CRY OUT AGAINST THE SYSTEM (VOLUME 3)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE YEAR 1994 At THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD ONITSHA By The BRIDE OF CHRIST MINISTRY WORLD-WIDE “Truth has no substitute” © BRIDE OF CHRIST MINISTRY WORLD-WIDE
SECTION B (CONTINUATION)
THE LORD’S SUPPER
The discussion here concerning the Lord’s supper is an extract from the book “Traditional Christianity” Truth or Deception by Ewald Frank PP-106 - 111. It offers a good biblical treatment and understanding of the subject.
First we must deal in short with the significance of the Pass-over instituted in the Old Testament. The last supper was celebrated by our Lord Himself during the Passover. He said “Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” (Matt.26:18, KJV).
At this Passover, Judas dipped his hand into the same dish and therefore Jesus said, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.” (Vs.. 23).
The Evangelist Mark records what happened in detail, “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave to them, and said, take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” (14:22-25, KJV).
Hardly no other text in the whole Bible is being so much misunderstood and misinterpreted as this one concerning the Lord’s supper. According to the above passage, the new covenant was about to come into existence. The blood of this New Testament was not shed at this Passover or Lord’s Supper but rather on the cross of Calvary.
At this meal, the godly blood was still pulsating in the Redeemer and it was hot in the cup. We have to read this scripture in the light of the significance of the institution of the Old Testament covenant to rightly comprehend the significance of the Lord’s Supper just before the inauguration of the covenant.
The Lord God gave to Moses all the instructions. He in turn conveyed them to the people. “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people; and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said. Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” (Ex.24:7-8, KJV).
The children of Israel in the Old Testament had experienced redemption and deliverance and they were led out from bondage. This happened at the moment when the divine order was given to them to slay a lamb in every house, prepare the same, eat the flesh and put the blood on the lintel and the door posts for protection.
It was a sign which the destructive angel had to respect. A home with the sign of this blood could not be touched and the first-born was spared. In this connection, we have to read the following text.
“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Exo. 12:13, KJV).
This was God’s decision, and therefore the first-born of the Israelites could not be touched. The blood was the security at the time of destruction. The covenant God made with His people was thereby valid. In the 14th verse, we read about the passover.
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations” A memorial of the saving - delivering and keeping of God’s people.
Two things are to be noticed here. First, by the shed blood the covenant with Israel received its validity, and therefore the lives of the redeemed were saved. Secondly, the celebration of this feast was to be a memorial and reminder to the children of Israel of what God had done to them. These two facts are confirmed in the New Testament supper.
The redeemed were first to declare their willingness to obey and to do all of God’s word. After Israel did that, Moses sprinkled the blood as a visible sign upon the redeemed Church which stood henceforth under the protection of the blood. For a memorial of this great event experienced by Israel, the Passover was to be observed.
In Luke 22, our Lord says, “... With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer …. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto him, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.” (Vs. 15 + 19).
While taking part in the Lord’s supper, the New Testament believers are reminded of the redemption which happened through the blood of the new covenant that was shed for the people of the new covenant.
In a symbolic way, the Lord showed forth the true significance. The bread He broke was prepared for the Passover, and therefore it was without leaven. The wine in the cup He gave to His disciples was from the vine.
According to Matthew, the Lord said, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (26-29).
As the bread was broken in the eyes of those present, the Body of Jesus Christ was delivered, beaten and crucified. As certain as wine was in the cup, the blood of the lamb of God was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
It was not the bread which was broken and eaten that suffered but rather our Lord suffered in His Body of flesh, when He took upon Himself all that was laid upon humanity. The wine was not changed nor was it shed. Those present at the supper drank the same.
The holy blood of the Redeemer was shed by which He Himself went into the Glory as a high priest. “... but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12, KJV).
Therefore, the following great truth could be said, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (vs. 14).
Nothing is said or written about the changing of the two elements, bread and wine, while the Lord held the bread in His hands, He said “This is my body ...” Then it is no more necessary to change the same by a ceremony. When the Lord said, “This is my blood …” There is no more need for anyone to change the element, He certainly did not give His literal flesh and blood to eat and to drink and this should be clearly understood. We only find it expressed in a symbolical way.
It is also being taught that Christ offers Himself every time afresh for the living and the dead as it is supposed to happen in the wafer which transforms to be God Himself who then is eaten up by those participating. What a terrible thought! The holy scriptures certainly do not teach such a thing.
It is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Christ of whom the scripture says: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever ... for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified ... This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days ... And their sin and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Heb. 10:12-18, KJV).
Whoever reads on in this chapter will find the thought pertaining to salvation expressed, that through the blood of Jesus Christ the new and living way was made free to enter the heavenly sanctuary. What happened at Calvary is once and for all for those, who through faith in Jesus Christ, have received the forgiveness of their sins and obtained the eternal life.
The Bible says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:27-28, KJV).
Christ does not offer Himself repeatedly and every day millions of times. That is impossible and totally unscriptural. The Catholic terms “Consecration” and “Sacrifice of the Mass” are expressed in a meaning that the substance of bread and wine is transferred into the actual Body and Blood of Christ. It is being assumed that He offers Himself always anew and is then being eaten.
If that would indeed happen, it would be terrible and not only for the vegetarians! But it does not happen. It is not promised, nor was there any such idea in the early Christianity and also the Christians of the first centuries did not know such a superstition.
It is very peculiar because in the tabernacle only the wafer is placed. The priest puts it on the tongue of the participants and the wine he drinks himself for all. The altar bells and incense, the shouting “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” as well as the kneeling down in front of the tabernacle and the prayer etc. all these were not known to the true Church of Jesus Christ. In fact, they are totally strange to real Gospel believers.
The early Church celebrated the Lord’s supper in a simple manner. It was called breaking of bread and was practised here and there in houses. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42, KJV).
The exposition given by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 10 and 11 is of great importance, “I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (10:15-17) What a clear testimony.
Even today Biblical Churches administer the Lord’s supper as it was done at the very beginning. They take one wheat bread, of course not being baked with leaven, according to the number of those who would participate.
The shepherd of a local assembly takes the bread, gives thanks unto God and broke and blesses the same in the name of the Lord. Then it is being broken in small pieces, and the elders hand it around to all, whereby everyone takes a piece of this broken bread.
The whole assembly exists of many members making up the one Body of Christ. The bread denotes the oneness of the body, that is to say of the Church, and the breaking into small pieces speaks of the single members as is being expressed in verse 17.
During the Lord’s supper, the true believers who are part of the body of Christ are assembled in the fear of God for special fellowship with the Lord - the lamb of God who died for us - and with one another. After the bread is served and the cup is being taken, thanks is being offered and the same is blessed in the name of the Lord.
After this, all participate in drinking from the same cup. As the apostle has written, so it is - the cup of blessing. The fellowship of believers who participate therein remembering the suffering of Christ and the shedding of His blood.
In the 11th Chapter, the apostle Paul emphasized having received of the Lord what he gave unto, “for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he broke it, and said take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me…”
In His body He was resurrected and taken up to heaven. To receive the full light, we must use all Bible references which speak about this subject. The importance is with the divine life that was in this godly blood here on earth. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). “... God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the son of God hath not life.” (I John 5:11-12).
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourneth among you eat blood.” (Lev. 17:11-12, KJV).
It is not the blood as a chemical substance but rather the life of God existing in this blood which should come into all the redeemed. It should be said that whosoever has a part in the shed blood receives the life which is therein into himself.
In Christ was God’s life, therefore, here we are dealing with eternal life. That is the main thought which the Holy Scripture expresses through the proclamation of the Gospel and also is transmitted through the Lord’s Supper.
The eating of blood was prohibited as later confirmed in Acts 15:29. If the wine in the cup would be truly changed into blood, then the believers would act against God’s expressed order. We need spiritual understanding also in this case.
At the Lord’s Supper, the question is not about changing the substances which are only visible symbols to express the divine sense, but rather we are clearly told that we must receive the life of Christ and be reconciled with God.
The redeemer said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world ... As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (John 6:51-57, KJV).
In reference to the so called “Consecration “, it would be good if all would read about the first miracle Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee where He changed water into wine. The excellent quality astonished the Chief Steward at the wedding.
The wine which was changed from the substance of water was even better than the original. The people did not drink water and deceived themselves, saying, “We are drinking wine”
On the contrary, they were drinking real wine. Up to this day, not one person dating the wafer has had the impression that it was changed into flesh, also no one while drinking wine have had the taste of blood. It is nothing but a mystery-cult.
The bread symbolises firstly the body of Christ which was offered and secondly the body of believers - the Church, as referred in I Cor. 10:15-17.
The emphasis with the bread was laid in the statement, “... this do in remembrance of me.” “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:25, KJV).
Whoever partakes of bread has the taste of bread, whoever drinks the wine, has the taste of wine. That is the plain truth. The Lord rose bodily and ascended into heaven. No one can change any kind of bread on earth into His body.
As already spoken of in this exposition, that’s not even in question. We are only dealing with God’s life that was in Christ and now within us. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12, KJV).
The cup shows forth that the blood of the new covenant was shed. The bread and wine need not to be changed to become Christ, but rather the old man in us must be changed by receiving the new life of Christ within by believing in the full redemption through His blood.
Whoever experience God in a Biblical way can participate correctly in the Lord’s supper. This memorial is meant to be kept in remembrance of what happened on Calvary, right to the end of the end of the time of grace.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor.11:26).
It is noteworthy to pay attention to the precise wording. It does not say, “as often as you eat this ... flesh “, but rather, “For as often ye eat this bread, and drink this cup...” Only what is placed before us can be eaten, and what is in the cup can we drink.
The practice of the Roman Church is outside the will and word of God. The fuss about the terminologies “it means” or “it is” was not even necessary. No philosophy has any place here. Also this theme must be viewed in the light of God’s revealed word. Amen.
THE FOOT WASHING
This discussion concerning foot washing is an extract from the booklet “Baptism, Lord’s supper, Footwashing” by E. Frank pp. 29-31. It offers a good scriptural treatment and understanding of the subject.
After we dealt with the Lord’s Supper, we briefly must touch on the subject of foot washing. Before reading the rest, pertaining to this ordinance in the New Testament, we must see how the priests were commissioned to do things in the Old Testament, Before entering into the Holy of Holies, there was a layer available for the purpose according to the divine order.
It was placed between the altar upon which the sacrifice was placed and the tabernacle. We shall read Exodus 30:19, “... For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat.” They could not enter the tabernacle, nor come near the altar without first washing their hands and feet (verse 20).
Really, while washing the feet, one washes ones hands automatically. In the New Testament the true believers are called holy priesthood. We must come to God and approach Him in reference and have to respect His word in all things.
In John 13, 4-10, our Lord gave the following example, “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash them with the towel with which he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered, and said unto him, what Ido thou knowest not now, but thou shall know hereafter. Peter said unto him, thou shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, jf I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not except to wash his feet...”
If we look upon this scripture just to be a recording of what took place, we don’t even feel that God is speaking to us. At that time the Lord spoke to those who were present, and today He speaks by the same word in the same way to those who come to appear in His presence. Now for a moment, we must consider what Peter actually went through.
He asked, “Lord dost thou wash my feet”. The Lord answered, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter” Peter asserted his decision and thought to make it clear what he meant by saying, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.”
He did not want the Lord to humiliate Himself before him and do what the least of the servants was meant for, if somebody entered house. But the Lord and master gave His disciples a very practical teaching, “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant.”
The Lord of glory served in humility, complete by surrendering Himself to service. He put off His clothes and took the apron instead, bowed down and became as one of the least of the slaves in a household. This was an example for His disciples that everyone should esteem the other higher than himself. Here in this case, He showed in a practical lesson how it is done.
When the Lord said to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me”, he was shocked and only could say with a deep desire the following words, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.”
How can we understand that he would have no part with Him, if this ordinance and commandment would not be kept? Does anyone have a part with Christ, the Lord, because of foot washing? The point here is obedience to what the Lord said. This we owe unto Him and also to one another.
Even if something He says does not seem to be important, if He says it and it’s a request, or as ordinance, we must just do i in simple child-like faith without questioning Him why He requires it.
We cannot ask, “why must we do this?” If we do not obey what He said, we cut the connection to Him, because He gave the ordinance. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Of us it is required to do according to every word and ordinance, and we must do it willingly and seriously to please Him.
In John 13:12-17, we read the following text, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was seated again, he said unto them, know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am.
