Thursday, May 24, 2018

Luke 7:36-50 - And She Was a Sinner

“Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” –1 Timothy 1:15.
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST is the Message of Divine compassion toward sinners. Almost all religions, in some form or another, recognize sin and propose some kind of reconciliation with the Creator — by works of charity, by voluntary self-torture, or by future torments, etc. In the realm of heathen religions, we find gods that are have little sympathy for humanity. Many of them are cold, cruel, vindictive. Additionally, many of them have the same short-comings as found in mankind. The Bible, of all the religious books we know of, alone tells of a God touched with the feeling of human infirmities and with sympathy toward sinners. “God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly.” — Romans 5:8.

Psalms 102:19-22 - For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; From heaven did Jehovah behold the earth; To hear the sighing of the prisoner; To loose those that are appointed to death; That men may declare the name of Jehovah in Zion, And his praise in Jerusalem; When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve Jehovah. -- American Standard Version.

Above, we read of Jehovah's compassion, not just for Israel, but for all kingdoms, all of humanity suffering under the death penalty. The figurative language depicts the incidental aches and pains of mankind's fallen condition. He looks and is aware of all that is happening to mankind, but he does more than just look and take pity, his right arm of divine power in due time began to bring deliverance for the captives of sin and death. He sent His son to die all of the human race, and already his Son has been glorified (Acts 3:13), waiting for the time when he is to be revealed to all mankind in his Father's kingdom of glory. -- Isaiah 2:2-4; Matthew 24:30; 25:31.

In the meantime, God's wonderful grace has been at work in selecting various individuals "out of the world" (John 15:19; 17:6) who are to have a share with Jesus as the seed of Abraham that is to bless all the families of the earth. -- Genesis 12:3; 22:16-18; Galatians 3:7-9,16,29; Hebrews 6:13-20; Acts 3:19-25.

Still the Scriptures tell us of God’s pursuing love and mercy that will eventually be extended to all mankind. He speaks of time to come when all nations will learn his ways. (Isaiah 2:2-4) God’s right arm is not shortened. (Isaiah 59:1) In due time it will bring the salvation for which the poor groaning creation has so long waited. It will come with the manifestation of the Sons of God in Kingdom power. -- Romans 8:19.

Eventually the redeemer “shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” (Isaiah 53:11) Eventually the Heavenly Father’s plan will be so outworked that every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be heard saying, “Praise and glory and honor, dominion and might be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the lamb, forever.” (Revelation 5:13) Eventually God, through the Messianic Kingdom, “shall wipe away all tears from off all faces,” and cause the reproach of being his people to disappear from the earth. (Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 25:8) So superior is this God of the Bible and of Christianity to all the misconceptions of heathendom and man's sectarian limitations that, when the glorious Day of Messiah’s Kingdom shall have been fully ushered in, the glory of our God will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. -- Isaiah 40:5.

Our redeemer possessed and exemplified the Heavenly Father’s love and mercy. He declared that he was merely the exponent of the Father’s will, and hence of the Father’s love and sympathy. Our Lord’s sympathy is presented not only in this lesson but also in many others, and all of his followers do well to cultivate the same spirit. Jesus was not sympathetic with the sins of the people, but with the people themselves. He realized as few do the real difficulty with the majority of sinners. "Behold I was brought forth in in iniquity. In sin did my mother conceive me," exclaimed the Prophet. (Psalm 51:5) We are sinners by heredity. We have inherited partially depraved minds, partially unbalanced brains and morals, under subjection to vanity and heavy burden.  -- Ecclesiastes 1:3,13-15; 7:13; Romans 1:24-2:1; 5:12-19; 8:20-22.

St. Paul, speaking of the very noblest class, declares, “We cannot do the things which we would” — any of us; hence all humanity are sinners. (Romans 7:18-20) “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Therefore it is merely a question of the degree of sinfulness, and the degree is often measured by the degree of inherited weakness, or the degree of surrounding temptations. The really reprehensible and blameworthy sinners are those who sin willfully, deliberately, knowingly, intentionally, without either will or effort to resist sin. But it is not ours to judge which these are. Indeed, we are incompetent to judge, we cannot read the heart, we cannot fully appreciate the degree of the temptation and the weakness of the tempted. Hence the Master said through his apostle, “Judge nothing before the time.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) In due time the saints will judge the world, but not now. -- 1 Corinthians 6:2.

Now we must follow the Master’s example; and we may well do this because, although he knew what was in man, as we could not know, He was very charitable, which leads us to suppose that if we were perfect we would be all the more charitable towards sinners, though not at all sympathetic with sin.

Who can read the New Testament Gospel narratives without realizing that Jesus was indeed a “friend of sinners,” as was charged against Him by the Pharisees? And is not this the feature of the Bible which specially commends it to humanity? With the exception of the willful sinners, whom we must hope are few, there comes a time when sin is seen in its true color and is detested. Then is the time when the gospel Message from the friend of sinners specially appeals to such. (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34) All seem to know instinctively that Jesus stands ready to be the friend and helper of all who come to the Father through him.

A WOMAN WHO WAS A SINNER

{Luke 7:36} One of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered into the Pharisee's house, and sat at the table. 
{Luke 7:37} Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment.
{Luke 7:38} Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
{Luke 7:39} Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner."
{Luke 7:40} Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
He said, "Teacher, say on."
 {Luke 7:41} "A certain lender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 
{Luke 7:42} When they couldn't pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?"
Luke 7:43} Simon answered, "He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most."
He said to him, "You have judged correctly." 
{Luke 7:44} Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. 
{Luke 7:45} You gave me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. 
{Luke 7:46} You didn't anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 
{Luke 7:47} Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 
{Luke 7:48} He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
{Luke 7:49} Those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
{Luke 7:50} He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

Jesus had accepted an invitation to dine at a Pharisee's house. The dinner had begun. Resting upon one arm they used the other for handling of food. After the custom of the times, they reclined upon low tables or couches, their heads toward the center where the food was placed. A curtain separated the dinning room from the other court.

While the dinner was progressing, a woman “who was a sinner,” a harlot, deeply penitent, entered. She had in her hand some precious perfume, with which she intended to anoint the Savior’s feet, as was sometimes done with dignitaries of that time. Her heart was full, and tears gushed from her eyes while she sought to open the bottle; they fell like rain upon Jesus’ feet, evidently quite contrary to the woman’s intention. It seemed as though she was dishonoring the very feet she intended to honor. Loosening her hair, she used it as a towel, entirely regardless of the fact that for a woman at that time it was considered dishonorable to let down her hair in public; but intent upon her errand she dried the feet and poured the precious perfume upon them, presumably as an honor to the One from whom she had heard “wonderful words of life”– words of divine compassion and pity for sinners, words of hope for herself.

TWO DEBTORS AND THEIR LOVE

The host of the occasion watched Jesus to see how he would receive this manifestation of loving devotion, saying in his heart, If this man were a prophet, he would know that the woman offering him this honor is disreputable. He would denounce her and bid her, “Begone,” and not to touch him. Jesus knew his thoughts and answered him in parabolic form, saying, “A certain creditor had two debtors, one owed five hundred pence and the other fifty. Neither could pay and he forgave them both. Which of them will love him most?” The Pharisee replied, “I suppose he to whom most was forgiven.” Jesus agreed with him.

Then Jesus made application of the matter; turning to the woman, he said to his host, Do you see this woman, who washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair? You are the host of the occasion, yet you did not offer me water for the washing of my feet, as is customary in our land to do to those whom we desire to honor. You gave me no kiss, as is customary among friends, but this woman has repeatedly kissed my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. And he said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Is not this to some extent an illustration and an explanation of the fact that the majority of those who love the Lord most are such as realize their own sinful and fallen condition most and who appreciate most the forgiving love of God manifested in Jesus? Is it not true today also that those who are most moral, and therefore might be said to have less to be forgiven, have correspondingly less love?

This should not be the case, however. The less degraded ought naturally to be the more able to love and to appreciate divine goodness and love and the more willing to present their little all in divine service.

Those present not improperly began to inquire, Who is this that even forgives sins? The only satisfactory answer is that he is the one he professes to be, the Son of God, the redeemer of the world. He was then in process of rendering up his sacrifice according to his covenant, and on the strength of that covenant and sacrifice he had authority to tell the woman that her sins were forgiven, because He was making the atonement which would be applicable to her.

