The Friends of the Nazarene On-line Magazine

VOLUME 2 -- MAY 1998

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The "Friends of the Nazarene" are a research group for better Bible understanding dedicated to the preservation and publishing of Christian writings which aid the Father’s Children to "follow the Lamb no matter where the Lamb goes." We are Unitarian Apologists dedicated to the defense of the truth that "God is One." The Bible is our credo and we wish to respect the views of our multitude of Christian brethren.

c/o Shawn Mark Miller
177 Riverside Ave
Newport Beach, California 92663 USA
email:

IN THIS ISSUE

1. The Descent of the New Jerusalem

2. Announcements

3. The First Year!

4. Christian Character: A Humble Spirit

5. Faith Perspective: Who Belong to the Father?

6. The Internet and anti-anti, x-this, and cult-that forums

THE DESCENT OF THE NEW JERUSALEM

INTRODUCTION. The following is from the publication NAZARENE APOCALYPSE dealing in part with Revelation 21.1-22.5.

(21.2) Then I saw the Holy City New Jerusalem descending down out of Heaven from The God. It was prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

NOTE: HOLY CITY. The designation occurs 16 times: 3.12; 14.20; 20.9; 21.2, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23; 22.3, 14, 19. The images echo Is chs 51, 65.

NOTE: NEW JERUSALEM. The term occurs 3 times: 3.12; 21.2, 10.

NOTE: DESCENDING. There are four words to emphasize the direction of the movement from heaven to earth: descending, down, out of, from. Can there be any question the New Jerusalem is settling upon earth? Compare the Greek epi at 5.10.

NOTE: BRIDE. When does this "descent" occur? The "city" exists as early as 11.2 before the three and a half years of Great Oppression. This is probably the same "city" of 14.20 outside of which the winepress of Armageddon is trodden. This is likely that same city for which the ancients longed. (Hebrews 11.10, 16) It may be that "city" toward which the early Christian Saints had come or approached, Heavenly Jerusalem. (Hebrews 12.22) That is, the "city to come."(Hebrews 13.14) In this vision the City is "prepared as a bride" and is so seen in more graphic detail (21.9, 10) where the City is called the Lamb’s Wife. Therefore, they must be married. This spiritual heavenly marriage must begin when the husband "receives home to himself" his Church. (Revelation 14.3; Ephesians 5.32; 2 Corinthians 11.3; John 3.29; 14.2, 3; 1 Thessalonians4.15-17)

The New Jerusalem could begin its descent after this "marriage" union in order for the Winepress to be "trodden outside the City." (14.20) This phrase is found again at 22.15 so the City must descend while these are still in existence. The sequence of events would seem to be: Jesus returns in glory, all dead Christians are raised and judged, the "goats" are destroyed, the living Saints are raptured and enter their home, the marriage feast occurs, then the New Jerusalem descends and takes action against Babylon the Great, with the War of Armageddon to follow.

(21.3) I heard a great voice out of the Throne, saying: "The Tent of The God is with the men. He will tent with them. They will be His Peoples and The God will be with them.

NOTE: VOICE FROM THRONE. Would this be understood to be God Almighty?

NOTE: TENT OF GOD. This whole section is a compound or conflate from several sources which all deal with the Saints. Le 26.12: ‘I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my People (quoted in 2 Corinthians 6.16). Ezekial 37.26-28: ‘I will establish my sanctuary in the midst of them forever. And my tabernacle shall be among them and I will be to them a God and they will be my people.’ (quoted in 2 Corinthians 6.16) Je 31.33: "Then I will be their God and they shall be my People.’ (quoted in Hebrews 8.10) Compare Zechariah13.9. All of these sources apply to Israel in a covenant relationship with God and not to mankind in general. Therefore, the context of 21.3 must have the Saints in mind.

(21.4) He will wipe out every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. Nor mourning, outcry, or pain will be any more. The first things went off.

NOTE: TEARS. Whose "tears"? Judging from Is 25.8 they are those of "my People Israel" and applied by Paul to the Saints. (1 Corinthians 15.54)

NOTES: DEATH. This and the related phrase regarding tears is a paraphrase from Is 25.9 which has been alluded to in 7.17. In Isaiah the context is "Israel" and Paul quotes this in application to those who gain immortality in the heavenly kingdom at 1 Corinthians 15.54. It must have reference to "death" among those Saints within the City of God, New Jerusalem. Second Death still has authority over the "nations" alive on the New Earth during the 1,000 Years. (20.6) If Is 65.17-20 applies to this period, then: ‘Neither an old man who shall not complete his time and the sinner who dies at a hundred years shall also be accursed.’ "Death" is still effective among men and is not destroyed (1 Corinthians 15.24-26) until after the 1,000 Years. (20.12-14) So, the "death" here is within the New Jerusalem.

NOTE: MOURNING. This phrase is from Is 65.19 and the context within the City of God.

NOTE: FIRST THINGS. Or, former things. This is also from Is 65.17

(21.5) And then the One sitting upon the Throne, said: "Look, I am making all things new!

NOTE: NEW. This may be limited to the City of God as it is in Is 65.17-24.

