God's offer of eternal life is available to all of us, if only we would search him out.
People seek for life. When faced with disease, or the threat of impending death, they rush for medical help, and will willingly spend and be spent in an endeavor to obtain the often elusive elixir of life by which they hope to put off the day of death. Yet, God's offer of eternal life is easily found. It costs only time and interest to discover its secrets. It is contained in the Bible, and provides the answer to every anxiety of existence. In this booklet we have set out the principles of this important and personal matter, and invite the reader to compare our contents with the Bible references quoted.
The earth presents many sad sights to those who have eyes to see. Where truth should be exalted for the hope and salvation of perishing man, we see contradictory creeds and bitter conflict. Instead of a generous distribution of the earth's bounties amongst all children, we see millions toiling in hunger; instead of peace and prosperity, we see war preparations and oppressive taxation. We see wealth concentrating itself into the hands of the few - the poor growing poorer; willing workers unemployed and starving; despairing men arising in rebellion. Is there no prospect of relief? There is.
From these sad sights we turn to a picture, bright and beautiful, drawn by God, in His infallible but neglected Word. In this word we see Christ once more among us, ruling as king over all the earth (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15) - one law (Isaiah 2:3) - one religion (Zechariah 14:16,17) - no war (Psalm 46:8-10) - no miscarriage of Justice (Jeremiah 23:5) - no mismanagement (Isaiah 11:1-5) - no tyranny (Isaiah 29:20) - no complaining in the streets (Psalm 144:14) - the poor and helpless cared for (Psalm 72:4) - the earth yielding her increase (Psalm 67:6) - grateful hearts everywhere (Psalm 113:2,3). To share in this future blessedness is the hope of the only true gospel - the gospel of the Scriptures. All who come within its sound receive a message and an invitation from God. Let us not shut the door against Him.
Famine, wars, political unrest, social instability, personal discontent and ecological chaos - this is the world-wide picture of today. On the other hand, peace, true prosperity and plenty for all the teeming populations of the earth are fantasies. They remain mere hopes mouthed with pious platitudes devoid of reality, whilst society grapples with greed, crime, immorality, violence and corruption in every sphere of life.
Once it may have been possible to be detached from world problems - to "live a good life" and insulate oneself from other people's national and individual behavior and difficulties: but that is no longer the case. We live in a world where it is no longer possible to remain isolated and detached. Such is the extent of World problems today that every individual is in some way affected in his employment, his home or his family: and in what he regards as "essential services". Peace of mind eludes him as the media bombards him with news of the latest world crisis.
Consequently, the question is constantly asked, "How will it all end?"
The voice of the super-optimist is almost silent: no longer is he so confident that "they'll sort it out all right".
So vast are the world's ills, so awesome are the possibilities of nuclear war, that no one knows where to commence a cure. Diplomats, financiers, statesmen, scientists, philanthropists, and revolutionaries are all alike without an adequate answer. They may suggest palliatives, but none can provide the panacea!
Is there a satisfactory answer?
Where does the solution lie?
We direct the reader's attention to the Creator and His written Word - The Bible. Seldom used, and little respected, the Bible not only foretold these very problems many hundreds of years ago, but also revealed the solution to them.
The Bible is a library of sixty-six books presenting God's purpose with the earth, and His plan of redemption for man. These books were written over a period of almost 1,600 years, and their various authors, or amanuenses rather (for the writers of the Bible wrote by the inspiration of God), were drawn from all ranks of society. Kings, statesmen, priests, scribes, shepherds, fishermen, scholars all played a part in producing it: and yet, despite the great divergence of time and class among the writers, there is complete harmony in all that they teach and record. Each of the writers presents a different facet of the "one great hope".
The theme that unites all these books is termed "the Gospel". An understanding of its teaching acts as a key, unlocking the secrets of God's purpose with the earth. Unfortunately, though many refer to the Gospel, few really understand its teaching. To most, the true teaching of the Bible is as a closed book.
The word "Gospel" signifies good news or glad tidings. it is sometimes styled in Scripture the Gospel of God, because it is good news emanating from Him, in contradistinction to spurious messages of good will that emanate from man.
It is important to comprehend the true message of the Gospel. Paul wrote:
"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" (Gal. 3: 8).