If I, then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not grater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
The words of the master are very clear. They cannot be misunderstood by someone who takes them, as they were spoken. He said, “If I, then, your Lord and master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
There is no need for anybody to explain or to give his private interpretation. When the Lord said that we should wash one another’s feet, He meant what He said, “... Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” This has nothing to do with the oriental custom.
He was not speaking of something that was generally practiced. He knew about that, but very clearly He stated, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” That is a precise ordinance which cannot be questioned in any way. He emphasized this commandment with the words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”
Every time the Lord said, “Verily, verily” we should take special heed and pay real attention to what He said, because He was emphasizing something of importance. Here in John 13, He did it a number of times.
About the foot washing nothing much can be said. At the beginning of the New Testament Church, it was understood and practiced without it being mentioned too often. Paul once refers to the condition of the widows who should be taken by the local Church for support.
And this was one condition laid down by him as found in 1 Tim. 5,10: “... well reported of for good works, if she hath brought up children, if she hath lodged strangers, if she hath washed the saints’ feet, if she had relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work.” KJV
We showed according to the Bible that our Lord inaugurated the foot washing and gave the practical example Himself. Therefore, no one who is truly honest could discuss these things away. They must be done and obeyed.
If somebody explains any scripture and guides the listeners into disobedience to a commandment He gave, what is motivating him? To every believer, the word of God should be holy and we must be ready to obey and do the least commandment.
In such a case, the word of the Lord applies, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” The blessing from beginning to end rests upon those who do the word of God, and not on the listeners only who disobey. May the Lord make us such people who follow in His ways and do as He commanded us, even in this case.
Do not ask why, don’t say it is foolish, and don’t believe that it is not necessary. The Lord said it, He commanded it, He practiced it, and He said, “I have given you an example that ye should do to one another as I have done to you.” That is THUS SAITH THE LORD in His word. Amen.
WOMEN MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace as in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the Churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to enquire about something they should ask their own husbands at home.
For it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the Church. Did the word of God originate, with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? if anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. if he ignores this he himself will be ignored” (1 Corinthians 14:33-8. NIV).
This is the day of the revelation of the true Church of God and since the Word of God abides in her, she lives by the Word of God in order to make the mind of God known to all.
The Church of the living God therefore holds and practices only what the Bible teaches and upholds in all matters of Christian living and doctrine. This situation also is obtainable in such issues as the role and the ministry of women in the Church.
Much trouble has been generated and caused among people in the world today with regards to the status an work of women not only in the Church but also in the society. The reason however is not far-fetched. Widespread existence of errors and falsehoods has led to God’s Word being rejected and denied.
Modern men and women in line with age long practice in spite of every amount of religious worship going on purporting to be in the name of God has refused to accept the authority of the Word of God over their lives. God is denied, not tolerated, blasphemed, insulted and disobeyed yet in His name.
This situation is clearly seen in attempt to overthrow and displace God’s order given to us in the Holy Scriptures concerning the ministry and role of women in the Church and in wider society in general.
For sure the Word of God honours men and women equally making no difference between them as long as they believe God and accept His Word in their lives (Gal. 3:26-28) for He is not a respecter of persons and shows no partiality in anything (Gal. 2:6; Acts 10:34; James 2:1).
However in calling, gifts and service there are differences (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, 28-30; 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Peter 3:1-7). According to the infallible Word of the living God men have their God-given role while women have their own too.
Any attempt to change this order speaks of nothing than outright disobedience to the Almighty God. Whoever does this must know for sure that he or she is incurring the wrath of the Almighty God upon himself or herself. Because of: this it becomes necessary on all no matter the existing situation in any place to take only what God’s Word says about women position.
To understand women ministry in the Church it is necessary to trace this from the beginning for the Holy Spirit in Paul referred us back to the law which was from the beginning. “Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16, KJV).
This may smack of male chauvinism to modern day women today but this word is very much authentic and effective today as it was when God first spoke it to the hearing of Eve, Nothing can change it.
Furthermore “a woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through child bearing - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:11-15, NIV).
It is God’s mind through His Word that no woman should be allowed to preach or teach or have authority over the man. The Scriptures referred us back to the law, and there is no place in the law throughout the Scriptures in which a woman was ordained a priest
“And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother and his sons with him from among the children of israel, that he may minister unto me in the priests office even Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons” (Exodus 28:1, KJV).
God did not speak of Aaron’s children knowing what He is doing but specifically spoke of Aaron and his sons. No woman can offer sacrifice like Aaron and God receives it. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying take Aaron and his sons with him and the garments and the anointing oil…” (Leviticus 8:1-2, KJV).
God did not want to leave Moses in doubt for if He spoke of children then will the daughters be included so He stressed the fact again that it was to be Aaron’s sons. “And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and thou shall wash them with water.”
“And the Lord appeared unto Abram and said, unto thy seed will I give this land and there builded he an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto him” (Genesis 12:7, KJV).
And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl .and offered burnt offering on the altar” (Genesis 8:20, KJV). The uniform testimony of the Scriptures shows that no woman has ever built an altar unto God no matter how great she is even if God appeared to her. They normally inform their husbands whenever God appears to them (Judges 13:3-23).
All the altars built in the Old Testament were built by men whom God revealed Himself to. No woman therefore can ever stand boldly and say truly that God spoke to her to preach the gospel in the same way as men. If she ever hears such voice it is from the devil for God can not go contrary to His Word.
It becomes clear then that women who today abandon their God-given role to be ordained as Reverend Sisters. Evangelists, Pastors, General Overseers and Superintendents and founders are completely outside God’s will. “And he builded an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servant digged a well” (Genesis 26:25, KJV).
In all the places in the Old Testament whenever God appears to a man, that man must leave a memorial there. “And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers with the number of their names every male by their polls. And the children of Reuben, Israel’s eldest son by their generations, after their families by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war” (Numbers 1:1-2, 20 KJV).
In God’s infinite mind in the genealogy women and little children are not mentioned but that of men. Women are silent in the Scriptures before men whenever it comes to spiritual matters.
A sure sign of the fact that people of God has strayed away from faith is the fact that both women and children rule them “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them, 0 my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12)
“And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 14:21, KJV).
“And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.” (Matthew 15:38).
Genealogies traced in Genesis of Adam and that of Jesus Christ as recorded in Luke and Matthew was not done through women. Does it mean then that there are no spiritual women? No, it is because Adam was first formed then Eve and Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived was in transgression (I Timothy 2:13-14).
In spite of the clear teaching of the Scriptures on this matter of women’s role people because of spiritual blindness that swept over the whole land cannot understand that there are matters and levels of activities in the Church of the living God that exclusively belong to men and that which also belong to women.
There are lots of women that played important role in the Scriptures but this didn’t make them to take the placeof men. “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time “(Judges 4:4). Deborah was a prophetess and a judge, but she was not a priest for women never were priests. She was not sent to war but a man Barak. So no matter how God can anoint a woman to see vision, dream dreams, speak in tongues, dance in the Spirit, if she ever raise herself up above the Word of God it is sure sign that God has left her.
“So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe: (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college) and they communed with her” (2 Kings 22:14, KJV).
Women as prophetesses are God given gift to them but such women are always subject to their husbands for God can’t put His gifts on a disobedient woman. Such women don’t take authority over the men or start becoming itinerant Bible preaching pastors, teachers, apostles or evangelists or prophets (Ephesians 4:11, KJV)
"There was also a prophetess, Ann the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" (Luke 2:36-37, NIV).
God cannot and does not use arrogant women, filled with pride and full of themselves and who are not ready to be subject to their husbands. It is not surprising that women that God used like Deborah, Huldah, Anna and the rest of them had their homes being married unlike the modern women today that over-throw their husbands and do without husbands like so called Reverend Sisters and Mothers.
It is a shame that such things are going on in the name of God. For sure God will judge and mete out the just punishment to every disobedience to His Word.
It is this God rejecting and insulting women that fill the denominations with women leaving their homes and children to travel from place to place in the name of preaching the gospel as Evangelists; Pastors, etc. For sure God is not in such things for the Word of God requires that women should be silent and be in subjection in all the churches of the Saints (I Corinthians 14:34).
The true church obeys this Scriptures since subjection does not mean dehumanisation, oppression and bondage. God’s children are subject to Him and yet they enjoy His blessings being as free as they can be.
"I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting, in like manner also that women adorn themselves in a modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair or gold or pearls or costly array but which becometh women professing godliness with good works" (I Timothy 2:8-10).
"But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man but to be in silence" (I Timothy 2:12). Instead of obedience to this explicit instruction of God’s Word so called women ministers of God in the denominations, lacking shamefacedness, sobriety and godliness with good works being filled with arrogant spirit wear costly clothes with chains and bangles with all worldly appearance, sexy clothes and dresses and jump from place to place in outright disobedience to God’s word.
Those who are not ready to obey God’s word that they should obey their husbands being fully submissive to them in all things cannot be God’s servant though they answer Reverend Evangelist, Prophetess, Pastor, etc.
"The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way unto the city and saith to the men, Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ" (John 4:28-29, KJV).
This scripture often used to justify women preaching nowhere justifies it all. The Samaritan woman here was not preaching rather she was simply telling her people of somebody who revealed to her all her life character. Being a harlot and living a sinful life, to see a man telling her all her evil works she went and told her people the man who revealed this,
"the woman saith unto Him, I know that Messiah cometh which is called Christ: when he is come He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her I that speak unto thee Am He.” (John 4:25-26, KJV)
"And many more believed because of His own word and said unto the woman, Now we believe not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the saviour of the world.” (John 4:41-42, KJV).
One see then that the woman was not preaching or teaching for one teaches and preaches what he is certain. But she said come, see the man who told me all that do, is not this the Christ?
Women rather than take over pulpits and jump up and down in the name of being ministers of the gospel or preachers have their God given role. "And it came to pass afterwards, that He went throughout every city and village preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God and the twelve were with Him,
And certain women which had bee healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward and Susanna and many others which ministered unto-Him of their substance (Luke 8:1-3).
Here we find therefore a clear presentation of the ministry of women in the church These women mentioned here ministered to Jesus Christ and His disciples with their substance leaving the preaching to those who were called to do so.
"After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. And the seventy returned again with Joy saying Lord even devils are subject unto us through thy name" (Luke 10:1,17 KJV)
"And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples He gave them power against unclean spirits, top cast them out and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them saying Go not into the way of the Gentiles and into any city of the Samaritan enter ye not" Matthew 10:1,5 KJV).
Jesus Christ Himself separates ihe men from the women. He did not send out the - omen; whenever it was time to preach He only sent forth men. If Jesus did it by then how can He turn today against His word.
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus nod appointed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him but some doubted and Jesus came md spake unto them…” (Matt. 28:16-18, KJV).
Jesus Christ gave the eleven the commission of preaching die gospel and among them was no woman. “Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat and unbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen., And He Laid unto the, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:14-15, KJV).
“Until the day in which He was taken up after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen" (Acts 1:2, KJV).
In the scriptures therefore we see that Jesus Christ commanded His chosen apostles through the Holy Ghost. To reject it is to reject eternal life. In all the places the Lord commissioned people, women were not among those to preach the gospel or being called into the five fold ministry.
"And He gave some apostles and some prophets (not prophetess) and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12, KJV).
There is no portion of the scripture where a woman was called either an apostle, an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher or preacher of the gospel, Instead, scriptures show that men were always called to these positions and not women (2 Timothy 1:11; 2:2, Acts 21:8, 1 Peter 1:1).
It is then necessary that women should strive to play only the specified role which the word of God gave them. "The aged women likeness, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5, KJV).
The gospel preaching for women is their holy life (1 Pet. 3:1-6). This is the only thing that makes them acceptable before God as Sarah was. No matter one’s persuasion, the phenomenon of women liberation, the philosophy of what men can do women can do the same even better and such other things like them. The Word of God has spoken and must be strictly obeyed.
No other thing is acceptable before God than obedience to His word "Whosoever rejects what God is saying is teaching false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, such a one is conceited and understands Nothing, has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk evil suspicious and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth, and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5 NIV).
There is no doubt about it, the condemnation of God is upon such one. People therefore must set aside their quarrelling with and rejection of God’s word with reference to the place and status of women in the church of the living God that the wrath of God do not fall on them. Amen.
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness fear before Him all the earth" (Psalm 96:9).
The true church of God is called to worship God and she obeys. The church is taught to gather in holiness and in the fear of God for God said "Be ye holy for I am holy " (1 Peter 1:16).