COMMENTARY:

In ancient times a city was an enclosed fortress with protective walls to keep the enemy out and gates to allow citizens and visitors to enter. From the Abrahamic promise regarding that old man’s Seed, the city has been a symbol for such a Kingdom to which the ancient patriarchs longed for final relief with the fulfillment of God’s promises. Paul writes to the Jews, who held these patriarchs as saints, in his letter to the Hebrews, using this metaphor for the Kingdom: ‘For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God. ... But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them. ... But you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant. ...
Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, for we do not have here a city that continues, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.’
(Hebrews 11.10, 16; 12.22-24; 13.14 NWT)

As we have seen in the Apocalypse there are two cities: the Great City, Babylon the Great, Harlot Religion; and, the Holy City, New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s Wife. Jesus had promised the Saints in his Christine epistle from the spirit realm when he dictates to his Beloved John: I will write upon (the victorious Saint) the Name, "New Jerusalem," which descends out of heaven from my God.’ He combines another metaphor in the same breath, promising the faithful they will ‘be made a pillar in the Divine Habitat of my God.’ (Revelation 3.12)

At last, this City for which the ancients yearned, that one promised to the Saints, has at last arrived in John’s vision in chapter 21. If some were to write a science fiction novel, it could not capture this story better. God sent His own "extra-terrestrials," true "aliens," to this planet to give special instructions and promises to key individuals. This happened several times, each with a monumental reaction recorded in the memories of mankind. The first to a man called Noah, and the cultural memories of a great Deluge are now embedded among virtually every people on earth. A thousand years later, to Abraham, and now two of the earth’s most influential peoples trace their religions to this ancient patriarch. Five hundred years later, to Moses at the base of Mount Sinai in the Arabian wilderness. Now, three great religions hold this Egyptian shepherd in awe, representing well over half of earth’s current population, three billion people. Five hundred years later, to Jesus the Nazarene, a historical figure without equal, in whom two billion people declare some belief. All with one major promise: God and His Son are coming to inspect the earth and all who have ever lived; looking for two attributes: faith and love. And now, they show up in the form of a gigantic golden cube approaching the earth’s atmosphere and then descending until its foundation rests on dry ground.

(21.9) Then one of the 7 angels having the 7 bowls full of the 7 last plagues came out and spoke with me, saying: "Come here. I shall show you the Bride the Woman of the Lamb."

NOTES: FULL OF. This may suggest the descent of the New Jerusalem before the plagues. This would be consistent with what has been discussed above.

NOTES: WOMAN. As in many languages the word "woman" may mean "wife" when the possessive is present. The Lamb is now married otherwise he could not have a wife. So the events of 19.6-9 have already occurred where the marriage feast is, before the Lamb and his armies proceed to war.

(21.24) And the nations will walk by the City’s illumination. The kings of the earth will bring their glory into the City.

NOTES: NATIONS. Compare Is 60.3, 11. These are those "nations" no longer misled by Satan. (20.3) These "nations" will walk by means of this new illumination, a spiritual one.

NOTES: KINGS. Not all "kings" for some perished at Armageddon. They exist here as survivors. Compare Zechariah14.2, 14, 16.

(21.25) The gates of the City will remain open day and night. Night will not exist in the City.

NOTES: OPEN GATES. For access into the City by the "gates" on the earth proper. 22.14 lists those who may not enter. The City has 24-hour, around the clock, access. The KJV adds: "And the nations of them which are saved." (Lamsa)

NOTES: NIGHT. This resembles many modern buildings with lights on around the clock.

(21.26) The kings of the earth will bring the glory and honor of the nations into the City.

NOTES: INTO THE CITY. They have access to the City.

(21.27) No common thing will enter the City. Nor the disgusting or the liar. Only those written in the Lamb’s Little Book of Life.

NOTES: COMMON THING. There are those who may enter the City and those who may not. Both come from earth’s inhabitants during the 1,000 Years. This is also rendered: unhallowed; not sacred.

NOTES: NOR. The liar and idol worshipper. These are the "unclean" outside the City. (22.15)

NOTES: ONLY THOSE. May it be that during the 1,000 Years some among those "nations" qualify to be recorded in the Book of Life as those are at the end? (20.14) Those who qualify during the 1,000 Years may have access to the Holy City.

WHEN DOES THE NEW JERUSALEM DESCEND?

When does this glorious City of the most holy light descend out of heaven from God? There are several opinions. Some hold the text in the Apocalypse is chronological, so the Holy City descends after the Thousand Years. This certainly could not be after the dead were judged for several verses indicate that "outside the City" there were habitual sinners. (21.8; 22.15) We have seen how the Apocalypse covers a subject and then flashes back to provide more details.

The Apocalypse has already mentioned the Holy City in earlier chapters. For example, 14.20 has the Winepress of God, likely Armageddon itself, "outside the City." This is the same location of habitual sinners in 21.8 and 22.15. This may suggest the Holy City descends prior to the destruction of Harlot Religion and the wild Sea Beast with its False Prophet in the battle of Armageddon. The Holy City was mentioned in connection with the "trampling of (the Saints)" during the three and a half years of Great Oppression. (11.2, 3) It seems fitting, in harmony with the chronological sequence of the Great Oppression and the Rapture, that upon attaining heavenly union with their Lord, the glorified Church is taken home within this glorious Holy City, New Jerusalem. The Saints thus becoming "pillars" within this temple-like City. After the wedding festivities, the Holy City descends for war in that Great Day of Wrath.

