Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible Sunday afternoon Bible study. Today we are going to look at an important Biblical principal that we know about but we have not understood it to the degree we could have understood it. Of course, God is in control of our understanding or our lack of understanding and our lack of understanding was in God’s hand and it was not intended for believers to know this until this time.
I feel confident that a greater understanding of this Biblical principal will help us to know what God is doing in these days after the Tribulation in our time of Judgment Day. A better understanding of this principal will assist us in understanding why the events worked out the way they did leading up to May 21, 2011 and during this time period after May 21, 2011, regarding why we are remaining on the earth and why we are appearing before the judgment seat of Christ and why we are being tried and tested. These things we have learned about are all connected to an important Biblical principal. We are going to read from John, chapter 13 and the principal will be seen here in John 13:1-17:
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
The Biblical principal that is so important is found in John 13:15:
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
This is the point we want to look at more carefully. The people of God have understood for centuries that Christ is our example. There is nothing new there. We look at how Jesus lived His life in perfect obedience and He carried out the will of the Father. Yes, He is our example in all things, but here Christ said, “For I have given you an example,” and it was his conduct, behavior and the things He did, so it was actually his life that was an example to His elect and as we look at Jesus’ life we are going to see this example not only in the way be conducted Himself, but we are going to find an actual Biblical example for the body of believers that will work itself out at the end of time; that is, Christ’s life and ministry and His suffering, death and resurrection and the timing of these things all relate to what the body of Christ, the true believers, will follow at the end of time.
First of all, let us look at the word “example.” It is Strong’s #5262 in the Greek and it is also translated as “patterns” in Hebrews 9:22-23:
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
This word is also found in 1Timothy 1:13-15:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
We find that the Lord Jesus Christ’s longsuffering toward Paul was established “for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Christ put up with Paul, who had blasphemed God. Paul told us that he had spoken evil of “that way” and the followers of Christ, and so forth. God patiently put up with these things and He waited until the proper time when He confronted Saul on the road to Damascus, changed him and turned him into the Apostle Paul. This was a “pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Paul was in rebellion and God having mercy on him was an example to the believers that would follow.
We also have another example of “longsuffering” in James, chapter 5 where we also find the word “example.” It says in James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
God is the husbandman and He waited patiently, enduring the sins of mankind for a particular reason and that was until He had received “the early and latter rain.” The rain produces the fruit and God was waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, so He waited for the early rain during the church age to bring in the firstfruits. And, yet, God could not bring punishment upon the wicked because there was still the season of the Latter Rain, so God waited patiently for the Great Tribulation to work out and during the second part of that period the Latter Rain fell and completed the task by saving the great multitude. Then the Lord had received both the early and Latter Rain and all the precious fruit, God’s elect, had become saved and He no longer had to be longsuffering and patient in enduring the sins of mankind and, therefore, He brought judgment. At the completion of the Latter Rain, which was simultaneous with the completion of the Great Tribulation, it was Judgment Day – the door was shut and there was no more salvation. It was the time of the pouring out of wrath of God upon the wicked of the earth.
That is the context here and it goes on to say in James 5:8-9:
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
You can see the context of verses 7, 8 and 9 is Judgment Day. The longsuffering period has concluded because the fruit has been received. In verse 8 we see it refers to “the coming of the Lord” and in verse 9, the judge, who is Christ, is right there and then we read in James 5:10-11:
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
The word “happy” is a word that means “blessed.” We see that in this context of Judgment Day God speaks to the “brethren,” which would be the elect of God, and He says, “Take, my brethren, the prophets,” and we need to remember that Jesus is the Prophet that Moses said would come after him. Not only that, but all the prophets spoke of Jesus, so when we read of the example of the prophets for suffering affliction and of patience it really identifies with Christ’s example as the Prophet of which all the prophets spoke. To make sure we do not miss that fact, verse 11 says that we have “seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy,” and that refers to the example of His suffering. Back in John 13, verse 15, Christ told His disciples, “I have given you an example,” and a big part of that example toward the end of His ministry was the example of “suffering affliction.” Let us go to 1Peter 2:19-20:
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Let me just stop for a minute to look at this in a way that you may not have thought of before concerning suffering for well doing being “thankworthy.” This is in regard to suffering wrongfully. If a man is suffering because of his conscience toward God we have a good example of what God means in regard to someone that is suffering wrongfully as opposed to someone that is suffering for their faults. Look at it this way. Someone has “another gospel” and they are a missionary of a gospel that has added or subtracted from the Bible; perhaps, their gospel believes in additional revelation from God outside of the Bible. Since the Bible was completed God has assured us that that there is to be no additional revelation when He said in Revelation 22, verses 18 and 19: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life.” God closed the Holy Canon, the Bible, and there would be no further divine revelation. The 66 Books from Genesis through Revelation are the completed Word of God and, yet, we have people that have added or subtracted to the Word of God and they suffer for their gospel; they may suffer physically or they may suffer persecution and, yet, there is no glory in that. It is not “thankworthy.”