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This study is adapted from ZWT, May 15, 1912, beginning on page 167, Reprints 5032.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Septuagint Quotes in the New Testament

It is many times assumed that the first century Christians used the Septuagint (often referred to as LXX), and that the New Testament writers often quoted from the Septuagint; others claim that the Septuagint, as we know it, did not exist until after Christians had edited earlier Greek manuscripts to produce what we today know as the Septuagint. Thus, some claim that the LXX, in effect, quotes the New Testament writers, not the other way around.

Very few quotes of the Old Testament in the NT are “direct quotes,” but are what would today call “indirect quotes.” Likewise, many quotes of the Old Testament in the New Testament are not worded exactly as we find them in the Septuagint. At any rate, the evidence that first century Christians used the Septuagint, or that the New Testament writers  quoted from the Septuagint, is not as strong as many assume, and there are many Bible scholars that do not agree with the assumption that the New Testament writers quoted the Septuagint. We present below links to various authors; some of these authors promote other ideas, however, that we cannot agree to, especially the King James Version only arguments.


http://www.scionofzion.com/septuagint.htm
http://www.chick.com/ask/articles/septuagint.asp
http://www.avpublications.com/avnew/downloads/PDF/q10.pdf
http://www.kjvtoday.com/home/reliable-hebrew-text/did-jesus-quote-luke-418-19-in-the-septuagint

Nevertheless, there are some Greek Old Testament manuscript fragments from the first and second centuries BC of what many consider to be earlier versions of the Septuagint, or at least forerunners of the LXX. What many do not realize is that scholars often present their theories as being fact, and likewise, the theory that these manuscript fragments are from the LXX is stated as though fact, while actually we do not know if these fragments were originally from an earlier version of the LXX or not.

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1998-September/002015.html.

Some claim that since, according to their theory, Jesus and the apostles quoted from the LXX, and that since in the LXX, the Holy Name has been changed to other words, that Jesus' usage of the LXX shows that the approved of changing the Holy Name. However, many of the OT Greek fragments do NOT change the Holy Name to other words, and if those fragments are from an earlier version of the LXX, and IF Jesus did quote from the LXX, he would still have had the Holy Name there, and thus such an argument cannot be substantiated by the fragments we have.

See our site:
The Holy Name of God


Regardless, we cannot conclude that the New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint. More than likely they did not. It seems probable that often the Old Testament quotes in the New Testament were not “direct” quotes, as we are used to in our modern English, but were indirect, paraphrased quotes or quotes adapted to the context. Thus, we tend to partly agree with the theory that when Christians later edited the “Septuagint” into what we have today as the “Septuagint”, they often brought these quotes from the New Testament into the Septuagint, which many have assumed to have been quotes from the Septuagint. In other words, more than likely the Septuagint editors simply adopted quotes from the New Testament texts that they had, which would mean that the New Testament writers would not have been quoting the Septuagint, but rather that the Septuagint (as we have it) is quoting the New Testament writers.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

1 Corinthians 1:20-31 – Boasting in Jehovah


{Jeremiah 9:23, RLIV} Thus says Jehovah, “Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches;

{Jeremiah 9:24, RLIV} but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am Jehovah who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight,” says Jehovah.

{1 Corinthians 1:20, RLIV} Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

{1 Corinthians 1:31, RLIV} that, according as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.”
THINGS highly esteemed among men are wisdom, power and riches. But the world in general does not seek the wisdom that comes down from above, nor the power of godliness, nor the true heavenly riches that moth cannot destroy nor rust corrupt. (Luke 12:33) Most of mankind have not learned the value of these, and therefore they ‘spend their strength for vanity’ (Isaiah 49:4), and they “labor for that which does not satisfy.” (Isaiah 55:2) “The reverence of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom” (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7); the faith that lays hold upon the might of Jehovah is the beginning of power (Psalm 68:35; Ephesians 6:10); and the poverty that freely surrenders all things to the will and service of God is the beginning of true riches. (Proverbs 10:22; 13:7; 22:4; Ephesians 1:7,8,18; 2:7) Wisdom of the world, which does not have its foundation in the reverence of Jehovah, tends to self-exaltation and pride (Ecclesiastes 8:1; Isaiah 47:10; Mark 7:20-23; 1 John 2:16; 1 Corinthians 3:19; 8:1,2; James 3:14,15): power in the hands of the ungodly tends to haughtiness and overbearing selfishness (Proverbs 30:12-14; Ecclesiastes 4:1-4; 5:8) and riches, among those who have not learned from God the responsibilities of stewardship, tend only to dwarf the soul, rendering it impervious to the noble sentiments of love and brotherly kindness. — Proverbs 28:20,22; Ecclesiastes 5:10-12; 1 Timothy 6:9,10.



(2) The man who, by dint of labor and strife, succeeds in a measure in gaining one or all of these earthly prizes generally considers himself a wise man; for he does not realize how transient are the treasures, how unsatisfactory they will prove in the end, what snares are in them, nor how great is the value of the heavenly treasure which he has missed while grasping after fleeting earthly things. — Matthew 13:22.




(3) Most people in the world have never known the treasures of divine grace these earthly things are of paramount importance; but to the child of God, if possessed, the things of this world only increase the responsibilities of his stewardship, for they are not his, but Jehovah’s, all being included in his consecration. (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27; 1 Timothy 6:17-19) Whatever, therefore, a Christian has of human learning — education — must be held in subservience to the wisdom of God. No human theories or philosophies that conflict with the Word of God may be entertained. The Word of Jehovah as revealed in the Bible must be the end of all controversy when human reasonings come in conflict with divine wisdom, for the wisdom of this world that arrays itself in opposition to the heavenly wisdom is “foolishness with God,” and by and by will be brought to most ignominious humiliation. (1 Corinthians 1:19; 3:19; Isaiah 29:14) We believe that we are now in the foretold "time of trouble" (Daniel 12:1), and while mankind lifts its puny arm in defiance of Jehovah’s power, once mankind learns the folly of human rulership, all the transient things of this world will be remoeved (Hebrews 12:7), and the hoarded riches will offer no reward in the day of wrath. — Proverbs 6:15; 11:4; 29:1.




(4) What folly is it then — especially for any one who has been enlightened by the truth regarding God's divine plan for man, and made a child and heir of God — to forget the importance and value of the unseen heavenly treasure and turn to minding earthly things. For any to glory in such a course is to glory in their shame and folly. But let it not be so with the one who loves God: “He who glories, let him glory in Jehovah.” (1 Corinthians 1:31, New King James Version) “Let him who glories glory in this,” says Jehovah, “that he has understanding, and knows me.” (Jeremiah 9:24) “And this is life eternal,” said Jesus, “that they should know you you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” — John 17:3.




(5) This is the wisdom that comes down from above. (James 3:17) The beginning of this wisdom is indeed the reverence of Jehovah, the only true God. Nor can we grow in this wisdom except by continued growth in the reverence of Jehovah. If to any degree we cease to reverence supremely Jehovah’s words, or if we cease to cultivate his acquaintance through our privilege of communion and fellowship with him in prayer, in the study of his Word, meditation upon his glorious character and teachings, and in obedience to his will, to the extent of our neglect we fail to realize the blessings of that wisdom that comes down from above.




(6) But if, in the use of these privileges, we open our hearts to receive all that divine grace has in store for us, then, indeed, we may glory in Jehovah. Let such a one “glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me.” (Jeremiah 9:24) To thus know Jehovah is not merely to know of him, to know something of his works and ways, but it is to know him by that intimate fellowship and communion which, by a living faith, seals the testimonies of his Word upon our hearts and makes us to realize that they are ours personally, that Jehovah himself is our personal friend and helper and counselor and guide. Through His Son, we thus become acquainted with his spirit, his principles and methods of action, — we understand him, — we learn how to interpret his providences, to mark his leadings, to observe his attitude toward us and thus daily to walk with him. Thus also we are led to a fuller appreciation of Jehovah’s righteousness and of his loving kindness, which will in due time through his Son, Jesus, establish justice in all the earth. (Psalm 33:5; Isaiah 42:4) Well, indeed, may we glory in Jehovah and in the fact of his great condescension to us personally, as we thus increase in our understanding and know him better each day.




