Manual The Everlasting Gospel

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And so it's really talking about the seed of the woman and the serpent. You've got these three characters that are described here: the serpent who tempted the woman and it says that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent would bruise the heel - meaning, you know, if you ever have an injured heel it makes you limp - it's slows or impedes the progress of the seed of the woman.

The ultimate seed of the woman is Jesus. He is the promised seed. And you've got all these stories in the Bible where you've got these, you know, miraculous babies that were born and they were all types of Christ. And these great deliverers like Joseph and Moses and David. And then you get to the new testament and you read in Revelation about the dragon wanting to destroy this baby that the woman is going to bring forth. And that's been his plan all through history. The devil is wanting to prevent the Savior from coming. And so you can see that the Gospel about God sending someone who would be a substitute to save our first parents from sin and all of their prodigy, which is you and me, that goes all the way back to the beginning.

That was the first promise that there'd be this battle between good and evil and the seed of the woman would bruise the head - that's a mortal wound - of the serpent. But the serpent would only bruise the heel of Jesus - or the seed of the woman. Someone else get ready for Psalms , verses 3 and 4 and you'll have that in just a moment.

I want to read Exodus 19 - this is, of course, just before the Ten Commandments - Exodus , he said, "'you have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine.

And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The english word that we use for church is sort of a corruption of an old english word 'kirk. That's what the church is.

So his wanting a special people and his having a plan to save them - go ahead, read for us - I think you're going to read psalm , verses 3 and 4. But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared. It's like when Peter said, 'how many times shall I forgive my brother? And what does Jesus say? Seventy times seven. Was he actually saying I'm going to count out times? Or was he using, sort of, a metaphor to say it's much more than that? So it's what David's saying. If God keeps tabs on our sin then who could stand?

So the only way we have any hope is leaning on his long-suffering and his mercy for us. That, again, is an old testament concept. You can read in psalm 32 - beautiful psalm of David - "blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I kept silent my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;" - talking about conviction - "my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

He was weighed down with guilt, he's opened up, he confessed, and David says 'you have forgiven the iniquity of my sin.

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Why don't you turn to Isaiah 53 - this is in your lesson. And many of you know these passages. If you read, for instance, Isaiah 53 - it's telling us to read 4 through I'm going to read verse 1, "who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised, and we did not esteem him.

Surely" - now here's the passage, in particular - "he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;" - it says, 'cast your cares upon him because he cares for you. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes" - stripes, of course, means when someone's whipped it left stripes on their back - "and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. So all - the sins of all the world were laid upon him - "he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;" - at his trial he said nothing to defend himself - "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare his generation? For he was cut off" - that's the word that was used in Daniel chapter 9 - the Messiah will be cut off - "he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people he was stricken. And they made his grave with the wicked" - he was executed between two thieves - "but with the rich at his death, because he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering for sin," - do we bring a lamb? In the old testament they brought a lamb. Well in a sense - it says he's brought as a lamb to the slaughter. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he - God The Father - "he shall see his seed," - you've got that seed - he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the labor of his soul," - Christ's - "and be satisfied.

You know, a lot of rabbis tell some of their Jewish adherents, 'do not read Isaiah It's all through there. And I can just dedicate this whole time - you know, a place for a shameless plug - this is such a precious theme to me, I wrote a book called 'shadows of light: seeing Christ in all the Bible' but principally it's dealing with the old testament and just going through the characters of Jesus.

You see Jesus in the Gospel and life of Joseph, right? Dying for - oh, not dying, but rather being sold by his own brothers and a blood-stained robe is brought to The Father, just like Christ left his robe behind. Joseph is an incredible type of Christ. Moses is a type of Christ, being the great liberator who brings the people out of slavery as Jesus brings us from slavery into the promised land.

David is a great type of Christ. He's that beloved son who is not afraid to go with a rock against the giant. Jesus used the Word of God against the devil and David is, you know, the beloved one after God's own heart. He had several opportunities to get even with enemies and he forgave them, even though the enemies were trying to kill him. I mean, just how different from the Spirit of the times. And so you look through gideon and sampson and everyone from Esther to Ruth and you just - you see the Gospel in the lives and in the stories all through the old testament.

So the reason the angel in Revelation 14 calls it the everlasting Gospel is because it didn't just begin in new testament times. It's the same Gospel that Noah preached, that adam and seth and Enoch and methuselah preached all the way down through history.