The true church with her members must worship God in holinesss for that is the purpose of her calling "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but uno holiness" (1 Thess. 4:7).
Having seen that holiness is important in worship God’s Church is very careful in all they do
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15, KJV).
The worship of the Church incorporates a number of things which include - the preaching and teaching of the word, prayers, giving and songs/praises. In terms of the preaching and teaching of the word it is evident that the Lord Jesus commissioned his Church to preach and teach the word to every creature in the world
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47, KJV).
The Church in their preaching of repentance and remission of sins must do it in the name of 3vo No group that call itself the Church of God can afford to compromise on this issue of preaching and teaching of God’s word.
That disqualifies such group from laying claim to be of God. The word of God must be preached and taught at each point if any true worship will go up Unto God. Without the word of God worship is in vain and this is why God requires that from His people.
The scripture commands “preach the word; be instant in season and out of season, reprove, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (I Tim.4:2). The preaching of the word is the important work the Church has to do for there is a warning not to allow sin come in but that it should be rebuked and reproved without respect of persons.
“Wherefore brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom whom we may appoint over this business, but we will give ourselves continually to prayers and to the ministry of the word”(Acts 6:3-4). The Church is not meant to give themselves over to the things of this life, but to the word and prayers.
Today however the commission of the preaching and teachings of the word have been commercialized through flamboyant, denominational and money minded preachers Sin is no more condemned among the people. People are not told the truth of God’s word, the spiritual weapon which God gave to His Church. Which when truly used is potent to destroy the kingdom of darkness.
It is all gospel of prosperity which cannot be reconciled in the scriptures. The admonition that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17, KJV) is ignored with emphasis always being laid on material prosperity.
The Church of God besides giving herself constantly along with all her members to the word of God, studying it in order to stand on the unadulterated word of God give herself also to prayers. While the teaching and preaching of the word gets out carnality and every worldly lusts out of her members, prayers keep her in constant communion with God.
God requires the prayers of His people to come unto Him “I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands ithrnit wrath and doubting (I Timothy 2:8). The scripture permits only men to lead in prayers and all the activities which the Church carry out. The Church in their prayers intercede for others for God answers her prayers
“Exhort therefore that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and. giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1-4, KJV).
Aside from the Church of God no man or group of people can God accept their prayers or intercession for God answereth not the prayer of a sinner (John 9:31).
Many however pray in bid to worship God only to be praying amiss or wrongly. Widespread errors exist and are prevalent in Christendom concerning prayers. If it is not the Roman Catholic Angelus, Hail Mary, using of chaplets and other fetish prayer mechanisms they invented along with the vain repetitions accompanying it contrary to God’s word (Matthew 6:7, KJV)
It is the instant prayers of the Protestants including the Pentecostal with heart only centred on praying in tongues or material prosperity and entertainments. However prayers, intercessions, supplications and thanksgiving from those who hold firmly the word of God form part and parcel of God ordained worship.
Another dimension of worship which is clear is giving or offering. The scripture admonishes “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 C or.9:7).
This scripture has been used in all denominational Churches in falsehood. They collect money from the people and thereby fulfil the scripture which said their god is their belly or stomach
“Join with others in following my example, brothers and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you for as I have often told you before and now say again, even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ, their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame, their mind is on earthly things” (Philippians 3:17 - NIV).
God in His word do not force people to give anything without willing mind for anything given grudgingly will not be acceptable by God. True worshippers of which only are members of the true Church give cheerfully and as God prospered them.
They do not bring themselves under the influence of deceitful lies to freely offer their sacrifices of giving unto God. In the Old Testament people were required to give freely
“And the Lord spake unto Moses saying speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” (Exodus 25:1-2).
God wants His people to give their offering with a willing heart. For sure God cannot receive a man’s offering without receiving the man first. If God rejects a man He rejects his offering. God normally rejects people when they reject His word in their day.
This is why the denominational world cannot truly give acceptably to God and thereby engage in true worship. As far as the word of God is concerned their worship is unacceptable to God for they reject God’s word and accept man-made system of worship which they delivered to the people like Bazaars, lotteries launchings, anniversaries, opening ceremonies and a lot of other things which smack of nothing but business and commercial activities all in the name of God.
There is God’s approved way of giving and anything short of it is of the devil “I know my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity, all these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (Chronicles 29:17 NIV).
In spite of this people still coerce people and force them to give even against their will with the name God. In the New Testament there is no limit nor restraint as to how much a man should give as long it is done with a willing and cheerful heart. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 4:34-35, KJV).
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: For God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, KJV).
Ignoring these scripture false preachers parading themselves as ministers of the gospel extort money from people for their personal and selfish interests forgetting the fact that whatever is given is for the need of all, not the extending of the personal estate aid luxury of only leaders. In every case it ought to be the word of God that must be kept if worship must be accepted by God.
The scripture admonishes us by Apostle Paul “I have shown you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, KJV).
Today this scripture is not regarded by many people. Instead of those that are supposed to help the weak to do that, they dupe them of their money falsely in the name of the Lord through such things as “sowing the seed of faith”.
The advance fee fraud “419” in Nigeria is also rampart in the denominational world. Preachers of today, pastors, “Reverend Fathrs”, Superintendents etc. live in luxury and simply ignore God’s word. Such people concerned loses their opportunity of being acceptable worshippers before God and God do not accept their worship.
The final aspect of worship which one would want to point out is praises. The scripture testifies “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:15-16, KJV).
Before any man can render any service to God in an acceptable way it must be in accordance with His word. Since the Holy Scriptures said “Let the word of Christ dwell richly” not the word of man, system of man or denomination, the acceptance of the worship or praise song from people by God will depend on the word of God dwelling in them. When the word of God is dwelling in all wisdom it will teach the worshipper the acceptable way to worship God.
Since the denominations lack the truth of God’s word their worship is unacceptable to God because it is out of the order which God gave man.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God: this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).
Praises and songs are sacrifices and spiritual act of worship to God. So God demand an absolute separation from the pattern, the world used to worship their own gods.
God hate mixture but love the separation of light from darkness. He has an approved way of worship and that is through His word. When this word dwells in people they teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in their hearts.
Since God’s word is not dwelling in the midst of the denominational people it is evident that their songs, praises, special numbers, music nights and all the spiritual songs so called is not acceptable before God.
The denominations have and use musical instruments and bands, and train their men and women to only be interested in the singing and beating of those instruments; and think that God receives their praises contrary to the testimony of the scriptures.
The scriptures testifies against them as it did in the Old Testament against the false worship of the children of Israel “I hate, I despise your religious festival, I cannot stand your assemblies, even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain of offerings, 1 will not accept them, though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never falling stream” (Amos 5:21-24 NIV).
This is the time the word of God must be proclaimed without compromise, seeing the evil which people do in the name of the Lord. The religious feasts of today can no denomination justify in the word of God.
The Roman Catholic, the Orthodox protestants and Pentecostal cannot expect God to receive the noise of their organs, drums and all kinds of instrument without the word of God in their midst having forsaken it.
God has said “I hate and despise your religious feasts “, Why, because of the rejection of His word by these people. So all that is going on now in the name of praising and worshipping God by many is unacceptable to God and pleasing to the devil that has deceived people to do it.
In Isaiah 1:15 the scripture testifies “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you, even if you offer many prayers I will not listen, your hands are full of blood “.
For sure the same thing is true today for spiritually the people ii the denominations are dead, killed with false doctrines. Those that will sing spiritual songs that God will receive are those that make up the true Church who have the word of God dwelling in their hearts and sing not for fleshy entertainment because, their carnality has been put to death.
They fulfil the scriptural admonition “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). All others outside cannot offer acceptable praise and thereby not giving acceptable worship to God.
THE COVERING OF THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
“Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head.
And every woman who prays or prophesy with her head uncovered dishonours her head – lt is just as though her head were shaved, if a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off, and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head … Judge for yourselves; Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him but that if a woman has long hair it is her gloly? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If any one wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice - nor do the Churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:1-16 NIV)
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and soberity; not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly array, But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Tim. 2:9-10, KJV)
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, But let it be the hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:3-4).
God has an approved covering He gave to man. As far as God is concerned dressing must be according to His word - both for men and women. The scripture (1 Cor. 15:15) shows that the hair of a woman is given her for a covering not head tie. Also it is clear that God in His word (I Tim.2:9,10, I Pet.3:3-4) is against immodest dressing gripping many people in the world.
Extravagant and flamboyant dressing by people is unacceptable before God. God expects us not only to be properly dressed in clothing but also in character. Men and women of God have their dressing both outwardly and inwardly. What pertains to a man should not be worn by woman.
“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deut. 22:5, KJV).
In line with the word of God women wearing trousers are committing abomination unto God. One can imagine how many today are committing abominations against God both women and men who allow their wives and daughters to do such things.
So God is against all worldliness that has gripped many in the world - perming of hair for they burn their hair and change their nature contrary to God’s word, paintings both in the face and fingers making people look like masquerades. Because of gross blindness hardly are people told the truth on this matter. Whatever be the case God will judge all and deal with every disobedience to His word whosoever he or she is.
Just as God expects people to be properly dressed and covered so He does the same for the bride His Church. The bride dresses herself with that which God gives. As the hair God gives a woman is her head covering (1 Cor. 11:15) so also is the bride of Christ covered by that which God gives which is His word.
This is the entire word of God without any addition or subtraction. When the Lord comes to take His Church as a bride she shall be ready for her Husband fully dressed. Revelation 19:7-8 shall be a reality, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to Him for the marriage of the lamb is come and his wife had made herself ready, And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints “,
There is no doubt that righteousness cannot be except by the word of God which is the only force that can produce it in a man. The entire word of God which is found in all the doctrines or teachings of the Bible is the ornament and the adorning of the Bride of Christ. It is therefore the doctrines of the Bible that must adorn a Church in word and indeed to qualify to be the bride of Christ which He is coming to take away.
As such the many denominational groups whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, protestant and Pentecostal are nothing but false bride or Church.
Time has be taken to set forth the truth of God’s word on a number of the doctrines of the Church of the living God. Doctrine simply defined means teachings and many are the various doctrines or teachings today which men and women all over the world believe. They hold to it and defend it even to the point of death.
Things believed and taught by people identifies and separates them from others who do not believe the same thing. Everyone however great or small has his or her life determined by the teachings he or she receives.
Having seen therefore that the true Church of God has been noted for definite doctrines since the time she was founded, whatever is not in accordance with these doctrines have nothing to do with God. It is the teachings or doctrines which the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has that distinguishes her from the false Church of the anti-Christ.
For sure Christ (not Peter or any other man whatever his title) the founder and Head of His Church left and handed down to His Church teachings or doctrines which she must teach and enforce in her midst. These teachings or doctrines constitute the doctrine of Christ. The scripture testifies that Christ has doctrine
“Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God, He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not in your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11, KJV).
In spite of the pressure through ecumenism to compromise the doctrine of Christ the true Church of God must hold to it regardless of the intimidation and harassment of the anti-Christ system.
The doctrine of Christ is directly from God and is only revealed to those that will do God’s will “Jesus answered them and said; my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me, if any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16, 17).
Since the true Church belongs to Christ it is Christ’s teachings that forms her doctrines. Whatever teaching that is not of Christ found in any individual or group (Church or religious organisation) makes such a one or group to be something other than the Church of God.
It is this that condemns the denominations and so called Christian organisations that teach people today contrary to the teachings of the Bible. They are not only guilty of resisting the truth, but also guilty of rejecting doctrine that is according to godliness.
Thus lie the root of the evils of the apostate Christianity (whether in form of Roman Catholicism or Protestantism - Orthodox or Pentecostal) with all its manifestation of all kinds of wickedness, unrighteousness and disobedience to God’s word. It is men and women in the name of Christianity defying the Almighty.
Herein lies the purpose of the message contained in this book - to open your eyes to an evil system which God is crying out against to show to as many as will hearken that it is contrary to His ways “The voice says, cry out against it”. Against what? Against the system - the system of man which has been lifted up to make of no effect the word of the living God.
The Almighty God has been defied, challenged and insulted by men and women whom He created. They have refused Him and set Out to cut off His presence on the face of the earth by harassing and intimidating those who dare to uphold the truth of God’s word in their life.
It is an open defiance yet with every amount of deceit. It has been rebellion yet with every amount of religion. God has been hated, maligned and crucified by people whom He made yet they have been religious. They have a form of godliness. God says yet deny the power thereof.