(7) In this blessed sense of the divine love and care, we may say in the words of the Psalmist, “My soul shall boast in Jehovah. The humble shall hear of it, and be glad. Oh magnify Jehovah with me. Let us exalt his name together. I sought Jehovah, and he answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to him, and were radiant. Their faces shall never be covered with shame. This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of Jehovah encamps round about those who fear him, And delivers them. Oh taste and see that Jehovah is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Oh fear [reverence] Jehovah, you his saints, For there is no lack with those who fear [reverence] him.” — Psalm 34:1-9.




(8) How precious is this experience of the child of God! but it can never be the experience of a proud heart; “for God resists the proud, and gives grace [his favor] to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5,6.) It is hard for those who are rich in the wisdom or power or wealth of this world to do this. (Matthew 19:24-26.) It was hard for the scribes and Pharisees who were rich in titles and honors and praise of men (Matthew 6:5; 23:6; 12:38; Mark 12:38,39; Luke 11:43); it was hard for the whole Jewish nation who were proud of being the seed of Abraham to whom pertained the promises of God (John 8:33); it was hard for the Greeks who were proud of their worldly wisdom and intellectual attainments (1 Corinthians 1:22,23); it was hard for the Romans who were proud of their power and prestige among the nations. And it is hard today for all those who have pride in any thing. (Psalm 10:3,4) It is hard for all religionists whose pride in the sectarian religious systems of Christendom blinds their eyes to so much that is in the Bible; it is hard also for those who boast in human philosophies and science, falsely so called (Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:20); who are proud of being inventors of something new and strange, and who desire to be thought great and to lead men after them; it is hard for all those who reverence the opinions of men more than the words of Jehovah. All those who either are rich or desire to be rich in the things of this present life, and specially those who are “rich” in a good opinion of themselves, or in self will, find it hard to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. Indeed, the apostle intimates that the greatest battle of each one coming to a knowledge of the truth is along this line; for it is after pointing to the severe humiliation of our Lord Jesus that he says, “So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation [in like manner] with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you [by this severe discipline, this humbling process] both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” — Philippians 2:12,13.




(9) Those who have endeavored in all sincerity to do so have always found the grace of God sufficient for them; but very few are ever disposed to make the attempt. To all the worldly-wise the preaching of Christ’s death and its purpose is foolishness, and they have no disposition to take up their stakes daily and follow Christ.




(10) It is for this reason that “not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble,” are called to share with the Lord in the glory of his Kingdom. They are generally so engrossed with the things of the present life –its pursuits, its cares, its pleasures, etc. — that they have no ear for the Lord’s call. They are not humble enough even to hear the call; much less are they humble enough to obey it and to walk the narrow way of self-sacrifice in which the Lord Jesus leads.




(11) “But God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) How truly the wise are being confounded today by the power of the truth in the hands of the humblest of God’s consecrated children! Systems of error which are the growth of centuries are put to confusion and are tottering before it, and the sages of all the sects are troubled by it; for it is becoming more and more apparent to all men that “the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” — Isaiah 29:14.




(12) Why has God chosen these weak, inferior instruments for his great work? why does he not employ the eloquent tongues, the pens of ready writers, and the prestige of great names? Paul tells us why. It is in order “no flesh should boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:29) The great work of vanquishing sin and establishing righteousness in the earth is the work of Jehovah being accomplished through Jesus: no human power is adequate to the emergencies of the case. Yet God is pleased to allow his power to operate through any human instrument that is meet for his use — that is, that can be used without injury to itself. If God were to work his wonders through those whose hearts are inclined to pride, that pride would grow, and would arrogate to self the glory that belongs to God, instead of appreciating the honor of being a servant of God, an instrument in his mighty hand — “for the Master’s use made meet.” — Hymns of Dawn 229




(13) God’s use of even the weakest instruments, of those having even a very small measure of talent for his service, sometimes proves an exaltation too great, and that which was a blessing becomes a curse through pride and vain-glory. Such is the perversity of human nature, and such the subtlety of the Adversary in gaining the advantage, that the very texts above cited sometimes become a stumbling-block to many who are not only poor financially, but who are deficient in intellect and education, and who even lack instruction in the divine Word. They forget that the Lord said, “Blessed are you poor”, that is, those who were poor (or became so) as his disciples. (Luke 6:20); or, as Matthew 5:3 records it, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” And they forget that the ignorant as well as the learned, the poor as well as the rich, can become “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” (Colossians 2:18) It is sad to see “a man [who] thinks himself to be something when he is nothing” (Galatians 6:3), thus deceiving himself, — but specially so, when even the rudiments of education and Christlikeness are lacking. (Hebrews 5:12) We believe that modesty and simplicity are traits to be cultivated by rich and poor alike, who are blessed with a knowledge of the truth, and that any ‘confounding of the mighty’ (1 Corinthians 1:27) should be done kindly and in meekness (Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:25), and not in a combative spirit or with a show of gratification over their defeat.




(14) In relation to our topic, above almost every thing else, therefore, beloved, let us guard well our humility. It is only when we are little in our own eyes that God can use us with safety to ourselves. And yet he does not shield us from every test of fidelity. If therefore Jehovah gives you a little exaltation today, a little encouragement of success in his service, receive it humbly, meekly remembering your own unworthiness and insufficiency except as God is pleased to work through you; and be just as ready to receive the humiliations of tomorrow as necessary for your discipline and the proper balancing of your character. If the success of yesterday makes you fret under the humiliation of today, then beware: you are not as roundly developed spiritually as you should be. Whatever may be the triumphs of the truth through us, let us always remember that we are among “the things that are not.” (1 Corinthians 1:28) Let us endeavor therefore to make the Apostle Paul’s experience our own, who said, — “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all [these] things through Christ, who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:11-13.




(15) In God’s dealings with his people at all times we can see his care in guarding them against pride and self-sufficiency. If he would choose Israel to be his peculiar people, he permits them first to be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years (Acts 7:6), and then with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm he gathers them to the promised land, but even then, not before allowing them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Moses, too, the chosen deliverer, was of humble birth. He was slow of speech, and needed Aaron to supplement this weakness. And Paul had his “thorn in the flesh,” from which Jehovah was not pleased to deliver him, though three times he asked Jehovah to remove it; and Jehovah said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (Holman Christian Standard Bible translation), that is, the power of God in Christ, operating through this imperfect earthen vessel, will be more manifest to men than if the vessel itself were a perfect and polished one. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) In that case men might ascribe the greatness of the work to the talent of Paul, and by and by conclude that since Paul is only a man it is only presumption for him to assume to teach other men, etc. But if the power is seen to be of God, and merely working through Paul as a ready instrument — meek, willing and energetic — then the testimony of the grace of God will be weighty with them: and so it was].




(16) To this explanation and assurance from God Paul meekly replied, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:8,9.




(17) Jehovah with unerring wisdom has always chosen the meek for every great work. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth. (Numbers 12:3) Meekness was a marked characteristic of all the prophets and ancient worthies. The Lord Jesus was meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29), who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. (2 Corinthians 8:9) He was of humble birth, born in a manger and reared in the despised town of Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene. The twelve apostles were mostly plain men, most of them were fishermen; and so also the whole Gospel Church — not the church nominal, but the true ones written in heaven — have generally been the poor of this world, who were willing to be humbled yet more and more, that the power of Christ might be manifested through them.




(18) Let every one therefore humble himself under the mighty hand of God. This is not the time for exaltation, but for humiliation and trial. The exaltation will come in due time to the faithful. Let our present glory be in that we understand and know Jehovah and His Son, and in that our Lord condescends to make use of these poor earthen vessels in his service, that it may be manifest to all men that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of men. — 2 Corinthians 4:7.




Paragraphs are numbered to aid group study, as well as for reference purposes. This lesson may be freely reproduced for non-profit purposes.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jude and the Book of Enoch

In the epistle of Jude we find the following statement:

Jude 1:14 To these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, [Jehovah] came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Jude 1:15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

According to many, this is a direct quote from the “Book of Enoch”, and from this many argue that we should accept the entire “Book of Enoch” as part of the Bible “canon”. Thus, it is claimed that the “Book of Enoch” is one of the so-called “Lost Books of the Bible”. But is this really true? Is the “Book of Enoch”, overall, inspired of God, or is it a spurious book of Jewish fables that does not belong as part of God’s Word?