Remember, that in 11.2, 3 the Holy City, New Jerusalem, was to be trampled on for 42 months. One cannot trample on a city that does not exist already. (11.2 3) No doubt this trampling was by oppressing the remnant of the Woman’s (the City) Seed. (12.17) This Woman, or City, is protected and strengthened by God in a wilderness area during this period of 1,260 days. However, her children, that is those future inhabitants, are persecuted during the Great Oppression. The Holy City descends then following the Marriage of the Lamb and before the final end of Harlot Religion, the major competitor of the Holy City since the plains of Shinar. Thus the City approaches the earth when the Lamb comes once again with all his Saints (1 Thessalonians 3.13; Zechariah14.5) then it settles down just prior to that "one hour" upon Babylon the Great. This is the view we prefer, though we make no criticism of those would whole another opinion.

What is the Holy City, this New Jerusalem, actually? Here again, some would view it solely as a metaphorical abstraction with only symbolic values. While agreeing there is much symbolic within the apocalyptic description, there is also a strong atmosphere of literality to the vision. It would seem wholly unnecessary to go into such precise descriptions and measurements of such a City if it is only a symbolic one. This may be compared to those nine chapters (40-48) of Ezekiel which describe in minute detail a futuristic Temple. The measurements and details are so intricate such a building could be constructed from these plans alone. Such waste of space seems out of character with the Creator whose only purpose is some abstraction. So, too, the details in the Apocalypse, seem a bit much if all one wants to do is mention a spiritual abstraction. If on the other hand, the dimensions are real because it is a literal building, those descriptions in chapter 21 fit the situation well. There is plenty there to conjure up for the imagination if one meditates in a prayerful state.

The City clearly moves its position: from the celestial Realms through the earth’s atmosphere to the ground. The City has a foundation and therefore must rest upon something. If the City were, say, something only celestial and spiritual with all the sides of the giant cube facing the universe, it would need no foundation. As it is, in the vision, the Cubic City rests upon the earth. It is a real City which descends from space like one gigantic space ship with souls on board. It does come from outer space and from some other dimension, looking much like a true UFO. If we judge Ezekiel and Zechariah correctly, it lands, or settles down, upon its foundations right here on earth, likely to the east of Jerusalem in an area large enough to contain it. Right into that land long ago promised to that old man of the Middle East, Abraham, who had his own visitation of citizens of that City. (Ge chs 18, 19)

In chapter 20 of the Apocalypse we see how the Devil and those misled nations at the end of the Thousand Years surround and attack the Holy City. This would seem impossible if the City is in heaven or merely a metaphorical abstraction. If it is indeed a real City with precise measurements and therefore some dimensional limitations, it can be surrounded by these demonically misled throngs.

Additionally, there is that description of kings and nations bringing tribute into the City with gates that are accessible to these if they only be holy and not habitual sinners. Also, there is a river that runs from the City out to those nations for curing. All these things seem to indicate a real City resting here upon earth with access to those approved and qualified. Therefore, we will proceed with this idea and the vision of a real Cubic City descending from God’s own former location and coming to rest upon the earth in that area of modern Jerusalem.

For a moment imagine what John envisioned from his Everest-high mountaintop: what amounts to a UFO, an extra-terrestrial spaceship, so huge it amounts to a gigantic City because of its millions of occupants. Surely, from earth, it can be seen approaching from a great distance because of its size. It is cubical and shines brilliantly from its materials. It is constructed of gold so thin it is like transparent glass. Thus, the interior can be seen as well as bright lights from the stellar universe beyond it. Though the sun, moon and stars could reflect or show through this object, the Cubic City has its own inner illumination which lights up the interior with its own kind of Light, around the clock as it were. This is Divine Light coming from God Almighty’s own immortal energy, as well as that of the Lamb. The dimensions are vast: 300 cubic miles, with multiples of 12 everywhere. The square cubits of each side would utilize the number 144 over and over. The wall of the foundation is given as 144 cubits as if this were a common denominator. There are twelve gates made of pearl and thus shine from within with a certain luminance. These are inscribed, likely with Hebrew characters, of the apocalyptic names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The foundations themselves are 12 in number and each named after the 12 Apostles, each a different precious gem with its own particular color and Biblical values. The colors reflecting off this transparent gold must be awe inspiring. If we just take those colors included in all these gems they would represent: milky white, gray, yellow, blue, brown, hues of green, red, deep blue, yellow-green, reddish-brown, pink, pinkish red, light brown, deep blue, purple, violet. Imagine this display of Light!

Though the dimensions of the Cubic City would allow it to come to rest in the eastern wilderness of Jerusalem, the height would still reach into what would be considered "heaven." Great human structures like the Great Wall of China are visible from manned satellites in space orbit. The New Jerusalem would become the most pronounced image on earth if men were still orbiting the earth. Imagine that view!

This golden Cubic City is a dwelling. It is likened to a "tent" in 21.3. The "tent of God is with men" says the Apocalypse. The Greek word skene can be a metaphor for a dwelling place or residence, a habitat. This is another place where God Almighty comes to dwell. (Ps 33.13, 14) The Divine Presence does not dwell alone for with Him are the Lamb and all the Chosen Angels (1 Tm 5.21), and most important of all, the glorified Church. Surely, in some manner, these images of the citizens within the City may be visible.