The highest level and the greatest amount of the denial of God on the face of the earth yet in the name of God What a paradox? What a mystery?
Can God deny Himself? No a billion times. No, There must be another God which because there could not be two Gods (because there is one true God) is a false God - an impersonator, a deceiver, a liar and an: impostor. He is called Satan, devil, the evil one, wicked one etc.
He is the god of this present evil religious and other aspects of the world system. He is against the one and true God - the Creator of heaven and earth (he teaches men and women to act the same way). He is against Christ, the very manifestation of this God and directs every worship to himself rather than to God. The cover is gone, Satan, the devil, the evil and wicked one is behind all that seems today to be of the true God.
A system is in place profaning and blaspheming the God of heaven and earth. It is anti-Christ, ungodly, wicked and evil yet has every amount of religious fervour. It is arranged in form of Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Pentecostalism and all kinds of denominational systems.
God, Christ and the Bible is mentioned and used yet with the opposite effect of making and rendering it ineffective in the lives of people according to the purpose of the author. Oh! a terrible system going on in the name of God but committing the worst kinds of offences against God It is greed, anarchy, avarice, rebellion and every sorts of wickedness.
God is against it, the cover has been take off. it is open. It is the devil and all part of his rebellion against God No wonder the cry of God today, is against the system like that whosoever will line up by the side of God will echo the same thing. It is wrong, false, wicked,-evil, ungodly, devilish, anti-Christ and has nothing to do with Christianity.
It is purely apostate, Christianity. It is denominationalism and denomination is of the devil. It is not Christianity. God is against it with all the teachings or doctrines that it propagates. God is angry and His wrath must be poured on that which He is vehemently against. Oh what a wrong, deceitful, wicked, evil ungodly and unrighteous system. God hates it and must destroy it.
The Pope must go in for it except he repents. So likewise the Cardinals, the Arch Bishops, Bishops so called, Archdeacons, Deacons so called General Superintendent or Overseers, President and founders. All the whole lot of those that have refused to place themselves under the authority of the word of God as revealed in the Bible.
All without exception making boast of the true God will suffer the wrath of the Almighty. God has never and will never compromise anything (no matter how good looking) for His word but philosophies, intellect, ideas of man, titles, money, human glory and mechanism has been substituted in place of the word of God. Such a system God cries out against and surely has purposed to destroy. The best you can do is to “flee and escape for your life “.
What is responsible for all these things? No other thing than false teachings and doctrines contrary to the sound doctrine of the word of God. God by His word requires one to separate from such “If any man (whoever he or she is) teach otherwise (something other than that taught and received from Christ through the apostles - (John 17:20) and consent not to wholesome words even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing doting about questions and strives of words whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:3-5, KJV).
Many things people have been taught has produced more ungodliness in their lives instead of godliness. Is there any doubt then that the doctrines established in denominational Churches today are not doctrines of the Church of God.
Instead of being God it is man-made and has its origin from human foundations. For the true Church of God and all that will worship God in truth it must be the word of God as revealed in the Bible or nothing else. This is the only thing that can produce godliness. All we see today in denominational world of Christianity is nothing but doctrine according to ungodliness rather than according to godliness.
The Church as revealed in the Acts of the Apostles (properly called the Acts of the Holy Spirit) patterned their life, conduct and faith according to the word of the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together and had all things common and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
And they continued daily with one accord in the temple and breaking of bread from house to house did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all th people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:42-47, KJV).
It is evidenced here what the doctrine of the apostles produced in the lives of those who received their ministry. It produced people who were not covetous, materialistic and ungodly. All the teachings of the Church flushed out and never tolerated any evil among God’s people.
The wicked were put away according to the scriptures “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:13, KJV). God’s true Church today does the same thing, allowing holy and godly life to flourish through planting and upholding of true teachings and doctrines.
True teachings from the word of God which God’s true Church lays down for her members cannot but produce godly life and conduct. All the wickedness then today in Christendom shows that false teachings which are teachings contrary to the word of God is in fact the order of the day.
Men lay claim to God’s word while at the same time deny it and render it ineffective in their lives. The scripture speaking says “... well hath Esaias prophesied of you, hypocrite, as it is written. This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men for laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold the traditions of men as washing of pots and cups and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them full well ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your own tradition which ye have delivered; and many such like things do ye” (Mark 7:6-9, 13 KJV).
The many therefore that disbelieve and disobey the word of God can only be part of the anti-Christ system and God for sure will not spare this system with all its false teachings and doctrines that produced only disobedience, ungodliness or unrighteousness, wickedness etc. and all kinds of evil before God.
The judgement and wrath of God for sure will come upon this system. All every man or woman, great or small should do is to flee and escape for his or her life. Amen.
RESTORING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
RESTORING THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
he falling away from the truth was predicted by the Holy Bible for the future i.e. apostasy. Jesus Christ himself said that “many false prophets would arise and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11, KJV).
The Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Paul warned “In later times, some shall depart from the truth (faith) giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim.4:1).
He predicted that this apostasy would ultimately manifest by one standing in the holy temple of God and speaking in God’s place (11 Thess. 2:2-7).
He also warned that the apostasy would begin among the Church’s bishops (Acts 20:28- 30). During the first century, evil forces were already working to produce the apostasy (2 Thess. 2:7; 2 John 7).
THE APPEARING OF THE APOSTATE CHURCH
The apostate Church developed through gradual changes in the original Church’s (1) Organisation (2) Doctrine and worship (3) Conduct. A few examples of these changes are as follows:—
APOSTASY IN ORGANISATION (1)
New Testament Churches each had many bishops (elders) of equal rank whose authority did not extend beyond the limits of the local organisation (Acts 14:23; 20:17) and even Vs. 28. (Phil. 1:1) Jesus Christ was the only chief bishop over all Churches (I Peter 5:1-4).
However, during the first and second centuries, the bishop presiding over the bishops was elevated to a higher office and was called “The Bishop “. Gradually the others ceased to be called bishops, retaining only designation elders (Presbyters). The Church’s organisation was changed again during the third and fourth centuries.
Some bishops became the chief officers of several Churches in an area. Later the bishops of the more important areas like Jerusalem, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople, grew in power and were exalted to “Patriarchs” and later called “Archbishops.”
The Catholic Encyclopaedia (II page 583 and IV page 44) admits that this newly acquired power, originated in the fourth and fifth centuries. These archbishops were equal in power. The bishop of Rome had no more power than the bishop of Antioch. This equality existed up till the 8th century.
Gregory I. Bishop of Rome, 590 AD, and later declared Pope, Saint and Doctor, wrote Eulogius Bishop of Alexandria that the “See of Peter, in three places is the see of one over which three bishops actually preside by divine authority “.
He named the three places as Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. Later when John the Faster, Bishop of Constantinople, called himself “Universal Bishop” Gregory I denounced the title as profane, proud and wicked. However, Gregory’s successor in Rome, Boniface III, did not object to the title and assumed it for himself in 607 A.D.
Thus papal authority continued to grow through the ages, however as late as 1837, John B. Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, declared in a formal debate (Debate in the Roman Catholic Religion Page 22).
“No enlightened Catholic holds the Popes infallibility to be an article of faith.” Yet, forty-three years later, (1870) the Vatican Council declared the opposite. Now complete submission to the Pope is demanded “as unto God himself.”
He is said to hold the place of God Almighty (Great Encyclical letters pages 193 and 304). This fulfilling the prophecy in II Thess. 2:3-4 -“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
APOSTASY IN DOCTRINE AND WORSHIP (2)
The Church exaltation of uninspired men led to many changes in doctrine and worship, a few of which are noted as follows: The Priesthood: The Bible says that all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:5; 9, Rev. 1:6) and are all subject to Jesus Christ the only high Priest (Heb. 4:14-16).
Later, the presbyters changed to be a special priesthood separate from the rest of the Church. Patterned after the Jewish Priesthood, the newly exalted bishop became the high priest; the elders (presbytery) became priests and the deacons, Levites.
The Lord’s Supper:
The change in priesthood also caused a change in worship. The simplicity of New Testament worship replaced with ritualistic ceremony conducted only by priests. The primary function of the Jewish priest was to offer sacrifices for sin (Heb. 5:1).
Accordingly, the Lord’s supper (Eucharist) was changed from a memorial of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 11:22-26) to an actual sacrifice. Although the Bible clearly says that Christ’s one and only sacrifice was offered for sins, once and for all time. (Heb 9:25-26, Heb. 10:10-12), the Church began to say that Christ’s sacrifice for sin must be offered continually by changing the bread and wine into Jesus Christ’s literal body and blood. Later the priests refused the wine to the other members though all Christians are commanded to drink it (1 Cor. 11:28-29)
Exaltation of Jesus Mother - Blessed Virgin Mary to be a Mediator between the Church and God
All true Christians acknowledge the wonderful blessing ‘Mary received as mother of the divine Jesus (Luke 1:48). However, such influences as pagan worship of goddesses resulted in Mary’s being exalted above her rightful position.
The Bible references to Mary do not mention her name even once after the establishment of the Church (Matthew 1:16-25, 2:11- 21; 12:46-50; 13:55-56, Mark 3:31-35; 6:3, Luke 1:27-56; 2:5-7, 16-22, 27, 35-51; 8:19-221; 11:27-28, John 2:1-12; 6:42; 19:25-27; Acts 1:14).
Concerning Mary’s exaltation, the Catholic Encyclopedia admits, “Evidence regarding the popular practice of the early centuries is almost entirely lacking” (XV, 460). Doctrines such as Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, Bodily Assumption, and Mediatorship, all appeared in later centuries without any scriptural or historical basis.
Mary’s Perpetual Virginity was developed because of the later exaltation of celibacy. Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph “knew her not till she brought forth her first born son. “Later Christ’s brothers and sisters are named with Mary (Matt.12:46-50; 13:55-56).
The Bible says that a good wife should always practice normal marriage relations (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 1 Timothy 2:15). Mary’s having other children is normal, noble and pure, for “marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4).
Jesus expressly denies that Mary should be exalted above other Christians. When a certain woman told Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou has sucked”, Jesus answered, “Yea rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28, KJV).
Also, Mary’s being a mediator through which Christians pray is plainly opposed to by 1 Timothy 2: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Christians are commanded to do everything in Christ’s name (Colossians 3:17) and promised that all prayers in His name will be answered (John 14:13-14). The Christians need no other name, or mediator, but Jesus the Lord.
(3) APOSTASY IN CONDUCT
Concerning false teachers, Jesus predicted, “shall know them by their fruits ... Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bring forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:16-17, KJV).
Jesus told Churches of Asia that they would be removed if they did not repent of their negligence and wicked works (Revelation 2:4-5, 14-16; 3:2-3, 15-17). The Roman Church was to be cut off if they did not “continue in His goodness” (Romans 11:22).
It was thus natural that the Church’s apostasy in doctrine would also be seen in its conduct. During the second and third centuries celibacy (the unmarried state) and abstinence from food was exalted.
The spread of monasteries in the fourth century exalted these ascetic practices even more and in 385 A.D. the Western Church prohibited its presbyters from marrying.
This directly contradicted the Bible requirement that a bishop “must be the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2), but fulfilled the prophecy, “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats” (1 Timothy 4:1 -3).
Forbidding marriage led to the opposite extreme of immorality. Whereas in New Testament times, bishops were to be blameless (1 Tim.3:2-7), the Church later permitted scandalous men to continue as bishops and even Popes.
The following Popes are branded by the Catholic Encyclopaedia as wicked and immoral men: Popes John XII (son), Benedict IX, Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II etc. (Vol. I Page 1,289; II Page, 429; VII Pages 20, 426, 562).
Teenagers sometimes occupied the office of Pope, Cardinal and Bishop. (Catholic Encyclopaedia, VIII Page, 426). Selling the office of bishop to the highest bidder was the common practice of this day (Catholic Encyclopedia, VIII, Page 20).
The Popes bad examples led to widespread immorality among the bishops, priests and “Lay members.” This picture of habitual immorality is in complete contrast to the early Church’s purity (I John 2:4-10) and dis-fellowship of any immoral members (I Corinthians 5:1-13).
While immorality was overlooked, opposition to the Pope’s authority was literally exterminated. For example Pope Innocent II’s declaration in 1206, resulted in the massacre of two-thirds of the population in Southern France, “We exhort you wholly to destroy this wicked heresy of the Albigeneses” ... “persecute them with a strong land, deprive them of their lands and possessions, utterly banish them and put Roman Catholics in their rooms.”