Alright, next section: 'God made flesh. The first one here is in Luke , dealing with the prodigal son. I think we all know that story. Now you know why that's important? And why it relates to the book of James - in both the prodigal son - in a moment we'll look at the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector - and you find it's in the church today - it was a problem, especially in the church in Bible times, the mistake of thinking that you were righteous because you kept the law, to the exclusion of others that needed forgiveness.

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Now, just to look at the parable real quick - there's a certain man, he had two sons and the younger said - I'm paraphrasing, so - the younger son said to his father, 'give me my inheritance that would naturally fall to me. Later his brother says with prostitutes. And he was living it up until the bank account ran out. At about the same time, there was a famine and work dried up.

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The economy went bad and the only work he could get was feeding pigs. Now Jesus is telling this to, you know, a Jewish audience. That's as low as you can get. He's in a far country - they don't care about clean and unclean - they eat pigs - but he's a Jewish boy and he's ended up feeding pigs and he's so bad off that, while he wouldn't eat the pigs, he's ready to eat the seed pods and the husks that the pigs are eating. Finally he says - he comes to his senses and he says, 'my father's servants are eating better than i. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to write to my father and I'll say, 'father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants. So he arises and he goes back. In the meantime, The Father, with a broken heart - The Son has no idea - with a broken heart, The Father has been looking down the road anxiously - whatever he's doing out in the yard or in the field, he keeps glancing down the road in the direction where he last saw the silhouette of his son disappearing over the horizon. It just broke his heart to see him go. He knew how it would end. He knew the nature of his son. And he kept waiting and praying and longing for the day when he'd come home.

Finally he sees the form he recognizes of his son. Doesn't have the same spring in his step - kind of schlepping home. And The Father doesn't, you know, put his hand on his hip and tap his foot and fold his arms and shake his head and say 'I told you so. Just look at you now. Here you come. Now what do you want? He embraces his son. He says, 'let's celebrate - he's alive! And he's just glad he's alive. And - but the elder brother, when he hears about the party in the house, and he hears that the father went and slaughtered the fatted calf. You only did that for honored company.

Remember when Abraham took the fatted calf when Jesus and the angels came over? And so the fatted calf, that's what you saved for, you know, real special guests and then a feast. And The Son, instead of being glad his brother's come home, he's outraged. And he said, 'here I work for you and I slave and I do exactly what you tell me to do and I've stayed on the farm and I've been good. You didn't have a feast for your friends - maybe you didn't ask. He was dead and he's alive. He was lost and he's found. We should rejoice. It doesn't say what the brother did. It doesn't say how it ends.

Why did Jesus tell that story? Couple reasons - one big reason is Christ knew that his sacrifice was going to be the pivotal moment for the nation of Israel. The apostles were to take the Gospel not just to jews, but to the whole world. And the Jewish nation was going to resent - at least some of them - were going to resist and resent that God would - 'here we've been the guardians of your truth for 2, years and all of a sudden, these gentiles who have been for thousands - these nations who've been serving pagan Gods and terrible things and sacrificing their children, they're going to just walk into our synagogues and get the same salvation we get?

It's not fair. Now you and I know that that story has to do with real families, believe it or not. That very thing does happen in some families.

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It also has to do with churches where people backslide and they come back and they're embraced and someone says, 'what? After the scandal and what they did? Why would we let them through the doors again? He's been out partying. You know, Jesus shares the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Man goes in the morning and he gets - he says, 'I'll pay you a penny to go work in my vineyard. Go work in my vineyard. He says, 'I'll do what's fair - eleventh hour, you go work in my vineyard.

And the ones who've been working all day long, they say, 'that's not fair. I'm paying you exactly what I promised. I'm being fair. I'm just being generous and merciful to them. And this is our next one. Our next parable is dealing with the same principle and that's in Luke 18, verse 9, "also he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:" - so it tells you right away what the parable's addressing - "two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector.

You've got the zealous righteous fastidious pharisee who examines how many seeds he's got in his, you know, squash plant and he's going to give a tithe of that to the Lord, and then you've got the publican who is the party animal - part of the mafia back then - they were just corrupt, hung out with all the wrong people. But they both go to the same church to pray to the same God.

But listen to the prayer of one - "the pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself," - even the wording is interesting - he prays with himself - "'God, I thank you that I am not like other men" - right away his prayer is not a vertical prayer, it's a horizontal prayer - he's pointing at - like this - his prayer is not that way, his prayer is comparing himself among others - "'I thank you that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers,'" - who do you think he's looking at?