Though some would apply the anthropon to "mankind" on earth. It may well come to mean that at some point following the Thousand Years. However, here in 21.3, judging from those several phrases borrowed from the Hebrew Bible, it is more likely these "men" (NEB, RHM, TCNT) are those Saints which have joined Christ in heaven, within the Holy City, New Jerusalem. Both verses 3 and 4 are composed of paraphrases from various sources in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Christian Bible, all dealing with God’s covenant People, the Saints, and not mankind in general. Compare these sources and note they always apply to God’s Covenant people, or the Saints: Leviticus 26.12: ‘And I shall indeed walk in the midst of you and prove myself your God, and you, on your part, will prove yourselves my people. ... Ezekiel 37.26-28: ‘And I will conclude with them a covenant of peace; an indefinitely lasting covenant is what there will come to be with them. And I will place them and multiply them and place my sanctuary in the midst of them to time indefinite. And my tabernacle will actually prove to be over them, and I shall certainly become their God, and they themselves will become my people. And the nations will have to know that I, Jehovah, am sanctifying Israel when my sanctuary comes to be in the midst of them to time indefinite.’ ... Jeremiah 31.33: ‘For this is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days," is the utterance of Jehovah. "I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people." Hebrews 8.10: ‘For this is the covenant that I shall covenant with the house of Israel after those days,' says Jehovah. 'I will put my laws in their mind, and in their hearts I shall write them. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people.’ (NWT) Is this not enough to demonstrate that "the men" in 21.3 are those Saints of the New Israel of God (Ga 6.15) within the New Jerusalem?

According to 21.7, any living Saints today, may entertain the hope of one day inheriting a place within this City in the fulfillment of the Nazarene’s promise at John 14.1-4: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.’ (NWT) Certainly the Lord’s words through his angel in the Apocalypse magnify this "one hope" and thus "know the Way." (Ephesians 4.4)

On the other hand, there are those who will never gain entrance through the pearly-illuminant Gates of the Holy City, whether they claim Jesus as "Lord, Lord," (Mt 7.21) or those who are alive on earth after the City descends. Those absolutely prohibited from entrance to the Holy City are listed in 21.8 and 22.15. These are: 1) Cowards; 2) Unbelievers; 3) The Disgusting; 4) Murderers; 5) Fornicators; 6) Druggers; 7) Idolaters; 8) Liars.

This list is similar to those of the Nazarene as well as his Apostle Paul. (Mt 15.19, 20; Ro 1.25-32; Ga 5.19-21) This indicates the divine standards have not changed. These will all finally end up in the Second Death at the end of the Thousand Years.

Verses 21.8, 27 and 22.15 would indicate that while this City rests upon earth during the Thousand Years there are still the unworthy outside. These are likely the "sinners" of Isaiah 65.20. Apparently, however, there are others considered worthy, or hallowed, who are allowed access into the earthy gates. (21.25-27) We may speculate here that the lower floors, or bottom area, of this Holy City with its Broadway, or main street, is accessible to those worthy ones residing on earth who enter through the various gates. These do so in obedience to that prophecy in Zechariah 14.16, 17: And it must occur that, as regards everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem, they must also go up from year to year to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, and to celebrate the festival of the booths. And it must occur that, as regards anyone that does not come up out of the families of the earth to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, even upon them no pouring rain will occur.’ (NWT)

(22.1) And the angel showed me a River of Life. It was crystal clear

(22.2) and it flowed from the Throne of The God and the throne of the Lamb

right down the middle of her Broadway. On either side of the River were a Wood of Life which bear 12 fruit crops each month, yielding fruit. The leaves of the Wood were the curing of the nations.

NOTES: RIVER OF LIFE. Zechariah 14.8 has this, ‘And in that Day living water shall come forth out of Jerusalem.’ This establishes the prophetic contexts of both Zechariah and the Apocalypse here. In Zechariah it is clearly in the land of Israel.

NOTES: FLOWED FROM. Ezekial 47.12 has this, ‘For these waters come forth of the Sanctuary.’ These healing waters find their source in God Almighty and the Lamb. In Ezekiel it is from the land of Israel.

NOTES: BROADWAY. As though on the ground floor.

NOTES: CURE THE NATIONS. This whole section is a paraphrase of the LXX at Ezekial 47.12, ‘And every fruit tree shall grow by the river even on the bank of it, on this side and on that side. They shall bring forth the first-fruit of their early crop for these their waters come forth of the Sanctuary and their fruit shall be for meat and their foliage for health.’ These "nations" are those "saved" (21.24, Lamsa, KJV) who survived Armageddon and whom the Devil can no longer mislead.

(22.3) Also there will be no more curse. The Throne of The God and the throne of the Lamb will be within the City. His slaves will render Him sacred service.

