Pope Benedict: Bible Cannot Be Taken Literally

Pope Benedict: Bible Cannot Be Taken Literally

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In his latest treatise, Pope Benedict XVI reverts to medieval teaching.

Hard on the heels of the recent Vatican statement declaring that the Jews have no scriptural claim to the Promised Land comes another papal shocker.

It is contained in the pope’s most recent “apostolic exhortation,” Verbum Domini (“The Word of the Lord”), issued on November 11.

In this lengthy “exhortation,” the pope “has issued a lofty and impassioned plea for everyone in the church to rediscover the Bible” (cna/ewtn News, November 11). But it’s more than an “impassioned plea” from this pope to his parishioners. It’s a direct attack on all who believe the inerrancy of the literal Scriptures as inspired by God!

In direct relation to the study of the Bible, Pope Benedict has “criticized ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘literalist’ interpretations and urged renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church” (ibid., emphasis mine).

In a most outlandish pontification, Benedict declared, “An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church.

This latest declaration by the pope tracks right back to his double endorsement of the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church.

At the time that the pope made that startling claim, Fox News, among other sources, reported, “For the second time in a week, Pope Benedict xvi has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and saying other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches” (July 10, 2007).

Thus, having declared all Christian denominations other than Roman Catholicism illegitimate, having endorsed recently a Vatican statement that the Jews have no valid scriptural claim to the Promised Land, the pope now has reasserted the medieval stance that only the interpretation of Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church has authenticity.

That is a blatant papal lie that the very Scriptures themselves oppose!

Your Bible clearly declares, first and foremost, that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).

It further declares that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There’s no instruction here to resort first to any “symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church”!

Those “interpretation techniques” as applied over the centuries have led to many contradictory interpretations of Scripture, even within Roman Catholicism. But Jesus Christ plainly said “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). The Bible does not contradict itself!

It is not for the pope, it is not for any of his priests, it is not for man at all to interpret the Scriptures based on any particular religious ideology!

There’s only one power that can unlock the plain, straightforward meaning of Scripture. That is the power of the mind of God alone, exerting His influence directly on the mind of an individual by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ Himself, the Word of God personified, declared that when the Holy Spirit comes into the mind of an individual, it reveals all things. He called it “the Spirit of truth, [which] the world cannot receive, because it seeth [it] not, neither knoweth [it]” (John 14:17).

Christ called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter” (John 16:7). It is a revelatory Spirit, the Spirit of truth—actually a portion of God’s own supreme intellect embedded in the mind of a converted Christian. Christ declared that when it is given by the Father to a servant of God, it “will guide you into all truth … and [it] will shew you things to come” (verse 13).

cna/ewtn News describes “The heart of Verbum Domini” as comprising “a long and often technical discussion of ‘hermeneutics,’ or the proper method for interpreting the sacred texts.”

The reality is that Jesus Christ, the very Author of the Word of God, gave us the proper method for understanding the Bible. We read of the direct experience of His original disciples, from which the original apostles were ordained who in turn formed the very foundation of the one true Church. Of their experience with the resurrected Jesus Christ, they intoned, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

It is thus the living Jesus Christ, the true Head of His one true Church, who opens up the Word of God to us by the power of God’s Holy Spirit!

Yes it takes dedicated study to grow in understanding the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15; Isaiah 28:10, 13). But, in reality, the Bible interprets itself!

Why do men insist on trying to interpret the Bible?

A quarter of a century ago, Herbert Armstrong gave the answer (Plain Truth, November 1983):

The Scriptures are profitable for the purpose of reproving and correcting us. But we resent being reproved and corrected. How many people do you know who are even willing to be corrected where they are in error—to be reproved for the wrong things they do?People do not like to be reproved and corrected. They love praise and flattery. But reproof and correction they surely hate.That’s why it is so hard for so many people to understand the Bible and to agree on just what it says. The Bible is God’s great spiritual mirror. It shows up every flaw in our thinking and reveals every spot on our characters. It pictures us as we really are—as God sees us, not as we like to think we are or to have other men look upon us.

That’s the plain and simple truth.