We do find in the “Book of Enoch” the statement: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (1 Enoch 1:9) This is almost the same that we read in to Jude 1:14,15. Evidently, at least this part of the Book of Enoch contains the true words of Enoch; it does not follow that the entire Book of Enoch, as we have it, is true.

The Ethiopic Book of Enoch (also referred to as Enoch I), as we have it, was probably assembled in its present form after Jude wrote his letter. Evidently, much of this book reflects later apostate Jewish teachings adopted and adapted from Hellenistic mythology, and not the Bible. Obviously, the Book of Enoch was not written by the real Enoch who lived and died before the flood. The book tells of Enoch’s allegedly speaking with God and angels, and of events related to the days of Noah and the flood, etc. Evidently, the writer of the book allegedly received these messages from Enoch, who, according to this tradition, instead of being actually dead, was taken by God to heaven (the scriptures never say anything about Enoch going to heaven.). In reality, — God took Enoch, translated him into the realm of death without his seeing, experiencing, the process of dying (Hebrews 11:5,13) — and, thus having died (Hebrews 11:13), he was not able to say anything to anyone.** (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Therefore, Enoch could not have possibly revealed to anyone anything from the oblivious realm of death in which condition one cannot praise or give thanks to Yahweh. (Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18) Rather than seeking messages from the dead, we should go to the Law (The Old Testament) and the Testimony (of the New Testament), that which God has revealed through his holy spirit. (Isaiah 8:19,20; see also Leviticus 20:6; 1 Chronicles 10:13) While Jude was evidently quoting Enoch from some source, it does not follow that he necessarily quoted from the “Book of Enoch” as we now have it.
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* See:

The “Book of Enoch” appears to have been written by different authors, possibly from the time period extending from about 168 BC to about 200 AD. It is an assembled collection of extravagant, unhistorical, Hellenistic-Jewish mythology, evidently the product of exegetical elaborations on the brief Genesis reference to Enoch. Neither Enoch nor Raphael are said to come in the name of Yahweh, or to speak for Yahweh, which leads me to think that if there was a revelation from some spirits, that these spirits were actually demons appearing as “angels of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14,15), and not the loyal angels of God. If one should do a search on the internet, one can see that this book has great appeal to occultists, angel-worshipers, witches, etc.

Nevertheless, much of the “Book of Enoch” repeats, although often with different words, much of the prophecies given by various prophets in the Bible. Of course, many non-canonical books do this same thing.

Evidently, the words recorded in 1 Enoch 1:9 are Enoch’s words, and indeed could have come from some ancient writings of Enoch that we no longer have. Jude could have quoted from that same source. Or it could be that the author of the earlier part of the Book of Enoch, believed by some to have been written, or at least assembled into its present form, toward the end of or after the first century AD, in making a collection of sayings traditionally attributed to Enoch, simply quoted from Jude.

Furthermore, the Book of Enoch contains much that gives evidence of Hellenistic mythological influence, such as the description of Hades. Except for Jesus’ parabolic parody of the Pharisees (these Pharisees evidently had adapted the Hellenistic philosophy concerning hades), there is nothing in the Bible that speaks of sheol/hades in the terms described in the Book of Enoch. This description directly contradicts the Bible’s description of Sheol/Hades in Ecclesiastes 9:10, and elsewhere.
See the studies:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Understanding Kingdom Mysteries

(1) Many do not realize that within God's Plan for humanity there is good news for every man, woman and child upon the face of this earth! The word often used in popular translations to describe the message of Jesus is "Gospel," which means "Good News." And what Good News an understanding of God's Plan brings! Those that are entangled in drugs, alcohol, and crime can certainly use the good news that God loves them, and that his Son died for them. (Romans 5:8) He promises that even those who have erred in spirit will be given opportunity to come to understanding, and even those who murmur will learn doctrine. (Isaiah 29:24) Isn't this good news?

No More Sickness!

(2) None of us can say that we have never been sick at all. Some have suffered more from sickness than others; some of us have chronic illnesses from birth until death. Is there any good news in God's Plan that can give them hope? Surely the One who made man is not unaware of his creatures' plight. He knows the suffering, the pain, the hurt, and the death of everyone of his creatures, not only of man, but even of the animals. (Matthew 6:26) He hears the cries of those who suffer and he will bring them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:26-30) Yes, our Creator is very much interested in the suffering of mankind!

(3) The promises of our Creator tell of a time when there will be no more mourning, nor crying, nor pain. And what a beautiful place this earth will be then! Even death, which has caused so much sorrow and pain, will be done away with! "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4) Scientists do not even hope to fulfill such a prophecy! But God can bring about these conditions upon the earth! He has promised to do so. Isn't this really what all mankind wants? Nobody really wants to die. True, there are some who prefer death to the extreme suffering they may have encountered in this present evil age. (Galatians 1:4) Should life be enjoyable for them right here on the earth, they would not want to die. What good news the Bible has for any who have become disillusioned with life's present ills!

The World Does Not Understand!

(4) But alas! the world does not know or understand about the good news of God's Plan! Indeed, the popular forms of Christianity believe in a good news that falls far short of the truth! The prevalent idea of the good news would have us believe that Christians are God's instruments, amidst earth's present turmoil and confusion, to lead as many as possible to Christ in order that they may not suffer an eternity in some horrible place. This kind of good news has been preached for many centuries. Still millions of earth's population have died, and there are still those now living who probably will die, without not even hearing the name of Jesus, and without knowing of his saving power! Less than a hundred years ago, it was still popular to believe that the nominal church would convert the world to Christ! Every now and then we still hear some misguided minister urge his flock to save the world for "Jesus"! Billions of dollars have been spent trying to convert the world, or at least as many as possible of the world. But is this what the true Good news is about? Did Jesus commission his followers to "save the world"? Is God trying to convert the world? Is God trying to convert as many as possible of the world? Are we to think that millions, perhaps even billions of God's human creation are on the road to some eternal doom without even hearing the `only name given whereby we must be saved?' -- Acts 4:12.

Darkness Now Covers the World

(5) Often we read of the great works being accomplished by missionaries of the popular churches in foreign lands. Are the churches accomplishing what they consider to be their mission? Actually, when we look at the statistics, the percentage of those professing Christ hasn't changed that much over the past century, despite the billions being spent on world evangelization. Most will admit that there is much darkness in many part of the world. Most will agree that almost total darkness enshrouds hundreds of millions of men and women -- people who were born in darkness, who have lived constantly in that darkness, and who every day are dying in darkness. According to the popular idea of the Gospel (Good News), these are doomed to spend an eternity of conscious indescribable suffering unless they can be reached with this Good News. Can this really be the "good news" for all mankind -- that the vast majority are to spend an eternity in indescribable suffering, whatever that means?

(6) Yes, It is true that the world is lying in darkness. And it is probably more dark than most Christians realize. According to adherents.com, in 2005 there were about 2.1 billion who claimed Christianity, which includes Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, Monophsite, AICs, Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Evangelical, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Quakers, and others. This represents about 33% of the world's population. Approximately 1.3 billion (21% of the world's population) are numbered for the "Islam" religion, including all of its sects. Judaism is numbered at approximately 14 million (.22% of world's population). The heathen religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, make up approximately 30% of the world's population, while athiests, agnostics, etc., make up about 16% of the world's population. It is not important whether these figures are 100% accurate. The fact is that at least about 67% of the world's population does not profess Christianity. And according to many who preach in the name of Christ, all those who are dying without Christ are sure to spend an eternity in horrible pain, every day, every night, every hour, every second, every nanosecond, without any let up at all!

(7) This is truly a sad picture. Some may think that this picture is too dark and overdrawn. However, we think just the opposite. The figures we have given probably show popular Christianity in its brightest colors possible. Many of the major denominations count almost any who walk through the doors of their churches, including infants. In many cases, some are counted as "Christian" who are still practicing Buddhism, Hinduism, Voodooism, or other pagan religions. Almost all must agree that just professing to be "Christian" does not make one a real Disciple of Jesus. Of the two billion or so professing Christians, only a small fraction could be counted as genuine disciples who "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." (Jude 3) Thus, even many more who are falsely professing to Christian, according many who preach in the name of Christ, will also suffer the same fate of an eternity of horrid misery!