NOTES: NO MORE CURSE. The Greek here is kai pan katathema ouk estai eti and is a strong paraphrase of Zechariah 14.11, kai anathema ouk estai eti, the whole phrase reading: ‘They shall dwell in the City (of Jerusalem) and there shall be no more any curse and Jerusalem shall dwell securely.’ This quote from Zechariah 14.11 shows the lifting of any curse related to the New Jerusalem and its inhabitants. The "curse" has to do with "booty" which is taken from a captured city. The Holy City has been under attack since 11.2. Some of these "nations" which attack the Holy City will survive and be required to come and annually attend a Festival of Booths. (Zechariah 14.2, 16)

NOTES: THRONE. The seat of government of God and the Lamb is within the City. (3.21)

NOTES: SLAVES. The glorified Saints. (1.1; 6.11; 7.4) They serve day and night just as the Large Crowd of 7.14, 15.

(22.4) They will see His face and His Name will be on their foreheads.

(22.5) Night will not exist for they have no need of sun light or a lamp’s light because the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign into the Ages of the Ages.

NOTES: SEE FACE. Compare 1 John 3.2, 3; John 14.1-3. John saw the person of God Almighty in ch 4 but here all the Saints must see God as He really is, the ultimate hope and privilege.

NOTES: HIS NAME. Likely God’s Name but possibly the Lamb’s. (3.12; 14.1) This would include the 144,000 though they are not mentioned here.

NOTES: LIGHT. As in 21.23. Compare Ps 17.15; 36.9.

NOTES: REIGN. That promise beginning with 1.6 and 5.10. The reign of the Saints extends beyond the 1,000 Years and is compared to God’s own length of life.

COMMENTARY.

There is much here borrowed from the two prophetic sources: Zechariah and Ezekiel. For example, verses 1-5 all have a basis in these ancient prophets. Listen to these prophetic contexts borrowed from Zechariah and Ezekiel. Zechariah 14.8-9: ‘And it must occur in that day [that] living waters will go forth from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. In summer and in winter it will occur. And Jehovah must become king over all the earth. In that day Jehovah will prove to be one, and his name one.’ Ezekiel 47.12: ‘And alongside the torrent there will come up, along its bank on this side and on that side, all sorts of trees for food. Their leafage will not wither, nor will their fruitage be consumed. In their months they will bear new fruit, because the water for them-it is coming forth from the very sanctuary. And their fruitage must prove to be for food and their leafage for healing.’ Zechariah 14.11: ‘And people will certainly inhabit her; and there will occur no more any banning to destruction, and Jerusalem must be inhabited in security.’ (NWT) A review of these prophetic contexts in Zechariah and Ezekiel will no doubt reveal further details for consideration.

No doubt, the Holy City, within its upper tiers, is a place of sublime worship though no temple is seen. God Almighty and His Son the Lamb are the real Temple or place of worship. It is at this Temple the glorified Church, the slaves of God, render worship day and night. (7.14-17) These priestly ones (20.4) will also rule as kings, and therefore judges, throughout the Thousand Years. Surely, such a remarkable City will become the cornerstone of worship during the Thousand Years. Judging from Zechariah chapter 14, throngs will make yearly pilgrimages to honor and worship God in this location. Likely, at this location, the magnificent Temple described by Ezekiel (40-48) will feature in this worship center of the earth.

For the Thousand Years there is one place of worship and one global government. It will contrast with that one world government embodied in the Dragon’s wild Sea Beast before Armageddon. Even in contrast with governments today, surely the rule of the Messiah will be a vast improvement for mankind in general. This does not mean there will be those who will refuse to conform to righteousness and will at some point during the Thousand Years be judged as sinners and have "evil called down upon them" in the form of the Second Death. Is it reasonable that people living then can rest assured that the reigning Messiah, along with his priestly and royal associates, will not tolerate for long wrong-doers who attempt to destroy the peace of his reign? Surely, God, the Lamb, and the Saints owe it to the peaceable and righteous to protect them from harm.

Will the rule of Messiah in righteousness and peace, despite some evildoers or sinners, and the coming of successive generations, prove far superior to that reign of "the god of this world"? (2 Corinthians 4.4) The rule of Jesus Christ and his glorified Church, using the single law of love, will no doubt assure earth becomes a physical paradise as well as a moral Eden. Will people living then, including those two-thirds of mankind who survive the end of Satan’s world, readily accept this great change? Will the majority want to live under this kind of environment and be willing to submit their personal independence to that direction of the Lord, Jesus Christ? It is only in their best interests to do so, for the gentle Nazarene, and his faithful followers, have only the enduring welfare of mankind at heart. Truly, this is an environment in which "God becomes everything to everyone." ( 1 Corinthians 15.24-28)

If one believes that mankind’s basic nature is good, and given the proper environment of an upright and positive social order that is also essentially good, then the answer is an overwhelming, Yes. Surely, only a small minority are innately evil and would resist such a delightful and upbuilding form of governmental rule. Mankind has always longed for a benevolent monarchy with just laws which protect the innocent. In this vein Paul argues that law is ordained, not for the law-abiding, but for the lawbreaker. (1 Tm 1.9) For the law-abiding and upright want a world without crime in which peace and kindness are the normal and dominate features. Then mankind can get on with the business of being mankind.