The inquisition soon followed in Italy, France and Spain. Hundreds and thousands were tried and delivered by the Roman Catholic Church to be killed by the Secular authorities as heretics. The Pope later granted indulgences to all that participated in this ‘wicked work’ (Inquisition Page 43).
Innocent III’s action and the Inquisition are defended by Modern Catholic works (The Catholic Encyclopedia, VII, 262; VIII, 31). What a contrast to true Christianity; “Recompense to no man evil for evil ... If thine enemy hunger, feed him ... Overcome evil with good Love worketh no ill to his neighbour” (Romans 12:17, 20-21; 13:10).
The lack of love proves that one is not God’s true child (1 John 3:10-15). Jesus had said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
EFFORTS TO REFORM THE APOSTATE CHURCH
Through the centuries many groups tried to reform the apostate Church, but their efforts usually formed another apostasy. However, history does not record the characteristic teaching of a number of groups and undoubtedly some of them were the true Church for God promised a kingdom that would never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 7:14).
Remember that only eight were faithful in Noah’s day (1 Peter 3:20) and only 7,000 in Elijah’s day (Romans 11:2-5). God’s true people have always been few and persecuted by the majority (2 Timothy 3:12), but God has ever known “them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).
However, by the 1500’s the apostate Church had grown so bad that the Roman Catholic Church was clamouring for its• own reform. In various parts of Europe, Martin Luther, John Knox) Ulrich Zwingley, John Calvin, etc., attempted to reform the apostate Church.
Unfortunately, what began as a just protest against a corrupt Church resulted in a mass of Churches divided by denominational creeds and names. Some of the apostate doctrines and practices of the Roman Church carried over into each of the denominations. Calvin, for example, began Inquisition against Catholics in Switzerland.
Later their followers accepted as final their leaders conclusions: Luther’s followers became Lutherans; Calvin’s followers, Presbyterians; later John Wesley’s followers became Methodists, etc., and such has been the history of Christendom as every year there are more Churches.
While Protestantism corrected many evils of the apostate Church, it also created a sinful state of division with many bodies, faiths, baptisms and names all in violation of Christ’s will (John 17:20-21; Ephesians 4:4-5, 1 Corinthians 1:10-14); 3:3).
Consequently, most modern men feel they are faced with a puzzling dilemma: either return to the apostate Church, or join one of the sects of divided Protestantism. Is there a solution to this perplexing problem of denominationalism and system of carnal men against the Word of God.
RESTORATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Yes, we have a choice other than the apostate Church or divided Protestantism. We can restore the original Church. But how? The solution is twofold:
(1) Leave that which causes error and disunity, and (2) return to that which produces truth and unity.
The cause of both divided Protestantism and the original apostasy is the same: departure from God’s word (1Timothy 4:1): All Churches claim to follow the Bible, but they also follow Church traditions, creeds, manuals, councils, etc.
Religious tradition caused the Jews of Jesus’ day to apostatize (Matthew 15:3-9). These added sources of religious, authority also cause error within Christianity. We must leave human tradition and authority if the original Church is to be restored (II Timothy 2:19; II Corinthians 6:17).
Next, we must return to the source of all truth and unity: the word of God. In the first century God’s word produced man’s salvation (James 1:21), Church membership (Acts 2:41, 47), doctrine and growth (Ephesians 4:14-15). By God’s word the local Church was governed (Titus 1:9), and protected from error (Acts 20:28-32). God’s word thus produced and preserved the unity of the early Church.
Jesus promised, “if ye continue in my word, then are ye may disciples indeed” (John 8:31). We thus prove that we are Christ’s true disciples, or Church, not by tracing from the beginning a line of succession of bishops, but by continuing in the same word of God revealed in the beginning: God’s word is living seed “and endures forever” (I Peter 1:23-25).
Regardless of its age, seed always reproduces after its kind. Wheat seed stored in an Egyptian pyramid thousands of years ago will produce today the same plant it produced then: wheat. Likewise the same seed of God’s word will produce the same Church in the twentieth century that its produced in the first century.
As we previously studied, the Bible contains all of God’s will (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Thus, by planting only the seed of God’s word from the Bible, we will produce the same Church, united in the same doctrine, love, name, organization, worship, etc. In the times of king Josiah, the Jewish Bible had been lost in the temple.
Consequently, God’s law was forgotten and the Jewish religion corrupted. But, when the Bible was found, read and obeyed, the true religion was restored as it was originally (2 Kings 22:1-20). Even so today, when the Bible is obscured by hunt tradition, corrupt religion results.
But when the Bible alone is followed, then the pure, non-denominational Church of Christ is restored. The Bible only makes Christians; one must get back to it.
THE END TIME MESSENGER AND WORD BRIDE MINISTRY
God’s plan and purpose is to have an individual group of individuals that takes the Word of God alone to be their Absolute. It is the only way one can become like Christ (the Word, as Christ never fails to do all the will of God “Then said I, lo, I come ( in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7);
“Jesus said a them, My meat (food) is to do the will of Him sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom of His true Church, the Bride) who are recognised by their ability to do the same works of God by staying fully with the Word of God
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do; because I go unto My Father (because I go back to the Spirit)” (John 14:12).
God’s way of upholding His Church in the truth had been by sending messengers to His people. These messengers would bring God’s people back to God’s word. He sent Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt and to hand down God’s command to the people. Elijah was sent to bring Israel out of idolatry introduced by false prophets of Baal. John the baptist came and pointed the nation of Israel back to the Word of God - Jesus Christ.
In the history of the Church, Jesus Christ came to bring the Church back to Himself “... I go to prepare a place for you. And if l 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 14:2-3).
Saint Paul in the Holy Ghost spoke the same thing in Ephesians 5:23-27 “... Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Saviour Body ... the Church is subject unto Christ, ... 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 (Christ, the Word of God) might present it to Himself (back to the word) a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
The Church must remain in Christ and His doctrine in order to be found before Christ in glory. The apostles had the revelation that the true Church must remain in Christ’s word in order to be acceptable to Him therefore they upheld the Church and the apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42) which were the teachings of Christ to His apostles.
However, as the Church gradually drifted away from this truth during the Church ages, God in His un-changing pattern, never failed to send men whose mission were only to reform the Church by the truth. All these men like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Wesley etc. which have been earlier mentioned in this book did their best to reform the apostate Church.
Moreover, the emergence of the Pentecostals with the restoration of the gifts of the spirit was another move of God to bring God’s Church to the scriptures and the entire truth of God’s word. Those denominations relaxed their holiness way of living in order to attract a larger and more “refined” following, with laws legislated by men that tend to overrule the leading of the Lord.
Their vision was limited to the part they held speaking in tongues, miracles and prosperity, and they [quickly built a wall around their part. It was obvious that those movement never restored the Church to the position of the Church of Acts. But God was bent to restore the Church to Acts of the Apostles with Jesus ministry as He promised in His word in Joel 2:25 and Acts 3:21 - the restoration of all things back to the original pattern of the word of God.
This ministry of restoration had to be done with the anointing of the Spirit of God used in Elijah the Tishbite because of the apostasy on the land, as God normally use that nature to resist the idolatry and adultery on the land.
Therefore, God promised to send a prophet to the Gentiles in this end time before the great and dreadful day of the Lord to restore the Gentile Church back to the faith of the apostolic fathers
“Behold I will send you ElUah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:-6).
This prophecy does not mean the literal coming of Elijah the Tishbite, rather the coming of a man with that same anointing to resist every idolatry, adultery and immorality against God’s word with every boldness of speech and without respect of persons.
Elijah the Tishbite had such nature as recorded in 1st King Chapters 17 through 21. His ministry was full of power of God. He withstood every denominational and organised religion of the false prophets of Baal. He resisted Jezebel and challenged her idolatrous life style. He condemned immorality as found in Jezebel and rebuked Ahab (the government in power) for introducing paganism on the land.
Next was Elisha ordained by Elijah at the end of his ministry (1 Kings 19:15) “... The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha...” Even the double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9-10) did Elisha receive with which he continued the same work to eradicate idolatry and unfaithfulness in Israel.
There was no other mention of this spirit working until the time of John the baptist whom Jesus confirmed that he came in the spirit (anointing) of Elijah “But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:12-13, KJV).
This anointing upon John the Baptist gave him the boldness to withstand the organised religion of denominational Pharisees and Sadducees in his day. His sermon in Luke 3, shows his type of spirit. He rebuked Herod for His adultery and Herodias the queer, for her immoral life same way Elijah the Tishbite rebuked Ahab and Jezebel.
One peculiar nature of this spirit of God is that it hates immoral women which results to people calling them “woman hater.” John the Baptist never spared any ungodliness in His day for which he was beheaded as Elijah was threatened to be killed by Jezebel. These women in the natural types the denominational Churches who will threaten the end time Elijah to the Gentile Church.
The fourth time the spirit of Elijah was used was in the Messenger of the 7th Church age to the Gentiles. We shall not talk much on the 5th and last time, which is to be among the Jews as recorded in Revelation 11:3, out of the two witnesses sent to Israel.
A close study of the chapter will enable one recognise by revelation that God will use the spirit of Elijah and Moses - the ministry of the two witnesses will have such characteristics. However, we have to deal mainly on the messenger to the last gentile Church age - Laodicea, which is of more significant to us in this book.
One should take note of the fact that the ministry of John the Baptist was the fulfilment of Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1, as confirmed in the Gospel of: “... The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God: As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:2-3, KJV).
In reference to the ministry of John the Baptist, the angel of the Lord said to Zacharias: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17, KJV).
The angel knew exactly which scripture passage was to be fulfilled with the ministry of John. He did not say that he was the Elijah, who was to come “before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” He took only the following part from Malachi 4:6 “... to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children ...“ which was fulfilled at the first coming of Christ, whereas the rest of that verse was to be fulfilled at the end of the “day of grace.”
Because the one portion of the prophecy given in reference to the Elijah, who was to come before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord”, was fulfilled in the ministry of John, one can now understand why Jesus called John “Elijah” - “And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was to come” (Matthew 11:14. KJV).
“But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not but have done unto him whatsoever they listed...” (Matthew 17:12).
Almost two thousand years have passed, and the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” still lies before us, of which scripture says: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it” (Isaiah 13:9, KJV).
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).
Everyone must know that the remaining part of Malachi 4:5-6 reads: “Behold, I will send you Eljjah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord... And he shall turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
In Luke 1:17, we find a similar mystery as in Luke 4:19, where Jesus Christ stopped in the middle of the verse and mad reference to the “. . . acceptable year of the Lord”, but not the “day of vengeance “, “the great and dreadfa day of the Lord.”
In Matthew 11:10, Jesus identified John the Baptist with Mal.3:1 “For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face” and not with the passage of Mal.4:5 which says “... the prophet before the coming of th great and dreadful day of the LORD”; as John the Baptist was not actually the Elijah that will turn “th heart of the children to their fathers” rather he turned “the heart of the fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
John the Baptist pointed the faith of the Jewish fathers the faith of Jesus Christ and Apostles who were just children before those elders, however, the messenger to the Church in respect of Mal. 4:5 and a part of verse 6, is fulfilled among the Gentiles because the Apostles are their fathers in the faith, therefore he points them back to the faith of the Apostolic fathers at a time when the Gentiles have drifted away from the faith “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet befw the coming of the great and dreadful day of th LORD. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers the children, AND THE HEART OF Till CHILDREN TO THEIR FATHERS, lest I come an smite the earth with a curse. John knew exactly which portion of the scripture applied to his ministry.
All who are acquainted with history will know that already Mohammed, and a number of others have claimed to be the prophet referred in Malachi 4:5 who was to come before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. In fact some have openly called themselves “Elijah” or spoken about the “Elijah ministry”, but not one of them has turned the hearts of God’s people back to the Lord and His word.
On the contrary, they themselves were far away from the true apostolic and prophetic teaching and made their own followers.
However, all these imitations will not hinder God to accomplish His promise at His time. Knowing the Bible and taking into consideration how God has dealt in the past we can testify that there was supernatural move of God in our day to restore the Church back to the New Testament standard.
God did fulfil His word in accordance with Bible promises and prophecies in sending an end time prophet in our day. In spite of the fact that the majority do not recognize it, God sent His end time prophet.
WHO THEN IS THIS MAN? The answer must be a scriptural one for we cannot use any other criteria as mere success, impressions or personalities will not do but God’s choice. In spite of the fact that many outstanding men exist in the denominations, we declare without hesitation before God Almighty that what followed the ministry of William Marrion Branham of Jefferson-Ville in the United States of America qualified him to be the prophet messenger with the message to restore the Church of the living God to the entire word of God.