Using the Scriptures to underpin his argument, Herbert Armstrong further stated:

“For the word of God,” we read in Hebrews 4:12, “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword”—it cuts deep, both ways—“and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Yes, it opens up and lays bare the inner man.Too often men have applied some different meaning to the scriptures that reproved them. They have passed right over some scriptures that corrected and rebuked them. Instead they studied diligently to find some other scripture into which they could read a meaning that would justify their course of action.That is how men began, centuries ago, to interpret the Bible. And so God’s Word has become perverted, twisted, wrested, distorted. And almost every false and counterfeit meaning imaginable is read into it instead of seeing the natural meaning—the plain, simple meaning God intended.Today we have hundreds of interpretations of the Bible. But you never hear of hundreds of interpretations of a biology textbook. Why? Because biology textbooks do not rebuke and correct men.Instead of acknowledging the truth, repenting of the sin, having it legally justified by the blood of Christ, men seek to justify their own acts by perverting the sacred and holy Word of God.

As Melanie Phillips recently mused, the Vatican today, under this pope, may be taking “a giant step backwards into a darker age”—an age when the Vatican dictated that the Roman Catholic Church alone was the sole authority for interpretation of the Bible!

Could it be that this pope is in reality seeking to hide what inerrant Scripture reveals as to the true nature of the religious body he leads, its true beginnings, and its prophesied end? Hide the truth by insisting on the application of the interpretation techniques imposed by the “ancient fathers of the church” and thus interpreting, or rather wresting, the Scriptures to suit the whim and the will of the Vatican? (2 Peter 3:16).

You need to allow the Bible to interpret itself on this burning question and all others.

Read our booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last! for insight into, and for the biblical answers to, this question.

The Truth About God’s Law

Guttenberg’s ‘magic’

Here is an informative Deutsche Welle video summarizing German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s latest international trip. One Asian dignitary remarks, “He really seems to have a certain magic.”

Why is Iran off limits?

The U.S has responded to Iran’s acts of war over the last 30 years like “a ship of fools,” wrote retired Navy Admiral James Lyons in the Washington Times last week.

“Each administration since President Carter’s has chosen to ignore or pretend that the Iranian theocracy is not behind the repeated acts of terrorism or combat killings of hundreds if not thousands of our military and civilian personnel. Never has there been such a stain on our honor,” the former admiral wrote.

Iran’s blatant acts of war against the U.S over the last three decades have gone almost completely unchecked—starting with the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979, then continuing with the truck bombing of U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, the Persian Gulf tanker war and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, to name a few. More recently, Iran has provided uninterrupted support for insurgencies opposing U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three weeks ago, the New York Times wrote about the “steady stream” of cash Iran is sending to Karzai’s government in Afghanistan in order to promote Iranian interests.

“What’s astounding is that we have known all along about these bribes,” Lyons wrote. “The State Department when queried could only pathetically respond that it hoped Iran would be a constructive influence on Afghan’s future.” He continued,

When we are sending our finest military men to fight in two wars with no intention of addressing the basic problem—Iran—it is more than dereliction of duty; it borders on criminal. Why has Iran been off limits for more than 30 years?

It’s because of America’s broken will, as we have explained before at theTrumpet.com. Over the past decade, we have repeatedly detailed how Iran is the head of the terrorist snake, and that America’s failure to confront it directly has been the greatest strategic flaw of its war on terror. Back in 2003, editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote,

The fruits and evidence of the past two decades overwhelmingly prove where the king of state-sponsored terrorism is! The whole world can see that. However, the solution to terrorism lies in doing something about it! We must confront the source. The terrorist movement flows from Iran.

As Lyons points out in his article, it’s not like America hasn’t faced tougher enemies in the past. “There is no question that we have the military capability to launch and sustain a devastating strike on Iran,” he wrote. “It’s our leadership that has failed the American people” (emphasis mine).

If only America’s will matched its robust military strength. As Mr. Flurry wrote in the 2003 piece, “We could be a terror to any nation who dared sponsor terrorism against us and our allies. But those days are gone with the wind!”

The Week in Review

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A tumultuous new government in Iraq; violent protests, this time in London; blockbuster Turkish entertainment; and is Jerusalem a capital or a settlement?