If an inspired Apostle was not exempt from such a curse if he preached a perverted gospel, certainly lesser men will not be exempted if they do so. Unfortunately, a curse has rested upon Christendom because of this. In consequence, its history is a record of discord, trouble and bloodshed. True peace it knows not.
in thee shall all nations be blessed" (Gal 3:8).
The gospel, therefore, is prophetic: it speaks of the future; for its promises have never yet been fulfilled. In another place, Paul taught that Jesus Christ came "to confirm the promises made of God unto the fathers" (Rom. 15: 8). The promises referred to were those made to the fathers of the Jewish race: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Peter taught:
"...there are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye may be partakers of Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).
Paul taught that the gospel was comprehended in the promises God made to Abraham. Therefore, to gain the true understanding of the Bible, we must know something of Abraham.
Abraham -The Friend of God (James 2:23)
The biography of Abraham is compressed in about twelve chapters of the Bible (Genesis 12 to 24), which would take about 40 minutes to read. We earnestly counsel the reader to pay himself the compliment of reading this portion of the Bible, for the life of Abraham forms a pattern for all true believers (see Rom. 4:23-24)
Abraham lived in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28; Joshua 24:2), where he first heard the call of God and separated himself to travel to Haran, in company with other members of his family. There he remained for a while until again God called him, and made unto him certain promises conditional upon him removing from Haran to the land that God would show him (modern Israel).
Genesis 12:1-3 outlines the promises that God made to Abraham.
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed' (Genesis 12:1-3).
This promise can be sub-divided as follows:
1. The national promise - God promised that Abraham will become a great nation.
2. The personal promise - his name will be great in all the earth and he will be a blessing.
3. The family promise - God will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him.
4. The international promise - in him all families of the earth will be blessed.
This last item quoted by Paul in Galatians 3:8 as epitomizing the gospel message.
The four-fold aspect of the promise made to Abraham comprehends every part of the Bible message.
None of these promises have had their complete fulfillment, for they await the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Consider the national promise, for example. Abraham's descendants, the Jewish people, are not a "great nation" as yet, and never have been. True the nation rose to prominence and glory during the reigns of David and Solomon, but that was for but a short period, and it ended with civil war which divided the twelve tribes into two groups, known to history and Scripture as Israel (the northern kingdom, of ten tribes) and Judah (the Southern kingdom of two tribes).
The history of Israel is a record of constant apostasy, failure and defeat, ending in the scattering of Jews among all nations.
Certainly, this history does not reveal them as a great nation at any time. Even during the reign of David, the people rebelled against him, and drove him temporarily from the throne!
When will the promise to Abraham be vindicated?
The answer is, in the future.
Though God scattered Israel (see Deuteronomy 28:64-67), He will yet completely regather the nation (Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Jeremiah 31:10), and restore it to its ancient land (Ezekiel 39:25-29). The people will be educated in Divine truth, will mourn for their past blindness (Zechariah 12:9 -10). They will have their sins forgiven them (Micah 7:18-20); and will be established as the "first" of the nations (Micah 4:7-8).
All this will be done on the basis of the promise made to Abraham.
The prophet declared: "thou wilt perform the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn from the days of old" (Micah 7:20).
"I do not this for your sakes, 0 house of Israel, but for Mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye went" (Ezekiel 36:22).
The Jewish people have returned to their ancient homeland today, and the nation of Israel has come into existence once again, because of the promise made to Abraham.
The Jewish people, and the nation of Israel, are yet to be disciplined and humbled, in order that they might be elevated in accordance with the purpose of God. God has declared:
"I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all...... (Ezekiel 37:21-22).
In this statement there is promised:
(1) The regathering of the people.
(2) The re-establishment of the nation.
(3) The restoration of the monarchy.
The King referred to is the Lord Jesus, described as "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews".
Under his firm and righteous rule, the nation of Israel will reach the greatness promised it through Abraham.
Consider the personal promise made to Abraham. Is he blessed today? Is his name great? Is he a blessing in the earth?
The answer is, No! Abraham is dead; his name is far from great in the opinion of mankind, most of whom know nothing about him.
How and when shall the promise be fulfilled?