There are a thousand questions one wishes to ask about the type of social order, economy, government which would obtain among the nations of the earth during the Thousand Year reign of Christ and his Church. The Bible is somewhat silent, not only on such descriptions, but also in any detail of life after the end of the Thousand Years, that is, after the final judgment. There are several texts in Isaiah and other prophets which have been used to describe such a world and no doubt some of these may be apropos. Consider a one of these: Psalm 72.2-8, 10-19.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

JUNE ISSUE: The Resurrection according to Paul; Perfecting the Christian character. Faith Perspectives: .

PERSONAL WITNESSING: please feel free to make copies and mail any of the publications as free gifts to relatives and friends; or, send them to others over the Internet.

RESEARCH ASSOCIATES: Mark Miller (California), Andrew Foss (Oregon), Andy Weeks (Chicago), Ralph Slaney (England)

WEB SITE: (www.nazarene-friends.org) has continued to grow in content and interest, averaging about 100 "hits" per week. Many score online publications have been downloaded to interested persons all over the world.

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THE FIRST YEAR!

June 4, 1997 marked the date a united effort began when certain Nazarene Saints, who wish to remain anonymous, began to publish a newsletter. They also completed three publications: NAZARENE PRINCIPLES (formerly "The Seven Principles") a 186-page Bible study primer on the basic teachings of Jesus Christ using the Lord’s Prayer as an outline; NAZARENE MOUNTAIN TEACHINGS, a 35-page new rendering of the Sermon on the Mount with footnotes; and, NAZARENE APOCALYPSE, 400-page new rendering of the Book of Revelation with 1,075 footnotes and verse by verse commentary. Later the spiritual odyssey of one Nazarene Saint was also published: MESSIANIC CONFESSIONS, a 200-page autobiography of one of the Elect who had been "misled" for 43 years.

Twelve newsletters followed. In the beginning they were mailed to a loose association mainly in Southern California. However, in time hard copies were sent out over the United States as well as several foreign countries including South Africa, Australia, England, Canada, and Chile. Others were to follow.

By year’s end the Nazarene Saints had a web site only one page long. Email versions of the newsletters, "Principles," and "Confessions" were now available on the Internet. Unknown numbers were sent out by this electronic means. Also, the excellent web site "Network of Biblical Research" chose to include a complete version of "Principles" available free on the world wide web. More computerized copies of this publication were sent out all over the world.

Also, before the new year 1998 two more publications were finished. NAZARENE COMMANDMENTS is a 53-page listing of the "commandments" of Jesus Christ under various headings with brief commentaries. NAZARENE COMMUNITY is a 82-page manual on finding harmony in a Christian association as well as a list of attributes which aid in perfecting the Christian character. Email versions were also prepared for the Internet as the New Year began.

Many news friends were made by means of the Internet as well as direct mail. Some, including families began to study the "Principles" as a Bible study aid. Other online publications were prepared and drew considerable interest: DE TRINITATIS ERRORIBUS -- a 200-page (always growing) discussion of the Trinity; WHERE ARE THE DEAD? -- a 100-page consideration of what the Bible teaches on the subjects of death, soul, hell, and resurrection.

Other subjects available online included various essays: KEY WORDS, REGARDING THE DATE OF CREATION, A COMPARISON OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.

Our list of Research Associates has grown to include Mark Miller (), Andrew Foss (), Andy Weeks (), Ralph Slaney (). There is another associated group of spiritual supporters which number about one dozen men. We wish to thank all who have shown interest and offered their spiritual encouragements.

Saint Paul writes: "Always rejoice in the Lord; again, I say, Rejoice!" (Phillipians 4.4) How can we but do the same in view of the past year! No matter the struggles and difficulties, the groaning pain, the disappoints, or cruelty from others --- viewing what the Lord has done, we can "become nothing but joyful." (De 16.15 NWT) May you continue to share our "joy in the Lord." The God of our Lord bless all our friends.

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PERFECTING THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER: DEFERENCE

[The following is taken from the online publication NAZARENE COMMUNITY.]

CHARACTERISTIC #17 --- DEFERENCE. Verse 16b reads in the King James Version: "but condescend to men of low estate." The phrase is variously rendered: NW: be led along with lowly things; ASV: condescend to things that are lowly; GDSP: accept humble tasks; WEY: accommodate yourselves to humble ways; BER: willingly adjust yourselves to humble situations; MOF: associate with humble folk; PH: don’t become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people; NOR: mingle with the lowly.

The Nazarene illustrated this when he taught: "He then went on to tell the invited men an illustration, as he marked how they were choosing the most prominent places for themselves, saying to them: ‘When you are invited by someone to a marriage feast, do not lie down in the most prominent place. Perhaps someone more distinguished than you may at the time have been invited by him, and he that invited you and him will come and say to you, 'Let this man have the place.' And then you will start off with shame to occupy the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, that when the man that has invited you comes he will say to you, 'Friend, go on up higher.' Then you will have honor in front of all your fellow guests. For everyone that exalts himself will be humbled and he that humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14.7-11 NW)

Paul writes about this subject to other congregations: "Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of one another than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but each should learn to see thing from other people’s point of view. ... Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for one another." (Phillipians 2.3, 4; Ephesians 4.2 PME) The lowly and humble will never be disharmonious. Pride is the disrupter. Humility the healer. All of your current pains, indeed all of your pains in life, may be traceable to that original act of pride on the part of Satan.