(8) And yet there is a darker picture: the billions who have died and are not represented above. In mankind's history, there have been countless millions that have lived and died without ever hearing any message at all about Jesus. According to the view often presented in the name of Christ, these millions are now suffering unimaginable torments for eternity in a fiery hell. What an awful picture!
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See our online studies regarding the bible hell and the resurrection hope:
http://bible-hope.blogspot.com/2017/01/on-this-site.html

(9) As already pointed out, from the standpoint of what has been traditionally presented as the "gospel," earth's present billions who are ignorant of the only name under heaven by which we must be saved, are also sure of the same doom unless, according to this theory, they can be evangelized into accepting Jesus as their savior. G. Christian Weiss, states in his book, God's Plan -- Man's Need -- Our Mission, (Copyright 1971, The Good News Broadcasting Association, Inc., page 135) tells us: "We need to realize not only that men apart from Christ are separated from God but also that they face eternal perdition. Their present status of being lost in spiritual darkness and of being separated from God will become an eternal plight unless they come to know their Saviour, Christ Jesus....Because of this, I feel we can leave no stone unturned in the endeavor to get the message of Jesus Christ to the world." According to this often-accepted view of the good news, the good news is actually bad tidings that every man, woman and child that has lived and died upon this earth, without ever hearing about Jesus, is now suffering "eternal perdition." Those who believe this "good news"(?) of great eternal misery for the vast majority of mankind should be very zealous in forwarding missionary enterprises -- the wonder is that they are not frenzied by it!

(10) We must remind you that this gloomy picture as presented above represents what many have taught, in the name of Christ, by tradition. However, when we look to the Word of God, the Holy Bible, we find that God's great plan of salvation was never intended to be, or ever will be such a failure. The prophet Isaiah foretold the very darkness that has spread over the nations of the earth, but he also foretells its remedy. "Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations will come to your light." (Isaiah 60:2,3) How happy we can be that God will not leave the nations of the earth in darkness! He has promised that they will come to his light.

(11) The religious world of today finds itself with hundreds, even thousands, of religious philosophies each professing to represent a divine being or beings. From the popular Christian standpoint, almost 75% of the world is "heathen", that is, nonbelievers in Christ. Over half of the world still knows practically nothing about Jesus. Popular Christianity has been puzzled at the continued misery and darkness of the world, and the slow progress of truth. Neither the world nor the Church is able to stop the growing crime rate, the food shortages, the sexual sins, and the many other ills that plague mankind, even though they might consider it their mission to do so. Many of their missionaries often give up in despair, not realizing that they have been trying to accomplish something which God never intended to be accomplished at the present time.

(12) But why does God permit such a great portion of the earth to remain in darkness? Why is the Bible, to a large degree, a book of parables, symbolisms and dark sayings? Why is it not completely open and clear so that everyone, everywhere would be able to understand it? Why is it that even Doctors of Divinity find its details perplexing, mysterious, incomprehensible? What excuse can be offered for the secrecy connected with a subject in which all should be interested? The answer to these questions are discussed in our next study and will open doors of truth, to a proper appreciation of the Bible as the Word of God.

Why Is the Bible So Mysterious?

(13) We should note that the Bible does declare itself to be a book of mysteries, or secrets. The four gospels of the Christian Scriptures (commonly called New Testament) are supposed by many to be the simplest and plainest portion of the Bible. They tell about the deeds and words of Jesus Messiah while he was on this earth. However, in harmony with the prophecies, the Great Teacher himself delivered his message in parables and dark sayings. "He never spoke to the people without using a parable," that "Hearing they might hear and not understand; and seeing, they might see and not perceive." (Matthew 13:14) There are many mysteries or secrets connected with the Bible. We have not reached the time when absolutely everything can be understood in the Bible, not even by the true servants of God. No one on earth today can grasp absolutely everything about the Bible. The conditions of Isaiah 29:18,24 have not yet come. But the Bible does say that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). We have not yet attained that perfect day.

"Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." -- Matthew 13:13

(14) Someone might say that Jesus spoke in parables or illustrations so that the people might understand better, but this is not the reason Jesus himself gave. The followers of Jesus once asked him why he spoke to the people in parables. In giving his answer he said: "Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matthew 13:13) Jesus then quoted from Isaiah 6:9,10, which we will quote from the Jerusalem Bible: "Go and say to this people, `Hear and hear again, but do not understand; see and see again, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people gross, its ears dull; shut its eyes, so that it will not see with its eyes, hear with its ears, understand with its heart, and be converted and healed." Then Jesus said to his followers: "But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!" (Matthew 13:16, JB) In Mark 4:11,12, Jesus' answer to his disciples is very clear: "Unto you it is given to know the mystery [secret] of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand." If this explanation is to make any sense at all, we must conclude that he was saying that he spoke in parables to keep the multitudes of people from understanding his message, while a few, his true followers, were permitted to understand.

"This is good, and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the witness of which will be in due time." -- 1 Timothy 2:5-6

(15) This, of course, must be the way that God has intended for it to be. But why? Because God knows, even as he promised, that eventually 'all will be saved, and come the knowledge of the truth.' (1 Timothy 2:4) He knows that the time will come when "the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness" and that those "who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmured will learn doctrine." (Isaiah 29:18,24 -- New King James Version, hereafter referred to as NKJV) Yes, the time will come when he will "turn to the peoples a pure language" that they may all call upon him with one consent. -- Zephaniah. 3:9.

"For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all." -- Romans 11:32.

(16) Thousands may read the Bible but fail to understand it's deeper meanings. God is keeping its truths secret from the people at the present time, not because he does not love them, but because he does love them. Under the present conditions the truth would be injurious to the majority of people. This is because of the sinful nature of mankind as shown in Isaiah 29. But God still loves them, and whom he loves he disciplines. (John 3:16; Hebrews 12:6) So God has "shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all." (Romans 11:32) How well the true believer today may exclaim: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" -- Romans. 11:33.

(17) There are many scriptures that speak of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible. The apostle Paul refers to its tidings as the message "which was a hidden mystery for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints [dedicated ones]." (Colossians 1:26, JB) At this point we want to emphasis that the Good News of the Bible was not made known to the world at large, but only to his "saints". Jesus also, when speaking to his Father in prayer, said: "I bless you, Father, Ruler of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do." (Matthew 11:25-26, JB) Often those that are well spoken of and respected by men are passed by, while those who may be considered by men in general as outwardly despicable people may be chosen to receive His secrets. -- 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

(18) Proceeding the apostle Paul shows us the necessity for this secretiveness as respects the true message of Good News. He shows that if it were generally known amongst men, the Divine program would at times be interfered with. He tells us that none of the princes or prominent ones of the world understood the wisdom of God -- for had they known it, they would not have put Jesus to death. As he explains: "But as it is written [in Isaiah 64:4]: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit .... We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." -- 1 Corinthians 2:8-13.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Jehovah. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -- Isaiah 55:8,9.

(19) But isn't God interested in converting the world? Doesn't he want to save as many as possible? And if he is, why didn't he make the Bible so that everyone could easily obtain and understand it? The God who created the Universe is thoughtful of all the interests of his people. All their needs have been supplied as far as He has seen good. He made food for the nourishment of our bodies, and beautiful things for our eyes to see, and sweet sounds for our ears. If he would provide these for us, would he not also provide things for our minds concerning the future?

(20) If we had been living before God gave His people a Bible, and He had told us that He would give man His revelation in a book, we would have looked forward to it eagerly, and with pleasant anticipation, and we would wonder what kind of book it would be. A man who writes a book generally tries to make his subject as plain as possible, so that his meaning can be easily understood. Likewise some might conclude that if God should provide a book, He would make it so plain that none could fail to understand. We might expect that it would be so wonderful, that it could not be written by man, but by angels; that he would put a bright shining light around it, so all would know that it was His book; that it would have a miraculous power which would heal the sick; and if anyone should say anything against it, he would drop dead instantly; and that all might be born with this wonderful book, and be able to understand it. But when we read scriptures such as Isaiah 55:8-11, we answer: "NO! God thinks differently from man." Therefore, God has given us a Bible, and a message, very different from what man might expect. Instead of angels writing it, poor imperfect men wrote it. There is no bright shining physical light gleaming from it. No one drops dead talking against it. There are millions on earth today that still do not even know that there is a Bible, much less be born with it or understand it. Yes, God could have made the Bible so plain that one could not get more than one meaning from it. How easily we might think that the world could be converted if such were the case. But God knows better than we, and therefore the Bible that we have is the best kind of Bible, better for us than the miraculous kind would have been.