By a resurrection from the dead to life eternal at Christ's coming. The Lord, himself, declared this. He told those Jews who rejected his mercy and salvation 1900 years ago, that they would be raised from the dead to be rejected of their Messiah, and to witness Abraham and others enjoy a status that they could have shared. He declared:
"There shall be weeping when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, west, north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:28-29).
At that time, Abraham will be both blessed and a blessing, and men will consider it an honor to be associated with him. Again, we must look to the future for the fulfillment of the promise.
The family promise, has relation to those who embrace the promises of Abraham, and who walk in his steps. They will become his associates in the Kingdom that Jesus shall set up on earth, and shall inherit eternal life. "They that are Christ's are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29). They form part of the great family of Christ, to be blessed in conjunction with Abraham whom they bless. Hence this clause of the promise, comprises an assurance to the family of Abraham.
You can become a member of that "family" by belief in the gospel, followed by baptism into Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-29).
The international promise points to the time when Christ's righteous rule will be set up over all the earth, and mankind shall rejoice in it. Then "the Kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ" who "shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). The Law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, bringing all nations into a state of unity and peace before God (Isaiah 2:2-4). The glorious administration of the Lord Jesus Christ will solve the problems that afflict humanity today.
The poor will be helped: the needy will be assisted; the tyrant will be deposed from the seat of authority, and "all nations" shall serve the Lord and find him a blessing (Psalm 72:11,17). There will no longer exist the need to maintain huge standing armies, mighty navies, and vast air-forces to protect the rights of individual nations, when one king reigns over a united world. The wealth of nations, previously expended on war, will be utilized for the benefits of humanity. The result will be the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham: "In thee shall all nations be blessed".
This, as Paul showed, constitutes the Gospel (Galatians 3:8), and will be fulfilled through Christ (v. 16), the seed of Abraham (Matthew 1:1).
And the Gospel comprises a key that will unlock the true meaning of any part of the Word of God.
Genesis records a further development in the promises of God to Abraham. Abraham had prospered with Lot his nephew, to the extent that their combined herds became an embarrassment, causing strife between their respective herdsmen.
They decided to separate, and Abram (as Abraham was then called) unselfishly offered Lot first choice of the land. Lot saw the well watered plain of Jordan, with the prosperous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and was attracted by the prospects of easy and pleasant communal associations to leave Abram, and to go down to Sodom. He went "down" in more ways than one, leaving to Abram the hardship, the glory, the virtue of the rugged hills of the Land of Promise, and the inheritance of Bethel - the House of God.
After Lot had separated with his herds, God made a further promise to Abram. He was told:
"Look northward, southward, eastward and westward; for ALL THE LAND THAT THOU SEEST to thee will I give it, and to thy seed FOR EVER..... Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto you (Genesis 13:14-17).
We cannot overemphasize the importance of this promise made to Abram. it forms the basis of the personal hope of every true believer. Notice that Abram and his seed are promised the land FOR EVER, and not merely for life. It is obvious that this promise has not been fulfilled, for otherwise Abram would be alive today. Either Abraham and his seed must be resurrected from the grave and given life eternal to enjoy this promised inheritance, or we can place no confidence in the promises of God.
What of those who teach that the promised land is in, heaven? They normally interpret the promise to Abram as involving only occupation of the land during his lifetime. But contrary to this, 1900 years after the death of Abraham, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, clearly stated that Abraham had never received the land promised to him. Significantly, also he based his beliefs upon the promises made to this great man of faith. He declared:
"He (God) removed him (Abraham) into this land (Palestine) wherein ye (Jews) now dwell, and He gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on, yet HE PROMISED THAT HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM FOR A POSSESSION, and to his seed after him..." (Acts 7:1-4).
The promises made to Abraham were amplified and extended many years later to one of Abraham's descendants, David the King of Israel. In 2 Samuel 7:10-16, we read the promise which God made to David. The King was told:
"I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and MOVE NO MORE; neither shall the children of wickedness AFFLICT THEM ANY MORE." (v. 10)
The Lord will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom FOR EVER. I will be his father, and he shall be My son. Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever BEFORE THEE: thy throne shall be established FOR EVER" (vv. 12-16).
The promise to David thus incorporates:
This promise follows in natural sequence from the promise to Abraham - the first made promise of an earthly inheritance; the second promised a throne and a kingdom.