On the other hand, you have the people of God that believe the Word of God and they do not dare to add or subtract a word because they know the Bible is the complete Word of God. They study it and study it and in their studying they come up with an understanding of a timeline of history and things begin to fit into this timeline concerning the Great Tribulation and Judgment Day. As everything fits so perfectly together and locks in, it does so in a way that is just mindboggling and they cannot see how any man could arrange these things, because they know that when things harmonize and fit together in the Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture, it is the Holy Ghost that teacheth. They see the wrath of God is coming and they see a set date, an appointed time, which was May 21, 2011 and “for conscience toward God,” they have an obligation as a watchman to blow the trumpet when they see the sword coming. It is not an option. The believer is commanded to do this and, in fact, the Bible warns against someone that sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet. They would be guilty of the blood of the people if they do not warn them, so it really was impressed upon the child of God that they had a duty to sound the warning and share the information with everyone they came in contact with because they believe the Bible is the Word of God. They believe that God communicates with His people through the methodology of comparing Scripture with Scripture and harmonizing all conclusions in an honest way. So when they see all this information laid out in the Bible and it points to a particular date, they cannot do anything but declare that to the world and that is exactly what God’s people did. God used it mightily to save His elect all over the earth. They played a big part in the Latter Rain that saved the great multitude out of Great Tribulation to complete God’s salvation program and to save the last of His elect.
All these things worked according to the purpose of God, but God had an additional purpose. God is in full control of what the child of God can understand from the Bible. Remember Jesus had to open their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, in Luke 24. That is the only way anyone can obtain understanding of the Scriptures and Christ can open it to a wide degree or to a narrow degree, according to His will. God is in complete control of what His people understand and as we continue to study the Bible we have seen that God gave tremendous amounts of understanding for “a wise man’s heart” to discern both time and judgment, so the people of God understood the proper timing of the Great Tribulation as 8,400 days. We understood the date of Judgment Day as May 21, 2011. We understood that the door would shut and salvation would end and the light of the Gospel would go out, and so forth. But God permitted us to have certain pieces of information that would be wrongly understood and would be in error. We did not discern or comprehend certain aspects of the judgment. We did not know it would be a spiritual judgment. We thought there would be a physical earthquake and the ground would open. We thought everyone would see God coming through the tremendous destruction that would be taking place on the earth. That was an error, but, again, could God have corrected our understanding at that time? Yes, of course He could, but He permitted the believers to wrongly discern some things and proclaim it. When we say that God permitted it, it does not mean that He caused it, but He simply allowed it to happen. We were also wrong about the rapture taking place on that date.
However, overall, there was a proper understanding of what was going to happen. For example, today we still understand that May 21, 2011 was Judgment Day. That was the day the door shut and the light of the Gospel went out. We knew years in advance that it would occur on that date. There has been a growing in our understanding and a continuance, but immediately after May 21 we realized we were wrong about the physical and visible aspects of Judgment Day. The people of the world did not see it and they did not experience it with the physical senses in any way – it was nothing you could see or hear. Therefore, the people of the world rejoiced and they looked at the true believers that had carried that message and they reviled, mocked and ridiculed them. They viewed the people of God as fools. Those in the churches and congregations viewed the people of God as heretics. So, in 1Peter, God says, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” What God did was to set the stage by allowing His people to have misunderstanding in a couple of areas in order that they would follow the example of Christ’s suffering into the Day of Judgment.
We will talk more about that, but we know that Christ’s example of suffering was from the perspective of being sinless, perfect and holy and doing the will of God perfectly. On the other hand, God’s people are made “righteous” in Christ, but we still have bodies of flesh and we still sin, so we cannot follow His example in the same way that Christ did in His sinless perfection, but we are able to follow his example very honestly and very faithfully and with great trust in the Word of God, the Bible. That is what Christ had. He had a tremendous trust and faith in the Word of God and for that Word He suffered and died on the cross, experiencing the shame of the cross. That is the example of “suffering affliction” spoken of in the Book of James. It is the example that Jesus has given us that believers will follow as we would enter into the Day of Judgment at the end of time.