(21) However, it is a mistake to suppose that God is not interested in converting the world. (Psalm 22:27; 150:6; Romans 14:11) He is more interested in it than any human could possibly be. Why then did He not give us a simple Bible? The reason for its obscurity must be that men have failed to understand the heavenly Father's design and purpose for the present world. We have already given evidence that He confirmed that there would be much misconception and misunderstanding of Him and His purpose. But once we understand God's purposes, then we can answer the question.

God Is Not Now Trying
to Convert the World

(22) We must get rid of the misconceived idea that God is NOW trying to convert the world, or that he is NOW trying to save as many as possible from some eternal doom, as most religious people suppose. If God were trying to convert as many as possible of the world to save them from some eternal doom, would he have not been anxious for his disciples to go to all peoples? Instead he told his disciples NOT to go to the Gentiles. (Matthew 10:5) Jesus was not here being cruel, but he knew of His Father's purposes to enlighten the whole world at a future date. We know that God is not now trying to convert the world, because the world is not converted -- far from it! God accomplishes everything he purposes to do. (Isaiah. 55:10,11) If it were God's purpose to convert the world NOW, then the Good News failed -- it did not accomplish its work. But God has not been trying to convert the world. He does not have to try, because He is omnipotent (John 12:37-40). If people of the world had understood the true Bible message, they would have believed, but that was NOT God's purpose (Matthew 13:10-17; 11:23; 10:5,6; Acts 16:6,7; 1 Peter 1:10-12). God did NOT intend that they should NEVER be converted, because he has promised a time to come when they will be converted, but this has not yet begun, nor will it be accomplished as long as this present evil world continues (2 Timothy 3:1,2; 2 Peter 3:3,4; Matthew 24:37; Isaiah 6:9-11; Dan. 12:1; Zephaniah 3:8-13). The Bible tells us that in "the time of the end" of this world there will be a "time of trouble". This will mean great distress and sorrow for the world of mankind. But this does not mean the destruction of this planet, for the promise is that the earth will blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1,2; Genesis 8:21,22; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:17,18; Genesis 13:15; 15:18; Acts 7:4,5) The present order of things will be destroyed, and a new order of things will be established. God's Word will continue to be misunderstood until this age (this present evil world) is over. (Zephaniah 3:8,9) Then the darkness surrounding the true Good News will be removed (Isaiah. 25:7; Haggai 2:7). God has purposed the conversion of the world, but not during the past 2000 years. The reason why the Good News is kept secret is that his plans might be hidden from all but the truly meek and lowly at heart who respond to his call, until the due time for all to know. Our Lord was glad that these things were hidden, and thought it right for the Heavenly Father to keep them hidden from the worldly. -- Matthew 11:25,26.

A Bright Future for the World!

(23) In Isaiah 29:11 it is declared prophetically that the vision of all things (Lesser) is become as the words of a sealed book. Men have turned things upside down, as was foretold (vs. 16). The world needs to be enlightened! Will the world be enlightened by missionaries being sent out in this present evil world? The facts indicate that it will never happen this way. The day in which the world will be enlightened is called in the Bible the "judgment day". It is not a 24-hour day, but as shown in 2 Peter 3:7,8, it is a 1000 year day. During that judgment day the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. -- Isaiah 26:9.
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See our study: "Mankind's Course to the Day of Judgment"
http://prophecy-rlbible.blogspot.com/2016/11/course.html

(24) What now stands in the way of the enlightenment of world? -1- Satan the Devil puts evil thoughts and desires into men's minds and hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) Hence, if the world is to be enlightened, Satan must be removed that he might not use his power to mislead people. (Revelation 20:2,3) -2- Imperfect missionaries now lack the power and means to accomplish the work. Worldly governments interfere. It will not be so in that Millennial day, for the entire world will then be under the control of Jesus and his authorized agents. (Daniel 2:35,44; Isaiah 11:9; Psalm 72:2-8) -3- Suitably trained teachers must be chosen. Men have thought that they could chose and train them, but only God can do that, and instead of a three or four years' training, it takes all of a dedicated lifetime (Romans 8:18,19; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 26:9). -4- Ignorance, darkness, confusion prevail now, and there are many confusing, contradictory, false religious teachings; but in that day the knowledge of God will fill the whole earth, and all will know him. (Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34) The Good News message contained in the Bible will come out of its obscurity as its message is made plain (2 Corinthians. 4:4; 1 Corinthians. 11:13-15). Will God give mankind a new Bible? We do not think so. However, provisions will be made so that its books will be opened and all will be judged by the things written in those books (Revelation 20:12,13; Isaiah 29:18; John 12:46-48). God will remove the vail that is spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3). The way will then be made so plain that even a foolish man will not err therein (Isaiah 35:8). Now the Good news message is so obscure that even the wise men stumble at it (John 6:60,61). Yes, the day of judgment is coming, when Jesus will judge everyone in righteousness, and the books that now appear to be obscure will be opened and will be understood. -- Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12; Isaiah 29:18.

(25) But what about those who have died -- especially those who have died without ever hearing of Jesus (Jesus)? How will they benefit from this enlightenment if they are dead? God has promised that he will awaken all of these from the sleep of death. "Marvel not at this, for an hour is coming, in which all those in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have practiced good to a resurrection of life; and they that did evil, to a resurrection of judgment [Greek -- krisis]." (John 5:28,29 -- King James II Version). Jesus is the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world (John 1:9). The light will enter their hearts also (1 Timothy 1:4). Jesus speaks of those who did not believe in his day, that they would be saved, so as to be judged anew in the last day. (John 12:47,48) God wills all men to be saved [delivered from death], and to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) The salvation spoken of here is not salvation into life for all eternity, but rather salvation [deliverance] from the death state. Having arisen from the dead, they are then taught the truth that they might live and never die again. -- 1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8.

(26) Someone may ask, "Does the Bible declare that everyone will live forever?" We answer: "No." (Psalm 18:44; 66:3) As soon as they understand about God and his purposes, many will obey him, but will still not develop the right heart attitude. With some, as they see the goodness of God and happiness righteousness brings, this feigned obedience will change to meekness and heart obedience. But others will refuse to obey at heart. "Show favor to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, in the land of uprightness will he deal falsely." (Isaiah 26:10) Some will thus show that they are wicked at heart. For such there will be no excuse. There will then be no inherited weaknesses, and none will suffer for the sins of others; it will no longer be said that "the fathers have eaten the sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." -- Jeremiah 31:27-30.

Will The World
Receive A Second Chance?

(27) Will it then be a second chance? This question could be answered yes and no, for it depends on which way you are viewing matters. We must remember that our first chance to live forever was lost for us through Adam when he disobeyed in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12,15-18). The human race that descended from Adam never received an individual chance in that trial. But in the Millennial day each person will be tried individually -- and in that sense it will not be a second chance, but the FIRST real opportunity they have ever had to understand and respond to the Good news. Yet none who have had a full opportunity in this present evil world will have another one (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29). A full opportunity means one that is broad and complete, such as few have had amidst all the confusion and turmoil in this present evil world. Even in countries where the Bible is printed in abundance, children are raised with such incorrect training of mind and inclinations, and there is so much confusion as to what is and what is not right, can one honestly say that these have received any complete and absolute chance for life? Jesus said that such are not judged NOW but that they will be judged in the "last day" -- that judgment day when they will be enlightened. (John 12:47,48; Isaiah 26:9; 29:18,24) This will actually be their FIRST individual chance to live forever.