Middle East

Incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was reelected on Thursday. The day before, Iraqi political parties had agreed to a framework for a new government, ending eight months of gridlock following inconclusive elections March 7. Rival political parties have reached a power-sharing deal wherein Shiite Maliki remains prime minister and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani retains the presidency, with the position of speaker going to Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni—an arrangement that looks much like the previous government. This is a victory for Iraq’s Iran-backed Shiites, with Maliki, whose National Alliance actually won less seats in the March election than the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, remaining in power. Iraqiya’s leader, Iyad Allawi, had fought hard to become the new prime minister. Iraqiya lawmakers were clearly not happy with the deal, with about two thirds of them, including Allawi, walking out of the parliamentary session, charging that agreements between the alliance leaders had not been honored. “It is obvious that they want to monopolize power,” Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq of Iraqiya said of the Shiites. Maliki now has 30 days to form a government, and the Iraqiya walkout will complicate that process. Still, the progress thus far represents a major victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States. As the Independent wrote on Thursday, “The United States is facing a decisive political defeat in Iraq over the formation of a new government, as its influence in the country sinks lower than at any time since the invasion of 2003. … The U.S. campaign to promote its favored candidate, Iyad Allawi, as president appears to have failed spectacularly. … Iran has outmaneuvered the U.S. in shaping the new government to its own liking.”

In perhaps another instance of an ill-timed announcement, the Israeli Interior Ministry said plans had progressed for the construction of some 1,000 new housing units in southern Jerusalem. The publication of the building plans by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee on November 5 occurred shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for a trip to the United States for the annual convention of the Jewish Federations of North America and to discuss the peace process with Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The announcement, however, concerned building plans that had already been approved some six months earlier and which were simply being published for public review, one more step in the process before construction begins. The prime minister’s office issued a statement saying that “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the capital of Israel.” While this latest incident will have little impact on any peace talks—which are destined to fail in any case—it does once again highlight the increasing tension between Israel and America. On Wednesday, Clinton said the U.S. was “deeply disappointed” with Israel’s announcement, and that it was “counterproductive to our efforts to resume negotiations between the parties.” Watch as this relationship continues to deteriorate.

Turkey has produced another anti-Israel movie that highlights revenge against the Israel Defense Forces for the Mavi Marmara incident earlier this year where Israel’s navy confronted terrorists on board the Gaza-bound vessel. In Valley of the Wolves—Palestine, a revenge campaign is carried out against a fictitious Israeli who ordered the boarding of the boat, with Israeli soldiers being brutally murdered and blown up. “We were trying to show that Israel and the United States are behind acts of terrorism,” Bahadır Özdener, a scriptwriter for the movie, told ntv. The $10 million production—the most expensive film ever made in Turkey—will start showing in late January, with Turkish cinemas and tv stations already showing trailers of the violent action movie. The film will do nothing to ease increasing tensions between Israel and Turkey.

Europe

Europe’s debt crisis continues, but this week it was Ireland and Portugal making the headlines. On November 10, Goldman Sachs warned that financial troubles in these two countries made it more likely that they would require a bailout. lch.Clearnet, one of Europe’s largest clearing houses, increased the amount of deposit it requires on all Irish positions to 15 percent. This caused interest rates on Ireland’s 10-year bonds to jump half a percent to 8.64 percent, the highest rate since Ireland joined the euro. This high interest rates indicates that investors are not sure that Ireland can pay back its debt. The interest rate on Portugal’s bonds also broke a record, climbing to 6.8 percent. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on November 11 said that the European Union stood ready to rescue Ireland. “What is important to know is that we have all the necessary instruments in place now to support Ireland if necessary,” he said. “We are monitoring the situation closely.” Continue to watch Europe’s economic turmoil, as it will continue to drive political change on the Continent.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy revealed his true feelings about Europe and Euroskepticism at a speech in Berlin on November 10. “In every member state, there are people who believe their country can survive alone in the globalized world. It is more than an illusion—it is a lie,” he said in a speech to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. “We have together to fight the danger of a new Euroskepticism. This is no longer the monopoly of a few countries.” “The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear,” he continued. “Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism, and nationalism leads to war.” Expect the leaders in Europe, who believe euro-federalism is an absolute good, to continue to push the continent toward closer integration.