It's all about his works, right? I assume so - "and the tax collector, standing afar off," - he didn't even feel worthy. He kind of slunk in the back door and went in the shadows - "would not so much as raise his eyes" - he fell in humble attitude, humble spirit, humble posture - bowed his head -"beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner! Sometimes it could actually work against you because you could start taking things for granted. But tell me the truth, have you heard people say, 'I'm a third' 'I'm a fourth' 'I'm a fifth - oh, I'm a more bona fide adventist than you because I'm a fifth generation.

Does she get more credit in judgment day? If anything, you're more accountable you would think. I mean, if there's any distinction - you think 'to whom much is given, much is required,' right? Isn't that right? So this idea that somehow one group is better - really what this is all about is the Gospel is seen in these real-life parables and stories that Jesus is telling so that we can see it's an everlasting Gospel, it was not just for the jews, and James is talking to really two groups.

Most of the early church was Jewish. When James first began to write, by the time Paul starts writing, they had actually outgrown - the church had spread like fire through asia among the gentiles and before Paul died, I think there were more gentiles in the church than jews. At pentecost, when 3, were baptized, it says that there were devout jews out of every nation that were there that had come to worship. And a few chapters later it says another 5, were baptized - another 5, what?

It's not until you get to acts that Peter goes to the gentiles at cornelius' house. Later Paul says to the jews - he felt they were being so stubborn - and I'm not trying to be hard on the jews listening, I'm just telling you what happened historically - later Paul says - he's preaching to the jews in the synagogue and he says, 'lo, if you reject the Word of God you prove yourselves unworthy.

We're turning to the gentiles. So James is - he's talking a little more to the jews and he was, I think, concerned they were putting so much emphasis on faith that they had given up on holy living. So he's addressing that error. Alright, let's go to the next section: 'Gospel in Paul. And this is Corinthians 3, verses 13 through 16 and Paul is writing here.

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He says, "unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the old testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Paul is talking about a transition that happens. First, he's alluding to a story. Moses, when he talked to God face to face on the mountain - not just the forty days and forty nights when he got the law, but he went up and down the mountain several times - talked to the Lord - he would come down and he had a handicap when he came down - what was that?

His face was shining. His face was glowing. I mean, that's really something - it's not like, you know, you can put certain ointments and creams on your face and make your face glow. We're not talking about that. We're talking about radioactive ointment because the light is looking like it's coming from the inside out. And it was so bad - it's so real - they said, 'Moses, can you - we can't look at you. So to compensate they said, 'Moses, please, if you're going to go out in public can you drop a veil?

But his face wasn't quite as distinct and so the veil makes it where you could see him, but it's like Paul says, 'now we look through a glass darkly. So - but you could see through it, but it's obscured.

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And so Paul is saying that not knowing that Jesus was the Christ - when the Jewish nation was reading the law, without seeing Christ was the middle of it all, they had a veil over their face and the only way that veil was taken away is when then recognize that Jesus is the Messiah - he was the fulfillment of all that. They could still sort of see, but their vision was obscured because they didn't embrace what it all pointed to. What a tragedy. Alright, we're going to read - talk about the Gospel and Paul - Romans please.

Now, again, it's reiterating that point. Why does Paul say for the jew first? Does that mean the jews have, you know, first option for salvation? Or is he saying sequentially the jews had the Word of God first and - but it's also for the gentiles. He says the word 'Greek' there but that's - they spoke principally Greek back then because of alexander the great's influence and even the Romans understood Greek.

So he's saying the Gospel's for everybody. Notice: " People who at least believe the Bible's true that have some background and they might be from, you know, all different kinds of Christian persuasions, but at least people that have some Bible background - they're the first - they're the lost sheep of the house of Israel that you go to first. And you - you know, it doesn't take near as long. You give baptismal studies to somebody who is a jew, how long was it from the time they heard about Christ until they could get baptized - if they were a jew?

Did Philip need to tell him what day was the Sabbath? Did Philip need to talk to him about the distinction between clean and unclean meats? Did he have to explain what the Ten Commandments were? He knew all that. He didn't have to tell him all - he knew all that. There was just one key thing he needed to get squared and he was ready to go. But when Paul went to the Greeks he had to start from ground zero and start saying, 'let's talk about there's one God. You can't be praying to idols. You've got to give up your adultery.

The Hebrews are dealing with much loftier themes from the law. Corinthians it's saying, 'no, you can't be sleeping with your father's wife. He's just - because these are pagans, you know, they were so far away, it took a lot more Bible studies. So when Paul says 'to the jew first' well, they had the foundation and so, obviously, they would start with them.