Neither of these promises have yet seen their fulfillment. In fact, David's throne has not existed for over two thousand years. Some important words were declared to Zedekiah, the last king of Israel, in Ezekiel 21:25-27:
"And thou, profane, wicked prince of Israel, Whose day Is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord God: remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give It him."
The son promised to David, and the one "whose right it is", referred to by Ezekiel is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is established beyond all doubt by the words that Gabriel uttered to Mary before the birth of her son. She was told:
"Thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).
The fulfillment of these words demands the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth to raise David and all like him from the dead to life eternal; to restore Israel in its fullness; and to reign from Jerusalem as King.
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ, personally and visibly to this earth is a fundamental teaching of the Word of God, both in the Old and New Testaments. Isaiah foretold that the day would come when "..... the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 59:20); and that his return is linked with the destiny of the nation of Israel, David foretold in the Psalms:
"Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea the set time is come .... When the ford shall build up Zion, he shall appear In his glory" (Psalm 102:13-16).
The prophet Daniel, after speaking unmistakably of the days in which we live, said:
"And In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44,45).
The picture is exactly the same in the New Testament. Have you ever considered the unquestionable import of the words of the angels to the bewildered disciples at the time when the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives after his resurrection? They were told:
"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which Is taken up from you into heaven, SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO into heaven" (Acts 1:10-11).
To this agree also the words of all the writers of the New Testament (as well as the old). Take as an example:
"And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
Obviously, the believers in those early times took comfort in the sure hope of the return of their Lord to establish a literal worldwide kingdom; and believers in the gospel in these dramatic days can take comfort in that same hope, knowing that the signs indicate the certainty of Christ's return in our day.
In order to establish a Divine theocracy upon this earth, it will, of course, be necessary for the Lord Jesus to abolish all existing world governments. This is clearly indicated in the prophecies concerning his work at his return. Consider Psalm 2; Micah 4:1-8; and Isaiah 2:1-4. No longer will the governments of this world rule with injustice, inhumanity, greed, ambition and corruption; "out of Zion (Jerusalem) shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem" and "he shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor .... in his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth .... he shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth ... all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him" (Psalm 72).
Not only will universal government emanate from Jerusalem, but that city will also be the center of universal worship. Yes, no longer will there be a confusion of religions and ideologies, but one world-wide faith will activate every individual and move every heart in worship of the one, true God (Zechariah 14:16-19).
This is the Creator's answer to six thousand years of man's misrule.
Neither politics nor protests can save humanity from the morass of anarchy into which it plunges headlong. God alone has the answer, and he has decreed that He will act in His appointed time. He has mercifully indicated through His prophetic Word, the Bible, the signposts which herald the time of His intervention in man's affairs.
Be warned, dear reader, that the time has come when, not only do the signs about us clearly indicate that His hand is about to move, but it is imperative that He fulfill His promise to "send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20,21).
Christ IS coming to raise the dead who are responsible to judgment (1 Corinthians 15:22-26); to reward the righteous (2 Timothy 4:1,7,8); and to reign on earth (Revelation 5:9,10).
World problems will reach a climax and Jesus Christ will return in fulfillment of the promises - as the promised seed of Abraham and the son of David, to rule the world in righteousness from David's ancient throne.
But how will this affect YOU personally?
The issues which we have discussed, comprise principles of the GOSPEL.
Belief in the ONE TRUE GOSPEL and baptism into the name of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST are essential for salvation:
"..... and he (Jesus) said unto them (the disciples), Go ye Into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15,16).
Note carefully the Bible's definition of the Gospel, and you will see that all we have spoken of is embodied in it:
"...... when they believed Philip (one of the disciples) preaching the things concerning THE KINGDOM OF GOD and THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12).
God offers eternal life and an inheritance in His Kingdom to those who believe and obey the Gospel. An understanding of the Truth of God as revealed in His Book, the Bible, baptism into the sin-covering name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and a life of dedication and obedience to the principles laid down in His Word and exhibited in the life of Christ, are essential prerequisites for salvation in the day of his appearing.
"For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female. for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, THEN ARE YE ABRAHAM'S SEED, and HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE" (Galatians 3.26-29).