Through his ministry, incredible things happened right during his ministrations. The blind received their sight, the lame could walk, the dumb could talk, the deaf could hear instantly, and every kind of healing took place, even to that of cancer cases.
Gordon Lindsay reporting as an eye witness and as one who accompanied this humble man for many years in his book “William Branham - A man sent from God” testifies of astounding things. He testifies of having seen the same signs and wonders in his ministry as recorded in the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles.
A unique powerful and divine vindication with a world-wide impact characterized his ministry. And thousands experienced the infallibility of the gift of discernment and divine knowledge in the meetings right to the end of his ministry in December 1965.
Regardless of country, continent and language, through an. open vision this humble man saw who the person was, what sickness they had, where they came from - even cities, streets, and the names of the individuals were shown to him. Each vision was perfect every time not one missed in his world-wide meeting for so many years.
Those who, witnessed the prophetic ministry of Bro. Branham could easily admit that it was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and based on divine revelation that he did say “Thus saith the Lord” in any matter.
At no time did anything he proclaimed in the Name of the Lord failed to come to pass. It became clear that he was a prophet sent to this generation being chosen from his mother’s womb and ordained from birth like John the Baptist to be the prophetic forerunner of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as John was for the first advent.
The hand of God was fully manifested in the life of this humble man of God with supernatural manifestation showing even from birth fulfilling the fact that prophets are foreordained by Almighty God.
Jeremiah was told “Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, and before thou cormeth forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, KJV).
Again the scriptures testifies “... for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29, KJV).
A supernatural light was recorded to have entered the room on April 6, 1909, around 5A.M. at the time of his birth. The audible Voice of God even began to speak to him when he was only 3 years old.
At the age of seven the same Voice Spoke to him again saying “Never drink, smoke or defile your body in anyway, for I have a work for you to do when you get older.” which by God’s grace the prophet maintained. And no time therefore did Almighty God fail to vindicate His prophet.
In Houston, Texas, in January of 1950, an amazing photograph was taken by the Douglas Studios. In the photograph, there appeared a light above the head of Brother Branham in a halo-like form. The negative was taken to George J. Lacy, Examiner of Questioned Documents, in order to determine whether or not the light could have been the result of improper exposure, developing or retouching.
This investigation served to completely authenticate the fact that the unusual brightness was definitely caused by a light striking the negative. Mr. Lacy was quoted as saying, “Rev. Branham, you will die like all other mortals, but as long as there is a Christian civilization, your picture will live on.”
There are two main characteristics which one could use in identifying the ministry of a true prophet of God. It is not just by signs and wonders alone as we have seen that great signs and wonders followed the ministry of Brother Branham.
Firstly whatever a prophet says in the name of the Lord must come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:20-22) and secondly his teaching on God must he correct. If what the man says comes to pass, hut he presents other gods and doctrines contrary to the word of God and instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he is still a false prophet and God is only testing the people whether they’ll forsake His approved way (Deuteronomy 13:2- 6).
Bro. Branham had these two characteristics and was identified to be a true prophet of God. As part of his ministry, Bro. Branham taught and expounded all the true scriptural doctrines. Later his ministry merged into the prophetic phase - speaking on the Seven Church Ages, the Seven Seals and the mysteries hidden in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
A new religion was not started neither was another Bible given through the ministry of Bro. Branham. But God used a man as He normally does to bring forth His word to the people. This is why Bro. Branham stood between all denominations and religious movements, preaching the true word of God to call out a people for the Lord.
Whatever he preached must be seen in the proper connection with God’s word, where unto nothing can be added or taken away. Brother Branham placed the Bible as His absolute for his life or doctrine. Hear him “I love this old Bible, it straightens you out” (Hebrews Pg.348 par 350).
“Well, every denomination is an ultimate to their believers. But to me and to the ones that I hope that I’m leading to Christ, and by Christ, the Bible is our ultimate, because God said, “Let every man’s word be a lie, and Mine Truth.”
And I believe that the Bible is God’s ultimate. No matter what anyone else says, it’s the ultimate. (CHRIST IS REVEALED IN HIS OWN WORD, page 12 par. 50, Aug.22, 1965 Jeff.) “That’s the reason the genuine Christian separates himself from everything but the word of God, no matter what the people think, what anybody else says”
(WORKS IS FAITH EXPRESSED Page 23 Par. 158, Nov. 26, 1965 Shreveport). He took sides with the word and never came to build a denomination but to raise people for Christ by the Word of God To prove this, he called his fellowship centre “Branham Tabernacle” and he never raised “Branham Tabernacles” all over the world, although, he had better privilege because of the gift that God lavished on him.
The purpose of God sending Bro. Branham was not to raise big denominations around the world, nor: to point people to himself hut to raise individuals that teach and live totally by God’s Word - THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.
It is not surprising to note that some blind followers of Branham message did their best to idolise the man by making him their Absolute instead of the word he pointed them to. All that William Branham; preached could be easily proved by the scriptures, yet those blind followers replaced the infallible Bible with the sermon books of the prophet whereas he pointed; them back to the Bible some of them turned the pure and spotless message into “a cult” before the public with their “7 thunders revelations.”
So many sincere Christians became scared as a result of such manner they present themselves and so called “revelation.” William Branham himself was at a time warned by God not to present mysteries to the “babies” by a vision of the shoe and the lace.
So he charged people to make the message so simple for the hearers to help people understand the “A B C of Christ” before the “Algebra.” He taught mysteries, but not to the public rather to them who have been weaned and decided to walk with God’s word in His entirety.
It is a fact that “7 thunders” is recorded in Revelation 10:4, yet it is not an article of faith rather a revelation only to them that it’s meant for. But Satan through deceived hypocrites go about branding the message of Branham as “7 Thunders Blood”, “7 Thunders the Saviour” etc.
However what Bro, Branham presented to the elect is only “the simplicity that is in Christ” - the doctrines and life of Christ Concerning the “7 Thunders” he said “it will speak for itself, only be a Christian.”
The impatient followers like the two followers of Paul, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who erred by “saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim.2:17-18), went ahead presenting to the world that “they are in Millennium, the 7 Thunders have sounded already”, thereby making the public believe that such was what Bro. Branham stood for.
Even the confusion among them is enough to prove that such are not the Bride that God used Branham to prepare for Christ. Many even have blasphemous names that the prophet condemned, answering various denominational names “Bible Believers Fellowship, Ministry of Reconciliation, Bride of Christ Tabernacle, Little Flock, End Time Message, etc. contrary to the Churches in the Bible that were named after their location like Church at Ephesus, Church at Corinth, Church in the house of Priscilla and Acquilla, etc. How can Pot call Kettle black.
So many of them garnish the tomb of the dead prophet, praise him and even lift up a man higher than the Word of God. In spite of this they still live in sin, covetousness, quarrelling and fussing among themselves, going to law courts with one another, living immorally, even some pastors vie for chieftaincy titles, yet they go ahead with sermon books of prophet Branham saying they are products of his message.
They are cursed for holding the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Dupes, that defraud one another, coveting tithes and offering. Did not Branham pastor a Church for 17 years without taking a dime from the coffers of the Church? They have become Pharisees who do not want to enter in nor allow others to enter - seating on Moses seat. COME BACK TO THE BRIDE FAITH OR YOU REMAIN FOOLISH VIRGIN.
Fanaticism follows every revival but that cannot nullify the validity of the truth produced by the revival. God promised that the message will get [ready the Bride of the word.
And so has it done this by raising groups of individuals around the globe men and women who stay true to the entire word of God as predicted by prophet Branham “... In these last days the true Bride Church, (Christ’s Seed) will come to Headstone, and she will be the super Church, a super race, as she nears Him. They will be one They in bride will be so much like Him that they will even be in His very image. This is in order to be united with Him.
They will be one. They will be the very manifestation of the word of the living God. From A LITTLE GROUP OF THE TRUE SEED OF THE WORD, GOD WILL PRESENT CHRIST WITH A BELOVED BRIDE. The members of the virgin bride will love Him (the word of God), and they will have His potentials, for He is their head, and all powers belong to Him.” (Church Ages pg. 66, 171, 172).
Bro. Branham predicted that the Bride that God sent Him to prepare must be one with the word of God and must do exploits like Christ. Their group will be filled with the power of God, signs and wonders following as they stay with God’s word. Until now, impersonators have been parading themselves as the bride.
The Bride is not a public figure. She is hated and despised by the world as the Husband. She has unity of faith in the Word coupled with the character of Christ. Holiness and perfection is their watch-word.
One has to bear in mind that when Bro. Branham died, God never died with him. He pointed the Church back to Ephesians 4:11-16 to walk with the 5- fold ministry approved of Go having “Apostles, prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers” bearing in mind that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8)
And that Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me (The True Word of God), the works that I do shall he do also; and greater (more) works than these shall he do, because I go unto My Father” (John 14:12).
The Bride or the Apostolic Ministry has begun in the midst of the little groups that have gone back to God’s word in obedience to the Voice of the last messenger to the Gentile Church.
They are led by the Holy Ghost in the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and teachers with the same conduct, order, doctrine, signs and wonders that followed the Apostolic fathers. This little group will be persecuted, as they will have a time of great trouble.
They will have a showdown with the denomination like Elijah and false prophets of Baal. They will be forced to close their Churches and stop preaching because of the truth they have. It will be a horrible persecution by the confederated denominations to the point that they will close their Churches and convert same to store rooms.
They will be denied all rights by the constituted religious bodies with the assistance of the government. Some of them will be shot and martyred. Yet they will not be discouraged because they were told ahead of time by the Holy Ghost in her ministry.
One must bear in mind that the ministry of the Bride is the ministry of Christ, as Jesus Himself was the first Apostle (Heb.3: 1). “... consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Because the ministry is Christ ministry as in the Book of Acts, It will produce only Christ-like people - Christians, in life and doctrine.
The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch only because they resembled Christ in their teachings and life, not that they move about with Scrolls, Sermon Books, or Jewish Garments. Their lives in line with the Word of God displayed what they were before the public.
One can easily see now why multitudes of people including those that go about branding themselves “Branhamites” following the letters of the prophet’s (Spoken Word) without the spirit must fulfil the foolish virgin.
For they have the message - the Word of God - A lamp to a Christian’s feet (Psalm 119:105), but they have not enough spirit - Oil in the vessel of their hearts to know that God did not die with Bro. Branham.
Their Pastors reject higher ministries like the Apostles to operate in their midst because they do not want to be reproved. Each of the foundation of their groups is laid upon Pastors or Evangelists and Teachers, whereas they reject God’s way of Eph. 2:20 that the foundation of God’s Church is laid by Apostles and Prophets.
These self-proclaimed ministers are interested only to milk their flock of “the tithes and offerings” that they claim belongs only to the five fold. They love to break marriage vows, etc.
They refuse to excommunicate the evil men from their midst although they know that the lives of such men are full of “heresy, fornication, covetousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, extortioning, arguments, rebellion, disputes etc.
But the true bride Church will not regard anyone guilty of such evil as a “brother” but must excommunicate such an one for God’s Church to be free from sin. However, this denominations in the name of End-Time Message believe in covering up sins, especially of their ministers, but God’s Church is not so.
The Bride Church is very strict with the Word of God, although they will suffer despisement and rejection for the entire truth of God’s Word.
Surely because they have dared to return back to the pure unadulterated Word of God with their lives lining up with all that God says in His word they are outside every other denominational system and contrary to everyone else.
Because they are back again to the New Testament standard of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles the same persecution that followed the early Christians will follow them from the hands of denominational Pharisees and Sadducees, and from false brethren.
Since religious authorities in alliance with secular authorities persecuted the early Church it will still repeat against this group. They are not misled and deceived by the anti-Christ system no matter the subtlety, signs and wonders taking place in the name of God, for the promise of God in Matt.24:24 conditions their minds:
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Their eyes are always on the Word of God reveal to them by the Holy Ghost.
They know the image of the beast is the World Council of Churches and that she has the mark of the beast. They know that the ecumenical movement is taking people back to papal Rome - that Roman Catholicism is the anti-Christ. They understand that all the so called Christianity today is nothing but Babylon (Rev. 17;18) which is no longer a mystery to them.
All that is the anti-Christ its systems, teachings and practices they reject that they may be a Church that is holy and perfect. Such a Church is the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ and very soon He comes to take them away (when the great tribulation - the wrath of God is on the earth it means this Bridal Church has gone).