There was not an ounce of racial, religious, or intellectual superiority in the Nazarene’s character. The Gospels are filled with his willingness to associate with those viewed as either outcasts or very low on the social ladder: prostitutes, drunks, lepers, tax collectors, and the unschooled and low caste. Some early Christians had problems with this as James describes: "Don’t ever attempt, my brothers, to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Suppose one man comes into your meeting well dressed with a gold ring on his finger, and another man, obviously poor, arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well dressed man ... doesn’t that prove you are making class distinctions in your mind, and setting yourselves up to assess a man’s quality? -- a very bad thing." (Js 2.1-4 PME)

NAZARENE SAINTS ASK: Do I feel superior to certain persons? Perhaps due to education, social background, race, religion, ethnic roots, personal beauty, physical prowess, or economic advantage? Do I feel free to associate with any so- called "class" of persons?

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CULTS AND THE INTERNET

In the 50s during the McCarthy era people who disagreed or were different were labeled easily as "communists." In the 90s the word is "cult." Over the last decade this word has crept more and more into popular usage and one now hears it in news articles, on television, and over the Internet. Perhaps the later roars the loudest. There are innumerable web sites apparently devoted to fighting against cults and claiming to have the purpose of aiding those escaping cults.

What is a "cult"? A Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary defines the word as: "1. A system of religious rites and observances. 2. Zealous devotion to a person, ideal, or thing." A Webster’s Dictionary adds a bit: "especially when regarded as a fad." The Wagnals traces the root of "cult" to be related to a French word for "worship."

Judging from these explanations serious Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists are all "cults" for they are "a system of religious rites and observances which offers zealous devotion to a person" -- Jesus Christ. Additionally, #2 above would make various web sites on the Internet, like Watchtower Observer and Beacon, "cults."

This later definition, including the word "fad," indicates time is a factor in this determination. For example, the Catholic Church could have viewed Luther and his group as a "fad" which would pass away and so it was clearly a "cult." Later when the Lutherans grew and then resorted to the same Inquisition practiced by the Catholics. So, now others would have become "cults" to the Lutherans. Of course, the early Christian were considered a possible "fad." (Ac 5.38-39)

The same seems to happen in modern cases when long established "orthodox" religious sects label newer and smaller sects as "cults." Thus, those sects which formed in America at the turn of the century (1870-1920) -- the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and Christian Scientists -- all were called "cults." This list has expanded considerably in the last fifty years so that Scientologists, Moonies and hundreds others have been added.

Really, it is a case of the Big Guys pushing around the Little Guys because they are jealous at the growth of these or feel endangered by them. Generally, the so-called established or "orthodox" sects have a firm creed which includes the doctrine of the Trinity. They use this as the criteria for judging all others. Everyone who does not accept their primary doctrine is a "cult," the term having become very derogatory, the equal of "heresies." In the past those Protestant Trinitarians burned at the stake those cultish persons -- mostly Unitarians, like Michel Servetus and Joan of Arc -- who disagreed with them. One wonders, if they had the power today, what would they do?

The very nature of "religion" means there will always be minor and major differences between each variety. Each one generally insisting they alone are blessed with God’s favor while all others are in danger of Hell-fire or Armageddon. Enter the world wide web. Now there are countless groups with the purpose of exposing these "cults." Any brief review of some of their web sites indicate many of these have taken off their Christian clothes and put on their Inquisition habits. What good does it do to try and get one person to leave a "cult" only to now belong to a traditional religion which parted from Christ’s teachings centuries ago? It is like the pot calling the kettle "black." Or, people standing in mud puddles all screaming at another person in a mud puddle and insisting they moves to their mud puddle!

Since the word "cult" is now merely a derogatory term for a minority it seems to have outlived its purpose. The word (the C-word) is equivalent to the N-word used by racist and superior-minded persons for those they self-righteously look down upon. And so, understanding that the meaning of the word "cult" could just about fit any group from the U. S. Marines to the Jesuits, some web sites are trying to redefine the word with many pages of explanation so the enemy can clearly be defined as a "cult" -- putting Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Scientologists, Moonies, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Science, Bible Students and a truck load of others right back where everyone wanted them.

The dictionary definition of "bigot" ought to be kept in mind when judging other religions as cults: "one whose attitude or behavior expresses intolerance, as because of ... religion."

This new definition of "cult" would make a man who told his followers to hate their relatives and sell their belongings as charity to the poor and be willing to die for him, a cult leader -- Jesus Christ. The whole thing is absurd. If someone has a better message then publish it and let thinking people decide. If ideas or thoughts are in error then make them "captive" to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10.4, 5) Labeling others is generally proof of a week position.

Often on the Internet there will be great criticism of another "cult’s" doctrine while not providing an alternative doctrine. If one claims a person is wrong who thinks the earth is round they should offer proof the earth is flat. Let each anti-something web site provide a list of their affirmations of beliefs so everyone can throw rocks both ways.

The problem with cult-calling can be illustrated by 2 Peter 2.1, ‘But as there also occurred false prophets among the people (of Israel), so also there will be false teachers among you.’ One group teaching an erroneous doctrine as their central belief condemn another group for making false prophecies. In effect, they try to convert people from false prophets to false teachers!