In May, then German President Horst Köhler resigned amid a chorus of criticism after he said that Germany may have to deploy its army in order to safeguard economic interests. Six months later, Germany’s most popular politician said he agrees with Köhler. “I ask myself to this day what was so bold about (Köhler’s) comment,” said German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on November 9. “I would have liked to see somewhat more support from us all on this question.” “I have repeatedly pointed out this year that we in our country must really do something to articulate the relationship between regional security and economic interests without coming to deadlock,” he said at a defense conference in Berlin. Guttenberg warned that growing demand for natural resources could lead to new conflicts. “The raw materials needs of emerging powers are constantly growing, and thus competing with our requirements,” he said. “I think in particular of what is happening today with rare earths.” Piracy was another specific area that Guttenberg said could warrant military intervention. “Piracy in the 21st century is thus not just a side note, but a serious challenge to our economic performance, one to be taken seriously,” said the defense minister. “In a globalized world … common interests are to be protected in order to bring stability.” Guttenberg is leading the way in creating a newly assertive Germany.

Asia

On Wednesday, a United Nations report claiming that North Korea is sharing illegal nuclear technology with Iran, Myanmar and Syria was submitted to the UN Security Council, after China dropped its objections to the report. In early May, the 70-page report was sent to a Security Council subcommittee, but Beijing objected to its being distributed to the entire 15-member Council until this week. The report says Pyongyang is using “multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies and financial institutions” to “circumvent” UN sanctions. It calls for probing into these illegal activities and for the international community to work to counter them. U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said this “should be a wake-up call for the U.S. and other responsible nations. Instead of continuing its failed strategy of seeking to engage the regime in endless negotiation, the administration must ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang,” she said. Both Beijing’s power to suppress crucial information and Pyongyang’s defiant behavior are signs of the shift in global power. Both bode poorly for the West.

China desires increased cooperation with Russia within the Group of 20 framework, Chinese President Hu Jintao said at a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday. Hu explained that the aim would be to use the body to advance the interests of emerging economies, including China and Russia. Medvedev agreed with his Chinese counterpart saying that the bric nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China—have effected positive change in the international monetary system. The two sides agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation within the bric organization, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (apec) forum, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco). Medvedev also said that high-level meetings between China and Russia have become a fine tradition in the two countries’ relations. Expect the Russo-Chinese strategic partnership to gain momentum in the years ahead, culminating, ultimately, in full-scale alliance.

Moscow has earmarked $63.4 billion for national defense and security in 2011, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin announced on Monday. The figure, representing 19 percent of Russia’s annual budget, is a sharp increase from the previously announced 2011 defense budget of $49.4 billion. The budget also marks a significant increase over Russia’s 2010 defense budget of $41.5 billion. Next year’s budget, the largest ever for Moscow, allocates $14.9 billion for new arms purchases.

Africa

News of another series of mass rape emerged from the Democratic Republic of Congo last week. On November 5, UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano announced that 600 girls were raped along the border between Congo and Angola during a large-scale expulsion of illegal immigrants. Giuliano said they could not tell on which side of the border the rapes actually occurred on. “What worries us is that rape seems to be becoming endemic in several parts of Congo,” he said. “We fear it’s becoming part of the routine.” The UN’s presence seems to have done nothing to stem the number of rapes in Congo.

Anglo-America

On Wednesday, the presidential deficit commission submitted its recommendations to put the United States on firm financial footing. The drastic spending reductions included changes to both the tax code and entitlement programs. “America cannot be great if we go broke,” the 50-page proposal stated frankly. “Our economy will not grow and our country will not be able to compete without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our back.” The draft recommends tough limits on discretionary spending that would save $200 billion by 2015, and changes to tax rates, the health system, farm subsidies, retirement costs and Social Security. On the same day, the Treasury Department announced that the federal government has begun the 2011 fiscal year with the third-highest deficit ever: more than $140 billion.