Since the whole Christendom is in darkness and ignorance and the true scriptural faith is rare today everyone has to make his own decision. Who then is willing to heed to the call according to Rev. 18:4 to come out of the religious Babylon (confusion) of this time.
Who has eyes to see and ears to hear and an heart to understand what the spirit says to the Churches? Who can differentiate and discern between the Word of God and all man-made interpretations. God always separates light from darkness. Who has the courage to take instructions to believe and practice what God says?
All the scriptural and spiritual things cannot be made known by flesh and blood. One cannot teach [the other except by God’s word and Holy Spirit. The judgement of God upon this world with its wickedness through false religions (whether it goes in the name of Christianity or not), social, political and economic systems is no longer lingering.
The world of Noah and that of Sodom and Gomorrah were examples that God will not spare (Jude 7) “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication (spiritual and physical), and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” BE WARNED FOR TIME IS NO MORE.
If you want to be in glory hear finally this Word of admonition. God has overlooked the times of ignorance but now reveals His perfect will through Ills word that men might repent.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now hath commanded all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him (The Word of God) from the dead (denominations)” (Acts 17:30-31).
God expects everyone (no exemption) to believe Him and to act according to His Word. Therefore one must forsake all unscriptural doctrines like Trinity, false baptism, Ordaining of Women Preachers, Celibacy, Adoration of Saints and Angels, Exaltation of Mary as the Mother of God, commercialization of the Gospel by false prosperity teachings, approval of denominationalism, Ecumenism, Popery, false teachings on speaking in tongues as initial evidence of Holy Spirit etc.
Even if one loses his popularity and friends it must be done in order to return to the original Bible teaching, pattern and practice. Don’t wait until it is too late.
THIS IS THE WAY - WALK YE IN IT
“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon him while he is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SINNERS
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, KJV). “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, KJV).
WE MUST REPENT (Turn around. Change our mind)
“Except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, KJV) “REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts3:19, KJV).
EVEN THE CHURCHES HAVE BEEN COMMANDED TO REPENT
“Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, write, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and REPENT, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5, KJV).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and REPENT!” (Revelation 3:19, KJV).
WE MUST BE BAPTISED
Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mark 16:15, KJV). The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ ...” (I Peter 3:21, KJV).
BY IMMERSION IN WATER
“And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:36-39, KJV).
ACCORDING TO APOSTOLIC PATTERN
“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22, KJV).
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49, KJV).
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, REPENT and BE BAPTIZED everyone of you in the NAME of JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the GIFT of the HOLY GHOST. For the promise is unto you, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:36-39, KJV).
THOSE NOT BAPTISED IN THE TRUE NAME WERE COMMANDED TO BE REBAPTIZED
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed; and they said unto him; we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were BAPTISED in the NAME of the LORD JESUS. And when Paul laid his hand upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6, KJV)
Read Acts 10:48. The baptismal formula was given to the gentiles as well as the Jews.
WHICH DENOMINATION SHALL I JOIN
NONE! SERVE JESUS CHRIST! You can join the kingdom of God. For Jesus said, “... Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, KJV)
“But though we; or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, KJV).
EVEN A PROPHET MUST NOT DISAGREE WITH THE SCRIPTURE
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord”, (I Corinthians 14:37).
WE MUST RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
“And, being assembled together with them, COMMANDED them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but WAIT for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye SHALL BE BAPTIZED WITH THE HOLY GHOST not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4-5, KJV).
“And we are his witnesses of these things; and is also the Holy Ghost, whom GOD HATH GIVEN TO THEM THAT OBEY HIM” (Acts 5:32, KJV).
“ Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:7-14, KJV).
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:8, KJV).
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:9-11, KJV).
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” (Acts 10:44-48, KJV)
WE MUST WALK IN THE LIGHT OF HIS WORD
“This then is the message which we have heard of and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; But IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, as HE IS IN THE LIGHT, we have fellowship one with another, and the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST his son CLEANSETH us from ALL sin.” (1 John 1:5-7, KJV)
TESTIMONY OF GOD’S UNCHANGEABLE MOVE IN HIS CHURCH
Nowadays, very many people overlook or underrate this powerful passage of the Scriptures “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The confidence of every true Christian is based upon this scripture that our Lord is alive and unchangeable.
He is forever Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent. What could have Christianity looked like if Christ the Founder is dead and rotten in the grave? It will be nothing less than a hopeless religion.
The Lord promised to be among His people until the end of the consummation, to perform the same, genuine signs and wonders as in the Church of Acts to serve as a confirmation of His holy presence in the midst of His true Church that teaches His sound doctrine.
One must not deny the existence of true manifestation of God’s presence in His Church because of the various impersonations witnessed among the preachers of today who dubiously claim to have “powers of healing, miracles, signs, wonders and even abilities to speak in unknown tongues without interpretation and to prophesy” only to extort money from the people.
In fact genuine gifts ought to operate in the true Churches of Christ, as one must take note of the fact that the Lord Jesus Himself said “... these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18, KJV).
It says “THESE SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE” (them that believe the entire Word of God). The believers are not to follow the signs; rather the signs are to follow the believers. One wonders then why people run to and fro in search of signs and wonders.
The only thing necessary is for a Church to believe the true Word of God, and stay with it, then the Lord Himself will confirm His presence with genuine signs and wonders as He did in the Church of Acts, without diminishing one thing.
That was the secret which the Apostles and Prophets of old had, they only spoke the Truth from the Holy Scriptures and God did the confirmation by miracles, signs, and wonders, because the Gospel is not preached.
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men (which is philosophy and Bible college experience), BUT IN THE POWER OF GOD.” (1 Corinthians 2:4.5).
Every true Church that have been rightfully restored to the faith of the Apostolic fathers must have the true doctrine of Christ in her midst, followed by the true life of Christ operating in the members, then the presence of God manifesting among them with genuine supernatural signs and wonders following them.
We have to testify truly that the Lord has not tailed to move among His Bride Churches around the globe as He did in the days of the early Apostles. From Krefeld, in German Democratic Republic, it is on record of what the Lord has been doing in the midst of the Bride Church over there.
Apostle Ewald Frank and other ministers of God in the Church there have witnessed the great power of Almighty God in their local Church. Bro. Ewald Frank received an audible Voice of God commissioning him to “store the food” which is the Word of God to be shared among the saints in the later days. God told him “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; ” (2 Timothy 4:3, KJV).
With this commission from, the Lord, Ewald Frank and the local Church in Germany maintained their stand upon the infallible Word of God. Consequently, the Lord God identified Himself in their midst with great signs and wonders confirming their scriptural doctrines that they are travelling on the right road to the kingdom of God.
The same testimony has been received from other local Churches around the globe which space might not permit us to enter in this edition. However, we will not fail to testify of what the Lord is doing among the Africans who have faithfully upheld the Word of God.
In the city of Onitsha, Anambra State of Nigeria, we have an outstanding testimony of what the Lord has been doing among His people since December, 1992, when it pleased the Lord to identify fully with His people there.
The local Church started in 1986 at Abagana, from where they moved to Nkpor. At Nkpor they pitched tents like wilderness Church from place to place, between 1989 and 1993, making use of three different locations in the community within the period.
By 1992, it became evidently clear that the hand of God was in the midst of His people as God fully came down and identified Himself among’ these people in an audible voice that was recorded on tapes. Testimony from Pastor Okechukwu Nwankpa, and other ministers confirm that the move of God was fully identified among them when God raised an Apostle in their midst.
Apostle Peter Odoemena, has been greatly used by God in the midst of God’s people. Since the beginning of the Apostolic ministry, the Church has witnessed great signs and wonders, healings, tongues and interpretation of tongues, prophecies, infallible visions and dreams etc. in their midst; bringing to pass the true prophecies of William Branham that the restored Church must be a continuation of the ‘Book of Acts’.
Above all, this local Church uphold the Word of God far above every other things in their midst as they believe in practical holiness and perfection through God’s Word.
From Enugu State Nigeria, Pastor Ifeanyi Ezeh and Deacon Christian Orjiakor confirms the same testimony of God’s move in their midst as in the Church of Acts.
The story is the same from Abia State, Nigeria, as Pastor in charge, Chikezie Ukasanya confirms that God is the same as He was in the days of the Apostles.
From Imo State Nigeria, Evangelist Ben Okezue testifies that the true signs and wonders that followed the Apostles are among them as a true Church of God today that stays with the sole doctrine of Christ.
We also have testimonies from Bro. Ignatius Anonye, Overseer of the Church at Abuja, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. He testifies of witnessing genuine discernment by the Holy Ghost, exposing a sinner as in Acts chapter 5 Ananias and Saphirra) and other great manifestation of God’s move in the Church as in the Church of Acts.
All the true Churches both in Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern part of Nigeria, though they are in the minority and are hardly known, have the same testimony. But one peculiarity is that their doctrine is only based upon the entire Scriptures which is their “Absolute”.
They are very strict concerning every portion of the Bible. They ex-communicate any member no matter his position, that lives contrary to the Scriptural standard and refuses to repent in accordance with 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. They believe in unity of the body through the unity of the Bible faith and so they separate from every group that teaches or lives contrary o Bible Doctrine and standard.
Going by their standard of doctrine and life, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst, one will not fail to see the Church of Acts back on the Land. The [story is the same in other nations in Africa, Europe, America, Asia, Australia, etc. where the true Churches that have gone back to the Bible faith in doctrine and life are found.
Indeed, God has restored His saints back to the Apostolic faith as He did promise. His promise was I not to restore the people to William Branham or his sermon books (although it has its role), BUT THE PROMISE IS TO RESTORE THE CHURCH BACK TO THE BIBLE AND APOSTOLIC FAITH with the same doctrine, life, signs and wonders manifested, We thank the Lord, that His purpose has come to pass among His people. Glory be to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.
LATIN AMERICAN GOVERNMENTS THREATEN TO REGISTER AND CLOSE CHURCHES
Guatemala’s decisive presidential election points out the big gains Protestantism is making all across the region of Latin America at the expense of Roman Catholicism. Rome is not happy about it and is beginning to use her quietly formed hand of trump cards to begin cutting that cost.
In Mexico, Rome is using an up-until-now unenforced law to begin shutting down Protestant Churches. Venezuela is also now feeling the effects of allowing Rome to appoint their Director of Religion. Closure of Protestant Churches is in the wind there also.
The Director has proposed new laws for the operation of the Department of Religion. If passed, these new laws will force all churches to be registered or closed within 6 months of passage. The Department of Religion would also fix quotas for the entrance of foreigners, and regulate prison ministries, public religious activity, all Seminaries and Bible Schools.
Any soul-winning activity with the native Indians would be permitted only by those who have a treaty made with the government. The Churches will not be allowed a word against any person or religious organization. No more preaching about the errors of Catholicism.
Pastors and ministers must demonstrate their titles of studies that qualify them to be head of the congregations. Many pastors of Bible-believing Churches have no diplomas. All pastors must be native Venezuelans. Of course this does not apply to Rome’s priests and nuns who are mostly from Spain and other countries, they continue under their own private law in a privileged position.
The head inspector for The Department of Religion must be an attorney with studies of the Canon law, meaning he must be Catholic and probably a Monsignor. The office will be authorized to call on all the police organizations to aid them in the dissolution of the evangelical Churches.
This can be done for disobedience of this law, for putting in danger the country, for ignoring the symbols of the country (they claim that the images of the virgin are symbols of the country), for the organization demonstrations that are religious, for offending in word, or by writing, or by belief, any other religious belief of people or organizations, or if they cause any disturbance of the peace by their meetings, or disobey any law of the country.
In article 26 the department would be authorized to stop any meetings, or conferences, or forbid the printing of any articles or publications permanently. The activities of witchcraft, parapsychology, etc. would be exempt from this law. If this proposal becomes law great persecution will result and the Church will have to go underground. If the law can be passed in Venezuela it will then be applied in other countries in Latin America.
In Mexico under their existing Constitution, all Churches must be registered with the government. According to a Mexican Church expert, “The law is obscure and rarely enforced, but it is the law and the government is within its rights to carry out this apparent crackdown. The crackdown has begun with strict enforcement of registration laws in the central state of Hidalgo.
On March 13, 1990 State Director of Government in Hidalgo, Beatriz Franco summoned the president of the Independent Pentecostal Christian Church, Rev. Aroldo Espinoza, to notify him that all evangelical Church buildings lacking proper registration documents as religious centers would be closed within two weeks.