Let us keep reading in 1Peter 2:19-20:
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
What was one of the first things that came to light after the Tribulation and May 21, 2011 came and went? All the people of God were stunned because the Scriptures had locked in that date and, yet, we entered into this period of time. It was not long before we realized that there was a need of “patience,” as it says in Hebrews 10:35-37:
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Notice it says, “after ye have done the will of God.” “This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure, grief, suffering wrongfully.” Did God’s people do the will of God? If you ask the churches, they would say, “No, you were in complete rebellion and it was heretical.” What they really mean is it is rebellion against the churches and it was heresy to them. The churches definitely do not think the true believers were doing the will of God in proclaiming Judgment Day as May 21, 2011 to the world. If you ask the world, they would agree. “Of course not. Nothing happened.” But what is the will of God? The will of God is what the Bible declares and when you lay out all the information, it is there. God’s people studied, studied and studied and Mr. Camping certainly put in hundreds and hundreds of hours of study. At any point, the Lord could have opened up that little bit of further information about spiritual judgment, as we know now. It was just like the Garden of Eden where God had said of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” It was a spiritual judgment. And that was what God also did with the churches – it was a spiritual judgment. The Bible says that the “cup of wrath” was first given to the city called by His name and then given to the nations, so God was saying that the cup of His wrath went first to the churches, so why would the nature of that cup change when it transitioned to the world? We can see it clearly now, but we did not see it then and that is because God controls what His people know and the degree to which we can know it. According to the information we had available to us, God’s people understood what the guaranteed date would be and with “conscience toward God,” there was no other option but to declare it; you could not sit on that information or conceal it. You could not say, “I will wait and see,” when it did lock in to the point that it did and very few doctrines lock in that tightly. In other words, there was more than sufficient Biblical evidence that this was going to happen and, therefore, there was no other option but to proclaim it and warn the people. It was according to the will of God that the people of God declared this and there is no other way to look at it.
Just look at where the elect people of God are today. For example, several hundred years ago there was the Reformation. The churches had gone apostate, but there was a group over here called the Reformers that identified with the truth of God’s Word. Then at the time of the end the entire corporate church went apostate, but God again reserved truth and He reserved a people for Himself that began to be drawn to the ministry of Family Radio and Mr. Camping were teaching and the elect of God that identified not with a church but with the ministry of Family Radio. It was very evident when you look at the churches and what they teach and how they teach, as they hold their denomination’s doctrines in high regard and they do not have a high regard for the Bible’s authority and teaching. It is evident. It is very clear that the corporate churches lift up the teachings of their particular denomination that they have “set in stone” and they will not change them. And, yet, there was a ministry that declared “just the Bible alone” and emphasized that we were not to add to it. There was just a tremendous emphasis on the Bible alone and it was the only source of truth and the only authority and you cannot get any more faithful than that and it was not just “lip service.” It was seen in the way the Bible was approached and the method of teaching in the Bible studies and the printed material. God’s people could hear and see these things and they would see that it was done comparing “spiritual things with spiritual” and, without question, the people of God were drawn to this ministry of Family Radio. This ministry became known throughout the entire world and the elect of God all over the world were drawn to this ministry, but not today. However, in the time leading up to May 21, 2011 the elect people of God identified with that ministry because that is where they heard truth, so they were following Christ as the truth was proclaimed. God blessed that ministry and opened up all kinds of doors and opportunities all over the earth and with relatively little funds they were able to do worldwide broadcasting to reach people all over the world. God was blessing, blessing, blessing. The churches and the world would have us to believe that it was “all wrong.” These people and their teacher, Mr. Camping are all wrong.