Violent protests spread to Britain on Wednesday when more than 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters marched through London to the headquarters of the Conservative Party in Millbank Tower. The protesters, reacting to plans to increase the cost of studying at university and cut public funding to universities, pushed police and burned signs, and some even pushed into the building’s lobby, smashing windows and spraying graffiti. The incident is one of the early warning signs of how unwilling Britons are to tighten their belts and pull their country’s finances back from the brink.

The Power of God’s Spirit

Just before He ascended to heaven Jesus promised His disciples that they would “receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you,” as it says in Acts 1 and verse 8. What did Jesus mean by that statement? We’ll start over in Acts 10 today. He told His disciples that, “you will receive power.” What power was He talking about, and is that same power available to us today? Acts chapter 10.

In John’s gospel—we won’t take the time to go over there—but Jesus is quoted as saying that, “I can of mine own self do nothing,” and He said later in that same gospel that it was God in Him that did the works. God was living in Him. Now, how is that possible? How is it possible for God to be living in Jesus Christ?

Notice Acts 10 here, verse 37. It says, “That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;”

Verse 38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy [Spirit] and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Now Christ wasn’t like some in this world who, when they claim to have the Spirit of God, carry on about, you know, a fashion that’s emotionally out of control—screaming, shaking, wailing—all because they think the Spirit is moving them. You see how the Spirit moved Jesus Christ from this verse, verse 38. It moved Him to go about doing good, to perform miracles, to heal the sick. It was by the power of God’s Spirit that Jesus overcame the devil. It was by the power of God’s Spirit that Jesus lived a perfect life.

So when Jesus promised to give His disciples—after repentance, faith, and baptism—when He promised to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit, can it be that we as Christians actually have access to that same power, that very same Spirit that enabled Christ to obey God with a perfect heart, that enabled Christ to have God, Himself, living in Him? And the answer to that, of course, is yes; that’s what God is offering to us.

Luke 11 and verse 13—you can just look at it later—“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” How much more? See, God is EAGER to give us His Spirit, to give us this gift. And the plain teaching of the Bible is that if we turn to Him in repentance and faith, as I just mentioned, if we’re baptized by a minister of Jesus Christ, then we, too, can receive the power, the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which is His mind, His power.

Acts chapter 3, another passage here in Acts. As you turn there, I’ll just remind you of what Paul said over in Romans 15 and verse 13, how that “the God of hope [would] fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy [Spirit].” Over and again the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as God’s power, not as a separate entity in a closed Godhead—that’s not scriptural—a trinity that leaves everyone else out, but rather the scriptures refer to the Spirit as being something that emanates from God. I mean, without God, the Spirit wouldn’t be able to do anything because it’s just a power, a force that comes from our Creator.

Acts chapter 3. This is an incident here where Peter and John had just been filled with the Spirit of God. You can look at chapter 2 if you like, to review that history of what happened there on the first Pentecost and how the Spirit came into the Church, into the body of Christ, and many were converted to the truth on that day. And then now full of God’s Spirit, or at least given a portion of God’s Spirit, notice what happens here in chapter 3. It says, “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. (2) And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; (3) Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.” So he was asking for a handout, something physical, some money.

(4) “And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. (5) And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said,” verse 6, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

(8) “And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” As I’m sure you might imagine. We’d probably do the same thing or react the same way after a miracle that stunning. This man’s strength in his legs enabled him now to walk, a wonderful miracle, a powerful miracle performed by one of God’s servants, by two of God’s servants there who had just received the Spirit of God.

And if you go and read some of the events that happened there, after this miraculous healing, aroused quite a lot of antagonism coming from the priests and the Sadducees, who then seized Peter and John and threw them in prison for a night. And the next day these religious leaders were threatening them and commanded them not to speak, not to carry on with this message, not to carry on with this work that they were doing. And as a result of these threats, I mean it did have an adverse impact on Peter and John.

You can look at chapter four. We’ll just hit the high spots here. They were human. I mean they now had the Spirit of God, but they still had to resist against the old man that we put away at baptism that continually wants to resurface and come back to life. But these threats got to them, and notice what they did here in chapter four. They went to the brethren for encouragement. They went to the Source that they needed in this time of need, the Source or the Provider of that Spirit, that power. Verse 24 in Acts 4, it says, “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God,” they were with the brethren now or God’s people, “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: (25) Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage,” and so on. You can read the next few verses of this prayer.