She added that Hidalgo was the first state to put into effect a new ruling which would close all non- registered Churches nationwide within a minimum of three months. The catalyst that seems to have brought the issue to a head is the recently announced results of the 1990 census.
The census revealed in some areas of Hildalgo state that the evangelical population has experienced significant growth, and in the Valley of Mesquital, 60 percent of those declaring themselves Christian are evangelicals. “Two months later we are seeing a crackdown on unregistered Churches which is suspected to be originating from the Catholic Church,” Espinoza said.
In the past three or four years, the Roman Catholic Church has increasingly pressured the Mexican government to limit the activities of evangelical or Protestant groups, publicly demanding evangelicals be expelled from the country, even if they are Mexican citizens.
Increasing acts of violence and persecution by Mexican Catholics against even the mainline denominations in Mexico demonstrates that Rome simply bides her time until she gains enough power. “It is a very serious situation.” said Methodist Bishop Ulises Hernandez of Mexico City. Americans who do not believe that Rome will do the same in America should look closely at what is going on in Mexico.
Although tensions between Catholics and Protestants in Mexico have simmered for many years, Pope John Paul (II)’s visit to Mexico has brought the situation to a boiling point, says Hernanclez. the Pope gave numerous televised speeches urging the populace to “defend the continent from all non-Catholics or ‘sects’, Bishop Hernandez continued.
Most Mexican Catholics reportedly believe that all Protestant denominations are “sects” or ‘cult.’ The Catholic News service of Mexico reported that much of the Pope’s trip to Mexico was ‘an effort to reconvert the growing number of Catholics lost to Protestant fundamentalism and sects.’ Pope John Paul II believes the inroads of unnamed “sects” could come “disastrous.” BATTLE CRY May—June 1991
JOHN PAUL WANTS TO VISIT ‘‘HOLY LAND’ Pope meets Jewish leaders
VATICAN CITY (Reuter) — Jewish leader Seymour Reich urged Pope John Paul last week to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, and said he was worried about new anti-Semitism in the pontiff’s native Poland. The pope, speaking at the end of the highest-level meetings between Roman Catholics and Jews in three years, told Jewish leaders that he would like to visit the Holy Land one day.
In a significant gesture of goodwill, the Pope approved a $100,000 Vatican Contribution toward the building of a prayer center to house nuns who will move out of a convent at the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland. a spokesman said.
The dispute over the nuns, who last February agreed to move to the nearby prayer centre when completed, brought Catholic-Jewish relations to one of their lowest points. “We believe that full and formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel will dramatically and substantively advance the cause of the peace,” said Reich.
Reich, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), told the Pope in a reference to hard-line Arab countries such s Iraq and Syria: “The normalization of relations will send a strong signal to those nations that are still committed to the destruction of Israel.”
The Vatican supports Israel’s right to exist and its needs for safe borders. But before establishing diplomatic tics it wants a resolution to the Palestinian question and international protection for Jerusalem as a city sacred to Christianity. Judaism and Islam. At the end of the meeting the Pope told Rabbi David Rosen of Jerusalem “I hope one day to be able to visit the Holy Places.” “That would be our joy,” Rosen responded.
In his address to tile Pope, Reich said the return of democracy in Eastern Europe had brought with it “a familiar and frightening” pattern of anti-Semitism. “We cannot be unconcerned over signs that anti-Semitism has once again become political and populist currency in these countries, in desecrations of synagogues and cemeteries, in graffiti on campaign posters. in innuendoes and sometimes more blatant pronouncements in the media. from political leaders and occasionally a Church leader,” Reich said.
But the Jewish leaders said they were happy that the Pope endorsed a joint statement last September by an international Catholic-Jewish liaison committee in Prague which branded anti-Semitism as “a sin against God and humanity”. ‘This is the beginning of a new chapter for us. We are back on track,” Reich said.
The two days of meetings commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate (In our Time). It flatly repudiated the notion of collective Jewish guilt for Christ’s death and urged inter-faith dialogue.
POPE WANTS TO SHEPHERD A “NEW EUROPE”
As Communism take a back seat in the affairs of Eastern Europe, the Roman Catholic Church is rapidly rising in prominence. From the Pope, all the way down to the area’s Bishops, the word is out; the time has come for the church to exert political authority in Europe.
Writing in the August 31st Miami Herald, Mike Leary quotes the public statement of a priest speaking in St. Michael’s Catholic Church of Warsaw. Reading from a recent bishop’s letter he said, “I don’t need to remind anyone of the extraordinary role the Church played in the victory over totalitarianism.
Now, the time has come to define the role of the Church in the life of the nation. The letter went on to demand government-mandated religious instruction in all public schools, Directed by the Pope, the bishops of Europe are boldly proclaiming a new era of religion in Europe.
Concerning the Pope, Mr. Leary wrote, “At an age when many people consider retiring, the 70-year-old Pope is guiding the Church into an ambitious path with political overtones: He wants to be shepherd of a new Europe, united by its 2,000-year Christian tradition. He has already summoned the continent’s 1,000 bishops (a third of the world’s total) to a synod next year to plan strategy.
Speaking in Czechoslovakia in April, the Pope said, “A united Europe is no longer a dream. It is an actual process which cannot be purely political or purely economical. It has a profound cultural, spiritual and moral dimension. Christianity is at the very roots of European culture.”
Recently, the Pope has conferred with the Bush administration, known for its continuing proclamation that we are at the crossroads of a “new world order.” The new order is rapidly coming—political, economical and religious in its implications. And the Pope is playing a very large part in its planning.
One-World Church WCC welcomes anti-Christian pagans! By Ralph G. Griffin
The World Council of Churches, meeting in its Seventh Assembly, February 7 to 20, 1991, in Canberra, Australia, sent a letter the Council hopes will be received by “all Churches, Christians and peoples.”
Their message is therefore presumed to be directed to every human being on earth. The letter, which summarizes the unified beliefs “of all religions,” which were affirmed at the Assembly, was released in order to gain acceptance of all Christians, non-believers, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Hare-Krishnas, paeans, Wiccans, Satan worshipers, and everyone else not otherwise listed.
The purpose of the Assembly, as well as the avowed mission of the WCC is to bring all religions together as one.... One religion. One Church. One united Super Church. One- World Church. Unity! Unity.... at the sacrifice of doctrine.
A new doctrine. Doctrine so watered down and meaningless and unholy that it really does not matter if one believes that Jesus Christ is the way, the only way, to God. By all means, let’s have unity!
It is being said in small meetings, large meetings and in nearly all Churches all over the world these days that UNITY is the only important thing the body of Christ should be striving for. It is being said (by self-acclaimed BELIEVERS, even) that “there will be only ONE Church in the end-time, so let’s just forget about DOCTRINE and join together in UNITY! Such ignorance!
These so-called “Christians” do not read -- or do not discern -- the Bible. There WILL be One Church in the last days. it is the apostate Church. It is called the Great Whore in Revelation 17. It is MYSTERY, BABYLON and God hates it God says, in Revelation 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
The One-World Church is being established NOW! Listen to the prattle of the World Council of Churches: “This journey to God’s rule and the unity of the Church and of humankind.... Come, Holy Spirit.... Come, most splendid adornment of all living beings, the sole salvation of all who are mortal.”
Do they not realise that all men are not going to have salvation? Many have already and many more will die in their sin without asking for or receiving forgiveness; and will spend eternity with their ‘father, the Devil. Arid neither is the Holy Spirit their sole salvation. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, in John 16:14: “He shall glorify me.”
The letter continues, “The Spirit calls the Churches to a commitment to seek visible unity..., we seek ... ways to he more accountable to each other and to the Lord Christ who prayed that we ‘may be one’.” This scriptural reference is found in John 17:20-23, where Jesus is testifying to the one ness in the faith and spiritual life of all who believe and have been reborn Belief and unbelief cannot be united. Believers and unbelievers in Jesus Christ as God cannot be “one.’
The fourth paragraph of their letter states, “The presence of representatives of other world religions as guests in the Assembly reminded us of the growing need to respect the image of God in all people, to accept each other as neighbours and to admit out common responsibility with them for God’s creation, including humanity. This viewpoint needs to be exposed for the heresy it is.
All those outside of Christ are dead in sin; they have no image of God, they have no righteousness. Only in Christ is God’ image of righteousness restored. It Christ’s righteousness that is given the redeemed. 1 John 1:6,7 tells us, we say that we have fellowship wit him, (Jesus Christ] and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. “But if we walk in the light, as he in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”
The fellowship of the New Testament Churches did not include the yoke with unbelievers: “Be ye not tie equally yoked together with us believers: for what fellowship he righteousness with unrighteousness and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).
This WCC letter to “all church Christians, and peoples” is very deceptive, it has no value for Bible believing people except to point the seduction of Christianity and Satanic deception coming over true Church in these last days.
The unbeliever—the people of the world—must be led to Christ and His salvation, and then fed the meat of the Word in faithful, Bible-teaching Churches. Such Churches do not have “fellowship” and affiliation the World
The avowed mission of the World Council of Churches is to bring all religions together as one. Above is an interfaith service held in San Francisco on the eve of the 1984 Democratic National Convention.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN ASIA MINOR
Committee on Missions
Paul the Apostle
c/o Aquila the Tentmaker,
We recently received a copy of your letter to the Galatians. The committee has directed me to inform you of a number of things which deeply concern us. First, we find your language to be somewhat intemperate.
In your letter, after a brief greeting to the Galatians, you immediately attack your opponents by claiming they “want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” You then say that such men should be regarded as “accursed”; and, in another place, you make reference to “false brethren.”
Wouldn’t it be more charitable to give them the benefit of the doubt at least until the General Assembly has investigated and adjudicated the matter? To make the situation worse, you later say, “I could wish those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” Is such a statement really fitting for a Christian minister? The remark seems quite harsh and unloving.
Paul, we really feel the need to caution you about the tone of your epistles. You come across in an abrasive manner to many people. In some of your letters you’ve even mentioned names; and this practice has, no doubt, upset the friends of Hymenaeus, Alexander, and others.
After all, many persons were first introduced to the Christian faith under the ministries of these men. Although some of our missionaries have manifested regrettable shortcomings, nevertheless, it can only stir up bad feelings when you speak of these men in a derogatory manner.
In other words, Paul, I believe you should strive for a more moderate posture in your ministry. Shouldn’t you try to win those who are in error by displaying a sweeter spirit? By now, you’ve probably alienated the Judaizers to the point that they will no longer listen to you.
By your outspokeness, you have also diminished your opportunities for future influences throughout the Church as a whole. Rather, if you had worked more quietly, you might have been asked to serve on a presbytery committee appointed to study, the issue. You could then have contributed your insights by helping to draft a good committee paper on the theological position of the Judaizers, without having to drag personalities into the dispute.
Besides, Paul, we need to maintain unity among those who profess a belief in Christ. The Judaizers at least stand with us as we confront the surrounding paganism and humanism which prevail within the culture of the contemporary Roman Empire. The Judaizers are our allies in our struggles against abortion, homosexuality, government tyranny, etc. We cannot afford to allow differences over doctrinal minutiae to obscure this important fact.
I also must mention that questions have been raised about the contents of your letter, as well as your style. The committee questions the propriety of the doctrinaire structure of your letter. Is it wise to plague young Christians, like the Galatians, with such heavy theological issues? For example, in a couple of places, you allude to the doctrine of election.
You also enter into a lengthy discussion of the law. Perhaps you could have proved your case in some other ways, without mentioning these complex and controverted points of Christianity. Your letter is so doctrinaire, it will probably serve only to polarize the differing factions within the Churches. Again, we need to stress unity instead of broaching issues which will accent divisions among us.
In one place, you wrote, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” Paul, you have a tendency to describe things strictly in black and white terms, as if there are no gray areas. You need to temper your expressions, lest you become too exclusive. Otherwise, your outlook will drive away many people and make visitors feel unwelcome. Church growth is not promoted by taking such a hard line and remaining inflexible.
Remember, Paul, there is no such thing as a perfect Church. We have to tolerate many imperfections in the Church, since we cannot expect to have everything at once. If you will simply think back over your own experience, you will recall how you formerly harassed the Church in your times of ignorance. By reflecting on your own past, you might acquire a more sympathetic attitude toward the Judaizers. Be patient, and give them some time to come around to a-better understanding.
In the meantime, rejoice that we all share a common profession of faith in Christ, since we have all been baptized in his name.
Sincerely , Charles Phinney,
Committee on Missions