A survey of some of the Internet web pages which claim to be anti-cults are filled with incorrect teachings as well as persons who are agnostic or do not believe the Bible inspired. These can hardly provide a viable alternative to the accused "cult" itself. These web sites vary from the extremely bitter and virulent to those who wish to only debate the teachings themselves, rather than the people. Forums vary widely in tone and tenor: some are chat groups(like support groups) predominantly of women who seek mutual encouragement but seem little interest in Biblical doctrine. Others are loaded with Trinitarians --- mainly men -- who gang up on a JW or Mormon or a Unitarian. It has often been observed that these Trinitarians leave reason and logic for virulent attack and character assassination.

Peter exhorted Christians to defend their hope (apology) but to do it as if sanctifying Christ in the heart with deep respect and gentleness to those demanding a reason for their hope. (1 Peter 3.15) Paul encourages each disciple to do this with graciousness. (Colosians 4.5) Even Jesus did not judge the person who chose not to follow his teachings. (John 12.47) There are many using the Internet to condemn one Christian sect in a manner which demonstrates these persons ceased being Christian long ago. Vulgar language comes from vulgar people. Bad manners comes from ill-mannered persons.

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FAITH PERSPECTIVES:

[An open forum for the free expression of faith.]

Who Are the Ones That Belong to the Father?

YEARS AGO When Paul Wrote his second letter to Timothy he made the statement:

"The Lord knows those who are his own." (2 Timothy 2.19 JB)

It would appear obvious that God knows all persons that love Him and desire to serve Him, and of course that must be true. After all the Bible clearly states that the eyes of God are in all places and that nothing is covered over from Him. (Proverbs 15.3) So without any doubt God knows all things. He knows who are wicked. He knows who are practicing what is good. As He is able to determine the very thoughts and intentions of the heart He is able to conclude a persons outcome. (Hebrews 4.12) That power of observation is now given to the Son and all power and authority are now in his hands (Matthew 28.19), therefore the true Christian can have utter confidence that Jesus his Lord and Master will not overlook or misunderstand his intentions despite them not always being fulfilled.

The Humanitarian

HAS THE HUMANITARIAN a claim to God’s approval? Does it follow that all persons doing or claiming humanitarian works, or for that matter God approved works, are part of the true Body of Christ? What a question that is! Many, it is just to say, would like to believe so. And surely persons like that are at least going in the right direction. However, very many who have made a name for themselves in one field or another have done just so, a name for themselves, with no thought or consideration for God or the enhancement of His purpose. So, even if their works are totally in harmony with the works of God they were not done with Him in mind. Although the works are good and will stand in their credit, it is not for doing those things that they will be called and chosen as part of the ones from the foundation of the word.

The Pious

WITHOUT A DOUBT there are those who have, for a life time, committed themselves to what they believed was the service of God. For example: One could think of the many monks, nuns and priests. And who dares to say that at least some of them were not genuine? Yet it all comes down to Scripture which assures us that, no matter how many or how profuse our works are, it is not by any of these that life is given by God. Rather it is a gift, a free gift. (Consider Romans 9.30-33) After all anything a person is able to accomplish in this life is because he has a gift and the circumstances to use that gift. How is the child in the mud hut in an impoverished family in some backwater of a third world country able to use an inherited gift, if that gift is dependent on material backing? God is not partial. (Acts 10.34-35) He knows the heart of every individual, whether rich or poor, in whatever country and throughout all time. In His infinite wisdom he has declared that not by works but by faith a person is declared righteous. (Romans 3.21-26) Faith is essential, hope is essential, but love is even more essential.

The Saint

HEARING OF THE PERSON that becomes embittered or even enraged because he has in the past been misled or even abused it is seen that he is now allowing himself to succumb to a snare that the devil has placed for just such a purpose. Love can override such feelings, it will take from the heart such desires as hate and revenge. Why should we entertain such ill qualities when the Lord has revealed to us a better way, the way of freedom. Freedom of such magnitude that only belongs the sons of God. (Galatians 5.13)

Let us consider for a just moment some of the freedoms we enjoy: —Knowledge that God has forgiven our sins, and that we are now His children, and he has truly become our Father, no longer are we confined to the dictates of some manmade religion, no longer are we under authority of so-called Priests, elders and the like—. As a son of God, then rightly we can call God our Father and we no longer have to fight to defend ourselves for He knows our plight and He will render justice in our case. Fight therefore for truth. Maintain faith. Keep hope. But most of all cultivate real genuine godly love.

So who are the ones that belong to the Father? These are the ones with real love in their hearts, they are the vessels fit for honorable use. (Romans 9.21-26) They are not of any particular religious group, but are part of the Body of Christ manifest by God’s spirit of freedom and peace. Jesus refreshing words:

"Come to me, all you who are tired and bent beneath your burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on your shoulders, and let me teach you, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is kindly and my load is light." (Matthew 11.28-29 WB)

Although we live by faith and not by works those who belong to the Father naturally and within their capabilities willingly perform the duties of a Christian as outlined by our Lord Jesus himself. It was Jesus who said that it is the sensible man who both listens and acts on his words. (Matthew 7.24) May we all pray to be found belonging to the Father.

RS90324 1998 Ralph Slaney (United Kingdom) - Permission given to copy.

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Nazarene Saints Publishing

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