But skipping to the end of it, verse 29 says, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all BOLDNESS they may SPEAK thy word, (30) By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.” So they went right to the Source of this power, notice, to receive it again, and this, itself, tells us that the Holy Spirit is not something that you receive all at once. You receive this supply at baptism. In fact there are some at times that coming out of baptism are a little disappointed that they don’t feel more of an onrushing power in them, but they shouldn’t feel disappointed. They should go to the Source, the Provider of that power, who is God! That’s what Peter and John did, even when they were getting a little bit down. I mean these were Apostles of God!

Look at verse 31, it says, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all FILLED with the Holy [Spirit],” see, the Holy Spirit is something that fills us, that can come into us. They were filled with this Spirit, “and they spake the word of God with boldness.” So they were revitalized, they were rejuvenated spiritually. They were inspired by this show of support coming from God’s people. Certainly every member in the body of Christ serves an important purpose, offering up prayers for the ministry, offering up prayers for the work, making those requests before God who wants to give us His Spirit, as I said. I mean, He is a father who wants to give gifts, who wants to empower us.

Verse 33 says, “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” God, you see, is looking to provide us with power, and He gave it to Peter and John. I mean there’s a verse in John’s gospel that talks about the disciples, or those who became the apostles, performing even greater works than what Jesus Christ did in His ministry. I mean so much so that the shadow of Peter passing over the one who was sick healed that individual.

Isaiah chapter 55. Do you mean to say that that same power is accessible today? Can we, as Christians, draw on that same source of power? And the answer is yes, we can. We can do it, but we have to be really hungry enough, thirsty enough, spiritually speaking, to go and get it. Isaiah 55 and verse 6, it says, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) 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.” It goes on and talks about how far above God’s thoughts are from ours. But there’s plenty of people in this world, even plenty of followers to the Trumpet and other things that this work produces, that can see just how obvious it is in this world that it’s falling apart. They can see the evils in this world, and they know that God has the answers. But it’s not enough for us to just see what’s obviously wrong in this evil world. It’s not enough for us to just see the evil, even to just see the evils in our own life that we’ve got to change and get rid of.

Look at verse 1 of this same chapter. Isaiah 55 and verse 1, “Ho,” it says, “every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

If you’re thirsty, then go to the waters. John 7, verses 37 through 39 where Jesus spoke on that Last Great Day of the Feast and said much the same thing. If you’re thirsty, come and drink from these rivers of living water. And John said He spoke there of the Spirit, the Spirit of God! That’s what we’ve got to be thirsty for! If you’ve ever gone without food and water for a time, you know there’s a real hunger and thirst that sets in just after a few hours. And this is why fasting is such an important spiritual tool because it reminds us of how much we’ve got to thirst and hunger for God’s righteousness, of how much we’ve got to thirst for the Spirit of God!

This is a quote from Mr. Armstrong, a Good News article from February 1983. He wrote, “Do you today have the same power the original Christians had? They were just as human as you! The real question, then, is this—do you YIELD yourself as fully, SURRENDER your will as unconditionally to God, PRAY as often, as earnestly and intensively as they?” He says, “If you do, you will be filled with as much of the divine power as they, for God is no respecter of persons.” It’s a wonderful promise, a wonderful encouragement that we can be empowered by the same Spirit, coming from the same Source that Peter and John and the others drew from, the power of God.

Look at Ephesians 1. Ephesians 1. The question is not whether we have access to that power. The question, as Mr. Armstrong brings out there, is do we yield to God? Do we surrender unconditionally to God’s will the way that those servants of God in the first century did? Do we go to God as often in prayer and study to receive that power?

Well, look at Ephesians 5 while we’re here in Ephesians. I’ll go to chapter one here in a second, but Ephesians 5, I think it’s verse 17. It says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (18) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” BE filled! BE filled! See, you’ve got to go and consume of the Spirit, you’ve got to drink in of God’s power, you’ve got to ask for God’s power, and then you have to use it. Get up from your prayers and really go about living the way that God lives, and those fruits will then be made manifest, or that Spirit will be made manifest as fruits, also spoken of there in Ephesians. Look at chapter 1, though. Ephesians chapter—or Galatians, I guess, is where it lists the fruits of the Spirit.