(28) There is yet another reason that the Bible message is kept secret from the world of mankind. It is only by keeping it secret from the world that the world seeks to try out all its own devices separate from God. God wants to teach man a lesson concerning the vanity of life separated from him. As the wise King Solomon said concerning all of man's own works: `Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.' (Ecclesiastes 1:2) `Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?' (Ecclesiastes 6:11,12) `What profit is there for the worker in that which he works? I have seen the travail which God has given the sons of men to be exercised by it.' (Ecclesiastes 3:9,10) Man tries to better this world in many ways. He tries one thing after another, not realizing the vanity of his efforts. All of mankind's experimentations are being permitted by God. Due to Adam's sin (Romans 5:12-19), the world has been subjected to a bondage of corruption and vanity, which is only escaped through faith in Jesus (Romans 8:20,21; Ecclesiastes 1:2,14; 2:11,17; 3:19; 9:9; 12:8; 2 Peter 1:4), and every man, born through Adam is born into the world as a child of wrath, a son of disbedience, having been born in an unjust state, crooked, from which none can make himself straight, justified, thus leaving his salvation from such a condition on through Jesus. (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14,15; 7:13; Ephesians 1:1-3) Nevertheless, God is allowing man to rule over another to his own hurt, so that they will better appreciate who Jehovah is and the righteous rule that will come. (Psalm 83:18; Ecclesiastes 8:9; Isaiah 2:1-4) It is a disciplinary process that will eternally benefit all who avail themselves of Messiah's righteous rule. While the whole world is now being subjected to this vanity by the will of God, God knows that he will bring the world of mankind out of this corruption and back into harmony with him (Romans 8:19-22). What a happy prospect for those who are now blinded by Satan's evil influence!

(29) For a proper appreciation of the true Gospel, more is required than what has been taught by man's traditions and creeds, even if they have proclaimed by men as "orthodox". Jesus said that true worshipers must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) It is not enough to say that you claim Jesus as your savior and lead what is considered a good moral life. Jesus said, "Not every one that says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess to you, `I never knew you: depart from me, you who work illegally [outside his commands].'"

(30) In Proverbs 2:3-6, we are given some guidelines for obtaining true wisdom from above: "If you cry for discernment, lifting up your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures, then you will understand the reverence of Jehovah, and find knowledge of God." See what is required? This seeking must become the most important thing in our life. Our minds must rise above everything we see, feel and touch so that we might receive the holy spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10,12) Jesus said: "True worshipers will worship in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such who worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23,24) Without this total dedication to seeking and the doing of God's will, one may understand a few bits and pieces here and there of God's word, but he will not be given the more precious things of the treasures hidden in its pages. With whole-souled dedication, we will continue to seek and understand more and more each and every day. These words of our heavenly Father become to us more precious than any earthly treasure. Praise Yah!

Walking In The Light

(31) It is a mistake to suppose that those without faith, and consequent justification, should be able to have a clear appreciable understanding of truth. An appreciation of truth is given gradually to those who are justified [declared righteous] before God. The Psalmist says: "Light [truth] is sown for the righteous." (Psalm 97:11) For each of God's people a lamp is provided whose light dispels from his pathway much of the darkness. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) Actually, there is none just, "none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10) The class referred to is "justified by faith." (Romans 5:1) This justified class is privileged to walk in the pathway that shines more and more. (Proverbs 4:18) Having this light separates them from the world of darkness around them. They see and understand things that are hidden from the world of darkness. The world cannot see or understand the true gospel with true appreciation, nor can those Christians who remain as "babes" in Christ all their lives. While it is true that the path of each individual true worshiper is a shining one, yet the special application of this statement is to the just (justified) as a class. Faithful men of old have walked in its increasing light; and the light will continue to increase beyond the present -- "to the perfect day." It is one continuous path, and the one continuous and increasing light is the greater revealment from God as His Divine Plan progresses.

(32) Nevertheless, many who believe in Christ fail to make progress in their walking in the light. They do not concern themselves with trying to understand but a few basic principles from the Bible. Because of their unfaithfulness and unconcern, they are permitted to a degree allowed to sit in darkness, when they might have been walking in the increasing light. -- 2 Peter 1:5-9.

(33) To aid us to walk in this path of light, God gives us his holy spirit. If we submit to his spirit, the spirit of dedication to what he declares to be right, then it will guide us into truth through the only channel of truth that is given, that is the Bible. The holy spirit will take the things written and show them to us from the Bible itself, although in doing some other servants of Christ may be used in teaching such truths. But be careful that you do not develop a spirit to go beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6) Satan and his demons are ever actively trying persuade the followers of Jesus to accept philosophies and imaginations that appear to be light, when it is really darkness. (Isaiah 5:20; 2 Corinthians 11:14,15; Galatians 1:8; 1 Peter 5:8) Satan will use family, friends, neighbors, state powers, as well as professed Christians, in an effort to dissuade a consecrated Christian from following the light of truth as revealed in the Bible. (Matthew 10:16-42; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4; 2 Timothy 4:3) God has revealed his truth by means of his holy spirit through the prophets in the Old Testament and through Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament. (Mark 12:36; Luke 4:11; 10:21; 24:27,44; Acts 1:16; 2:33; 10:38; 28:25; Hebrews 1:1,3; 3:7; 1 Peter 3:10-12; 2 Peter 1:21) God, by means of his holy spirit, especially led the apostles into all the truths concerning Christ and what he said. (John 14:26; 16:4-13; Acts 1:2; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:2) We who live today are not apostles through whom the truths were delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) in the first century, thus we receive the truths only as related to recorded Word of God. The truths revealed to the apostles and made available to us are recorded in the Bible (the commonly-accepted 66 books) itself. (Ephesians 3:3-12; Colossians 1:25,26; 1 John 4:6) Of course, without the holy spirit, these things that are recorded will still be a mystery to us. (Mark 4:11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10) It is the Holy Scriptures alone that are able to make us wise unto salvation, and which provide the lamp that can guide us in the path through faith which in Christ Jesus, not vain philosophies that have to be imagined, added to, and read into the Scriptures, no matter how popular, revered and cherished such philosophies might be held in the tradition of men. -- Psalm 119:105; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 1:19.

(34) Before Jesus came, the early worshipers of God knew very little about the gospel. Abraham received very vague promises about the coming blessings for all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:3; 22:18) The laws and ceremonies given to the fleshly nation of Israel only gave dim shadows concerning the wonderful good news. (Colossians 2:17) Then when Jesus came, true worshipers received a great increase in light. Until then God's people had been expecting a deliverer to come who would save the fleshly nation of Israel from its enemies and exalt them as the greatest nation on earth. When the deliverer came, however, he was so different from what most of them expected that the majority were blinded to the gospel. To them it was hidden, a secret or mystery. (Romans 11:7-10; 16:25)

The Foretold Apostasy Has Produced Strong Delusions

(35) Before Jesus died, he foretold that there would be even greater increase of light to follow. He said: "I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth...and he will show you things to come."--John 16:12,13

(36) But as Jesus foretold, it was not long before teachers arose who were teaching false doctrine. (Matthew 7:15; 24:10-12) Even before the apostles had died these false teachers had begun to deceive many. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) They had begun to teach another gospel and another Jesus other than what the apostles had taught. (Galatians 1:6,9; 5:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3,4; 2 Timothy 4:3-4) These false teachers in time corrupted the entire organization of the early church. As a result, traditions and rituals of men began to be observed, and customs from the false religions were adopted. The philosophies of the Greeks and Romans were introduced as a supplement to help understand the scriptures. As true worship became polluted with false teachings and practices, a distortion of Christianity was born, as illustrated by weeds being sown amongst the wheat. (Matthew 13:25) This popular Christianity was nothing more than the ancient pagan Roman religion with the name of Christ attached. Thus the given light was gradually hidden so that its light could not penetrate the strong delusions then prevailing. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

(37) Through the centuries, some have tried to break away from the traditions of men and return to God's word. Among these were Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Wycliffe, and Knox. These called attention to the fact that the apostate church had laid aside the word of God in favor of the decrees and traditions of men. (Matthew 15:3-20) The shining light, although present in the recorded Word itself, was not generally appreciated then, but there were a few men who were walking in what light they could understand. Very few had actual access to Bible for a long time, and depended on their "priests" or others for what morsels could actually come from the written word. As some began study the bible itself, they began understand more and more that the traditions and creeds of men were not in harmony with what they reading. While many of these men discarded much of the false teachings and practices that had arisen, they still retained a large amount of the false traditions that they had learned as a result of the apostasy. The undeveloped Christian, babes in Christ, often allow carnal thoughts to influence they way they think, and find justification for such in the Bible. Thus, many who have listened to these men of God (often referred to as "reformers"), have refused to progress in understanding, and thus many seek only to believe what their favorite "reformer" taught, and fail to realize truths simply because they are thought to contradict the teachings they have accepted. Thus, they may blind themselves to many truths that might go beyond what their favorite "leader" said. They have set stumbling blocks for themselves, so that they do not progress in the way of the truth. They cling to the "traditions" of their religious fathers, without given thought as how such might not be fully in harmony with God's word.

