of Man The final theological doctrine unique to God's Church concerns the nature of man. As with previous doctrines, the Bible is quite clear about the spiritual and physical makeup of man; but organized religions have instead added superstitions about immortal souls, pagan dualism, and the trappings of spiritualism. ESP and the occult. Read these clear scriptures from the book of Ecclesiastes: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence over a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Eccl. 3:19-20). "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing" (Eccl. 9:5). "... There is no work. nor device, nor knowledge. nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (verse 10). "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Ps. 146:3, 4). As the saying goes: "Man, like Rover, dies all over." "... For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19). "But there is a spirit in man... " (Job 32:8). That spirit is added to the human brain at birth to give man a conceptual preeminence over brute beasts, which are activated only by instinct. This spirit is NOT the man, but a part of man. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God" (I Cor. 2:11). This second spirit, the Holy Spirit, is only added to those few human beings now called and begotten by God the Father. "... If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9). The basic nature of man, then, is entirely physical, with a separate "spirit in man" added at birth and taken away at death.
The Counterfeit: Immortal Souls and Dualism
The words "immortal soul" are nowhere found together in the Bible. In fact, the word "immortal" appears only once in the Bible; and in this instance it refers to "the only wise God" (I Tim. 1:17). At the end of the same book, Paul proclaims "Jesus Christ... only hath immortality" (I Tim. 6:14-16). Mankind is made mortal, that is, capable of eternal death. Confusion again arises from the translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words. Nephesh in Hebrew and psuche in Greek (both translated "soul") refer to lower life forms as well as to humans. The soul means only the life essence: the breath, the blood and the brain waves. "The soul that sinneth, IT shall die" (Ezek. 18:4, 20). Souls can DIE. When a headline says, "Plane Crashes — Hundreds of Souls Lost," that is the proper use of the word "soul" — to mean LIFE. (For an indepth discussion of this subject, read our free booklets Do You Have an Immortal Soul? and After Death... then What?) The companion belief to the immortal soul is the distaste for the "inherent evil" of the physical human body. This is called "dualism," or the dual nature of man — in simple terms, a good spirit versus a bad body. This doctrine is likewise as pagan as belief in the immortal soul. Man was made in God's likeness, as well as in His image. Therefore, the body modeled after God cannot be considered inherently evil. God looked upon the newly created man, Adam,
Taken as a whole, these five doctrines are unique to the Church of God, which was founded by Jesus Christ nearly 1,950 years ago.
and said he was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). This "body-is-evil" philosophy is yet another carry-over from pagan dualism — originating in Babylon, refined in Egypt, and transported to modern "Christianity" via Hellenism, or Greek philosophy.
Taken as a whole, the five doctrines listed above are unique to the Church of God, which was founded by Jesus Christ nearly 1,950 years ago. Other churches believe some of these doctrines, but most major bodies believe none of them! To paraphrase Winston Churchill, modern Christianity occasionally stumbles over these amazing truths, but it quickly picks itself up and carries on as if it had never seen
The Bible is quite clear about the spiritual and physical makeup of man; but organized religions have instead added superstitions about immortal souls, pagan dualism, and the trappings of spiritualism, ESP and the occult.
them. The counterfeit doctrines are too much a part of its heritage to be rooted out in the face of clear biblical truth. The purpose of this article has not been to prove each doctrine personally to each reader, but to familiarize you with the total package and the most succinct scriptures for each doctrine. If you have any questions on the specific doctrines involved, read our in-depth biblical literature (booklets and reprint articles) mentioned in this article. It is available free of charge — made possible by the tithe-paying membership of the Worldwide Church of God and our faithful co-workers.