Ephesians 1 and verse 12, look at what God is offering to the saints. Verse 12 says, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” see, the brethren of God here, Paul says, are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. It’s God’s way of promising that there’s bigger and better things to come with this sealing.

Notice verse 14, it says, “Which is,” speaking of the Spirit, “the EARNEST of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” See, the gift of the Holy Spirit is just simply the earnest or the down-payment of our inheritance.

Another Bible translation calls it a pledge or an installment. The Revised Standard says the Holy Spirit is “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” So God gives us this token¸ this down-payment, this guarantee, and that’s why it starts so small at baptism. That’s why it’s almost indiscernible. That’s why you don’t get up from that watery grave and start flailing about. But you use it from that point forward, you submit to God’s will, you go to God and ask Him for more of His Spirit. And that Spirit power will grow inside of us if we’re yielded to God, if we’re obedient, as it says in Acts 5 and verse 32.

God won’t forcefully lead us, as it says in Romans 8. We can just conclude over here in Romans. Romans chapter 8. Mr. Armstrong often compared the Spirit to electricity that circulates, that comes from the light source or the power source and then illuminates that light. Jesus, of course, compared it to living water, flowing water, not dead, stagnant water that just sits there, but water that flows, water that moves, and that’s the idea. We have to be moved by the Spirit of God. We have to use the Spirit of God if it’s to grow inside of us, if we’re to receive more of God’s power.

Romans 8. This chapter, this entire chapter has a lot to teach us about the Spirit of God. Verse 1, it says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” The working power of God’s Spirit in our lives, you see, it frees us from captivity, and we can go and live an obedient life. Not by our own power, as Jesus said, but by the power of God. With men, it’s impossible, but with God, all things are possible.

Jump down to verse 9, it says, “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.” So the Spirit in us is what makes us Christian; that’s what makes us a follower of Christ, God’s Spirit dwelling in us, but it leads to much more.

Verse 10 says, “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) 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.” Quicken, or make alive at the resurrection when we will, in fact, be Spirit.

But coming back now to how that Spirit works in us today, notice verse 14. It says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” See, it won’t push, it won’t drag, it leads. God leads us, and if we use the Spirit, if we’re continually led by it, we will receive POWER from God. But we’ve got to walk in the direction of God. We’ve got to walk, following Christ.

Verse 16 says, “The Spirit itself,” God’s Spirit, that is, “beareth witness with our spirit,” we have a human spirit that enables us to think and reason, unlike animals, but “The Spirit itself beareth witness,” or joins together “with our spirit that we are the children of God:” see, it makes us children, God’s power, God in us. Jesus, we could add in passing here, is called in scripture the “Son of God” and the “Son of man,” both accurate descriptions. He’s never once called the Son of the Spirit, though. It was by the Spirit, by God’s power that He became a Son of God, and we have that same potential if we believe God’s Word.

Look at verse 17, speaking again if this Spirit is in us, if it’s joined together with God’s, or with our human spirit, it says in verse 17, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” See, that’s what God has in store for us, the same inheritance which Hebrews 2 says is all things, including this universe, these billions and billions of stars, galaxies, and it’s all out there waiting for the first fruits, as you can read in the rest of that chapter. Read the rest of Romans 8 sometime. But think on this inheritance that God has for us, and think about how much we need more of God’s power today, even, just to finish what God has given us.

Going back to that article from 1983—I’ll conclude with this—Mr. Armstrong said, “We need to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God.” He’s referring to Romans 12:1 there. He says, “We need to receive a greater transforming and to be less conformed to this present evil world. We need to repent. We need to be more earnestly seeking God! We need to put on the whole ARMOR of God,” as we’re admonished in Ephesians 6.

“Perhaps some of us need to fast and pray as Jesus did.” He concludes here, “Have you enough of the power of God flowing DYNAMICALLY into and out of you? You need to seek a much closer contact with your God.”