(38) Furthermore, although the faith itself was delivered in the first century, there are certain truths that God allows to be understood when they are due to be understood. Those who hold to tradition miss out on these truths. For instance: In Noah's day, it was truth that God was going to bring a flood to destroy that world. For Noah to walk in the light that was then due, he had to put faith in obedience to that truth. However, Abel remained faithful without having any knowledge of that truth. So today, we would not be preaching truth if we were to preach about a coming flood. But there are other truths that are due to be understood by the just in our day. So if we have all the light that was understood several hundred years ago, or even 60 years ago, and that only, we are measurably in darkness.

A Storehouse Of Treasures

(39) The way we receive all light, however, is through the Bible! There is indeed a storehouse of knowledge contained in the Bible, providing food for the spiritually starved who will walk in its shining pathway. There is milk for the babes, and strong food for those more developed. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:14) Not only this, but we can also find food in the Bible that is suited for different seasons or conditions. Jesus told us that the faithful servant brings forth food in due season for the master's household -- "things new and old," from the storehouse. (Luke 12:42; Matthew 13:52) If we are entirely dependent on the writings or beliefs of men who have died a long time ago, we will miss the new things being brought forth from God's word. We might be able to bring forth many good old things, along with a degree of error, but nothing new.

(40) In addition to this, the various teachings of the popular churches conflict with each other. So much so that many have said: "The Bible is an old fiddle upon which any tune can be played." This represents the apathy and lack of faith that prevails in our day. And no wonder! The Bible has been misrepresented and confused with human traditions. People no longer bow blindly and superstitiously in reverence to the opinions of fellow-man. They demand reason. And the true worshiper is told to always be ready to provide a reason for the hope that is in him. (I Peter 3:15) This reason should be based on the word of God as contained in the Bible. It is only this source that is able to make us wise, "that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished." (II Timothy 3:15-17)

(41) "The path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Proverbs 4:18) That perfect day did not come in Luther's day; nor are we yet in that perfect day. We still need to take heed to the word of prophecy, "as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn."--II Peter 1:19

(42) Not only this, we need to "walk in the light," continue to make progress. If we don't, the light will continue on down the path, leaving us to walk and stumble in the dark. This is what happens to many people who profess Christ. -- Isaiah 42:7; Psalm 1:1; Hebrews 12:1

(43) We have the accumulated light of what is usually called the "Old Testament" as well as the "New Testament." Yet the complete light has not yet been revealed. It will not be so revealed until that perfect day. And what is understood today is not comprehended by the world in general, but only by those who through repentance and faith in Jesus earnestly seek it. (Ephesians 1:9,10,17,18; 3:4-6; I Corinthians 1:6-7; Matthew 13:10,11,16,17; Proverbs 2:1-5) We might note that neither the prophets nor the angels understood the meaning of the prophecies that were given before Jesus came. The truths of those prophecies were kept secret until the due time for them to be understood. And even more prophecies can be understood now than in the days of the apostles. -- I Peter 1:10-13; Daniel 12:8-10

(44) Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would guide his followers into all truth. This promise appears to be directed toward the apostles, and through the apostles to all Christians. While this has been fulfilled in the revelations given through the New Testament Scriptures, yet we believe that there is a further revealing yet to be accomplished in the "perfect day" spoken of in Proverbs 4:18. The revealing of truths has been gradual, little by little. Not only is this true of the justified as a class, but it is also true of each individual walking the path of light. Not everyone of God's people understands everything revealed all at the same time. Some may understand more in one direction, while another may understand more in another direction. To illustrate, Peter was told to go to the uncircumcised Gentiles with the message of the gospel. This was something different. He at first spoke against it. Later, many of the other disciples of Jesus still did not demonstrate an understanding of the new light that had been revealed. Only the apostle Paul stood out as having a complete understanding of the adjustments in the divine arrangement revealed at that time. (Acts 10:28; 11:1-3; Galatians 2:11-1) Additionally, Paul speaks of some who are babes in Christ, and yet carnal in the way they think. -- 1 Corinthians 3:1.

(45) Furthermore, the scriptures shows that we are now iving in the time when many prophecies of the Bible can be understood. Indeed, some of these prophecies tell us what we should be doing right now. Some of the prophecies have special application to us who are living now. We, therefore, need to be aware of the prophecies and their meanings for us today.
(46) There is truly a storehouse of hidden treasures for everyone within the pages of the Bible. If you are not aware of these wonderful treasures, isn't it time for you to take the Bible and become acquainted with it? And even if you are acquainted with many things in the Bible, as you search even deeper into its hidden treasures, you could be amazed at what beautiful gems you may uncover within its pages that you did not know were there.

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Questions

(1) For whom do we find good news in the Bible?

(2) What good news is found in the Bible for those who are suffering from sickness?

(3) What conditions do all people yearn for, as described in the Bible at Revelation 21:3-5?

(4) a) What is the prevalent view of the gospel message? b) What questions are raised concerning this message?

(5) Are the churches accomplishing the mission they suppose that God wants them to do? Explain.

(6) What can be said about the world religious statistics?

(7) What can be said of the millions who do profess to believe in Christ?

(8) What does the popular Christian theology believe has happened to the billions who have lived and died without hearing any message about Jesus?

(9) According to popular Christianity, what fate awaits the billions on earth today who remain ignorant of Jesus?

(10) What brighter picture does the Bible give concerning the fate of the non-believing nations?

(11) What is the state of religions in the world today?

(12) What questions are raise concerning the vast ignorance prevalent in the world regarding Jesus and the Bible?

(13) Have we reached the time when everything in the Bible can be understood?

(14) Did Jesus speak in parables to help people understand, as many believe? Explain.

(15) Is God being cruel in making the Bible hard to understand?

(16) If God loves the human race, why doesn't he make the Bible plain for all to understand?

(17) What are some of the scriptures that tell of the secrecy connected with the message of the Bible?

(18) How does the apostle Paul show the necessity of this secretiveness concerning the divine program?

(19) What questions are raised concerning God's desire to convert the world?

(20) If we had lived before God had given a Bible, what kind of Bible might many have expected to receive?

(21) If God is interested in converting the world, what question arises concerning the Bible, and what is needed to answer the question?

(22) a) How do we know that God is not now trying to convert the world? b) Will the world ever be converted during the reign of this "present evil world?"

(23) When will the world be converted?

(24) What hinders the enlightenment of the world in the present age?

(25) Will those who have died also be enlightened?

(26) Are we to understand that everyone will gain eternal life?

(27) Will the judgment day be a second chance for the present-day unbelievers to gain eternal life?

(28) What other reason is given in the Bible for the secretiveness connected with its message? How will this aid mankind?

(29) What is needed in order to understand the true gospel?

(30) Thus what does one have to do to understand the secrets of the Bible?

(31) Who only are able to "walk in the light"?

(32) What happens to many who receive some light but refuse to progress in it?

(33) What has been given us as an aid to "walk in the light"?

(34) Trace the increase of light up to the time of Jesus.

(35) How do we know that even more light would come after the death of Jesus?

(36) What happened to the early Christians after the death of Jesus?

(37) What happened to the shining light during the centuries that followed up to the nineteenth century?

(38) How have many missed truths when due?

(39) a) Where should truth-seekers go to be fed? b) What kinds of food may be found there? c) What happens if we center our beliefs entirely on writings or teachings of men who have died a long time ago?

(40) What condition exists in the popular churches?

(41) Have we reached the perfect day yet? If not, what do we still need to do?

(42) What happens to many who profess Christ?

(43) (a) Has the complete light yet been revealed? (b) What examples show that the revealing of light has been increasing, and to whom?

(44) Do all Christians understand all the revealed light at any given time, and what shows this?

(45) Why should we come to understand the meaning of prophecies?

(46) What invitation is open to any wishing to understand the Bible's secrets?

Originally published around 1990; updated several times since. Updated March 2013; Last Update July 2014.