You know, sometimes I type in Mr. Camping’s name when I look for studies on the computer and, without fail, I see so many ugly things that churches and people have said about him. They have vilified him in such a terrible way and it was done by people that do not know the truth and by churches that were other kinds of gospels, but what happened is that God led His people to a point where they accomplished the task of warning the world and then God “delivered them up,” as it were, for an appearance before His judgment seat. We do not have time in this study to get into the many examples in Jesus’ life and how the believers’ lives at the time of the end of the world match. And in some cases, it matches perfectly. For instance, how long was Jesus’ ministry? The Bible tells us that Jesus ministered for three and one half years and during this time He mostly had freedom to travel in Judah and Samaria and Galilee and no one interfered or stopped him. Basically, He had free reign and what did Jesus do during those three and one half years? He healed the sick. He gave sight to the blind and the deaf heard and he opened the mouth of the dumb. He did many miracles of healing and we know that these miracles pointed to salvation. So Christ did miracles of healing for three and one half years, but how long was the ministry of the true believers? Let us go to Daniel 9:25-27:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This passage tells us of the seventy weeks and that seventieth and last week is broken up: “and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” The beginning of the seventieth week began with Jesus’ baptism and the start of His earthly ministry of three and one half years. It was as though the sixty- nine weeks took us to that point and when Jesus began to minister it was a literal three and one half years and then He was cut off – Christ went to the cross and sacrifice ceased. Never again would God accept the sacrifices of men as a sign or demonstration of what Christ had done. Christ ended the ceremony of sacrifices when He went to the cross because He had fulfilled them all. That was in the midst of the week after three and one half years of ministry and then Jesus suffered and died. How did Christ suffer and die? It was by the hand of the Jews, the people of God that were the corporate body and outward representation of the kingdom of God on earth at that time. It was the people of God that took Him and delivered Him to the Roman authorities to be crucified. It was really the apostate church of Israel that delivered Christ and led to His suffering and death and the completion of His ministry and the completion of His time on earth. Remember He was born in 7BC in a Jubilee Year and 33AD, so in 40 calendar years it was all done when He died in 33AD.
Jesus’ ministry was for three and one half years, but how long would the true believers minister? Let us go to Revelation, where it says in Revelation 11:3:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
That is 1,260 days. If you were to look at 30-day months, then a year is 360 days and “3 x 360 +180” is 1,260 days, the period in which the two witnesses prophesied. The “two witnesses” represented the witness of the Bible in the churches and congregations and the people of God were the caretakers of the Word of God. The period of time for the elect to witness (through their identify with the churches) to the world was three and one half years. Just as Jesus ministered for three and one half period, the people of God ministered for three and one half years. What happened at the end of the three and one half period to the two witnesses? We read in Revelation 11:7-8:
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
They are killed and their dead bodies lie in the same street where our Lord’s dead body was found. Do you see how God is relating the two? The believers witnessed for a figurative three and one half years, which stretched from the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in 33AD all the way to the end of the church age in 1988; it was an actual 1,955 years, but it is likened to three and one half years. Then they were overcome and killed. The apostate New Testament church, just like apostate national Israel, was instrumental in delivering them up as they drove the believers out of the churches and congregations. Spiritually, they were killed as they were driven out, just as Christ was delivered up by apostate Israel to death. It is a very strong similarity.
What did the believers do over the course of the church age? Spiritually, they healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, ears to the deaf and a mouth to the dumb. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” We could not literally do physical miracles of healing, but there were tremendous numbers of spiritual healings performed as the Gospel went forth through the “two witnesses” during the course of the church age. We do not know how many people were spiritually made whole and saved and, therefore, had a miracle done on their sin-sick souls. It was greater miracles than Jesus did and it followed His pattern. Do you see how the pattern of Christ’s ministry and His being delivered up by the apostate corporate body of Israel matches with the ministry of the two witnesses and their being delivered up by the apostate corporate body of the New Testament churches? This all relates to “filling up the sufferings” of the body of Christ, but it is also following the pattern or example He has given us.
We do not have time to go on, but there is really a great deal of information that the Bible gives in this area when we read of the command: “Take up the cross, and follow me.” That command is activated in the time of judgment. There are many things that Christ did in His earthly ministry and in the time when He was suffering and going to the cross, as well as after the cross with His resurrection that the Bible indicates will be followed by the believers in example. They will follow the example of His ministry. They will follow the example of being betrayed by the corporate body. They will follow the example of suffering for “conscience toward God” and that is thankworthy and a good thing.
In the time we have left, let me finish reading 1Peter 2:20-25:
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Again, Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps: “Take up the cross, and follow me.” It is not coincidental that after the great catch of fish and Christ telling Peter, “Feed my sheep,” He tells Peter to follow him and He tells him of the death Peter will die to glorify God.