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  7. Alright, now we're going to talk about the new covenant and this is also alluded to in the book of James. Where do you first find the new covenant? In the old testament. If you look in Jeremiah - that's easy to remember - Jeremiah - it's kind of like baskin robbins, right? I remember when a preacher first brought this to my attention, I thought, 'wow, that's pretty profound.

    We're new covenant Christians. We're the gentiles. We're a different dispensation. We live under the new covenant. Old covenant's for the jews. But you notice who the new covenant is made with? The jews. Yes, there's no covenant that's made with the gentiles. The covenant of salvation is made with Israel. That's why Paul says, 'if we would be saved' - in Romans - gentiles are grafted into the stock of Israel. That's why all the promises in the old testament don't just belong to the jews. New testament promises are for the gentiles.

    The whole Bible is made for us - whether you're a literal or spiritual jew. So you can't dissect it that way. Anyway, so here you are, Jeremiah 31, and he's giving the new covenant. Now you can jump ahead and if you read in Hebrews chapter 8 - and I'm going to read - I'll start with verse 7 - "for if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them," - alright, let's stop there. What was the fault with the first covenant?

    Do you know what a covenant is? A covenant is an agreement.

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    It's a contract. And usually, before you make an agreement, if I say, 'alright, I'd like to buy your house. How about this? You get your agreement and then you say, 'now let's write it down so that it's codified and there's no changing it when it's written down. But if you violate your part of the agreement, the entire covenant between us, I'm not required to keep my side of the covenant if you've broken your part.

    The whole covenant becomes void. You see what I'm saying? So God gives the ten commandments to the children of Israel. He speaks them audibly. They say, 'all the Lord has said, we will do. Notice it's on the front and the back - two tables of stone - that's what it says. I've kind of wondered if there were two copies - one for God and one for man.

    I don't - we'll have to wait and find out about that. But so they broke it and God tells Moses, 'write it down again.

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    They just refused to keep it. I mean, how many times did God ask them to keep the terms of the covenant? They'd backslide and he'd forgive them and they'd come back again. What was the fault with the covenant? Notice: "because finding fault with the Ten Commandments" - that's not what it says - "finding fault with them. He made a new covenant - "he says: 'behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of judah - not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did" - they - "did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them,' says the Lord.

    It's the law of God. What are the terms of the new covenant? Law of God. Where's the new covenant write the law? In the heart. Now some will be quick to say, 'well, that's because it's just now laws of love. The Ten Commandments are love - first four commandments: love to God; last six commandments: love to your fellow man. And it wasn't that they were saved by works back then and we're saved by grace now. They were saved by grace. We already read that - many, many places - it's the mercy of God.

    In the old testament Abraham believed God and he counted it to him for righteousness - righteousness by faith. It's an old testament concept. New testament - we're saved by faith. The people saved in the old testament had the law of God in their hearts. People today are saved by the law written in their hearts. But it wasn't until Christ came and we really saw God and we understood the Spiritual side of the law that it finally sank in.

    So when Jesus said, 'a new covenant I give you' - or 'a new commandment I give you, love the Lord with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself. Notice how the meaning of each comes through in the wording of sentences themselves, without importing or resorting to outside assumptions. They will attest that I was traveling in Spain the whole week during which the crime happened. The same reading skills apply to this second paragraph as to the first. To be able to do that, however, two more sample paragraphs are in order. The commands simply say what the listeners need to do in light of the good news.

    By now some readers may be wondering why this explanation of how to read in context needed to take so long, since the end result seems basic enough for a middle school student to have figured out. It was necessary because few Seventh-day Adventists approach the passage in such a simple and straightforward manner. An approach like that can be helpful for constructing a big theological system but it carries two drawbacks. It does a disservice to the clear meaning conveyed by the individual texts themselves and, in so doing, can constrict or even distort our understanding of the topic to which a given text is thought to contribute.

    In the present instance, the idea that judgment comprises good news may seem incongruous, for three reasons. First, when people hear the word judgment they tend to apply it to themselves, as if their own destiny was still uncertain. Second, contemporary Christians have been indoctrinated into the idea that the gospel is about forgiveness and the new life they receive through faith in Jesus. Even the creation story in Genesis 1 can be viewed as a deliverance from the disorder that impeded life.

    In the context of Revelation, however, the promise of judgment makes consummate sense.